Getting To Know: Advance CTE’s Initiatives to Improve CTE Data Quality

January 26th, 2021

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Austin Estes! Austin is the Manager of Data and Research at Advance CTE. Austin oversees Advance CTE’s strategy for data quality and effective use. In this role, he supports state CTE leaders by developing resources, reports and tools and delivering technical assistance to help improve policy and practice related to CTE data.
During his time at Advance CTE, Austin has led efforts related to rural CTE, work-based learning, equity in CTE, industry-recognized credentials and accountability.

Q: Through your work at Advance CTE, what are some barriers states face when effectively reporting data?

A: First and foremost is getting access to good, quality data. We surveyed the State CTE Directors back in 2018 and found that, while many of them are able to collect and report the required indicators for Perkins, there are challenges with validating the data with administrative records. A lot of data is self reported, and it can be really challenging to link learner-level data across education levels to see where learners end up after they complete their programs. The findings from that survey are published in our report The State of Career Technical Education: Improving Data Quality and Effectiveness

Another big challenge is using and communicating data effectively. Some states like Kentucky are doing really great work putting data to use. The Kentucky Center for Statistics has developed really powerful CTE feedback reports and other data tools, and has worked with the Kentucky Department of Education to train different stakeholders to understand and use these data assets. But this takes a lot of work and time. Late last year Advance CTE, in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education, developed a set of design principles and a communications toolkit to help state leaders develop effective reporting tools and tell the story behind their data. These resources will be particularly useful as states begin to share out their Perkins V data.

Q: How does Advance CTE work to improve CTE data quality?

A: Our team is working on two major efforts right now to improve CTE data quality. The first is the development of a comprehensive policy benchmark tool for data quality. The tool is designed to help state leaders evaluate the design and effectiveness of their career readiness data ecosystem and identify action steps to improve the quality and use of data. The tool will be released as an interactive microsite in February and was developed with input from some of the smartest thought leaders working at the state and national level. 

The second effort is the Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative, or PDI for short. With support from ECMC Foundation, Advance CTE is working closely with a cohort of states to implement innovative strategies to improve CTE data quality at the postsecondary level. Lessons from the PDI will be shared out more broadly through a postsecondary data community of practice and through resources and publications. 

Q: What is the parallel between effective data reporting and high-quality CTE for each learner – of any background, age and zip code?

A: I think it’s important first of all to acknowledge the distinction between data and insights. You can have all the data in the world, but if you can’t make sense of it and use it to improve policy and practice, it’s worthless. State leaders have a critical role to play in ensuring that practitioners and policymakers can make meaning of their data and use their data to improve CTE program quality and equity. 

One example of this is conducting a proportionality analysis to compare enrollment in CTE programs to the overall learner population. If one out of 10 students in a high school is classified as a learner with disabilities, but only one out of 20 CTE students is, then you might want to adopt new recruitment strategies to minimize barriers to accessing CTE for learners with disabilities. This is just one example of how data can lead to insights, which can inform action.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate



Legislative Update: New ED Appointees and Extension of Student Loan Payments

January 22nd, 2021

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced new political appointees this week, following Wednesday’s inauguration. Read below to learn about who this included, as well as the new extension of federal student loan payments and the latest updates to the College Scorecard. 

ED Announces Senior Biden-Harris Appointees 

On Thursday, ED announced new senior appointees to the department, including: 

  • Sheila Nix, Chief of Staff;
  • Claudia Chavez, White House Liaison;
  • Suzanne Goldberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach, Office for Civil Rights (serving as acting Assistant Secretary);
  • Ian Rosenblum, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (serving as Acting Assistant Secretary);
  • Emma Leheny, Principal Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel (serving as acting General Counsel); 
  • Donna Harris-Aikens, Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning, Office of the Secretary; 
  • Ben Miller, Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff; 
  • Ben Hale, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications, Office of Communications and Outreach (serving as acting Assistant Secretary); 
  • Rich Williams, Chief of Staff, Office of Postsecondary Education; 
  • Greg Schmidt, Senior Counsel, Office of the General Counsel; 
  • Jasmine Bolton, Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights; and 
  • Alex Payne, Special Assistant, Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs.

Of note, Harris-Aikens held a leadership position at Advance CTE from 2002 to 2003. Full bios of each appointee can be found here

President Extends Pause on Federal Student Loan Payments 

Almost immediately following Wednesday’s inauguration, President Joe Biden directed ED to extend the pause on federal student loan repayments and collections and keep the interest rate at 0%. COVID-19 emergency relief flexibilities are also extended through September 30, 2021. 

ED Updates College Scorecard 

Last week, ED announced new updates to the College Scorecard. Information on how well borrowers from individual colleges and universities are progressing in repaying federal student loans is now available on the site. Additionally, there is data on how borrower cohorts are progressing in the repayment process at different intervals. This includes the percentages of borrowers who fall under these eight loan repayment statuses two years after entering repayment: paid in full, making progress, delinquency, forbearance, default, not making progress, deferment and loans discharged.  

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

State of CTE: CTE Instructors in Perkins V State Plans

January 14th, 2021

In October 2020, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities,” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their Career Technical Education (CTE) systems. 

Attracting and retaining qualified and diverse CTE instructors remains one of the most persistent challenges facing states. Last year, ACTE held a Teach CTE Summit to more closely examine teacher pipeline challenges, surfacing numerous key issues and recommendations. According to previous Advance CTE research on this issue, 86 percent of State Directors reported a moderate or severe CTE teacher shortage in at least one Career Cluster at the secondary level, and a further 60 percent indicated the same at the postsecondary level. 

The underlying causes for these shortages most often relate to the difficulties CTE programs have in competing with the private sector for the same pool of qualified instructors, along with the fact that many universities have closed their CTE teacher preparation programs in recent years. As is the case in other sectors of the economy, the CTE teacher workforce is also aging rapidly.

At the same time, the demands on CTE instructors are rigorous. CTE instructors need strong technical knowledge and industry expertise, effective classroom management and pedagogical skills, and cultural competency to support and engage each learner on an individual basis.

Without a qualified pool of CTE professionals, one that is responsive to the needs of each learner, our country cannot effectively educate learners and prepare the future workforce. Attracting, retaining and fully developing a strong cadre of CTE professionals is therefore a crucial ingredient CTE systems need for success, and this need is reflected throughout states’ Perkins V plans.

Based on Advance CTE’s analysis of state Perkins V plans:

  • Nearly three-quarters of all states (36 total) are providing targeted professional development for specific groups of educators, administrators or other CTE professionals. 
  • Forty-five percent of states are including quality instructors in their definitions for size, scope and quality (SSQ).
  • Forty-seven percent of states are going beyond the requirements laid out in the law to prioritize supporting CTE professionals in their comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA).
  • Twenty-seven percent of states are developing explicit CTE instructor recruitment plans.
  • At least seven states are addressing licensure barriers and/or are developing new pathways to licensure as an approach to strengthening CTE instructor pipelines. 

Key Innovations

  • Oregon aims to recruit teachers from cultural and linguistic backgrounds that reflect the state’s learner population. To achieve this goal, the state plans to partner with the Educator Advancement Council, a statewide education network focused on ensuring that the state has high-quality, well-supported and culturally responsive educators. Through this partnership, Oregon aims to create a comprehensive strategy focused on recruitment efforts in underrepresented and underserved communities. In addition to this work, the state is clarifying alternative pathways that lead to the CTE teaching profession as a means to attract industry experts and potentially further diversify the field.
  • Oklahoma is dedicating more than half a million dollars annually to provide targeted scholarships for individuals seeking teacher and administrator certifications. As part of its wider efforts in this space, the state has developed a new teacher institute that provides a full year of training, coaching and mentoring for new CTE instructors. Oklahoma also makes use of a statewide learning management system — CareerTech’s Master Educator platform — to structure and provide professional development that promotes continuous learning and improvement of its CTE teachers. Finally, the state is working with local universities to provide shorter-term courses and online programs conducive to incumbent CTE teacher needs.

The Work Ahead

One area of future work is ensuring that the CTE instructor workforce is representative of the learners they serve. Only five states included any explicit recruitment activities focused on diversifying the CTE teaching field in their Perkins V plans.

Recruiting, developing and retaining qualified teachers and faculty are critical for CTE programs to be successful. As noted previously, instructors are among the most important in-school factors that contribute to the success of learners. No single policy or strategy will fully address the challenges facing states with regards to this issue. Some of these challenges have to do with issues outside the realm of CTE, such as broader terms negotiated by labor and management (e.g., teacher/faculty pay scales or tenure requirements), lack of teacher preparation programs at universities, and accreditation requirements or limitations. Only through a coordinated set of approaches can states begin to make progress on this critically important topic. Through the Perkins V planning process, states have certainly started to make significant progress in this area.


Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Alisha Hyslop, Senior Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education
Catherine Imperatore, Research Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education


Communicating CTE: Utah’s Tools to Sell CTE and Build Local Champions

January 12th, 2021

As the nation heads into a year of difficult fiscal environments and budgetary shortfalls across all levels of government, it is more important than ever that Career Technical Education (CTE) stakeholders are equipped with effective tools to sell CTE to key stakeholders. 

Empowering leaders to tell and understand the benefits of CTE has been Utah State CTE Director Thalea Longhurst’s mission since entering her leadership role in 2014. “In so many instances, I find that it is not that our policymakers don’t want to invest in CTE, it is that they don’t have all the pieces to connect the dots of how the system works, what the jargon means, and what the outcomes are. That has serious consequences for policy, and we wanted to fix that”, said Longhurst. 

One of the first initiatives Longhurst pursued was advocacy training programs for local CTE educators and advocates. The state conducted workshops lead by advocacy experts to help CTE supporters explain and market CTE programs and outcomes to policymakers and administrators. 

Another goal of the Utah CTE Department was to create a ‘one stop shop’ for data-based outcomes about CTE program enrollment, completion, work-based learning and attainment. As a result, each year the state office creates an At-A-Glance fact sheet with colorful graphics and statistics to help advocates and policymakers understand the benefits of CTE in Utah. Two things that make Utah’s fact sheets unique is that individual fact sheets are created for the state and regional level as well as each locality, and the inclusion of definitions for common CTE terms such as concentrator, certification and work-based learning that those outside of the CTE field may not be familiar with to ensure stakeholders can connect the outcomes to the education system as a whole. 

Now on its fourth version, the fact sheets are used by the Governor’s Office, legislators, and employers, and many advocates have come to rely on this resource. “I just had an administrator call me last week asking when the new local fact sheets would be available because they wanted to use them in a school board presentation saying ‘We really need them’, shares Longhurst. “Our resource has a little bit for everyone that is involved in CTE, and it is gratifying to see that data and transparency is valued.” She hopes that as the state’s CTE data system capabilities expand that a dashboard and additional data points will be available to identify more successes and areas for growth. 

Finally, the team identified that CTE recruitment is a priority for educators, but one they often do not have time to plan for. As part of Utah’s participation in Advance CTE’s grant, Strategies for Attracting Students to High-Quality CTE, a Recruitment Guide was created with basic steps to develop a marketing plan, tips for industry engagement and social media campaigns, and ready-made recruitment events that can easily be adapted to meet local audiences. 










As CTE advocates and educators face more challenges than ever to execute high-quality and equitable CTE programs, we hope these tools are helpful templates to building knowledgeable CTE policymakers and champions in your state. 

Communicating CTE is a new series where Advance CTE is exploring how states are leading the way in communicating about the value and benefit of CTE to key stakeholders. Read the first posting in the series here

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

This Week in CTE

January 9th, 2021

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.


Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, a virtual K-12 academy in Michigan, has seen an increase in enrollment for CTE courses. As a result of the pandemic, many students have responded to local labor market needs, and taken an interest in the health science Career Cluster®

One Health Science Instructor at the academy, AJ Krey, mentions, “it’s a program for all students that are interested in anything medicine.” More information can be found in this article published by WBKB-TV 11. 


The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education announced their upcoming webinar series on CTE in the middle grades. The first of two webinars will be held on January 27, 2021. Click here for more information and to register. 


SkillsUSA has opened their application window for the National Technical Honor Society/ SkillsUSA Scholarship. Both organizations strive to uphold the other’s mission by providing learners with scholarship opportunities that contribute to their educational experience.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and that each learner excels. SkillsUSA provides educational programs, events and competitions that support CTE in the nation’s classrooms.

More information on the scholarship and how to apply can be found here


This week, the Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents shared this video to aid in career exploration and the awareness of Ohio‘s 49 career centers.


Last week the omnibus bill that was passed by Congress to provide federal funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21)- which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed)- was signed into law by the president. Importantly, this included an increase of $52.25 million for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing the total to approximately $1.334 billion. Overall, the bill included an increase of approximately $785 million for education programs and an increase of approximately $122 million for labor programs.

View more Legislative Updates from this week here


The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE examines the ways in which states can foster and sustain meaningful employer engagement to strengthen their CTE systems for all students. States can use this resource to evaluate best practices and strategies for engaging the employer community.

The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.

View The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

The State of CTE: Advancing Quality Credentials Through Perkins V

January 8th, 2021

In October, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their CTE systems. One finding of this report is the emerging state focus on credentials of value.

Perkins V introduces a new secondary program quality indicator as one method available to states to ensure program quality. States can choose from three options — work-based learning, recognized postsecondary credentials (credentials of value), and postsecondary credit attainment (dual enrollment and articulation) — all of which are components of a high-quality CTE program of study, in addition to other critical elements like rigorous standards, quality assessments, and alignment to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand career opportunities. States’ increasing focus on credentials shows up in many aspects of their Perkins V plans, as shown in the chart below. That should come as little surprise. Credentials that are valued in the labor market can serve as an important component of any quality CTE program. They serve as anchors for the exit and re-entry points within CTE programs and career pathways, providing learners with a valuable way to signal their knowledge and skills to prospective employers and other postsecondary educational institutions. 

The commitment to expanding credentials shows up in many aspects of state Perkins V plans, based on Advance CTE’s analysis: 

  • 43 percent of states (22 total) have selected recognized postsecondary credential attainment as at least one of their secondary CTE program quality measures.
  • 41 percent of states are requiring credentials as part of the state’s program approval process.
  • 27 percent of states reference developing or maintaining state-developed lists of approved credentials of value to ensure that credentials are quality and valued by the labor market.

Which Credentials States Promote Matters

Despite their popularity, credentials are not all created equally. As ExcelinEd found in its research, states are in very different places in terms of the ways that they identify, align, prioritize and measure credentials of value earned by students across secondary and postsecondary systems. Consider that prior to Perkins V state plan approval:

  • Many states do not collect data on credentials earned by K-12 and postsecondary students.
    • Just over half of all states (30) submitted K-12 quantitative data on the attainment of credentials for phase 2. 
  • No state is highly aligned in terms of supply for credentials earned by students and the demand for those credentials in the job market. 
    • Only 18% of the credentials earned by K-12 students in this analysis are in-demand by employers or are associated with occupations that pay a base wage of $15 per hour. 

While these findings show that all states can improve their policies related to credentials of value, Perkins V offers states a platform to increase their focus on credentials of value as a critical component of high-quality CTE programs of study that lead to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers. 

State Innovations

  • In preparation for its Perkins V plan implementation, Texas developed a set of rigorous programs of study that are aligned to high-wage, high-skill and high-demand occupations. They include vertical alignment to postsecondary programs and, where appropriate, stackable credentials valued by employers. 
  • Pennsylvania’s Perkins V plan builds upon a 2019 amendment that requires all statewide articulation agreements, including those that award credit for industry-recognized credentials, to be reported and accessible to students in an effort to increase transparency of how credentials can help accelerate students along a career pathway
  • Michigan is using the Reserve Fund to establish a competitive grant application process to identify credentials and align them with the course standards for CTE programs of study.

The Work Ahead

It is promising that states have included various references to credentials of value in their Perkins V plans. To help ensure they address core issues of quality and alignment, Credentials Matter offers six high-level recommendations for all states to develop statewide systems and processes that prioritize high-value credentials. 

States should be lauded for making plans to include and improve access to industry credentials as part of comprehensive CTE offerings. Their next step is to execute on the implementation strategies that will ensure these offerings pay dividends to students and families, while maintaining a steadfast commitment to quality and equity. 


Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Melissa Canney, Innovation Policy Director, ExcelinEd

Getting to Know Advance CTE’s Work in Scaling Work-Based Learning Opportunities

December 17th, 2020

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Brian Robinson! Brian is a policy associate for Advance CTE’s state policy team. Brian supports our data and knowledge management work, the Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative (PDI), funded by ECMC Foundation, research and data collection around the nation’s area technical centers and leads communities of practice where we bring together states in the cohort to share best practices and work through data challenges and needs. 

Brian also manages our Learning that Works Resource Center which is a resource repository of all things CTE with over 500 reports, case studies, and more spanning 14 different topic categories.

Q: How would you define work-based learning, and the role it plays in high-quality Career Technical Education?

A: Work-based learning is pretty broad in definition; it is the opportunity for learners to develop awareness and exposure to different careers, explore different career paths, make connections between classroom learning and programs of study, and demonstrate their skills in an authentic real-world setting.

Work-based learning has the power to make the abstract real for learners, providing the opportunity to apply industry skills in the field and learning directly from practitioners. Work-based learning also has the power of building social and cultural capital for learners that we know is important for career advancement. Learners have the opportunity to build professional networks, find mentors, and learn soft skills like how to show up to work on time, how to interact with colleagues and clients, how one dresses for work or an interview, how to develop a resume, etc. All of this matters when we’re thinking about high-quality CTE and equitable career development.

Q: During the pandemic and distance learning, in what innovative ways have states continued to provide work-based learning opportunities for learners? 

A: This has been one of the most challenging aspects of CTE during the pandemic – work-based learning. A lot of businesses were closed, businesses nor schools wanted to take on the liability of having a student working during the pandemic, and of course parents did not want their children being exposed either. Many states turned to virtual experiences for work-based learning opportunities on the lower end of the spectrum because those were easier. Work-based learning coordinators in South Carolina created virtual tour videos for learners in place of “field trips”. Many states and local school districts partnered with for-profit companies to create experiences such as live industry chats with industry professionals. In some limited cases students were able to engage in virtual internships. In Miami-Dade, Florida, they turned their summer youth internship program into a virtual experience. Almost 3,000 learners worked in South Florida this summer in a wide range of industries. However, most programs of study are very difficult to deliver virtually and even when you can, there’s the issue of the digital divide that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19 (coronavirus). 

Q:  What are some ways states can continue to think boldly about scaling their work-based learning opportunities across their CTE programs?

A: Advance CTE is currently rewriting our work-based learning guide with a focus on approaches states can take to ensure equitable access to high-quality work-based learning experiences regardless of race, socioeconomic status, ability, or geography. There are five – that provide the basis for the guide- approaches states can take to boldly scaling work-based learning opportunities:

  1. Establish a clear and ambitious statewide vision for equitable access and create the policy environment and infrastructure to support this vision. 
  2. Create and/or support statewide and local/regional intermediaries who do the on-the-ground work of recruiting learners and employers, helping to facilitate work-based learning experiences, and supporting both learners and employers through the process. 
  3. Use data to advance equity and program quality. It’s not enough to just collect data, but leverage that data to track learner participation and success in high-quality work-based learning opportunities. Use the data to identify opportunity gaps and create a plan to close those gaps. 
  4. Engage with employers to meet the needs of the labor market while expanding opportunities to traditionally underrepresented learner populations and maximizing learning outcomes. 
  5. Lastly, identify successful programs or create pilot programs that can be scaled to create more opportunities for all learners


Q: What resources can you share with states on work-based learning?

A: States looking to scale their current work-based learning opportunities can leverage the Work-based Learning tab in the Learning that Works Resource Center where all of our great resources are. Some specific ones are:

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate 

Legislative Update: One-Week Stopgap Funding Bill and Stimulus Proposal Details

December 11th, 2020

This week, Congress passed a one-week appropriations bill in an effort to avoid a government shutdown. Read below to learn more about what this means for federal funding, as well as details on a stimulus proposal.

Congress Passes One-Week Stopgap Appropriations Bill

This afternoon the Senate passed a one-week spending bill to extend government funding to December 18, 2020 before it expires at midnight today. This follows the House introduction and vote to pass the continuing resolution H.R. 8900 earlier this week. This bill simply extends funding at currently enacted levels for one more week. It includes the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) appropriations bill, which designates funding for the Perkins Basic State Grant.

Now, the president must sign this bill by midnight tonight, December 11, when federal funding expires. Congress will then take the next week to propose and vote on either a full appropriations package for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021, or another CR. 

Bipartisan Senate Group Releases Additional Stimulus Details

The bipartisan group of Senators who announced a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus framework last week shared out additional information on funding allocations this week. The outline includes $82 billion for education funding, which will be split into a Governors Emergency Relief Fund, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, Higher Education Emergency relief fund (including set asides for minority serving institutions) and relief for territories and the Bureau of Indian Education. Funding levels for each of those streams are still not clear. This proposal also includes $160 billion for state, local and tribal governments to be used “as the basis for good faith negotiations.” At this time, there is no additional information about how these funds can be used. Full legislative text has not been released yet. If this bill were to pass, it would operate retroactively to December 1, 2020 and extend through March 31, 2021.   

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

The Impact of High Quality Short-Term Programs

December 10th, 2020

A high quality short-term program- one that leads to a recognized postsecondary certificate, license or credential and is aligned to local, regional or state labor market demand- is essential to leveling the field for learners of all backgrounds to pursue meaningful and diverse career pathways. The majority of the country’s labor market requires education attainment beyond high school, but not a four-year degree. Short-term programs can be directly responsive to labor market demand and designed to align with employer needs to the learner with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful. Further, these programs support the lifelong learning that is important for today’s evolving world of work, and often contribute to the stackable credentials that coincide with a career pathway. Short-term programs can be part of a full career pathway, putting an individual on track for a career in their area of interest that provides a family-sustaining salary. 

Short-term programs may be for-credit or noncredit, with many categorized as noncredit. A large and rapidly increasing portion of all postsecondary learners enroll in noncredit courses, and this figure is expected to continue to grow. This is because these programs typically lead to a postsecondary credential that often has a more immediate connection to an occupational skill or competency than most associate or baccalaureate degree programs and are frequently offered at a substantially lower cost to learners. Short-term programs can be especially beneficial for adult learners returning to education who are looking for a more affordable program that is designed to be more flexible than the traditional, and longer, degree option. These can better fit into the schedule of a student who is working full-time or is responsible for a family. 

The affordability and flexibility of short-term programs is especially significant since the notion of a “traditional” college student, one who enrolls immediately after high school, is shifting. In fact, over 70 percent of those enrolled in postsecondary education fall into at least one category of a nontraditional learner. 54 percent of short-term programs take place over one year or less, and make up 24 percent of all postsecondary awards in the country. 

Now, during the economic and health crisis, high quality short-term programs will play an important role in economic recovery. With millions of Americans unemployed, Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less and female workers have been disproportionately impacted. A significant number of learners of all ages now need fast but quality upskilling and reskilling through avenues such as short-term programs that will result in living-wage, in-demand careers. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Welcome Jeran Culina to Advance CTE!

December 8th, 2020

My name is Jeran Culina and I am excited to be the new Senior Policy Associate for Advance CTE, supporting states and communities as they create, share, use and manage information about nationwide efforts to expand high-quality and equitable career pathways. As Senior Policy Associate, I will also support the development of policy tools and resources leveraged by state and local leaders, national partners and other key stakeholders to help ensure each learner has access to high-quality CTE and preparation for the careers of their choice.

I started my career right out of the State University of New York at Buffalo working in low income households for Catholic Charities. From there I continued to find my passion for working with vulnerable populations to empower them to pursue their dreams. That meant working in everything from foster care, mentoring and military programs across the state of Michigan. 

As I started working within school districts, I found an even stronger passion for policy within education. To build on that passion I decided to go back for my master’s in 2018 at Michigan State University for a degree in Educational Leadership. That program catapulted my career into working at a systems level on policy from early childhood education through postsecondary. I am excited for the next steps in my career to support states through their work with Advance CTE. 

Outside of work, I am passionate about fitness and even work as a trainer at a local gym. I also enjoy being with family, hiking, kayaking, and visiting all art museums. I especially love cheering every Sunday for my favorite team the Buffalo Bills!

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate