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.

 

Hello from Advance CTE’s Newest Staff Member

March 29th, 2018

I’m Nicole Howard and I’m so excited to join Advance CTE as the new Communications Associate! I’ll be helping to implement our communications strategy and supporting states in their communications and advocacy efforts.

I have a background in communications related to the field of education. I was raised by a family of educators and have always viewed education as something every student should have equal access to. I was enrolled in the Summer Transition Enrichment Program (STEP) at American University (AU) that gave me a head start on my undergraduate education. My junior year at AU, I served as the STEP Assistant. In this role, I was able to help first-generation and minority students begin their college career with the resources and support they needed. I was impacted by watching them grow and truly succeed their own goals. Since then I’ve gained communications experience working with education-focused companies including corporate, nonprofit and postsecondary sectors. I believe writing helps to elevate the voices that need to be heard.

I believe access to a CTE program can help put students on a pathway to postsecondary and career that can benefit their future well-being as an adult. I am excited to advocate for CTE because I believe the more opportunities presented to a student the more hopeful they may become about their future and energized to complete their secondary education.

Nicole Howard, Communications Advocate

Leaders in Data Analysis Discuss Improving Student Outcomes in Higher Education

March 28th, 2018

In light of Congress’ work towards reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), Results for America, Knowledge Alliance and America Forward hosted an event  on March 22 about the role that data and evidence can play in improving student outcomes in higher education. This event also came after Results for America released their bipartisan report, “Moneyball for Higher Education,” which outlines recommendations for how state leaders should use data and evidence in the financing of colleges to improve student outcomes.

The event began with remarks from U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) about the importance of evidence and innovation in higher education. Meng discussed the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), which provides financial, academic and financial support to assist students in earning their associate degrees within three years. Meng highlighted the data-driven nature of ASAP, as the program tracks metrics that include advisors’ contact with students and student outcome trends to determine what is working in the program and where improvements can be made.

While ASAP costs CUNY more per student initially than students not involved in ASAP, by graduation, CUNY spends less per ASAP student compared to students not in the program because the students in ASAP graduate at a faster rate than students not in ASAP. Graduation rates for students in ASAP have increased to 40 percent, compared to 22 percent for CUNY students overall.

The event ended with a panel that featured experts in the field of education and data analysis. James Kvaal, the President of the Institute for College Access and Success, outlined what he would like to see come from a reauthorized HEA: investing in ways to measure critical outcomes, sectioning off one percent of the higher education budget for evaluation and systemically channeling resources into programs that work. Michael Weiss, a senior associate from MDRC, mentioned the need for more comprehensive, long-lasting interventions, such as the ASAP program, that address multiple barriers to education across an extended period of time.

The panel concluded with the panelists discussing what they would change about the education system. Greg Johnson, CEO of Bottom Line, advocated tying Pell grants to an advising requirement. Kvaal emphasized the importance of colleges deciding what outcomes they want to produce and then investing the necessary resources so that those outcomes can come to fruition. Weiss expressed his desire for the use of a funding model that would allow for experimentation on the lowest level and an investment in data driven programs like ASAP on the highest level.

While the panelists recognized that the current education system is inequitable and touched on ways that data can be used to improve student outcomes in higher education, it would have been great to hear more on how data could be used to align labor market needs with student outcomes, as well as how data from the secondary system can be used to create higher-quality postsecondary programs.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Happy National Ag Day!

March 20th, 2018

Happy National Ag Day! Ag Day is about recognizing, and celebrating, the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. When honoring agriculture and it’s contributions – from the clothes we wear to the food we eat – it is important to understand how Career Technical Education (CTE) prepares learners for careers in this vital industry.

Programs of study across the nation in urban, suburban and rural areas are providing learners with rigorous academic coursework, technical skills and hands-on experiences in all aspects of agriculture – from food science to horticulture. An exemplary agriculture program that deserves recognition as we celebrate National Ag Day is  Advance CTE’s 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster®, the Culinology® program at Bergen County Technical Schools’ Teterboro High School in Paramus, New Jersey.

Remaining flexible to evolving profiles of students and reinventing traditional CTE programs of study in innovative ways to also meet industry needs is the cornerstone of the Culinology program of study. While Teterboro High School has had a Culinary Arts program for well over twenty years, in the past decade faculty started to see a slight change in their student profile. Increasingly, students were not only interested in culinary arts and the food industry, but were also drawn by a strong intrinsic interest in science. More and more, students demonstrated an interest in obtaining a four-year degree.

Recognizing a need to modify the program to better match their students’ needs, Bergen County partnered with the Rutgers University Departments of Biological Sciences and Food Sciences as well as the the Research Chefs Association to develop a first-of-its-kind high school program blending agriculture, food science, culinary arts and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics – Culinology®. All academic courses are delivered at the honors or AP level and students from the program now go on to some of the most prestigious four-year institutions in the nation.

The program now delivers a curriculum that includes college-credit courses (beyond the AP courses referred to above); rigorous academic and occupational skill requirements in agriculture, mathematics, humanities, culinary arts, and sciences; and an emphasis on critical analysis, problem-solving and employability skills. The program also includes a focus on key industry certifications needed to support success in the workplace. The class of 2016 boasted 100 percent high school completion, 100 percent of students having earned postsecondary credit, and 100 percent of students enrolled in postsecondary education. We should be able to hold all CTE programs to this standard of excellence.

Learn more about the Culinology® program of study at Bergen County Technical Schools’ Teterboro High School and our 2017 award winners.

New Fact Sheet Highlights How CTE Teacher Shortages Align with Labor Market Demands

March 20th, 2018

In August 2017, Advance CTE conducted a survey of State CTE Directors to gather information about how states are implementing provisions in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). Responses to this survey demonstrated the consistent challenge of Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher and faculty shortages, with the highest shortages typically occurring in the Career Clusters® that feed into the industries with the highest labor market demand.

Some of the takeaways include:

  • Reported teacher and faculty shortage trends have remained largely consistent since 2008, with Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, Health Science, and Manufacturing among the Career Clusters with the highest shortages;
  • The Career Clusters with the largest teacher and faculty shortages align with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted to be the fasted growing careers in CTE fields; and 
  • Of all required or permissible uses of state leadership funds, 31 states dedicate the majority to professional development for new and current teachers.

Check out the full fact sheet to learn more! We also encourage you to read our report, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR, on increasing access to industry experts in high schools.

Hello from Advance CTE’s Newest Staff Member

March 13th, 2018

I’m Brianna McCain and I’m so excited to join Advance CTE as the new Policy Associate! I’ll be helping to advance and support Advance CTE’s state policy and implementation strategy through developing resources, maintaining the Learning that Works Resource Center, and tracking state and federal legislation.

My interest in education and workforce development began after interning at Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) in New York City, where I assisted with efforts to develop a job readiness program for commercially sexually exploited youth. My experience there taught me about how education intersects with other social issues and the role that education plays in promoting economic mobility. I then went on to get my Masters of Social Work (MSW) at the Brown School at Washington University in Saint Louis to learn more about social and economic development. While at the Brown School, I specialized in policy and helped to develop a strategic policy plan for a nonprofit. Before coming to Advance CTE, I worked at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM), where I supported low-income clients and engaged in policy work related to access and equity.

I became interested in Career Technical Education (CTE) after learning about the critical role that it plays in promoting economic mobility. As I began to learn more about CTE and the role it can play in promoting equitable outcomes, I saw the potential for how high-quality CTE could be leveraged to address inequities and prepare all learners for a successful future. I am excited to advocate for CTE because I view it as a key component to promoting economic mobility and ensuring that all learners have the skills and experience they need to obtain a meaningful career in the future.  

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate 

Contact Your Representative About Signing Perkins Funding Letter

March 9th, 2018

As Congress continues its work on the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations process, efforts to encourage support for programs for FY19 are underway. Read below to find out how you can support a strong federal investment in Perkins and to learn about new updates from the U.S. Department of Education.

Contact Your Representative About Signing the FY19 Perkins Funding Letter

The two co-chairs of the House CTE Caucus (Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA)) will be sending a letter to the Chairman, Tom Cole (R-OK) and Ranking Member, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies encouraging that they consider strong support for Perkins. Right now, Reps. Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson are asking for their colleagues in the House to join them in signing this letter (their request is formally called a “Dear Colleague” letter). Please consider contacting your Representative by March 14 to encourage him/her to sign on to the letter by using the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Action Center or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking your Representative to sign onto the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Perkins appropriations letter. Looking for resources on Perkins funding or how it’s used? Check out the new Perkins page on Advance CTE’s website.

New Resource: the Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice

The Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice is now live on the U.S. Department of Education’s Literacy Information and Communication Systems (LINCS) site. This moderated community offers CTE educators a forum to engage in thoughtful discussions and share tools and resources to increase equity in CTE programming. You can pose questions and help answer those of colleagues. In addition to facilitated discussions, other equity-focused professional learning opportunities will include webinars, interactive resource reviews, blog posts, and important event announcements.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Final Supplemental Priorities for Competitive Grants 

On March 2, the U.S. Department of Education released the final supplemental prioritiesfor discretionary grant programs, which can be used to award competitive grants beginning April 2. The priorities were initially released in October 2017 for public comment and the final priorities include some additional details. The final priorities are as follows: “1) Empowering Families and Individuals to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Unique Needs, 2) Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education with an Increased Focus on Improving Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers, 3) Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills, 4) Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens, 5) Meeting the Unique Needs of Students and Children with Disabilities and/or Those with Unique Gifts and Talents, 6) Promoting STEM Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science, 7) Promoting Literacy, 8) Promoting Effective Instruction in Classrooms and Schools, 9) Promoting Economic Opportunity, 10) Protecting Freedom of Speech and Encouraging Respectful Interactions in a Safe Educational Environment and 11) Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational Options.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

Getting to Know… California

March 8th, 2018

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: California

State CTE Director: Donna Wyatt, Director, Career and College Transition Division, California Department of Education

About California: California is a state that doesn’t just give lip service to career readiness; it fully commits to preparing learners for meaningful careers. Last summer, the Career and College Transition Division underwent a significant reorganization that elevated the role of career readiness within the Department of Education. The state legislature has also appropriated more than $1.4 billion in the past few years to support Career Technical Education (CTE) and career pathways across the state through various initiatives and grants.

In California, CTE is delivered through comprehensive high schools, career academies, community colleges and 74 Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs). California recognizes 15 industry sectors loosely organized around the National Career Clusters framework, including state-specific sectors such as fashion and interior design. While programs are developed and administered locally, there are seven technical assistance centers across the state that support local districts to evaluate and improve their program offerings. These efforts are guided by a framework of 11 elements of a high-quality CTE system that are outlined in the state’s Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) state plan.

Notable in California – College and Career Indicator: In 2016, the California Department of Education unveiled a new school dashboard with various measures of school performance to provide transparency for students, families and communities. The dashboard is designed to satisfy school accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Included in the dashboard is a College and Career Indicator to rate schools on their success in preparing learners for post-high school transitions. Currently, schools are evaluated on only three levels — prepared, approaching prepared and not prepared — that include measures such as CTE pathway completion and dual enrollment.

While the dashboard was implemented with only three levels for this indicator, efforts are underway to define what it takes for students to be “well prepared” for college and careers. State leaders in California are working to define this level and are exploring options such as work-based learning participation and industry-recognized credential attainment.

Notable in California – California Career Pathways Trust: The California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) is a multi-million dollar grant program authorized in the 2013-14 state budget to accelerate the development of regional 9-14 career pathways. Between 2014 and 2015, grants of up to $15 million were awarded to 87 sites, which include partnerships between high schools, colleges and businesses.

According to a 2017 evaluation of CCPT, more than 800 discrete school-level pathways were developed or strengthened in the first year of the initiative, including in both community colleges and high schools. Many of these included CTE course sequences, work-based learning and student support services. Further, many sites reported that the partnerships established through their CCPT work led to lasting relationships and collaboration with key industry leaders.

While selected sites are continuing to receive funding through CCPT, the program was designed as a one-time investment to accelerate regional career pathways work. Day-to-day CTE programs and career readiness activities are supported through the CTE Incentive Grant program and the Local Control Funding Formula.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

 

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