This Week in CTE

November 9th, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK 

ADVANCE CTE RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, it’s important to keep in mind how the federal investment the law authorizes is currently being used by states. Check out our latest fact sheet that summarizes key findings from an Advance CTE survey of State CTE Directors regarding the implementation of the law.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

To enrich our students’ high school experiences and secure a path to career and postsecondary success, communities across the country are strengthening the pipeline between CTE and apprenticeship. This U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) project explored programs that connect CTE students and apprenticeship programs.

On November 20, 2017 at 2-3 pm ET, OCTAE welcomes the release of technical assistance resources to assist state and local leaders in initiating or expanding the alignment between existing CTE and apprenticeship programs based on project findings. Presenters from Vivayic, RTI International, and the Tech Ready Apprentices for Career in Kentucky (TRACK) program will introduce the resources and discuss potential application for CTE and apprenticeship stakeholders. Register here.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

With support from OCTAE, RTI International invites community partnerships to submit a letter of interest to join a free technical assistance initiative focused on improving the outcomes of justice-involved young adults (ages 16–24) by connecting them with CTE, workforce development, and special education services. Learn more about how to get involved here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

CTE & College-Going: One Advocate’s Read on the New Research

November 7th, 2017

Last week, a new research study made its way through the edu-sphere, exciting a lot of CTE advocates. The AERA study – Linking the Timing of Career and Technical Education Coursetaking with High School Dropout and College-Going Behavior – validated some long-held truths about CTE, most notably that it boosts high school graduation rate.

In brief, the study found that taking a greater number of CTE courses was associated with a lower chance of dropping out, estimated at a decreased probability of dropout of 1.2% per CTE course completed across high school.  The probability of not dropping out – or probability of graduating – increases to 1.6% for every CTE course taken during 11th grade or 12th grade.

This jives well with existing data showing higher graduation rates for CTE concentrators – and survey data that shows CTE students are simply more satisfied with their educational experience than students not involved in CTE.

However, some of the coverage of this new study left me scratching my head. For example, Education Week’s blog was titled “Career and Tech Ed. Courses Don’t Boost Chances of College-Going, Study Finds focusing on the research finding that CTE completion is generally not linked to college going, except for a small positive (but statistically significant) link between 11th grade CTE coursetaking and both probability of enrollment within two years (0.8%) and probability of ever enrolling in postsecondary education (0.8%).

To quote the researchers: “These results imply that CTE may not be strongly associated with later college-going behaviors, but it also does not appear to have any negative influence on a student’s decision to pursue further education beyond high school.”

Now, for a CTE advocate, this is actually a game changer!

Consider the change in postsecondary enrollment over the last 25 years:

So, to summarize the chart above, the direct postsecondary enrollment rate for CTE concentrators increased by 28 percentage points between 1992 and 2004, while the postsecondary enrollment rates stayed stagnant for non-CTE students, which is a pretty huge jump. Now, we have new data showing that students engaging in CTE are just as likely to go on to college as those not taking CTE coursework! (As an FYI, the data shared above is from the same dataset used by AERA, NCES’ Education Longitudinal Study).

For years, CTE leaders have been talking the talk on the value of CTE, and developing policies, programs and frameworks to ensure our programs also walk the walk. The bottom line is that the quality of CTE programs and policies are on the rise and the data is showing a very positive upwards trajectory.

Some of the light criticism following this report is that we “still have work to do” to ensure CTE is a successful college preparation program. But, honestly, CTE hasn’t been designed with college preparation as its core purpose. Rather, it’s designed to support career readiness, with college readiness as a byproduct – and is now doing a pretty impressive job of offering equally rigorous pathways to high school students.

Look, I’m not sugarcoating the fact that we still have a long way to go to ensuring every CTE program is of the highest quality and provides meaningful post-high school pathways for every learner. And, I join the researchers in calling for more research on the impact of CTE, particularly around how CTE coursetaking impacts the drop out and completion rate for 9th grade students, who are often a higher drop out risk, something that has not received adequate focus. We also know college enrollment is not a particularly strong indicator of success, when compared to college retention and completion. But this study validates the impressive and difficult work undertaken by states and local leaders to up the rigor and quality of CTE programs and should be celebrated as such.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

New Fact Sheet Highlights How States Use Perkins Basic State Grants

November 6th, 2017

Earlier this year, Advance CTE conducted a survey of State CTE Directors asking how states were implementing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) and using their Perkins Basic State Grants. It is important to note that Perkins requires that at least 85 percent of each state’s Perkins grant go to local eligible recipients (e.g., school districts, area technical centers, institutions of higher education, etc.). The focus of the new fact sheet, “How States Use Perkins – The Basics” details how states are using the remaining 15 percent and other flexible portions of their grants. The findings include:

  • 50 states report using a portion of their state leadership funds on supporting or improving new CTE courses or initiatives and the improvement of career guidance and academic advisement;
  • 38 states report dedicating a portion of the local allocation to the creation of a reserve fund, which can be used for specialized projects benefiting rural areas, areas with a high number of CTE students and/or areas with a high percentage of CTE students; and
  • 12 states report that they require local secondary recipients to distribute 100 percent of their Perkins funds to programs of study

To learn more about the top uses of state leadership funds, how states are distributing their reserve funds and more, check out the fact sheet here.  

Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE

November 1st, 2017

On Friday, October 20th, the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) and the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) hosted the “Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE: Promise, Practice, & Opportunities for Policy Capitol Hill forum,” moderated by Jennifer Brown Lerner of AYPF. Presentations, followed by a panel discussion, were given by Mary Visher, Senior Associate, MDRC; Stanley S. Litow, President Emeritus, IBM International Foundation and Vice President Emeritus, IBM Corporate Citizenship; Cate Swinburn, President, YouthForce NOLA and Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor, Workforce & Digital Futures, California Community Colleges System. 

The forum showcased trends and new movements in CTE, and some highlights included:

  • MDRC’s emphasis that CTE must include both college and career pathways. Visher also spoke about the important relationship between employer needs and student needs, and expressed that programs must address both.
  • IBM’s P-TECH program, “a new grade 9-14 public school model focused on STEM fields and Career and Technical Education,” reported increased academic achievement in its partner schools. This model is also attempting to reduce the stigma around CTE through new terminology. For example, “soft skills” are labeled as “essential skills” and the phrase “new collar” is used to refer to the evolving job market. 
  • YouthForce NOLA broke down career readiness into three parts: job-specific skills; soft skills and work experience. Skilled crafts, health sciences and creative/tech were named as three of the most relevant career sectors today.
  • The California Community College System is emphasizing the value of a postsecondary experience in the current workforce. The state has a shortage of skilled employees with an associate’s degree, certificates or industry-valued credentials. Ton-Quinlivan also spoke about the need for colleges to work together regionally to meet the skills demand, instead of competing with one another.

Support for reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) was firm and widespread. Multiple groups acknowledged the need for current Perkins funds to be used to address the workforce demands through experiential learning and collaboration (between secondary and postsecondary, as well as regionally).

Meredith Hills, Graduate Fellow for Federal Policy

Apprenticeship Task Force Members Named, U.S. Department of Education Announces Proposed Competitive Grant Priorities

October 26th, 2017

Both the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education made important announcements over the last two weeks. Read below to find out more about these announcements and how you can help push the U.S. Senate to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins).

Secretary Acosta Names Members of Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion

On October 16, U.S. Secretary of Labor Acosta announced the members who will serve on the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. Members include representatives from education, business, industry and labor. The Task Force was one of the components outlined in the Executive Order, “Expanding Apprenticeship in America,” that President Trump signed in June.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Proposed Priorities for Competitive Grants, Seeks Comments

On October 12, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the proposed priorities for awarding competitive grants. ED has asked the public to weigh in on these priorities through a 30-day public comment process and will later announce the finalized priorities, which may be used to award competitive grants going forward. The proposed priorities are listed below:
  1. Empowering Families to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Child’s Unique Needs.
  2. Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education with an Increased Focus on Improving Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers.
  3. Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills.
  4. Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens.
  5. Meeting the Unique Needs of Students And Children, including those with Disabilities and/or with Unique Gifts and Talents.
  6. Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science.
  7. Promoting Literacy.
  8. Promoting Effective Instruction in Classrooms and Schools.
  9. Promoting Economic Opportunity.
  10. Encouraging Improved School Climate and Safer and More Respectful Interactions in a Positive and Safe Educational Environment.
  11. Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational Choices.

 

You Can Still Help Push the Senate to Reauthorize Perkins 

As you may know, the  U.S. House of Representatives passed a Perkins reauthorization bill in June (find our summary and analysis online here). We have been urging the Senate to take up reauthorization swiftly, but they have yet to do so. Right now, Representatives Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Thompson (R-PA), the two main co-sponsors of the House Perkins reauthorization bill, are planning to send a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter to the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee leadership encouraging them to take up Perkins reauthorization. They are asking for their colleagues in the House to join them in signing this letter. Now is a great time to reach out to your Representative to ask them to sign on to this letter (thanks to our partners at ACTE for sharing this Action Center with the entire CTE community)!

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

 

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.

 

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