Staff Reflections of the 2017 Fall Meeting: Part 1

October 19th, 2017

Staff Reflection: Honoring Our State CTE Directors
Kimberly Green, Executive Director 

One of the best parts of working for a membership organization is the chance to meet interesting, inspiring leaders from every state in the country! During my tenure with the organization, I began in 1993, I have seen a lot of State CTE Directors come and go but the one constancy among them has been leadership. Our members, by definition of the positions they hold, are leaders; they are also leaders because of the beliefs they hold and the work they do every day to help more students find success by demanding excellence, ensuring equity and building support and visibility for Career Technical Education.

What often gets lost in our drive for improvement and achievement is the celebration of success. That is why I am so happy that annually Advance CTE’s Star of Education award recognizes former State Directors who have helped pave the way to get us where we are today, as well as rising stars who will pick up the ball and continue to move the work forward. Congratulations to this year’s winners – Kathy Cullen (former State Director in Wisconsin); JoAnn Simser (former State Director in Minnesota); Francis Tuttle (posthumous recognition, former State Director in Oklahoma); and our Rising Star – Marcie Mack, current State Director in Oklahoma! CTE and the lives of many are indelibly better because of each of you.

Staff Reflection: Supporting Our Members
Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development

During Monday’s Star of Education Award Ceremony, there was one comment that would stick with me for the rest of the meeting. Tom Friedemann, superintendent and CEO of the Francis Tuttle Technology Center, accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Francis Tuttle, who is known as the grandfather of Oklahoma Career and Technology Education. Friedemann said Tuttle always surrounded himself with “idea people.” This habit helped him create the infrastructure that still supports CTE in Oklahoma today.

Over the next few days, I would walk around the conference hotel and pop into various sessions. I’d listen in on the conversations and Friedemann’s words about “idea people” kept coming back to me.

As the staff member who is responsible for member engagement, leadership development and the Advance CTE meetings, I was struck by how many “idea people” were in these session rooms both as speakers and attendees. My favorite part of each session is the rich cross-state sharing and “a-ha moments.” Those were in abundance at this year’s Fall Meeting, and I know this was driven by the people in the room.

This year’s meeting saw attendees from 46 states and the District of Columbia, and they hailed from all corners of the CTE landscape – from K-12 and postsecondary to workforce development and even industry representatives. A point of pride for me was that 77 percent of attendees are Advance CTE members, and of that, 25 percent are brand-new members experiencing their first Advance CTE meeting. Most of these new members are part of Advance CTE’s newly expanded state membership structure.

Advance CTE members enjoy up to 35 percent off the price of a regular registration. Join today and take advantage of discounted registration rates for the 2018 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, which will be held April 4-6 in Washington, DC.

Staff Reflection: States Leading the Way in Shifting the Perception of CTE
Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

CTE’s continued success is evident in the compelling sessions held throughout the Fall Meeting, where states were featured prominently in sessions spanning a variety of topics from supporting rural learners through innovative strategies, to strengthening secondary-postsecondary credit alignment.

While dedicated state leaders have continued to focus on program quality and demonstrated that Career Technical Education is an option that is truly for all learners, states are still grappling with how to ensure that students, parents, employers, educators and policymakers understand that CTE sets up learners for both college and careers.

To tackle the ongoing CTE stigma challenge, we dedicated a half day of sessions to highlight our communications and messaging research and explore how states are improving their communications in an effort to shift the perception of CTE.

The day began with a panel featuring leaders from Washington and Maryland, who shared their findings from a one-year pilot that tested communications and recruitment strategies anchored by our research outlined in “The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education.” Both states focused on virtual campaigns including developing a video template that Washington’s 200+ districts can use to ‘sell’ their own CTE programs, and developing sample social media posts and a how-to social media guide for two districts in Maryland.

Following the panel, attendees were able to choose from four workshops to further dig into the most effective ways to communicate about CTE including:

  • Advocacy 101: How to Advocate Effectively for CTE;
  • Leveraging Your CTE Champions to Reach Parents;
  • Building Effective Messages to Communicate About CTE with Parents and Students; and
  • Maximizing Employer Engagement

Be sure to check out the 2017 Fall Meeting agenda to view session PowerPoints and handouts, and learn more about the communications research in a recent webinar here.

Congress Continues to Recognize Importance of CTE

October 13th, 2017

Congress continued to recognize Career Technical Education (CTE) this week. Read below to find out more about a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter about reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins), a recent briefing and a resolution about workforce development.

59 Senators Sign on to Letter to Encourage Perkins Reauthorization 

On October 12, Senators McCaskill (D-MO) and Inhofe (R-OK) sent a letter, along with 57 additional Senators, to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee leaders Senators Alexander (R-TN) and Murray (D-WA). The letter encouraged them to take up reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins), emphasizing that “It is crucial that the Senate work in a bipartisan effort to help our nation’s students acquire the skills needed to be successful in today’s work environment.”

Communicating the Value and Promise of CTE Briefing 

On October 11, Advance CTE, in coordination with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, held a briefing, “Communicating the Value and Promise of CTE.” The briefing highlighted the key findings from research that Advance CTE commissioned with support from the Siemens Foundation and focused on how to combat negative stereotypes about CTE, and more effectively communicate the many benefits of CTE with parents, students and additional critical audiences. Read more about the event in Advance CTE’s blog post here.

In Case You Missed It: Workforce Development Resolution

On September 26, Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Hatch (R-UT), Baldwin (D-WI) and Enzi (R-WY) introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by an additional 11 Senators, designating September 2017, “National Workforce Development Month.” Advance CTE was proud to support his resolution. The resolution recognizes a number of workforce development programs and highlights CTE, noting the number of CTE students across the country, CTE’s role in dropout prevention, and that all states report higher graduation rates for CTE students.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

 

 

Communicating the Value & Promise of CTE on the Hill

October 11th, 2017

Today,  Advance CTE, in coordination with the House and Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucuses held a briefing focusing on how to combat negative stereotypes about CTE, and more effectively communicate the many benefits of CTE with parents, students and additional critical audiences.  The briefing, “Communicating the Value and Promise of CTE,” highlighted the key findings from research that Advance CTE commissioned with support from the Siemens Foundation. Kate Kreamer, Advance CTE’s Deputy Executive Director, moderated the briefing and shared some of the most important findings from this research, including:  

  • CTE students and their parents are overwhelmingly more satisfied with their education compared to non-CTE students. In fact, 82% of CTE students are satisfied with their ability to learn real-world skills in school, compared to only 51% of non-CTE students;
  • College and careers are both key aspirations for parents and students;
  • Parents and students are both attracted to the ‘real world’ benefits of CTE programs. In fact, 86% of parents and students want the opportunity to gain more real world skills in high school; 
  • CTE relies on champion messengers such as school counselors to convince them that CTE is a good option for their education; and 
  • In addition to ‘real world skills,’ the terms ‘exploration’ and ‘finding your passion’ were other messages that resonated with parents and students.

The briefing highlighted these findings and began with opening remarks from Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), who emphasized CTE as “an important rung on the ladder of opportunity,” and its ability to provide a pathway to in-demand and high-wage careers. He also discussed the necessity to communicate effectively about CTE to combat CTE’s stigma issue.

Each panelist provided remarks, including David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. He emphasized the importance of effective messaging about CTE, noting that “far too few youth choose high-quality CTE programs in high school, even though they lead to strong postsecondary outcomes.  While that choice might be because of a personal preference, it’s often because of a stigma that exists around CTE and the careers it supports.”

Dr. Lynne Gilli, the Assistant State Superintendent, Division of Career and College Readiness at the Maryland State Department of Education shared details about the focus groups conducted in Maryland as part of their involvement in this work. She shared that students and parents often knew about specific programs, but that they didn’t always connect those programs to the term  “CTE.” Additionally, she noted that parents and students were excited to learn about how CTE programs deliver project-based, problem-solving curriculum and hands-on experiences.

Lauren Fillebrown, a senior at Penn State University shared her experiences as a CTE student and how it helped her discover her purpose in both her education and career, opened up opportunities for her to pursue a variety of internships and allowed her to meet teachers, coaches and mentors who invested in her. She noted how this network of people is dedicated to her growth and helped her to believe that she can impact the world.

Advance CTE is thankful to the CTE caucus and our panelists for sharing the importance of communicating effectively about CTE.

Kathryn Zekus, Katie Fitzgerald, Advance CTE

Welcome to Laura Scheibe, South Dakota’s New State CTE Director!

October 10th, 2017

Before joining the South Dakota Department of Education, Laura Scheibe’s career as an American diplomat took her all over the world from Belarus to Southeast Asia. Her journey three years ago to South Dakota came as she and her young family were looking to move away from Washington, DC, and closer to relatives. Her move into education, she said, was a natural fit after having spent her career in public service.

Prior to being named the State CTE Director, Scheibe served as the deputy director of the South Dakota Department of Education’s Division of Accountability Systems, which includes state report cards, K-12 accreditation and helping to lead the creation of the state’s new plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

One of her top priorities is to use that experience crafting the state’s ESSA plan to find more ways to integrate Career Technical Education (CTE) more fully into education and bring the benefits of CTE to more students.

Scheibe is becoming the State CTE Director at an exciting time in South Dakota, where Gov. Dennis Daugaard is challenging the state to reimagine what high school looks like for students and how it prepares students for success and opportunity in life.

For Scheibe, she knows that robust CTE programs can do exactly that by helping students find their passion and discover their strengths.

“It’s about throwing our preconceived notions out a bit to help better prepare kids for the future,” she said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Are We Doing Better Than They Know?

October 6th, 2017

This post is written by Fleck Education, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

Perhaps you have sat in a meeting like the one I attended recently. State leaders were once again discussing graduation requirements when one said, “What we really need is to bring back vocational education.”

As those at the table nodded in agreement, my mind quickly disregarded the outdated term for Career Technical Education (CTE) and shifted to the disappointing lack of awareness of CTE’s amazing accomplishments in our state.  “Bring it back?” I said to myself, “Doesn’t he know how well it’s working?”

While trying hard not to dismiss the speaker as out of touch, my perspective slowly began to change. How much of his lack of awareness was my fault?  And how many others – I wondered – were also unaware of the positive impact of our CTE programs?  How is it that intelligent men and women who set important policies and honestly want to do the right thing for students are sometimes in the dark about our work?

Of course, this is not a new problem. When I was a State CTE Director, we had similar communication challenges. At that time, I naively presumed that once we expanded our communication efforts all would be better; that somehow, once you got the word out it stayed.  But advocacy is not a website or news release that needs occasional tending. Effective CTE communication is an ever-changing entity that needs constant weeding, fertilizing and replanting.

What I had not considered when I was a State Director was our office’s responsibility for getting out ahead of the issue and the importance of advocacy as a proactive, front-end strategy instead of an after the fact approach. At my recent meeting, I wanted to raise my hand and explain – in what could have sounded like a condescending tone – all of the progress being made by CTE in the state. Doing so, however, would have only made me feel better and likely embarrassed the state leader.

As obvious as constantly advocating for CTE is, the important work is what is done beforehand. Advance CTE’s new Virtual CTE Institute, announced earlier this month, is a perfect example of this strategy seeking to “to raise awareness and create new advocates for high-quality CTE. “ So are annual state CTE summary reports like those Fleck Education has produced for the state of Indiana the last four years. When we changed the title from “CTE Review…” to “Career Readiness Report…” and added colorful graphics, more people took notice.

Perhaps your state is already ahead of the advocacy challenge. Use these questions as a gauge.

  • Do you have a written, proactive state-level CTE advocacy plan?
  • Do you have a process for quickly updating new legislators, agency heads or program chairs regarding what CTE is and what it does?
  • Do you meet personally with new state and regional leaders – or their staff – to give a thumbnail progress report on CTE in your state?
  • Do you produce and distribute an annual state/regional CTE summary report highlighting CTE student and program progress made in the last year?  Does it include graphics or an executive summary with graphics and figures that are quick and easy to digest?
  • Does your website include brief explanations of common CTE terms?
  • Do you have a one page handout that explains CTE in a nutshell and highlights your most recent accomplishments?

If some of these questions give you pause, we can help.

At Fleck Education, our staff includes two former State CTE Directors as well as former CTE teachers, school counselors and district leaders who know the CTE landscape well. We combine our seasoned CTE perspective with practical solutions that both accelerate your CTE accomplishments and help your state address the challenges.

That way, more leaders in more meetings will know and support CTE even before the conversations begin.

New Nominations for U.S. Department of Education, Senate Committee Discusses ESSA

October 6th, 2017

Career Technical Education (CTE) continues to garner attention this week in the nation’s capitol. President Trump announced his intent to nominate new leaders at the U.S. Department of Education, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the U.S. Department of Education released an updated College Scorecard.

President Trump Announces Intent to Nominate New U.S. Department of Education Leaders 

On October 3, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Mitchell Zais, previously the State Superintendent of Education for South Carolina, to be Deputy Secretary of Education. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

On September 30, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Michigan state Representative Timothy Kelly (R-MI) to be the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). This nomination will require Senate confirmation. In addition, last week the U.S. Department of Education announced that Dr. Michael Wooten will be the Deputy Assistant Secretary for OCTAE (which does not require Senate confirmation) and the Acting Assistant Secretary for OCTAE (and will remain the Acting Assistant Secretary until Timothy Kelly is confirmed by the Senate).

Every Student Succeeds Act Hearing Features States’ CTE Efforts

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on October 3 entitled, “The Every Student Succeeds Act: Unleashing State Innovation” to hear from states that have included innovative ideas in their ESSA plans. The witnesses who spoke during the hearing were Candice McQueen, Commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Education, John White, State Superintendent Of Education at the Louisiana Department of Education, Christopher Ruszkowski, Secretary Of Education at the New Mexico Public Education Department and David Steiner, Executive Director at Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. In his opening statement, Chairman Alexander (R-TN) highlighted Tennessee’s “Ready Graduate” indicator and Louisiana’s career education initiative. McQueen also discussed the indicator in her opening remarks, which puts an emphasis on “opportunities that students have to prepare for their next step after high school.”

Questions from HELP committee members ranged from those about the role of the federal government in education to state implementation of the law, including school ratings, teacher preparation, assessments and more. Senator Young (R-IN), one of the co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, asked how CTE prepares students for success and how to increase momentum around industry credentials. White answered citing the many benefits of CTE and emphasized the need for education and industry to collaborate on a comprehensive credential system that ensures that students are learning relevant skills.

Updated College Scorecard Released by U.S. Department of Education

On September 27, the U.S. Department of Education updated the College Scorecard with refreshed data and a new feature that allows uses to compare up to 10 institutions at the same time. The College Scorecard includes data from postsecondary institutions about graduation rates, cost, the average earnings of graduates and repayment rates for loans.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Excellence in Action Spotlight: Oakland High School’s Mechatronics Program

October 6th, 2017

Happy Manufacturing Day! Manufacturing Day℠ is a celebration of modern manufacturing designed to inspire the next generation of manufacturers, and in honor of Manufacturing Day, we’d like to spotlight our 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Manufacturing Career Cluster – the Mechatronics program of study at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, TN.

In the world of Career Technical Education (CTE), it is no secret that systems and stakeholders that surround individual learners must work in concert for them to experience success. Alignment across K-12, postsecondary, workforce and economic development and coordination with business and industry are critical to achieving a cross-sector commitment to all learners being fully supported throughout their career pathways. Oakland High School’s Mechatronics program is a real world illustration of this principle in practice.

The Mechatronics program of study was truly developed for and by industry. A leadership council, spearheaded by Keith Hamilton at Bridgestone, Jimmy Davis of The Davis Groupe, and the Manufacturing Leadership Council, saw the need for a better trained workforce and agreed there simply weren’t adequate programs in place to train the next generation of mechatronic engineers – so they decided to build one themselves. Siemens had set the industry standard for training and certification, so the leadership council joined forces with Rutherford County School District and area postsecondary institutions and resolved to build a rigorous and authentic program of study using the Siemens training model as a foundation. The goal: graduate highly skilled local students from high school, Motlow State Community College (MSCC) and Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) with cutting-edge industry credentials.

The district recognized an opportunity to leverage the support of business and industry to create a curriculum that would not only address the skill deficiencies the employers were experiencing, but also introduce students to a field they had not been exposed to previously. Working with industry, the district and postsecondary education partners developed a program very like on-the-job training at Siemens. They helped partner with industry leaders to create this unique program at the high school level. Strong partnerships from industry partners resulted in a program that prepared students for a high-demand career.

Last year, 100 percent of juniors and seniors enrolled earned postsecondary credit, putting them ahead of the game for when they enroll in postsecondary programs. Ninety-four percent of students earned an industry-recognized credential, positioning themselves perfectly for employment as mechatronic engineers in the robust industry right in their backyards.

Learn more about the Mechatronics program at Oakland High School and our 2017 award winners.

New Tool Helps Instructors Embed Global Competence in CTE Coursework

September 20th, 2017

Today, a free professional development course and toolkit was released to help educators address a critical imperative: to prepare all students for work and civic roles in an environment where success increasingly requires the ability to compete, connect, and cooperate on an international scale.

Created by the Center for Global Education in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Advance CTE and supported through the generosity of the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF), “Global Competence Through Career and Technical Education” is a customizable, 10-12 hour, online course and toolkit for middle and secondary school CTE teachers.

One in ten Americans is foreign born, and local communities-urban, suburban, and rural-are growing more diverse. To take advantage of global market opportunities, companies must hire workers with global competence-that is, the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance. With an anchor in preparing students for the careers of their choice and a focus on the critical academic, technical, and employability skills needed for success, CTE offers a natural platform on which to build global competencies. Furthermore, integrating project management into CTE curricula helps students strengthen the skills necessary to cooperate in teams, identify and mitigate risk, and execute and monitor collaborative work, skills imperative in the 21st century workforce.

The online course is available through ACTE’s CTE Learn community and the toolkit is available on the Center for Global Education website.
The project addresses three main objectives:

  • Educate and engage with CTE stakeholders on the need for global competence in order to prepare students to meet the demands of careers in a global 21st century.
  • Educate CTE teachers and students about the global career opportunities that exist in CTE pathways.
  • Build educator capacity to integrate global competence and project management into CTE career exploration and classroom projects.

Check out the toolkit here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Congress Continues Appropriations Process, Secretary DeVos on “Rethink School” Tour

September 15th, 2017

News This Week

Congress is back in session and the pace is picking up again in Washington! Both the House and Senate have been busy with the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations process. In addition, Secretary DeVos is on a “Rethink School” tour this week. Read below to find out more about FY18 spending decisions and details on Secretary DeVos’ tour.

Continuing Resolution Approved

On September 8, President Trump signed H.R. 601, a short-term spending measure (known as a continuing resolution) that would fund the government through December 8. While the measure keeps the government open until that time, it included a small reduction in funds across all programs in order to comply with current budget caps. This means that some states may see a slightly smaller allocation for the portion of funds in the Perkins Basic State Grant that will be disbursed October 1st. However, there will be opportunities to restore these funds when appropriators work on their final FY18 spending bills (more on this below).

House and Senate Work on Appropriations Bills 

The House Rules Committee held hearings on the eight bill omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 3354 starting on Tuesday, September 5 and continued their considerations of testimony and amendments through Wednesday, September 13. This bill includes the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies spending bill, which included level-funding for the FY18 allocation for Perkins Basic State Grants and National Programs. The bill was bundled with seven other appropriations bills in H.R. 3354, which passed the House on September 14 on a 211-198 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

The Senate is also working on its appropriations bills. On September 6, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee held a mark up of their appropriations bill. On September 7, the full Senate Appropriations committee approved the bill, which which included level-funding for the FY18 allocation for Perkins Basic State Grants and National Programs. Congress will need to finalize all of the FY18 spending bills by December 8 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Secretary DeVos Embarks on “Rethink School Tour”

On Tuesday, September 12, Secretary DeVos headed to two schools in Wyoming to kick off the “Rethink School” tour. The tour will “showcase creative ways in which education leaders are meeting the needs of students in K-12 and higher education” according to the media advisory. From September 13-15, Secretary DeVos traveled to schools across Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana and to Johnson County Community College in Kansas. Find out more about the tour and which schools she visited here.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

New PDK Poll Shows that Americans Overwhelmingly Support Career Preparation in High School

September 5th, 2017

The 49th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released recently, and once again showed the importance of career preparation in K-12 for American students. Respondents overwhelmingly supported the idea that students need classes devoted to preparing them for the real world, including training for specific careers and training on employability and interpersonal skills. Over 80 percent indicated that they would prefer career and jobs preparation courses even if it meant students spending less time in academic courses.

Fewer than half of public school parents (47 percent) expect their child to enroll in a four-year college full time. Other parents expected their child to enroll in two-year colleges or vocational programs, while others expect their students will enroll in postsecondary training part-time while also working. These findings indicate that parents are thinking deliberately and strategically about their students’ futures in the real world.

New Research Highlights Number of Jobs Available for Those without Bachelor’s Degree

A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase & Co. details the 30 million “good” jobs available in the US for workers without Bachelor’s degrees. These jobs pay a median wage of $55,000 annually, and are largely found in the manufacturing and skilled-services industries.

The research also points out that even though there is a wide public perception that there are no jobs available for those without Bachelor’s degrees, workers without them still comprise 64 percent of all workers. However, this does not mean that workers do not require any postsecondary training. Increasingly, jobs are requiring Associate’s degrees or other postsecondary credentials, so future job seekers should still plan on attaining some level of postsecondary experience.

Odds and Ends

The Education Commission of the States recently put together a comprehensive summary of state policy actions taken related to high-quality computer science education. These actions include adopting statewide computer science standards and creating banks of high quality resources for educators to use.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce also recently released a report detailing the effects of the current healthcare debate on the nursing profession. The report finds that a college education is increasingly important to be successful in nursing, and also finds that lack of diversity remains a challenge for the field.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

 

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