Celebrating One Year of Transforming Education Through CTE

May 24th, 2017

Today, Advance CTE is excited to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, which establishes a bold vision for all of education that includes, but is not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE).

The vision calls for a systemic transformation of the education system, and identifies CTE strengths and role in this transformation. It 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 truly prepares all students for a lifetime of success.

Over the past year, national, state and local leaders have taken up the charge and begun to integrate the vision into their work and communities, from aligning their strategic plans to the vision principles to leveraging the vision to engage many critical stakeholders around the promise of CTE. We are thrilled to celebrate a number of successes including:

  • Five more national organizations have committed to the vision, for a total of 12,
  • Nearly half of states have supported the vision through presentations, cross walking vision principles with strategic plans, and sharing it with critical stakeholders,
  • Advance CTE has presented the vision on webinars, and at numerous state and national conferences across the country,
  • 41 states are represented in the Putting Learner Success First sign-on campaign, which you can sign onto here!

In addition, we have a number of new resources to share including a new vision video, that envisions a world where all vision principles are enacted.

We have continued to develop resources and materials to help you better communicate about, and integrate the vision in your work including:

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Inside International CTE: Looking to Germany as a Model for Workforce Training

May 23rd, 2017

Letitia Zwickert, a high school teacher at Naperville Central High School and a K-12 Education Advisor to the University of Illinois’ International Outreach Council, explores the German-style dual education system. This post part of our ongoing partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning Blog.

By guest blogger Letitia Zwickert

As we near the end of another academic year, we see many of our high school students leaving to take on the world of higher education. In 2016, 69.7 percent of students were enrolled in college. However, this leaves 30 percent of students not involved in a degreed program—where are they headed? Has our education system served them to the best of its ability? And of those students enrolled in a degree program, 40 percent will end up dropping out of college. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to create opportunities for success for all of our students.

Some of our high school students find themselves with course options that do not serve their needs or interests, leaving them without realistic paths to finding a career. Most of our school districts continue to cater to the traditional college-bound student. And yet, a four-year college degree is not necessarily the right path for all students. Students who are socio-economically disadvantaged, or who face other struggles, have more hurdles to overcome and must work harder than others to achieve the same results. In the end, these students face a greater challenge to finding successful employment.

Add to this a crisis in our labor pool. The skills gap in the U.S. will leave more than two million jobs vacant in skilled manufacturing and information technology over the next decade. STEM entered the education discussion some years ago, pushing schools to offer new courses, moving students to double up on math and science classes, and leading to numerous education workshops, conferences, and seminars across the country. These adjustments and discussions have not fixed the significant skills gap and have made little progress toward increasing equity.

The German Dual Education System

In the last half decade, Germany has entered the conversation regarding the U.S. education system. Germany ranks 5th as an American trading partner. They have invested heavily in the United States, with approximately 3,700 German-owned businesses in our country, and have deep incentives to create good conditions for economic growth.

German companies have taken note of the skills gap and training challenges they are facing in the United States. According to German American Trade Quarterly, in 2015, 65 percent of German-American companies reported difficulties finding employees with the skill set they needed, up from 49 percent just the year before, putting investment in education and training at the top of “the reform agenda of German companies.” Consequently, the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) brought in a not-so-secret, but very powerful weapon to support businesses: “dual education.”

Germany’s dual system of vocational education and training (VET) dates back to the middle ages. The system partners technical schools and businesses, allowing students to combine training in advanced areas of manufacturing or technology while getting on-the-job work experience at a company. Studies are paid and jobs are salaried. An Atlantic article, Jobs For Americans: A Lesson From Germany, shares, “Germany’s educational system incorporates courses that give students a general sense of various careers, but much of its success springs from the generous support that the country’s corporations give to on-site apprenticeship programs—part of a system in which companies are required to support training programs through their local chambers of commerce. As a result, apprenticeship programs are integral to employers.”

The perception of dual education in Germany also contributes to its success there. In Germany, vocational training doesn’t come with the stigma it does in the United States. In fact, 50 percent of college-bound German students who decide not to go to university end up choosing a vocational training path instead. Dual education offers a viable way to achieve any student’s goals, allowing for the freedom to earn money while learning and gaining experience.

American Vocational Education Traditions

Back in the U.S., there is historical precedent for vocational training. The apprenticeships that once helped establish young workers in the early years of our country declined as the industrial revolution led to factory jobs that no longer required long hours of training. Around this time, Horace Mann began his push for universal education and the opening of large numbers of public schools. With the decline in the availability of youth and the rise in the need for specialized workers, eventually the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 was passed, which promoted vocational education in public schools and formed the Federal Board for Vocational Education.

But by the 1950s, tracking was in vogue and vocational training began to be seen as a remedial track, according to Nicholas Wyman. Tracking students soon lost popularity when equity issues arose, and a new push to prepare all students for college began. But, vocational training continued to be perceived as a “lower” option outside of mainstream education. Amy Scott, a Senior Education correspondent at Marketplace wrote, “For a long time…skilled trades have been seen as somehow less valuable than white-collar jobs. What used to be known as vocational training in high school had a reputation as a dead-end track for struggling kids, or for failing to prepare students for in-demand jobs.”

Read the full article on Education Week

All Eyes on Perkins Reauthorization

May 16th, 2017

With the House Education and the Workforce Committee slated to mark up H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (the bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins)), this week, Career Technical Education (CTE) has been getting a lot of airtime in Washington, D.C. Updates about CTE events, bills, and support in Congress are below.

Watch the Action Live: H.R. 2353 Mark Up Tomorrow 

On Wednesday, May 17 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up H.R. 2353. At this time, members of the Committee will consider and discuss amendments to the legislation. You can watch the mark up tomorrow live here and follow Advance CTE on Twitter at @CTEWorks for up-to-the-minute updates. Advance CTE sent a letter to the Committee outlining our support of many provisions included in H.R. 2353 and our main outstanding concern around how the bill defines a secondary CTE concentrator.

Chairwoman Foxx Discusses CTE at AEI

On May 16, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx of the House Education and Workforce Committee delivered remarks, engaged in a brief discussion with Andy Smarick, the Morgridge Fellow in education at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and answered questions from the audience about CTE. Chairwoman Foxx encouraged the audience to be mindful of the language we use to describe CTE, emphasized the strong academic outcomes of CTE students, and reinforced the need to share success stories about programs that prepare students for the workforce (and you can find Advance CTE’s resources to promote CTE programs here). In addition, she highlighted how H.R. 2353 provides opportunities for state and local CTE leaders to engage and partner with business and industry. Highlights and a recording of the event can be found online here.

Senate “Dear Colleague” Letter Garners 34 Signatures in Support of Perkins

On May 9, a “Dear Colleague Letter” was sent to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee to request an increase in the investment in Perkins State Grants to $1.3 billion (it is currently funded at $1.17 billion) in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations Bill. The letter garnered 34 signatures from Senators across 25 states. Please check to see if your Senators signed the letter here and if so, send a thank you note! Advance CTE will also be thanking these Senators and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for leading the charge to collect signatures!

College Transparency Act Introduced

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the College Transparency Act on May 15. The bill would “establish a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student data system at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Colleges would report data to this new data system in lieu of the current, burdensome reporting mechanisms, and NCES would be responsible for presenting the information in a user-friendly manner for students and the public, while safeguarding student privacy” according to this one-pager released by the bill’s sponsors.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Top 10 Advance CTE Spring Meeting Tweets

May 12th, 2017

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 Excellence in Action and Star of Education award recipients. Attendees and speakers took to Twitter to keep the conversation going. Below are the top 10 tweets from the meeting.



Staff Reflects on the 2017 Spring Meeting Part 1

May 9th, 2017

Last week, we held the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, which brought over 200 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From digging into new research to updates on federal policy, hear what our staff had to say as they reflected on this year’s meeting in this three-part series. 

Everyone working in the CTE field knows that we regularly face major communications challenges, often needing to combat negative misconceptions many still hold when it comes to our programs and pathways. Given the urgency and importance of these challenges, we dedicated much of Tuesday to digging into polling data and effective messaging around CTE for all students.

Tim Hodges kicked off Tuesday with a keynote exploring a wide array of Gallup’s data that made the case for high-quality CTE. For example, students and parents are increasingly unengaged in their schools, with only 50% of students strongly agreeing that they get to do what they do best every day.  What most stood out to me were the experiences of college graduates who were the most likely to be successful upon graduation (and engaged in their work) – having mentors, participating in internships where they applied their learning and long-term projects – are all hallmarks of high-quality CTE programs. The challenge is that too few students – in K-12 or in postsecondary – have access to these opportunities or even know about them.

Tim’s presentation perfectly set the stage for leaders from Edge Research to then share Advance CTE’s new communications research (released last month) on how to best engage parents and students around the value and promise of CTE.  The Edge team shared some of the most inspiring findings from the focus groups and national survey – like the fact that parents and students engaged in CTE are twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with their education compared to those not involved in CTE – and unpacked some lessons learned around messaging.

Later in the afternoon, I had the opportunity to jointly lead workshops for over 50 meeting participants with Katie Fitzgerald, where we dug into the big takeaways from the research, including “do’s and don’ts,” such as DO use consistent messages, DO leverage the student voice and story and DON’T market CTE as the “non-college” option given parents and students need to know CTE can be a path to postsecondary options, as well as careers.

These are big, thorny challenges that will not be solved over night or by any single person – and it will take a significant shift in how we all talk about CTE and its many benefits to learners.  But we are just getting started and Advance CTE is 100% committed to helping our members and partners strengthen their recruitment strategies and overall messaging around CTE to parents and students.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director, Advance CTE

The Spring Meeting was an amazing opportunity for me to meet Advance CTE’s members! While I couldn’t meet everyone, the members I met were smart, insightful, and passionate about their work. I was continuously impressed by their desire to both dive into complex issues and discuss potential solutions regardless of topic area during informal conversations and breakout sessions alike. Whether members were looking at including work-based learning in their accountability systems, better understanding the role of school counselors in career guidance, or determining how to best meet the needs of rural students, they weren’t afraid to dig into the challenges and share successes. It was truly inspiring to see their commitment to continuous improvement and their dedication to student success. I’m excited to be joining the CTE community and look forward to engaging with more of our members virtually and in upcoming conferences and meetings!

Another highlight of the Spring Meeting was the vibrant discussion around CTE policy! Sessions throughout the meeting touched on the major pieces of federal legislation that intersect with CTE. On Tuesday, leaders from states that are building career readiness into their accountability systems under ESSA shared their stories and examples, which are particularly relevant as states finalize their ESSA plans. In a panel discussion on Thursday, national experts on higher education shared what they see as the opportunities in the Higher Education Act (HEA) to strengthen connections to CTE. The entire panel provided unique insights on the biggest debates ahead and also touched on the areas in which the law could better serve the needs of today’s post-secondary students, something that is at the forefront of my mind as we approach discussions around HEA reauthorization in the coming months. In a particularly timely session, Congressional staff participated in a panel about the new Perkins reauthorization bill and our members had the opportunity to get their questions answered! Each session provided me with a better understanding of the particular policy ideas and issues that are most pressing and important to our members. All in all, it was a tremendous learning experience and I can’t wait for the Fall Meeting!

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy


11 Programs of Study Receive National Excellence in Action Award

May 5th, 2017

Earlier this week, 11 Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study received the Excellence in Action award from Advance CTE. Hailing from 10 states, these programs represent the best of CTE, with each providing clear pathways into college and careers, rigorous academic and technical coursework, strong partnerships with industry leaders, and impactful work-based learning experiences that offer opportunities for career exploration and subject-matter mastery.

Award-winning programs provide learners from diverse communities with the supports to succeed in the education pathway and career of their choice. Advance CTE is pleased to recognize the following award winners in Career Cluster areas:

  • Culinology, Bergen County Technical Schools, NJ (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources)
  • Graphic Arts, Passaic County Technical Institute, NJ (Arts, A/V Technology & Communications)
  • Education Career Academy, Millard Public Schools, NE (Education & Training)
  • Shea Government and Public Administration Academy, Pawtucket School Department, RI (Government and Public Administration)
  • Emergency Medical Technology, Jones County Junior College, MS (Health Science)
  • Culinary and Hospitality Services, Jack E. Singley Academy, TX (Hospitality & Tourism)
  • Networking Engineering, Summit Technology Academy, MO (Information Technology)
  • Law, Public Safety and Security, Milton Hershey School, PA (Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security)
  • Mechatronics, Oakland High School, TN (Manufacturing)
  • Engineering, Harmony Magnet Academy, CA (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)
  • Automotive Technology, Warren County Area Technology Center, KY (Transportation, Distribution & Logistics)

“I am so proud of these exemplary programs and all they offer learners across the country,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE. “Boasting impressive graduation and completion rates, credential attainment, and hands-on learning experiences, these programs demonstrate what high-quality CTE has to offer, and its ability to set students up for success across the spectrum of careers.”

Award recipients were honored at the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting at a luncheon where 30 administrators, educators and students traveled across the country to be recognized.

Find profiles of each winner here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

April 28th, 2017


Advance CTE released a new report, Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High Quality Career Pathways, examining the role state leaders can play in promoting quality by leveraging policy, programs and resources to ensure all career pathways meet minimum standards. Take a look and how Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware took on this important work.

Idaho Career & Technical Education released a video highlighting CTE students career aspirations and prospects.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

New Report Offers Solutions to Better Communicate About CTE with Parents and Students

April 24th, 2017

Career Technical Education (CTE) has had a long struggle with stigma. Despite programs preparing students for both college and career, and a 10 percent higher graduation rate for CTE students compared to the national average, CTE remains plagued by outdated perceptions and stereotypes.

To help combat these perception challenges, Advance CTE with support from the Siemens Foundation, released a new report addressing this important issue, and offering solutions to drive students and parents to consider CTE as an option for their education.

“The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students,” explores the attitudes of parents and students currently involved in CTE, as well as prospective CTE parents and students, to improve understanding of the promise and opportunity of CTE.

The survey had many critical findings including: 





  • More than double the percentage of CTE parents and students are ‘very satisfied’ with their overall education experience compared to that of parents and students not involved in CTE
  • CTE parents and students are more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their classes, teachers and opportunity for career exploration
  • Across the board, CTE programs are most valued for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system, offering concrete and tangible benefits related to college and career success
  • Counselors, teachers and CTE students and alumni are among the most trusted sources of information for students and parents alike

The report highlights findings that can help states, district and local leaders more effectively communicate with parents and students to encourage interested students to enroll in CTE programs.

To help you get started, Advance CTE has developed a series of tools including talking points and supportive statements, Dos and Don’ts and a fact sheet. Learn more here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Get to Know the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council!

April 14th, 2017

This post is written by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) is the nation’s leading industry-led training, assessment and certification organization focused on the core technical competencies needed by the nation’s frontline production and material handling workers. The nationwide MSSC certifications, based upon industry-defined and federally endorsed national standards, offer both entry-level and incumbent workers the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge and skills increasingly needed in the technology-intensive advanced manufacturing and logistics jobs of the 21st century. MSSC applies to all frontline manufacturing production jobs (6 million) and all front-line material handling and distribution jobs (6.1 million). MSSC has developed two nationally portable certifications for this workforce:

Certified Production Technician (CPT): The CPT Certification addresses the core technical competencies of higher skilled production workers in all sectors of manufacturing. MSSC awards certificates to individuals who pass any of its five Production Modules: Safety, Quality Practices & Measurement, Manufacturing Processes & Production, Maintenance Awareness and Green Production and a full CPT Certification to those who pass all four core modules (Note: Green is not required for full-CPT certification.)

Certified Logistics Technician (CLT): The CLT Certification addresses the core technical competencies of higher skilled, frontline material handling workers in all supply chain facilities: in factories, warehouses, distribution centers and transportation companies. MSSC awards the foundational-level Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) certificate and the mid-level CLT certification. CLA is a prerequisite for CLT.

CPT and CLT are the only national industry certifications, for both manufacturing and logistics, accredited under ISO 17024 (personnel certification) and endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers.

“20/20” Vision

Approved by its Board in 2010, MSSC’s vision is to credential 20 percent of individuals entering or employed in the nation’s front-line manufacturing production and material handling workforce in 20 years—2.4 million workers by 2030. To achieve that goal, MSSC offers industry a new set of tools to ensure that both entering and incumbent workers are flexible, easily trainable, and highly motivated knowledge workers able to keep pace with technological change—the “Industrial Athlete of the Future.”

MSSC benefits to employers include:

  • A pipeline of skilled workers by embedding MSSC certification training into schools
  • Decreased recruitment costs by providing job candidates with industry-recognized credentials
  • Elimination of remedial training costs by providing well prepared workers
  • A new ISO standard in certificates companies can use as a common practice throughout their global operations
  • Increased ROI for training by targeting it against the gaps identified by the MSSC Diagnostic Tool
  • An aid to attracting, motivating and retaining qualified employees

The federal National Skill Standards Board formally recognized MSSC as the standards and certification “Voluntary Partnership” for all manufacturing sectors in 1998 and officially endorsed MSSC’s national standards in 2001 which were developed and nationally validated by 700 companies, 378 educational organizations and most industrial unions. MSSC has since been used by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Defense and Veterans Affairs, as well as Job Corps and both Federal and State Prison Systems. MSSC is a Founding Partner in the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)-endorsed Skills Certification System, which has endorsed both CPT and CLT.

MSSC provides annually updated standards, courses, computer-based training materials, textbooks, instructor authorization, assessment center authorization, a national registry, assessments, credentials and diagnostic tools for employers. Companies may use these tools themselves or work through their local community colleges, high schools, unions or other training providers. Individuals can also earn college credit for MSSC courses (three hours each for core CPT modules, two hours for GPM and four hours for full-CLT) based upon the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) course review.

MSSC’s delivers these tools through a nationwide network of over 1,760 trained instructors and 998 authorized assessment centers in 49 states, DC, and three centers internationally. To date, MSSC has given over 141,300 assessments and issued over 105,500 credentials.

To obtain a full description of MSSC certification system tools and price sheets, including volume discounts, please contact Neil Reddy, Executive Director, at reddyn@msscusa.org or at 703-739-9000, ext. 2221.

This Week in CTE: Finding educators to teach CTE courses remains a challenge across the country

April 7th, 2017



Finding educators to teach CTE courses remains a challenge across the country. “There’s no one answer,” said Kate Kreamer, deputy executive director for Advance CTE, a nonprofit that represents the leaders of state career training programs. “Although alternative certification is increasingly a strategy states are using, it’s obviously insufficient in addressing the overall teacher shortage issue.”


Education Commission of the States released an interactive state education policy tracker displaying enacted and vetoed bills on a wide variety of education topics for the 2013 through 2017 legislative sessions, updated daily. You can sort this information by year, state, and/or issue and sub-issue.


A survey conducted by the Wyoming Department of Education of K-12 educators finds that 99 percent of respondents think students should be prepared for a career, compared to 97 percent who believe students should be prepared for a two-year college.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate