The Learning that Works Resource Center: A Quick Guide

June 23rd, 2016

resource centerEarlier this week Advance CTE launched the Learning that Works Resource Center, a repository of high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness research and promising policies. The Resource Center is supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co’s New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of Advance CTE, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group, and is designed to connect state leaders, policymakers, academics and practitioners alike with a vetted bank of resources from which to learn and expand their knowledge of CTE.

While the Resource Center is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, here are some tips and tricks to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.  

I Want to Learn More about a Topic

The home page features 12 different categories of resources related to CTE. Hover your mouse over a topic tile to see a description of the types of resources included in that category.

Once you’ve settled on a topic to explore, click on the tile to enter the Resource Center and view a list of resources. The most relevant documents will be listed at the top, but you can filter even further by using the “By State” and “By Resource Type” filters at top of the page. Note that the icon next to the resource indicates the resource type: Guide/Tool, Policy or Report/Case Study.

Click on any resource title to read a summary and download the full version of the resource. Related resources are located at the bottom of each resource page, but you can always explore another topic by clicking on the menu to the left.

I Am Looking for a Specific Resource

The Resource Center includes advanced search options to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Start by clicking the “Advanced Search” button at the bottom of the home page to access additional search filters. From here you can search by title, keyword, primary topic, resource type and/or state. Be aware: while this feature allows you to hone in on specific resources, including additional filters limits the search response. You may end up seeing only one or two results.

The “Search by State” and “New Skills for Youth” buttons on the bottom of the home page also allow for further filtering. “Search by State” allows you to identify all resources related to a specific state, which may come in handy if you want to learn more about a program or policy in that state. “New Skills for Youth” includes tools and resources specific to the JPMorgan Chase New Skills for Youth initiative.

I Have Limited Knowledge of CTE but Want to Learn More

Good news – you’ve come to the right place! The Resource Center has all the information you need to become an expert on CTE. If you want to get a broad sense of what other people in the field are reading, click on the “Most Popular” button at the bottom of the home page to view a list of the most frequently visited pages. Otherwise, you may want to start by exploring the 12 topics and narrow down your search from there.

The Resource Center already includes a broad collection of resources spanning a range of topics, states and audiences. All the same, Advance CTE will continue to update the website with high-quality documents that meet the Resource Center criteria for inclusion. If you would like to contribute any resources, you can submit them for review here. If you have additional questions that weren’t addressed above, feel free to reach out to us directly at resources@careertech.org.  


Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Inside International CTE: India

June 9th, 2016

Today, guest blogger, Heather Ridge, an agriculture and science teacher at Boulder Universal school in Boulder, Colorado will provide insight into the Vocational Education system in India. She has just returned from a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant in India where she spent six months examining workforce readiness. Here is what she observed. This post is part of our ongoing series exploring vocational education around the world with Asia Society’s Global Education blog on Education Week.

By guest blogger Heather Ridge

If you’re looking for an electrical engineer, India is a great place to find one, but good luck getting the phone number of someone qualified to wire the house. The push towards higher education over the last decade has doubled the number of students enrolling in higher education but, much like in the US, the skills they are graduating with have many who follow workforce development concerned. Current policy makers are turning to new programming in vocational education as a way to meet this challenge.

India will soon have the largest and youngest workforce in the world.
With more than 40% of the country’s 1.2 billion people under the age of 20, the level of skills and talents these youth might bring with them will have profound impacts on both social and economic factors within the country and around the world. In a recent report, only 2% of the Indian workforce was considered formally skilled and less than 7% of students under 15 were involved in any form of vocational training. Industry sectors projected to face the largest gaps are skilled trades for construction and infrastructure as well as banking and finance, which are seen as essential to economic growth and development.

These kinds of numbers demand attention from the government to address the growing skills gap between what knowledge and abilities students leave the classroom with and what the workforce demands. With 17 different ministries in India currently engaged in some sort of skill development scheme, the push towards revamping the role that vocational education can play in secondary schools has led to the newly revised policy of Vocationalisation of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education and the launch of the new National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). As a career and technical education teacher (CTE), I spent the first few months of 2016 traveling around India to see how this new policy was being implemented at the classroom level.

Creating a Career and Technical Framework
The National Skills Qualification Framework was launched in 2013 and is a framework that organizes competency-based learning into levels that allow learners to gain certification through both formal and informal skill development. As part of this new framework, both universities and secondary schools are gaining access to resources that allow them expand vocational courses and degree programs. As a high school teacher, I was most interested in seeing how new vocational programs were being created for students in class 9-12 around the country.

With centralized curriculum being taught in the country’s estimated 1.3 million different schools, the first step the government took in creating new vocational course options was to develop learning standards. The creation of new Sector Skills Councils (SSC), which are industry-led groups focused around particular job clusters like manufacturing, agriculture, and trades, has worked to create new National Occupation Standards. Along with industry-specific competencies, each of the job qualification packets that the SSC’s put together include soft skills, such as communication, designed to prepare students for the professional environment. From here, the National Occupation Standards go to the PSS Central Institute for Vocational Education, where they are turned into curriculum and materials for teacher training.

At the implementation level, government-run schools are selected by the state and two vocational programs based on the National Skill Development Corporation’s skill gap analysis. This public-private partnership looks at industry needs and workforce data to map out where skills gaps exist.

Due to the growing technology demand, each school offers an IT/Computer Science program, in addition to options ranging from automotive, agriculture, security, and healthcare as the second program option. From the 40 schools originally piloted, there are now over 2,000 schools around the country offering these four-year programs to boys and girls in class 9-12. That number is expected to double within the next year as more states become involved in the program.

Connecting Industry with Classrooms
The vocational classrooms I visited while in India were cramped, crowded, and under-resourced, but filled with enthusiasm. Students were clearly very excited about a style of hands-on learning that combined both theory and practice and diverged from the traditional rote memorization and recitation that is commonly associated with government schools. Evidence for the growing demand for these types of course can be seen in the enrollment. At all of the schools I visited, applications for the programs far exceeded number of seats available, which are capped at 25 per program per class.

When questioned, it was clear the part of class students liked best was the practical experience that not only involved their own labs, but visits to industry. As part of the newly revised scheme, all programs have a prescribed number of visiting guest lecturers, who are remunerated for their time, as well as field visits to different industry partners each year. While labor laws forbid students actually working as interns at a business, they have multiple opportunities to visit sites with their class and explore careers and skills within that industry.

Through the newly established National Skills Qualification Framework, students within the programs earn standardized level certification that they can take with them to higher education or the workforce.

Read the full article here

Excellence in Action Award Recipients Announced!

May 26th, 2016

On Tuesday we announced the 11 Excellence in Action award recipients that  demonstrate  innovative and high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). The awardees were chosen by a national selection committee based on their proven ability to prepare students for education and career success, demanding coursework, high-quality work-based learning experiences, and sustained partnerships with education, business and community leaders.Iowa

Award winners include:

  • Tulare Join Union High School District Farm, CA (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources)
  • Advanced Technologies Academy, NV (Architecture & Construction)
  • Vista PEAK Preparatory, CO (Business Management & Administration)
  • Peoria Unified School District, AZ (Education & Training)
  • Hamburg High School, NY (Finance)
  • Waubonsee Community College, IL (Health Science)
  • Central Campus of Des Moines Public Schools, IA (Hospitality & Tourism)
  • Southwest High School, TX (Information Technology)
  • Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, TX (Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security)
  • Desert View High School, AZ (Manufacturing)
  • Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center, MI (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)

Cesar“CTE should prepare all students for success in both postsecondary education and careers, and these programs of study do exactly that,” said Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director. “The eleven award winners were chosen, in part, due to their dedication to ensuring access to and supporting success for all students. We hope these programs of study serve as a model for leaders across the country by demonstrating what high-quality CTE looks like and can offer to students and communities.”

Scott Nail representing Upper Valley Career Center, a 2015 award recipient said, “What an amazing honor for UVCC to be chosen. This award has allowed UVCC to share best practices with federal policymakers and the White House administration, a testament to how CTE is being reshaped to help prepare students for high-demand, high-wage jobs.”

Award recipients were honored at the 2016 Advance CTE Spring Meeting at a luncheon where 40 administrators, educators and students traveled across the country to be recognized.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Today’s Class: Filling the Soft Skills Gap

May 10th, 2016

When it comes to finding a job, candidates need to play up their “soft” side. A 2014 survey* found that 77% of employers believe that “softTodays Class Logo- Registred Trademark-1-7-14 skills”  — skills that include positive attitude, work ethic, initiative, dependability and other traits — are just as essential as hard skills when it comes to job success. Pair this need with a rapidly changing job market that requires candidates to adapt and it’s clear that workplace readiness skills are an essential part of any CTE program.

The Workplace Readiness curriculum from Today’s Class was developed to help fill the gap in soft skills for CTE students. The curriculum is based around the following core areas:

Reading skills: Reading for comprehension, making inferences, and following instructions.

Writing skills: Audience and purpose, gathering information, devising a layout, writing drafts, editing, and proofreading.

Math skills: Measurements, basic algebraic formulas, handling cash, and finances.

Work ethic: Integrity, responsibility, initiative, productivity, and other necessary character traits for successful professionals.

The Today’s Class Workplace Readiness program follows guidelines set forth by NOCTI in its 21st Century Skills for Workplace Success blueprint. The program will be further developed over the coming year to fully mirror the NOCTI guidelines and ensure students are receiving the most comprehensive program in career preparedness.

One of the most essential skills for workplace success is the ability to collaborate and work closely with others. The Today’s Class Workplace Readiness program places an emphasis on team-based activities to help students learn how to work within a team. This team-based approach also helps to hone students’ problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership abilities.

Career readiness requires a multi-disciplinary approach and encompasses a wide variety of skills and characteristics. The Today’s Class Workplace Readiness curriculum aims to help make teaching these skills easier and more effective for instructors, while giving students accessible materials and activities to prepare them for the careers of today and tomorrow.

Today’s Class is a proud supporter of CTE and is a Gold Level Sponsor of the Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

*2014 Harris Poll for Careerbuilder.com of 2,138 hiring managers and HR professionals

CompTIA: The IT Industry Trade Association

May 3rd, 2016

CompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. As a non-profit trade association, weCompTIA_Logo_Pantone (1) advance the global interests of IT professionals and IT channel organizations and enable them to be more successful with industry-leading certifications and business credentials, education, resources and the ability to connect with like-minded, leading industry experts.

Learn about our focus areas and find out who we are and what we do.

Membership
Becoming a CompTIA member indicates a commitment to learning, growing and personal and business success in the IT channel. All of our benefits are aimed at providing our members with a wealth of resources that, when leveraged, result in measurable impact to the member organization.

Education
You can’t get a job or successfully run a business without all the right tools. In the ever-changing IT industry, education is essential. CompTIA’s educational efforts include a comprehensive suite of channel training, a variety of events and meetings and a steady stream of research and market intelligence studies. Everything is designed to help you succeed.

Certifications
It all started with A+. Back in 1993, we developed a revolutionary IT certification that was not tied to a particular manufacturer, but vendor-neutral. The concept took off and today CompTIA offers four IT certification series that test different knowledge standards, from entry-level to expert.

Public Advocacy
TechAmerica, the public sector and public policy department of CompTIA, champions member-driven business and policy priorities that impact the entire continuum of technology companies – from small IT service providers and software developers to large equipment manufacturers and communications service providers.

Philanthropy
The shortage of IT workers in the U.S. stands at about 300,000 and there continues to be high demand for motivated and capable employees. It’s the job of CompTIA’s philanthropic arm, the Creating IT Futures Foundation, to help unemployed individuals and populations under-represented in the field obtain the right training for an IT role; not just a job, but a foothold into a career. In order to help supply the IT worker pipeline, Creating IT Futures is exploring ways to nudge more youth in the direction of tech careers.

This blog was written by CompTIA, a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Meeting. Learn more about CompTIA here, and be sure to meet them at the Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.!

State Policy Update: Virginia, Idaho pass major CTE legislation

April 27th, 2016

Back in January, we shared highlights from this year’s State of the State addresses, particularly in Virginia and Idaho where the states’ governors made Career Technical Education (CTE) a key part of their 2016 legislative agendas. Three months later, some of those proposals have made their way through the legislative process to be signed into law earlier this month.

Virginia

In his State of the Commonwealth address earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe outlined a new vision for the state’s education and workforce development systems to equip students with the skills needed to be successful in today’s labor market, and called for increased collaboration among government, business and education. To do this, McAuliffe pointed to industry-recognized credentials and competency-based education, saying, “you cannot build an economy for 2050 with a 1950s approach to education.”

Since then, Mcauliffe has signed a host of education and workforce bills, which will strengthen articulation agreements and establish a grant fund to help students cover two-thirds of the cost for a noncredit workforce training program. Of particular relevance is SB336, which intends to restructure the high school experience for Virginia students starting in the 2018-19 school year to be based on mastery rather than seat-time and includes work-based learning opportunities for all students, regardless of their graduation pathway. The final plan will be determined by the State Board of Education, but broadly, the bill instructs the state board to:

  • Collaborate with K-12, higher education, and private industry stakeholders to identify the skills that students need upon graduation;
  • Shift high school instruction to teach core competencies during the first two years of high school;
  • Establish graduation pathways of a student’s choosing that provide opportunities for internships, externships, and credentialing; and
  • Allow districts to substitute industry certification and state licensure exams for the state’s end-of-course assessments.

Idaho

For its part, Idaho has also been hard at work to expand CTE since Gov. Butch Otter made CTE a priority in his State of the State address in January. Among other things, Otter proposed to increase funding for technical colleges, career counseling and STEM education.

Since then, the Idaho legislature passed SCR134, which supported Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s postsecondary attainment goal for 60 percent of residents age 25-34 to have a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2020. The resolution also urged public and private sectors to collaborate on programs to support postsecondary pathways for young Idahoans. Separately, the legislature also allocated $3.8 million to expand capacity for CTE programs at Idaho’s six technical colleges and graduate more students into high-demand fields such as health care, information technology, mechatronics and transportation.

Other highlights from Idaho (we know, there are a lot!) include:

  • A language amendment in SB1210 that changes “professional-technical education” to “career technical education”;
  • Increased funding for CTE instructors that hold a specialist certificate (HB630);
  • A budget increase of 10.4 percent for the state’s Division of Career Technical Education (HB625); and
  • An additional $5 million to improve college and career counseling for high school students.

While the Virginia and Idaho legislatures have both adjourned for the year, 25 states remain in session. We will continue to keep a close eye on these remaining states in the coming months and share major CTE policy changes as they happen. Stay tuned.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

Welcome to Ronald Roveri, South Carolina’s State CTE Director!

April 25th, 2016

Ronald Roveri, South Carolina’s Newest State CTE Director, has spent nearly his entire career in Career Technical Education (CTE). Roveri medium_Roveri2worked as an automotive maintenance and repair technician for Shell, and after lobbying hard for his father to co-sign a loan to open his own service station, his father suggested college instead, where Roveri minored in Education. An advisor at Kent State University suggested Roveri look into becoming an educator, thus launching his career in CTE.

“I loved every minute of my time in the classroom,” said Roveri, who taught industrial technology and Project Lead the Way. In the early 1990s, he transitioned from a classroom teacher into administration, first as an assistant principal and then working his way up to a career center director, a position he held for 13 years.

As State CTE Director, Roveri is working hard to develop a strong state-level advisory committee to bring together education, human resources and workforce representatives to improve career pathways throughout the state. Last year, 44 districts in South Carolina reported that zero dual credits were earned, demonstrating an unsupported transition between secondary and postsecondary education for students. Roveri knows that in order to have a solid pipeline from secondary to postsecondary to workforce, all CTE programs must include articulation agreements and industry credentials to mirror what the workforce needs.

Roveri hopes this leadership team will work hard to elevate CTE saying, “I love networking with people who are so passionate and dedicated to providing quality CTE to the students of South Carolina.” He can certainly count himself among that dedicated cohort, and we are looking forward to seeing the work Roveri accomplishes in the state.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

April 15th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Though employers are having trouble filling vacant jobs, (there are 600,000 jobs open in the manufacturing industry currently) students aren’t being equip with the skills they need to succeed in many of the careers across industry sectors. While there are many Career Technical Education (CTE) programs breaking the mold of what some think of as traditional vocational education, there’s still much work to be done to raise the standards of CTE programs everywhere, such as regularly training educators in industry advancements, developing real apprenticeship opportunities for students, and demanding that policy leaders make a long-term investment in CTE.
Read more

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

The White House hosted its annual science fair this week, and a few future CTE students stole the show.
Watch the video

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part II)

April 7th, 2016

In Part II, we dive into the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s newest report, “Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?” Provocative title notwithstanding, the report’s short answer is: Yes.

The report opens with a caveat that CTE is not a meaningful prat of students’ high school experience, and unlike most industrialized countries, it has been chronically neglected by leaders and policymakers.

“American students face a double-whammy: Not only do they lack access to high-quality secondary CTE, but then they are subject to a ‘bachelor’s degree or bust’ mentality,” the report states. “And many do bust, dropping out of college with no degree, no work skills, no work experience and a fair amount of debt.”

But according to data examined by University of Connecticut’s Shaun M. Dougherty, students do benefit from CTE coursework, in particular those course sequences aligned to certain industries. Based on the report’s findings, it calls for policymakers and education leaders across the country to invest more heavily – and strategically – in high school CTE, and to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act and increase federal support for high-quality, labor market-aligned programs that are available and appealing to all students.

The report’s findings will be discussed on April 14 in Washington, DC, and will also be streamed. Register here to hear from the report’s author and Arkansas State CTE Director Charisse Childers, among others.  The study uses the wealth of secondary, postsecondary and labor market data from the Arkansas Research Center to better understand the state of CTE, both of those students who take CTE courses and those who take three or more CTE courses within a career field.

Key findings include:

  • Students with greater CTE exposure are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed and earn higher wages.
  • CTE students are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers. There was little evidence of “tracking.”
  • The more CTE courses students take, the better their education and labor market outcomes. Among other positive outcomes, CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school by 21 percentage points when compared to otherwise similar students.
  • Though white and female students are more likely to concentrate, CTE provides the greatest boost to students who need it most – males and students from low-income families.

The report offers recommendations similar to what has taken place in Arkansas:

  • Examine state labor market projections to identify high-growth industries
  • Offer CTE courses aligned to skills and industry-recognized credentials in these fields and encourage (or require) high school students to take them)
  • Encourage (or require) students take a concentration of CTE courses
  • Support and encourage dual enrollment and make credits “stackable” from high school into college, so that high school CTE courses count toward specific postsecondary credentials

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

fordham

Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part I)

April 7th, 2016

This week, two leading education organizations – the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Trust – have published new research that illustrates how K-12 CTE can and should be used to create meaningful education experiences that prepares students for future success in college and careers. First up, an analysis of high school transcripts to pull back the curtain on college and career readiness.

Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates

In “Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates,” Ed Trust finds that while students may graduate high school, too many are leaving with no clear path forward.

For nearly a decade, college and career-readiness for all students has been the foundational rhetoric of U.S. education, but high school transcripts show that this rhetoric didn’t bear out in reality for most graduates in 2013. In fact, fewer than one in 10 recent graduates had taken a foundational set of courses necessary to be both college- and career-ready. Additionally, the data shows that 47 percent of graduates completed neither a college- nor career-ready course of study. The study defined college- and career-courses of study as the standard 15-course sequence required for entry at many public colleges, as well as three or more credits in a career-focused area such as health science or business.

Of those who had completed a course of study, only eight percent in those graduates completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Further, less than one-third of graduates completed a college-ready course of study and just 13 percent finished a career-ready course sequence. Because seat-time is not a sufficient indicator of readiness, the report also looks at who in the college- and career-ready cohort, particularly students of color or disadvantaged backgrounds, had also demonstrated mastery of the curriculum. When looking at mastery, an additional 14 percent of graduates fail to meet this benchmark.

Rather than aligning high school coursework with students’ future goals, the report found that high schools are continuing to prioritize credit accrual, which reinforces the idea that high school graduate is the end goal in a student’s educational journey. The report identifies state-, district-, and school-level levers including transcript analysis, master schedule, credit policies and graduation requirements.

To truly prepare students, school structures, culture and instruction must shift to prepare students for postsecondary studies aligned to their career interests, and this can be done without risk of recreating a system of tracking students into prescribed pathways.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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