Getting to Know… Oklahoma

March 27th, 2017

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: Oklahoma

State CTE Director: Dr. Marcie Mack, state director, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education

About Oklahoma: Oklahoma is home to the Oklahoma CareerTech System and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, the state agency that oversees Career Technical Education (CTE) in Oklahoma. The system includes 29 technology center districts — each serving students at both the secondary and postsecondary level — and 395 comprehensive school district with CTE programs; 15 locations for 42 Skills Centers programs for offenders; and business and industry services to more than 7,000 companies annually. The system serves students through more than 500,000 enrollments annually. The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education is governed by a nine-member, governor-appointed Board of Career and Technology Education. The board operates separately from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, enabling the state to collaborate more intentionally across various agencies.

There is growing enthusiasm for CareerTech in Oklahoma, spurred in part by Gov. Mary Fallin’s Oklahoma Works Initiative — a cross-sector effort to strengthen the state workforce and close the skills gap — and the goal to increase postsecondary education and training attainment to 70 percent of individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 by the year 2025. With such enthusiasm on postsecondary attainment, Oklahoma is optimistic the current 50 percent of students in grades nine through 12 who enroll in CareerTech courses each year will increase as the state works to meet the educational attainment goal.

Programs of Study: Oklahoma’s programs of study are organized into 15 Career Clusters® that are aligned to the national Career Clusters framework. The board of CTE uses Perkins funds to develop statewide frameworks for many programs of study that local administrators can download and customize to fit the needs of their communities. To support local delivery and ensure that students receive appropriate and timely guidance, in 2015 Oklahoma launched a web-based career guidance platform called OK Career Guide. It provides data and resources to educators, parents and students to facilitate career exploration and enable students to identify and pursue high-quality learning experiences tied to their career interests.

Cross-Sector Partnerships: As an independent body, the Oklahoma Board of CTE has been able to work collaboratively across various agencies and sectors. One such collaboration is with the Department of Corrections. For years, Oklahoma has provided CareerTech opportunities to incarcerated youth and adults through a correctional education system. Approximately 1,600 individuals are served each year through these programs, with a job placement rate of more than 80 percent.

Oklahoma CareerTech also works directly with counterparts in secondary and postsecondary education. Working closely with the State Department of Education, CareerTech ensures high-quality instruction and curriculum throughout CTE programs in sixth through 12th grades. Core to this partnership is the Oklahoma state superintendent’s position as the chairman of the CareerTech board, which helps to facilitate collaboration on efforts such as teacher certification, academic credit and academy approval. At the postsecondary level, the board works with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to maintain credit articulation agreements for prior learning assessments, helping to streamline the pathways from secondary to postsecondary education.

Additionally, Oklahoma has strong partnerships with business and industry leaders through technology center business and industry services which provided services to more than 7,000 companies last year.  Examples of some of the services include safety training, customized training, Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network, and adult career development to name a few.  The statewide Key Economic Networks (KEN) established with Oklahoma Works include representation from regional stakeholders who collaborate to develop, strengthen and expand career pathways. Through regional KENs, Oklahoma has been able to leverage employer insights, reflect on labor market information and encourage strong partnerships at the local level.

On the Horizon: In January 2017, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced that Oklahoma would be part of a cohort of states focusing on transforming career readiness systems under the New Skills for Youth Initiative. Oklahoma, along with nine other states, will receive $2 million over the next three years to embark on an ambitious statewide effort to improve access to high-quality CTE programs.

Separately, the Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a new accountability framework late in 2016 that aims to count postsecondary opportunities as viable options for the framework, including participation in internships, apprenticeships, industry certifications and dual (concurrent) enrollment. Previously, these indicators were awarded as bonus points only.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

March 24th, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

New America recently started a blog dedicated to exploring apprenticeships, hitting topics including youth apprenticeship programs, federal and state policy levers for expansion, trends and new industry and the importance of quality assurance. Check out their first post, Five Key Questions to Confront.

TOOL OF THE WEEK

National Association of State Board of Education launched an interactive platform, State Board Insight, to search and analyze trends from state board meeting agendas. In 2017 there have been 12 action items and 14 information items related to college and career readiness. Explore it here.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

We are proud to support the Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA):

“Today, more than half of jobs require some form of postsecondary education and yet, far too many students face steep barriers to accessing these opportunities,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE.  “The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act would greatly improve access to critical dual and concurrent enrollment programs so that more students can earn a postsecondary degree or credential at a faster rate, vastly improving their career prospects and success.”

Read the full press release here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Encouraging Students to Dream Big, Plan Accordingly Spurs Economic Development

March 13th, 2017

This post is written by Kuder Inc.’s President and CEO Phil Harrington as part of our Friends of CTE series

As Baby Boomers retire and Millennials become the majority of the workforce, employers are grappling with major skills shortages. These multigenerational workforce issues and other shifts in the employment landscape are causing industries to experience unprecedented challenges in attracting the number of workers they need with the skill sets required to be successful. It’s no exaggeration to say that our nation’s economic development is in jeopardy, and I believe investing in Career Technical Education (CTE) is the answer.

An Integrated Approach

Advance CTE defines CTE as a form of education that provides students of all ages with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and to become lifelong learners. I applaud CTE’s integrated approach that includes hands-on learning in the classroom as well as work-based learning, because these experiential learning opportunities can fast-track students to middle- and high-skill, high-demand careers.

CTE acknowledges and embraces the fact that in today’s world, most high school students will need to pursue some form of postsecondary education or training in order to compete in the workforce. But we’ve seen that a “one-size-fits-all” approach simply doesn’t work because, after all, traditional, four-year college isn’t for every student or every career path. CTE celebrates the many education and training options that are available to students following high school, including two-year programs, industry credentialing programs and, of course, the traditional four-year degree.

Student-Centered CTE = Success for All

I’ve observed an uptick in the number of CTE programs that are centered on individualized student career and education plans, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Leading experts tell us that self-knowledge is at the top of the list of competencies that are appropriate for high school students as they begin the career development process. So it behooves CTE programs to help students identify their career interests and values at the outset.

Research-based career assessments that are aligned to the National Career Clusters® Framework — such as Kuder’s — enable students to explore occupations, pathways and related education and training options based on their personal results. CTE takes this discovery process to the next level by finding that sweet spot where students’ interests and values intersect with industry needs and trends. Students’ dreams take flight when exploration turns to interaction, and when applying what they learn initiates the process of making decisions and setting goals for the future. It’s a formula that capitalizes on students’ interests and aspirations, and spurs economic development at the very same time, forming the ultimate talent pipeline. And it’s a formula that’s becoming a model for success, as encouraging students to dream big and plan accordingly can deliver major returns on investment for economic development.

CTE in Action

No matter where I travel throughout the United States, I see great examples of CTE programs that are connecting abstract concepts from students’ academic coursework to the “real” world of work, incorporating STEM, and fostering employability (or “soft”) skills critical to 21st-century jobs. These programs encourage and even incentivize students to be engaged, stay in school and complete their education with a rock-solid plan in hand for their next steps in life. Best of all, these CTE programs expose students to possibilities they may never have even imagined for themselves. It’s a real gift, as secondary students who avail themselves of CTE can leverage its low-risk, high-yield returns when they try a career on for size.

Kuder has been a longtime participant in a local School-to-Work (STW) program at Waukee High School – Newsweek Magazine’s 2015-16 Top High School in Iowa – both as an employer partner and online career planning system provider. Waukee runs an outstanding program; year in and year out, our experience never fails to reinforce our belief in and commitment to CTE. Following an intensive career development course focusing on resume prep, workplace etiquette and interviewing skills, Waukee STW students apply for and are placed in college-level internships at a variety of local business partner sites based on their Kuder assessment results. In a recent survey of current Waukee STW students and graduates from the past five years, 97 percent said they would recommend a work-based learning program to their peers. One student said the program, “puts you way ahead of everyone entering college. When people look at my resume they say, ‘whoa, how did you get that job in high school?’”

Our current STW intern, a senior who plans to major in international business this fall, recently penned an article for our company blog in which she reported that within her first six weeks at Kuder, her self-confidence had increased. She also shared that many of her peers appreciated the exploratory aspect of the STW program as it afforded them the opportunity to identify — as well as eliminate — potential career paths. As a parent, I can get behind the idea of encouraging students to rule a career in or out before investing in postsecondary education, especially when the prospect of accumulating student debt is a legitimate concern for so many. Certainly it can be argued that students who are career-ready are in a better position to avoid debilitating student loan debt than students who are plagued with indecision related to their future.

 
The CTE Ecosystem

To me, being a CTE advocate means that I’m committed to helping students realize their dreams, but I’m also committed to helping employers satisfy their need to fill jobs with talented employees. I don’t see the point of preparing students for future careers without proactively engaging a major stakeholder in their future success. Like any healthy ecosystem, it’s about fostering interactions and interconnectedness. When employers’ needs coincide with candidates’ skill sets and goals, there is synergy. I would also argue that we are doing a disservice to students when we send them off to college or the workforce without fully preparing them for the realities they will face after high school. Students need to gain self-knowledge to harness their passions and dreams, and then build viable skills that will put those passions and dreams to work in the new economy.

Understandably, most employers aren’t in a position to administer on-the-job training for medium- and high-skill jobs, so they depend on a steady flow of candidates with the know-how to hit the ground running. We’ve seen what happens when there is a disconnect between student skills and employer needs, and while the root causes are complex, CTE offers a clear path to a sustainable solution. CTE programs teach students job skills in an applied learning context where they can make tangible connections between school and career. I’m proud that CTE programs throughout the country integrate Kuder into the curriculum, because when students unlock the power of their own potential and gain relevant, portable workforce skills, they’re well on their way toward a better future — and the economy flourishes.

Looking Towards the Next 100 Years of CTE

February 23rd, 2017

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes Act, the foundation of today’s Career Technical Education (CTE). As we celebrate this important milestone it’s important to recognize how radically different today’s CTE looks compared to 100 years ago. Today’ CTE programs prepare students for both college and career; support all sectors of the economy; combine academic and technical coursework; encourage hands on learning that prepares students for the real world; provide learners with the ability to explore their interests; and ignites their passion for the future.

Today’s CTE is innovative and engaging and truly prepares students for their future, however there is still work to be done to ensure that all learners have access to these incredible CTE programs, and that all programs are truly high-quality. While it’s important to look back at how far we’ve come, it’s critical that we look towards the future of CTE.

To that end, we encourage you to explore Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, which establishes a bold vision for the transformation of education, and CTE’s role in that transformation. Supported by 12 national organizations and over 35 states, this vision challenges our community to continue on the path of fierce dedication to quality and equity, while providing the leadership necessary to continue to re-examine, grow and transform CTE into a system that prepares all students for a lifetime of success.

State leaders, educators, administrators and CTE stakeholders are already leading this charge in a variety of ways:

I will support Putting Learner Success First by increasing exposure to as many elements of the career spectrum as are possible. Looking for ways to expand upon the foundations of Manufacturing Day, Field Experiences in Healthcare, exposure to the full range of Engineering possibilities, and experiencing technology careers that are just emerging. – Illinois

By making sure that our CTE programs are of the highest quality and rigor. – Florida

It has been presented to the CTE stakeholders in Arizona and will be crosswalked with our Arizona CTE Strategic Plan. – Arizona

Develop and deliver rigorous, engaging CTE curriculum which drives high levels of student engagement and achievement. – Connecticut

I will be sharing the ‘Putting Learner Success First ” information with all of my constituents during conferences, academy’s and workshops. – Michigan

I will support Putting Learners Success First by encouraging my students to be thoughtful and proactive in making decisions about their future. My goal is to expose them to the many careers and pathways available. – Texas

I’d like to work on accountability for high quality CTE programs and certification for CTE instructors, especially at the post-secondary level. – Illinois

 I fully support the vision and action steps. One example of our support is to have begun the process of aligning CTE programming from middle through post secondary. We will use this as our guiding light. – Florida

As you celebrate CTE Month and a century of CTE, I encourage you to let us know how you plan to support the next 100 years of CTE here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

State Research Shows Positive Outcomes for CTE Students

February 20th, 2017

In 2015, the most recent year data are available, CTE students nationwide graduated at a rate of 93 percent — approximately 10 percentage points higher than the average. Now, new research from Wisconsin and Washington adds to the growing body of evidence that secondary Career Technical Education (CTE) leads to positive postsecondary outcomes.

State Research Shows Positive Outcomes for CTE Students

The Public Policy Forum, a research organization based out of Milwaukee, recently published a report examining the CTE system in both Wisconsin and the local Milwaukee region. The study draws upon Wisconsin’s CTE Enrollment Reporting System (CTEERS) and district-level surveys of CTE graduates and finds that two-thirds of students in Wisconsin enroll in CTE courses. The most popular area of focus for these students was Business & Information Technology. The study also revealed positive outcomes for CTE students, including:

  • CTE Concentrators were six percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than non-participants.
  • Approximately 74 percent of CTE Concentrators went on to pursue further education, with about one-third attending a 2-year school and two-thirds attending a 4-year school.
  • Of those attending higher education, 72 percent reported pursuing fields of study related to their high school CTE courses.

However, the data revealed inconclusive results related to performance on academic assessments. Additionally, the report identified a 6.3 percent statewide decrease in CTE teaching assignments from 2009 to 2016 — a trend the state has been working to reverse through recent legislation making it easier for CTE teachers to get certified in the state.

Washington Audit Highlights CTE Student Achievement

A report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office examines outcomes data for students in both the 2012 and 2013 graduating high school classes and finds that secondary CTE students demonstrated high post-high school achievement. The study was commissioned to examine the impact of Washington state’s $400 million investment in CTE — a system that reaches 300,000 high school students statewide.

The study finds that, within the population of students that did not go on to a four-year degree, CTE students were 11 percent more likely to “achieve” than non-CTE students. According to the study, “achievement” is measured as persistence in apprenticeship programs, persistence in community and technical colleges, employment and certificate attainment. Additionally, CTE programs accommodated a higher proportion of students receiving free and reduced price lunch and students with disabilities than other non-CTE programs, indicating that CTE could be a strategy for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities to acquire the skills needed for high-demand, high-wage careers.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Welcome to Laura Arnold, Kentucky’s new State CTE Director

February 15th, 2017

In September, Laura Arnold was named Kentucky’s State CTE Director, and her path to becoming State Director can be drawn directly back to the many Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers, role models and advisers who encouraged and supported her along the way.

“The CTE world is like a family and really supports students,” Arnold said. “It just shows the importance of teachers in the lives of kids and how they shape students not only in high school but also professionally.”

As a high school student in Kentucky, Arnold served as the state president of the Future Homemakers of America, now known as the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. After graduation, she earned a home economics degree from the University of Kentucky and soon after, took her first job teaching middle school Family and Consumer Science. Six years later, Arnold received an education leadership certificate and served as a principal at one of the state’s area technology centers for about five years.

In 2011, one of her fellow principals, Dale Winkler, became the State Director and asked Arnold to join him at the Kentucky Department of Education. From 2011-2015, Arnold worked in a variety of roles including, as a curriculum manager and Division director for the 53 state-operated area technology centers.

When Winkler left the state in 2015, Arnold was tapped to serve as the interim State Director, and continued in that role until being officially named to the position in September 2016.

Arnold is a key player in the state’s New Skills for Youth initiative. Kentucky was recently awarded $2 million to continue its efforts to strengthen and expand career education pathways for students. Check out this snapshot of the state’s initial work.

Moving forward, the state is examining how it might shift its delivery of K-12 CTE to a regional approach that lets school districts and area technology centers collaborate in order to provide more access to quality programs. This major shift would also require new partnerships and approaches to funding.

“I think we have to think outside of the box, and do things differently than we ever have before,” Arnold said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Getting to Know… Virginia

February 13th, 2017

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: Virginia

State CTE Director: Lolita Hall, State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Virginia Department of Education

About Virginia: Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Virginia has for years benefited from strong enthusiasm in the state legislature as well as sustained support and commitment from the Office of the Governor. Just this year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe in his State of the Commonwealth speech said that Virginia is “transforming our K-12 system to prepare students for the jobs of the 21st Century, with a particular emphasis on modernizing the [Standards of Learning] and how we deliver high school education.” This effort to modernize the Standards of Learning was initiated by major legislation passed in 2016. The law directs the Board of Education to identify a “Profile” for a Virginia graduate and adopt a more flexible high school experience. Currently, the Board is working with various state agencies to identify opportunities for a new high school graduation system, which is scheduled to be implemented in 2018.

A more seasoned initiative under way in Virginia is the Governor’s STEM and Health Sciences Academy network, which was launched and expanded under McAuliffe’s predecessors, Governors Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell. The network, which includes 22 STEM Academies and 8 health science academies, are embedded within comprehensive high schools and CTE centers. Through partnerships with business leaders and local institutions of higher education, these academies expose students to a rigorous education with pathways to postsecondary opportunities. Each program includes at least two pathways and undergoes an intensive review process before qualifying for an official Governor’s Academy endorsement.

Programs of Study: Virginia students can also access CTE through 132 school divisions, approximately 350 comprehensive high schools, 10 regional technical centers and 47 local technical centers. Using local labor market information, Virginia identifies and funds programs aligned to priority high-wage, high-demand industries in each region. These programs are aligned with the 16 Clusters and 79 Pathways in the national Career Clusters framework.

A current priority in the Commonwealth is developing a rigorous curriculum in computer science to meet the rapid rate of growth in that sector. This work began in the 2013-14 school year and included cybercamps that provided students with project-based learning opportunities and guest lectures from industry experts through an intensive summer program. In 2016, Virginia held 32 cybercamps, reaching approximately 700 students across the Commonwealth. Moving forward, the Department of Education aims to finalize and launch cyber security curricula to be piloted in the 2017-18 school year.

Cross-Sector Partnerships: Although 85 percent of Virginia’s Perkins allocation is distributed at the secondary level, the Commonwealth has strong, collaborative partnerships across various agencies and sectors. One example is Gov. McAuliffe’s goal to help Virginia students and jobseekers attain 50,000 credentials, a primary objective of the Commonwealth’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) plan. This goal is now shared across 24 state and federally funded workforce programs, each working through various means to increase credential attainment in the Commonwealth. The New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program, for example, is a performance-based grant passed last year that covers up to two-thirds of the cost of tuition for noncredit workforce training programs that culminate in a credential. The initiative is administered by the Council of Higher Education, in partnership with several higher education institutions, and draws on a list of credentials identified and reviewed by the Board of Workforce Development.

On the Horizon: After a busy legislative session in 2016 that culminated in eight CTE-related laws and substantial increases in funding for credentials and CTE equipment, Virginia is fully engaged in implementing and expanding new programs. Even still, the legislature is eying new policies related to apprenticeships and CTE teacher licensure. Additionally, the Office of Career and Technical Education recently merged with the Office of Adult Education in order to streamline programs and facilitate more efficient program and service delivery under WIOA. The office, under Lolita Hall’s leadership, is engaged with integrating both the CTE and adult education portfolios in order to strengthen workforce preparation services for individuals all across the Commonwealth.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Welcome to Elaine Perea, New Mexico’s State CTE Director!

February 2nd, 2017

When Elaine Perea was studying ancient Greek philosophers at St. John’s College in 1990, she never imagined she would one day become the State Director for Career Technical Education (CTE) in New Mexico.

Yet, her first job after graduating was as a bookkeeper, and she soon realized she had a knack for numbers and finance. This led into varied career in business including accounting and eventually to an investment company where she bought commercial office buildings. Over time, however, this began to wear, she said. So Perea decided to return to college once more; this time, to earn her doctorate in social psychology and enter the next phase of her professional career – as a college professor in Florida, where she taught for three years.

But New Mexico was home, so when a position became available over two years ago in the state’s Public Education Department, she was able to leverage her unique blend of business experience and teaching to get hired as an Education Administrator. Shortly after joining the department, she assumed additional responsibilities as the Deputy Director of CTE.

After being named as the State CTE Director in January, Perea said she intends to continue focusing on how to increase secondary students’ access to CTE. In New Mexico, roughly half of school districts have fewer than 200 students and many struggle to offer a three-course program of study due to enrollments and resources.

Perea also said another of her top priorities is to increase the use of dual credit courses in secondary CTE programs, and to encourage students to take such courses as part of their program sequence. To do this, Perea said she is working closely with the state bodies that govern higher education enrollment policies.

“We believe dual credit is an important tool in supporting rigorous CTE programs and helping students get the credentials they need for entering into the workforce,” Perea said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Welcome to Quentin Suffren, Texas’ New State CTE Director!

January 24th, 2017

Quentin Suffren admits he’s not your usual State Director for Career Technical Education (CTE).

For more than 16 years, Suffren worked in both the nonprofit and private sectors, leading large-scale education projects such as managing data and reporting systems with the New York-based Amplify Education, implementing a teacher evaluation system with The New Teacher Project in Houston, Texas, and serving as the chief academic officer for The Learning Institute.

In August 2016, he joined the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to serve as the Executive Director for College, Career and Military Prep, which includes the state’s CTE office.

The TEA reorganized last year, and as a result, CTE gained a higher profile within the department when the state joined the Pathways to Prosperity Network, which is a group of states working to build seamless career pathway systems that link high school, work and postsecondary education. The career pathways initiative is what brought Suffren to the agency, and since joining in August, has been working to coordinate the state’s efforts.

“What became really clear as I joined TEA, a lot of those pathways run directly through CTE,” Suffren said. “This puts CTE in the limelight and acknowledges that it is direct preparatory pathway to college and careers.”

In his new role, Suffren said he is looking forward to finding new and better ways to increase students’ access to high quality career pathways, expanding college and career counseling for all students and their parents, and removing barriers to work-based learning.

“It’s not college or career anymore. It’s both, and CTE is a huge part of that,” Suffren said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate of Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Registration Now Open for 2017 Spring Meeting

January 17th, 2017

Registration for the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting is now open! We hope you will join us May 2-4, 2017, in Washington, DC, to explore the major issues impacting and influencing Career Technical Education (CTE) today.

The annual Advance CTE Spring Meeting draws CTE leaders from nearly every state. This year, you can expect to:

  • Network with your peers from across the country and share best practices
  • Celebrate the one-year anniversary of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE
  • Engage national experts about the prospects for reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act
  • Learn about how other states are implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Workforce and Innovation and Opportunity Act to advance high-quality CTE
  • Honor high-quality CTE programs of study during our annual Excellence in Action Awards ceremony

Early bird rates end on February 28.  Not yet a member of Advance CTE? Join today and enjoy even greater savings on your meeting registration!

Register today!

 

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