New Fact Sheet Highlights the Roles and Responsibilities of a State CTE Director

June 7th, 2018

We are excited to announce the release of a new fact sheet that highlights results from Advance CTE’s 2017 Perkins Implementation Survey. Responses to this survey demonstrated that State CTE Directors’ portfolios cover a range of responsibilities, and that there are additional factors to consider when understanding the variety of responsibilities that fall into the portfolio of a State Director.

Some findings include:

  • State Directors are often well positioned to promote collaboration across programs and systems because of their role in the implementation and administration of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins).
  • In all but 14 states, the Perkins Eligible Agency is the State Education Agency.
  • Some responsibilities, such as overseeing secondary CTE, are shared by most State Directors, but overall there is large variation in the State Director role.

Check out the full fact sheet to learn more about the responsibilities of the State Director, what factors might impact this role and how this can promote cross-system collaboration.

Connecting Rural Learners to the World of Work in Livingston, Montana

May 30th, 2018

Livingston, Montana is a small ranching community of about 7,000, just north of Yellowstone National Park. Most of the town’s economic activity revolves around agriculture and tourism — being so close to Yellowstone brings in lots of travelers. Bozeman, which is about 30 miles away hosts a growing manufacturing and photonics industry. Despite these opportunities, students at nearby Park High School don’t always interact with industry leaders in the area, limiting their ability to explore different career options and weakening the talent pool for local business owners.

Last year Meagan Lannan, then manager at the Livingston, Montana Job Service office, along with several community leaders, decided to step in and ask educators how best to support a new work-based learning program to help close the gap and connect young learners with industry mentors. After studying states like Tennessee, Washington and California for inspiration and strategies, she built a coalition of key partners to launch a work-based learning program and engage more than 260 high school students in their first year.

So how did Lannan mobilize her town to go all in on work-based learning?

She started by securing buy in and support — including funding — from key business and education leaders in Livingston. After getting commitment from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the Montana State University Park County Extension, and Park High School, Lannan established a memorandum of understanding to clarify the roles of each partner. She also secured an agreement from the Arthur Blank Foundation, the charitable organization of Home Depot founder and philanthropist Arthur Blank, for four years of funding for a work-based learning facilitator pilot program.

Leveraging the relationships she cultivated at the job service office, Lannan was able to mobilize a network of Livingston business leaders to drive and provide work-based learning opportunities for high school students. It took a lot of time and effort to build and nurture these relationships, but Lannan’s hard work paid off. Once the community recognized the value and critical role in connecting learning with work, business leaders were on board.

In total, more than 260 work-based learning experiences were brokered through the first year of the pilot program. Experiences ranged from low-touch engagements such as guest speaking to more intensive internships, apprenticeships and more. Some employers even came into the classroom to teach a few classes under the teacher of record before leading students on a tour of their facilities. While several work-based learning experiences were in industries like agriculture or manufacturing that are considered high-demand in the Livingston area, students had the opportunity explore a variety of different careers. One student learned about wolf tracking in Yellowstone National Park. Another partnered with a local business to learn about sound wave engineering.

Providing work-based learning opportunities can be a challenge in rural communities, which often have a small employer base and limited industry presence. But, as Livingston, Montana discovered, a successful work-based learning program hinges on the support and buy-in of the community. Rural business leaders are often ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and, as Lannan puts it, help “raise the barn.” It just takes a thoughtful, coordinated strategy to generate buy in, secure sustainable funding and connect learners with the world of work.

To help state and local leaders develop a comprehensive plan to improve access to high-quality work-based learning and career pathways in rural areas, Advance CTE developed and released a rural strategy guide earlier this year. The guide, part of the CTE on the Frontier series, provides five strategies for rural leaders to replicate Livingston’s approach:

  • Secure buy-in and commitment for new or ongoing reform
  • Leverage regional, cross-sector partnerships
  • Use data strategically to understand access gaps and assess impact
  • Use technology to expand access and reach
  • Invest resources to spark innovation

Ensuring access to high-quality career pathways in rural areas is a persistent challenge facing state and local leaders — but communities like Livingston, Montana defy the odds, recognizing the value of work-based learning and committing to expanding opportunities for students.

Thanks to Meagan Lannan, Work-Based Learning Facilitator Lead, for providing input into this story.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Spotlighting Jones County Junior College, Emergency Medical Technology for EMS Week

May 25th, 2018

It is the 44th annual National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week which was authorized by President Gerald Ford in 1974, to celebrate the important work of EMS practitioners. In honor of EMS Week, we are highlighting a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program of study, which provides learners with rigorous coursework and the work-based learning experiences they need to be a successful healthcare professional. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is projected to increase 15 percent from 2016 to 2026.

In 2017, the Jones County Junior College Emergency Medical Technology Education (JCJC EMTE) program of study in Ellisville, Mississippi received the annual Excellence in Action award in the Health Science Career Cluster®. The program trains EMTs and paramedics to become knowledgeable health care providers in a rural community that is in great need of qualified and skilled employees.

In addition to a robust curriculum, all EMTE students must complete clinical internships in the field earning 500-plus hours of training. One of their many impressive student success outcomes is a 90 percent first-time pass rate on the National Registry of EMTs, compared to a national average of 60 percent. In 2016, JCJC learners clocked 1,400 hours of classroom instruction, had opportunities to earn over seven industry-recognized credentials and had a 100 percent job placement rate.

Since winning the award in 2017, the program has continued to increase enrollment. The current 2017-2018 paramedic cohort is one of the largest that they’ve ever seated. In addition to growing their program, JCJC has been asked to take an active role in EMS within the state of Mississippi. Their Program Director serves as the President of the EMS Educators group within the state and JCJC was instrumental in rewriting the circuirculm for future paramedic classes. Furthermore, they have assisted several other smaller paramedic programs grow and helped establish another paramedic program in an underrepresented part of the state.

Eric Williams, MS, NR-P, the Assistant Director of the CTE program of study believes that the visibility and understanding of this career is evolving.

“We were once seen as “Ambulance Drivers”. The public now realizes that there is so much more to the job. The changing tide of information on what it is that EMTs and Paramedics do in the back of the ambulance has led to increased pay, additional responsibilities and greater interest in the profession.“

To keep this positive momentum going, JCJC is making tremendous efforts in ensuring youth are aware of this career path through partnerships with several area preschools, middle schools and high schools to allow younger learners to explore the program. This early career exploration is helping learners find out what they love, while also increasing enrollment into the EMT program of study. 

“Our hope is to continue being a leading force in EMS education and research for the future.”

Read more about this Excellence in Action recipient here.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

Idaho, Iowa Pass Bills to Bolster their States’ Workforce; Washington, Idaho Expand Scholarships

May 22nd, 2018

As the legislative session moves forward, states have passed bills that will expand Career Technical Education (CTE) funding, strengthen workforce initiatives and expand scholarships that benefit CTE learners.

Idaho Expands CTE Program Funding

In Idaho, Governor Otter signed a bill to expand funding for high-performing career and technical education programs in grades 9-12 in high-demand fields. The Idaho State Department projects that there will be a shortage of 49,000 workers by 2024 in Idaho. By investing further in high-quality secondary CTE programs, Idaho creates a workforce pipeline that will help to address the “skills gap” and job shortage that the state faces.

Gov. Reynolds Signs Future Ready Iowa Bill

In Iowa, Governor Reynolds signed legislation that establishes programs in Registered Apprenticeship development, voluntary mentorships and summer youth internships. The legislation also establishes summer postsecondary courses for high school students that are aligned with high demand career pathways, as well funds and grants related to an employer innovation fund and Future Ready Iowa programs, grants and scholarships.

The legislation is the latest piece in Gov. Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa initiative, which aims for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Currently, 58 percent of Iowa’s workforce has  education or training beyond high school, and that percentage must increase in order to fill the 65,000 current open jobs in Iowa.

States Expand Opportunity Scholarships that Benefit CTE Learners

Additionally, states have been expanding postsecondary scholarship programs, which will allow more learners from different backgrounds to engage with CTE. In Washington, Gov. Inslee signed a bill that expands the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship to allow high school graduates to receive the scholarship to help pay for certificates and professional technical degrees offered at the state’s technical and community colleges.

As part of their continued focus on CTE, in Idaho, lawmakers passed another bill, which expands the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship to benefit adult learners. The scholarship originally only benefitted Iowa high school graduates, but the bill will allow the State Board of Education to direct up to 20 percent of scholarship funds to Idaho adult residents striving to finish a degree or certificate.

These bills will make postsecondary CTE accessible to more learners from diverse populations, which is critical as states face a shortage of skilled workers.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

High School Senior, Danielle Rothchild’s FCCLA Experience Lead to Creating a Non-Profit

May 14th, 2018

Danielle Rothchild is a senior at Carmel High School (CHS) in Indiana and will be pursuing her postsecondary education at Purdue University with a $10,000 scholarship. She attributes her growth as a leader to her experience in Career Technical Education (CTE) classes and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) program.

At CHS the family and consumer science courses count towards the Career-Technical program sequence. Five out of seven of her classes this semester are family and consumer sciences (FCS). Family and consumer sciences courses provide learners with skills to impact society in areas such as work and family, health care, child and elder care, hospitality, global economics and education. CHS provides an array of FCS course offerings in the following career pathways: education and training, hospitality and human services, architecture and construction, business marketing, and health science.

During her freshman year, she learned about FCCLA and was interested in participating in the Students Taking Action with Recognition (STAR) events. STAR events are competitions in which members are recognized for proficiency and achievement in projects, leadership skills, and career preparation. Danielle got involved with FCCLA to engage her competitive spirit and is now the chapter president.

For three years she competed in the Recycle and Redesign event where learners use their recycling and redesign skills from the family and consumer sciences courses. Participants select a used item to recycle into a new product. Her first year she created a dress out of shower loofahs, the next year she used cupcake liners and her junior year is when everything changed.

She decided to create a dress out of bread tags. Danielle used 5,000 tags for her project and had 40,000 bread tags left over. She decided to research how others are using bread tags and discovered a foundation in South Africa called Bread Tags for Wheelchairs that collects and sells bread tags for money to buy wheelchairs for people in need. She reached out to the organizer to learn more.

In the spring of 2017, Danielle brought this idea to life. She started a nonprofit organization called Danielle Cares for Chairs. She recycles bread tags and uses the money to buy mobility chairs for those in need. Her collection stands at nearly two million.

The process she uses for this project is to take bread tags to a recycling plant and use the proceeds to buy others mobility products. Danielle understands that any vision cannot be brought to life on its own. She has continued to raise awareness about her organization and gaining support leading to the creation of collection points in twenty-four states and Canada. She also has several colleges contributing to her efforts.

To date, Danielle’s collection of two million has enabled her to purchase five mobility cars and/or wheelchairs. She recently organized an event to create the world’s longest bread tag chain and was featured in the Scholastic Choice Magazine as one of three planet heroes making a difference. Danielle has continued to create community events and received attention from media and grant funding from organizations such as Disney. Watch as Danielle delivers these items to children here.

As she is quickly approaching graduation her vision for the future is to continue managing the non-profit throughout her college experience. Danielle will be attending Purdue University and wants to focus on learning about business.

Her advice for other students considering taking CTE classes is, “Even though it’s Family and Consumer Sciences you don’t have to be amazing at sewing or cooking. It’s really teaching you how to be a well-rounded adult.”

Danielle believes she has gained the skills needed to be successful – from managing her finances to presentation skills – because of CTE courses. She recently traveled to Washington, DC for an FCCLA event to lead a session on community service and will head to Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I feel like with every Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) is there to teach you how to be successful and how to be a leader. I’m really bad at sewing and I’ve made three dresses. I found a passion with helping people out, helping the community, that’s what FCCLA taught me, it showed me what I love.”

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

May 11th, 2018



Despite CTE’s many benefits to learners and the nation’s economy, there are still major barriers to ensuring that CTE exists in every community in the US. According to data from National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), districts reported large or very large barriers to offering CTE programs to high school students. Barriers include lack of funding, finding or keeping teachers for in-demand industries and occupations, and facilities or space limitations.


Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week and National Nurses Week! Check out two of our fantastic Excellence in Action award winners, which are preparing future teachers and nurses:

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center, Teacher Academy (Michigan)
In 2001, a statewide decline in the number of practicing educators in Michigan led college instructors, teachers and district administrators to develop a Career Technical Education program of study to encourage learners to consider teaching as a career pathway and grow their own teacher pipeline. The Teacher Academy at the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center in Traverse City, Michigan, brings together juniors and seniors from 26 high schools across five rural counties to experience all aspects of the teaching profession. The Teacher Academy blends academic, technical and real-world knowledge and skills. Throughout the two-year program of study, Teacher Academy learners work directly with students in a variety of classroom settings and earn more than 400 hours of field experience. Academy students can receive up to four industry certifications and earn credit toward local two- and four-year colleges.

Indian Capital Technology Center, Nursing Transition (Oklahoma)
Students in the Nursing Transition program of study at the Indian Capital Technology Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma engage in a rigorous curriculum paired with relevant clinical instruction in a variety of settings. Indian Capital Technology Center serves 51 area high schools, and was designed to help increase the number of practical nurses in the workforce. Established in August of 2011 due to a shortage of nurses and allied health professionals – especially in rural areas of Oklahoma– the program has created an accelerated pathway to become a licensed practical nurse. High school seniors who have successfully completed one year of the Health Careers Certification can enroll in the program and complete the program within six months following high school graduation.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager 

Advance CTE Begins a Critical Conversation about Equity at the 2018 Spring Meeting

May 3rd, 2018

As part of Advance CTE’s vision, Putting Learner Success First, our organization has challenged the Career Technical Education (CTE) community to continue on the path of fierce dedication to quality and equity so that each learner is empowered to choose a meaningful education and career. Advance CTE recognizes that if we’re going to ask our community to commit to equity in CTE, then we must lead the way.

Our first step was to create the space at our 2018 Spring Meeting to begin this long overdue conversation with our membership about how we define and can achieve equity in CTE.

The conversation began with a panel discussion that featured experts in education and equity from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the  Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Law and Social Policy and United Way of Delaware.The panelists took a critical look at equity in CTE and examined the history of CTE and tracking students, the stigma around CTE and how equity should be defined within CTE. From this discussion, major themes about equity in CTE emerged:

  • While CTE provides students with a variety of college and career options, institutions need to recognize that their “all are welcome” policies aren’t enough to engage diverse populations.
  • Many institutions are operating with a “compliance mindset” by only focusing on gender equity (largely because of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act). To truly address equity concerns in CTE, institutions must move from a “compliance mindset” to an “improvement mindset.”
  • Equity in CTE cannot only be about achieving proportionate representation in CTE courses. Student outcomes across populations must also be examined.
  • State leaders have control over mechanisms (policy “levers”, program “levers”, funding, partnerships with organizations) that they can use to ensure equity in CTE.

Notably, Kisha Bird from the Center for Law and Social Policy  recognized that while equity is a complex issue in that it is influenced by numerous social, economic and political factors, it is ultimately a simple problem that can be addressed by continually asking the following of any action: Am I creating or breaking down barriers?

The conversation held at the equity panel represents the beginning of Advance CTE’s ongoing commitment to promoting equity in CTE. As part of our equity initiative, throughout 2018, Advance CTE will be releasing a series of briefs about equity in CTE. This post is the first of two blogs that will highlight the equity discussions from the 2018 Spring Meeting.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Advance CTE Explores the Critical State of CTE Research at the 2018 Spring Meeting

April 19th, 2018

At Advance CTE’s 2018 Spring Meeting, the organization hosted the “Critical State of CTE Research” session in response to the need for more robust CTE research.

The session began with a panel of Career Technical Education (CTE) research experts, which included Corinne Alfeld from the Institute of Education Sciences, Tom Bailey from the Community College Research Center, Shaun Dougherty from the University of Connecticut, and Andy Smarick from the American Enterprise Institute. The panel highlighted current CTE research and explored barriers and opportunities to expanding CTE research.

The panelists discussed how CTE practice is far ahead of CTE research, in large part because of the lack of capacity and data access to actually do meaningful research. The panel emphasized the importance of increasing the pipeline of CTE researchers and developing partnerships between states and researchers to actively plan out research questions. The panelists expressed a desire for access to cross-state level data to enable them to make accurate generalizations about CTE and its impact.

Some specific research issues that the panelist were interested in included the noncognitive abilities of CTE students, the earning potential associated with short-term credentials, the specific elements in high school CTE programs that make them effective and Work Colleges, which are liberal art schools that evaluate people on their work in addition to their academics.

Following the panelist discussion, an input session was held where participants broke into small groups and identified priority topics for future research efforts. From these identified topics, the following research themes emerged:

  • Student outcomes, such as graduation rates, employment rates and the relationship between CTE participation and college debt;
  • Evaluating the elements of a high-quality program of study;
  • How to improve the quality of CTE data;
  • Teacher professional development;
  • Updated definitions or descriptive statistics on CTE learners; and,
  • CTE’s short- and long-term return on investment.

Within these themes, a number of interesting research questions emerged. In regards to student outcomes, for example, multiple groups inquired about CTE’s impact on student debt and whether it is actually accurate to make the claim that CTE program completion is associated with less student debt. While certain programs, such as the Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) apprenticeship program, can boast that its participants transitioned into apprenticeships or employment with no student debt, it is unclear whether there is enough data to make the sweeping generalization that CTE program completion at the secondary or postsecondary level is associated with less student debt..

Participants mirrored the panelists and expressed a desire to know what distinct elements of a CTE program have the greatest impact- good or bad- on outcomes. While the defining features of a high-quality CTE program have been identified, it is unclear what elements within those features lead to positive outcomes for learners. Parsing out those elements will allow institutions to improve the quality of their CTE programs and consequently lead to better learner outcomes.

Additionally, in regards to professional development, multiple groups inquired about the best way to prepare CTE instructors to facilitate learning for students with special needs. These questions showcase the desire for CTE to be leveraged to produce positive outcomes for each learner and a recognition that targeted professional development for teachers is critical to achieving equitable outcomes.

The research themes gathered from this 2018 Spring Meeting session will be utilized to help inform future Advance CTE resources as well as potential partnerships with research organizations.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

DC, Texas Improve Data Systems; Colorado, Ohio’s Community Colleges Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

April 17th, 2018

As the legislative session moves forward, many states have passed bills that will help to improve data systems and expand opportunities for learners.

Data System Improvements

Recently, data system improvements have been a focus of policy efforts in order to better support and hold accountable districts, institutions and programs, as well as allow learners, employers and policymakers to stay informed.

In the District of Columbia, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the Workforce Development Systems Transparency Act, which requires the District’s Workforce Investment Council to detail the District’s spending on adult education programs and workforce development education programs, as well as the performance outcomes of those programs, in a public report. The performance outcomes information will include employment rates, median earnings, credential attainment, and completion rates. The first version of the report will include information about programs managed by seven DC entities, such as the Department of Employment Resources, and by 2020 programs administered by an additional 14 entities will be included in the report.

In Texas, the University of Texas System launched an updated version of the database Seek UT to include University of Texas graduates’ earnings in the hopes of showing the benefits of higher education. The database utilizes Census Bureau data and provides information on student’s median incomes for every program offered after one, five, and ten years after graduating, the percentage of students who went on to continue their education and the median loan debt for different programs. The database is viewed as a “work-around” of the current ban on a federal database that would link student-level education data to national employment data.

Community Colleges Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

Elsewhere, states are passing laws to expand community college offerings and to address the shortage of skilled employees.

In Colorado, a bill that allows Colorado’s community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing recently became law. The bill was passed without the governor’s signature or veto. In a letter explaining this decision, Governor Hickenlooper cited concerns over limited stakeholder engagement by the bill’s proponents and potential conflicts between the various agencies that oversee higher education in the state.

In response to these concerns, the letter directs the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) to convene stakeholders to determine how to best align programs with industry trends. This law was allowed to pass in response to a severe shortage of nurses in Colorado and after reports that more nursing disciplines require a masters or doctoral degree than in previous years.

Similarly, in Ohio, three community colleges received state approval to offer bachelor’s degrees in microelectronic manufacturing, aviation, unmanned aerial systems, land surveying and culinary and food science. These programs still need to receive accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission before the community colleges can offer the degrees.

Once accredited, these programs will help to achieve Ohio Governor Kasich’s goal to have 65 percent of the state’s workforce earn an industry recognized credential or degree by 2025. Governor Kasich has already showcased his support for community colleges to offer baccalaureates through the introduction and passage of legislation that supports this.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Top 10 Advance CTE 2018 Spring Meeting Tweets

April 9th, 2018

Last week, over 200 leaders in Career Technical Education came together in Washington, D.C. for the annual Spring Meeting to collaborate, learn, and honor our 11 Excellence in Action award recipients. Attendees and speakers took to Twitter to keep the conversation going. Below are the top 10 tweets from the meeting.