Improving CTE Data Quality: Processes and Protocols are in Place to Ensure Effective Data Governance

March 8th, 2021

An effective career readiness data ecosystem has a clear governance structure in place that designates roles and responsibilities for collecting, validating and reporting career readiness data as well as for setting a strategic vision for the publication and use of data. The absence of a clear and effective data governance structure can lead to entities collecting data in silos, a lack of coordination in data collection and analysis, inconsistent quality of data analysis, and an overall mistrust in the data being collected and reported. 

One state that has established a strong and sustainable data governance structure is Maryland. Maryland created a statewide longitudinal data system in 2012, which is operated by an independent state agency and overseen by a cross-agency governing board. This governing structure has provided Maryland with trusted, reliable and consistent data, allowing for the effective analysis and reporting of education and workforce data. The Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) is operated by the MLDS Center, an independent state agency that is overseen by a 13-member governing board. The governing board meets quarterly and is responsible for overseeing the operation of the MLDS Center.

Today, the MLDS Center is essential to policymaking and evaluation across the state. The MLDS Center’s longevity has helped it to establish importance and value, thus withstanding personnel and political changes. Researchers, elected officials and state leaders regularly consult the MLDS Center to provide data analysis on a variety of issues, including the impact of poverty on learner outcomes, teacher pipelines and various federal reporting requirements. The MLDS Center also advises the Legislature on the impact of legislation and supports the development of state reports, as required by law.

Read the Advance CTE Case Study Effective Data Governance: Maryland’s Longitudinal Data System Center  to learn more about how Maryland structured its data governance system. For additional resources on improving the quality and use of career readiness data, check out the Career Readiness Data Quality microsite.  

This is the second edition in a series of Advance CTE data quality blogs to accompany Advance CTE’s latest releases, Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool and Data Quality Case Studies. For more resources on data and accountability in CTE, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

State Policies Impacting CTE: 2020 Year in Review

February 26th, 2021

On the state and federal level, COVID-19 (coronavirus) fundamentally changed the conversation about education, significantly disrupting and refocusing state legislatures. Despite this, Career Technical Education (CTE) adapted to the challenges brought about by the coronavirus, continuing to deliver high-quality programming nationwide across all learner levels despite significant disruptions to education delivery. Because the pandemic was on the forefront of federal, state and local governments’ agendas, fewer policies and budget provisions for CTE were enacted than in previous years; in calendar year 2020, 31 states enacted or passed 67 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness.

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the eighth annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review report, examining 2020 legislation, executive orders and budget provisions that significantly changed funding. With research support from the Education Commission of the States, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state policy actions and coded activity based on the policy areas of focus. In 2020, states most frequently addressed the following topics: 

  • Funding
  • Industry partnerships and work-based learning 
  • Access and equity
  • Dual/concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college 
  • Data, reporting, and/or accountability 

The policy areas that states focused on in 2020 were similar to previous years. In 2019, funding, industry partnerships and work-based learning and access and equity were also in the top five key policy trends; however, in 2020, dual/concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college and data, reporting and/or accountability replaced industry-recognized credentials and governance in the top five key policy trends. Many CTE relevant bills and budgets, including those that increased state funding for CTE, were passed before the pandemic. However, due to unforeseen spending cuts, many state budgets (or supplemental budgets) enacted this year decreased state CTE funding for FY2021. This trend is expected to continue and even worsen as economic challenges continue for many states. 

States have found creative ways to keep support for CTE at the forefront of their legislative agenda. Some states, like Louisiana, have already appropriated state funding for rapid response training to assist employers with training and reskilling that will result in quickly acquired industry-recognized credentials. Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi, and Ohio have all also enacted legislation creating programs to bolster work-based learning and workforce development programs strengthening learners, workers, and employers alike. Finally, states like Tennessee have relaxed requirements or sponsored wrap-around supports to strengthen CTE and dual enrollment programs. 

Because of the critical importance CTE plays in workforce and economic development, it is expected that more CTE-related policies will be enacted in the coming years to support up-skilling and reskilling efforts during economic recovery. This indicates a continued commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. To view previous years’ Year in Review reports, click here

Advance CTE and ACTE will be joined by state leaders on March 2 from 3:00-4:00 PM to discuss policy actions for 2020 and potential trends for 2021. Register today

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

Celebrating State Creativity and Learner Voices during CTE Month!

February 24th, 2021

While many states are still operating in a virtual environment and facing challenges to executing traditional Career Technical Education (CTE) Month activities, state CTE leaders still found creative ways to promote CTE programs and their benefits for learners. 

In honor of CTE Month, this post highlights how states have leveraged virtual events, digital media, Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), and collaborative convenings to elevate the learner voice in celebrating CTE, connect CTE to timely topics and bring CTE leaders together to plan for the future. 

Recognizing CTE Month 

17 states and territories presented proclamations or resolutions to commemorate CTE Month. 

Sharing CTE Experiences through Virtual Events 

Instead of traditional classrooms, industry and state capitol visits, many states utilized virtual events to raise awareness of CTE. Some benefits for this format emerged, including the ability to highlight a wider range of programs and connect policymakers with learners that may not have the resources to meet in-person. 

 Arkansas preserved its annual ‘Day at the Capitol’ with a virtual event that included greetings from the Governor, Secretary of Education, state Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE) leadership, and state CTSO leaders. Learner testimonials and CTE program demonstrations were shared via dozens of video submissions from across the state. The state ACTE organization also hosted a digital escape room as a fun activity for CTE students. 


Oregon’s Community College Association hosted virtual weekly ‘Workforce Wednesdays’ throughout the month to highlight in-demand industries and provide information to access aligned career pathways through Oregon’s community colleges. 






Wisconsin’s State Superintendent conducted four virtual CTE program visits and a roundtable with state leaders from six CTSOs to hear their perspectives about preserving the value of CTE programs and leadership opportunities in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.


Digital Media Campaigns

States utilized a variety of strategies to integrate data, learner voices and storytelling into innovative campaigns to raise awareness of CTE, market learner outcomes and highlight diversity and community. 

North Dakota released a series of six videos utilizing the theme ‘I Love CTE” that compiled photos of students and instructors displaying ‘I Love CTE’ signs in CTE classroom settings that feature the creative, collaborative and hands-on aspects of CTE programs. 



Georgia conducted a daily #CTAEDelivers Twitter campaign with colorful and informative graphics to increase awareness of CTE and its positive outcomes for learners. 

Colorado’s Association for Career and Technical Education elevated videos created by the Colorado Community College Association as part of their CTE Month Advocacy Toolkit and annual Showcase for Legislators held virtually this year. These videos, segmented for parents, students and school counselors, showcased CTE programs throughout the state using targeted messages for each audience. These videos were created as part of Colorado’s participation in Advance CTE’s grant, Strategies for Attracting Students to High-Quality CTE

Connecting CTE and Essential Careers 

Several CTE programs leveraged CTE Month to contribute to the timely conversation of the value of essential workers, and the importance of CTE in skillbuilding for in-demand careers that have been essential to coronavirus pandemic response and recovery. These communications elevated how learners felt empowered to excel in a difficult learning environment and contribute to their community. 

Oregon’s Mt. Hood Community College utilized CTE program graduates to highlight pathways to in-demand careers in healthcare. 








Arizona’s Maricopa Community College highlighted first responder pathways and how learners led problem-solving efforts to continue their learning in virtual and hybrid learning settings.  




Learners from the Berrien Regional Education Service Agency in Michigan had hands-on experience supporting coronavirus response efforts this month. 


Reenergizing CTE Leaders and Planning for the Future 

Several states utilized CTE Month as an opportunity to convene CTE leaders to conduct professional development, share best practices and plan for the future. 

Hawaii held a Pathways Summit February 18 and 19 co-hosted by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and Hawaii P-20, a partnership among the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and the University of Hawai‘i System. The Summit focused on best practices for education-industry partnerships, work-based learning experiences and short-term credential programs while also providing a platform for students to share their experiences.

This weekend, California’s CTE division will assist California Partnership Academies in hosting their annual Educating for Careers Conference, a professional development event for CTE instructors and administrators focused on improving learner experiences and outcomes.

Georgia hosted its statewide Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education Winter Leadership Conference virtually this month with over 240 CTE leaders in attendance. 

We hope these creative celebrations give you more ideas for next year and keep you energized as CTE Month comes to a close! Visit our Communications page in the Learning Resource Center for resources to continue your efforts to strategically communicate about CTE. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Research Review: Postsecondary Education Plans Upended by the Pandemic

February 18th, 2021

Almost every American has a story about plans that were upended because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. For many Americans, that story involves plans for postsecondary education. While some opted to continue their postsecondary plans but take fewer classes either online or at a different school than they were initially enrolled, more than 19 million Americans cancelled their plans altogether and, for the time being, did not enroll at any institution (Education Table 6). Among the nearly 60 million Americans surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau, 30 percent of White Americans cancelled their postsecondary plans while 37 percent of Latinx Americans and 37 percent of Black Americans cancelled their postsecondary plans. This data point continues to emphasize the inequitable impact the coronavirus pandemic has had in America. 

Previous analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) further illustrate the inequitable impact of the coronavirus pandemic on postsecondary enrollment plans. According to Georgetown CEW’s analysis, Americans in lower-income households were more likely to have members of their household cancel postsecondary plans compared to Americans in higher income households, who were more likely to have a member continue with their plans but in a different format (i.e. virtual instruction). 

The analysis also shows a disparate impact for prospective Career Technical Education (CTE) learners, as 54 percent of households with a member planning to pursue a credential from an occupational or technical school cancelled their postsecondary plans compared to 25 percent of households with members planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree or 31 percent with members planning to pursue a graduate degree. 

This data is concerning, as previous research has found that many learners who delay their postsecondary plans take at least five or more years to return to postsecondary education or do not return to complete a postsecondary degree at all. Advance CTE has written previously on the importance of postsecondary credential attainment, which is now a requirement for most job opportunities in most industries. This is especially true for Black and Latinx Americans and Americans with low-income who have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The U.S. Census Bureau identified several reasons why learners cancelled their postsecondary plans (Education Table 7). The top concern was not being able to pay for classes or educational expenses due to a change to income because of the pandemic, followed by a fear of contracting the virus. 

It will be important in the post-coronavirus economic recovery for state and local leaders to develop plans that address learner concerns about continuing their postsecondary education. The decisions these leaders make today will have significant, and potentially lifelong, consequences for learners who delay or cancel their postsecondary enrollment plans. Leaders should maintain communication with these learners and continue to encourage and support them while they contemplate their career paths. 

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

Improving CTE Data Quality: Data Is Collected Consistently and Accurately

February 17th, 2021

In order for data to be trusted, policies and protocols must be in place to ensure consistent collection of reliable, valid and complete career readiness data. States can establish universal definitions and automated processes to collect and interpret data and work with practitioners and the public to foster an understanding of data elements to build trust in their data.

One example is Texas’ automated learner identification system and statewide programs of study. Prior to the establishment of this new system in 2015, each local school district could develop its own programs of study and course sequences. This led to inconsistent data collection, as districts could have different course requirements for the same program of study. Additionally, the state relied on districts to self-report the number of Career Technical Education (CTE) concentrators based on their locally-developed programs of study. Because districts decided which courses counted towards concentration or completion of a program of study, this meant that learners could complete a course in one district that counted towards one program of study, but that same course would not count in another district. 

Texas addressed this massive data challenge by creating new statewide programs of study and a uniform framework for collecting data. To develop these programs of study, several state agencies including the Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Workforce Investment Council, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board worked together to leverage labor market information and set benchmarks for in-demand, high-wage, and high-skill occupations. Related occupations that satisfy the criteria were then grouped together and a set of course sequences with accompanying course codes were developed to form a program of study. Because of these changes, every school district now has the same grouping of available aligned courses for each program of study. 

Read the Advance CTE Case Study Collecting Data Consistently and Accurately: Texas’ Automated Learner Identification System and Statewide Programs of Study to learn more about how Texas is improving CTE data quality. For additional resources on improving the quality and use of career readiness data, check out the Career Readiness Data Quality microsite  

This is the first edition in a series of Advance CTE data quality blogs to accompany Advance CTE’s latest releases, Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool and Data Quality Case Studies. For more resources on data and accountability in CTE, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Senate HELP Committee Confirmation Vote and Reconciliation Process

February 12th, 2021

This week, the confirmation process for Dr. Miguel Cardona as U.S. Secretary of Education moved forward. Read below to learn more about next steps, the progression of the budget reconciliation process, apprenticeship reauthorization and an Executive Order on racial equity. 

Senate Committee Confirms Dr. Miguel Cardona

Yesterday, The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) voted 17-5  to confirm Dr. Miguel Cardona as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. The vote followed last week’s HELP Committee hearing on Dr. Cardona’s nomination. Confirmation of Dr. Cardona was supported by both HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC). Next, Dr. Cardona’s nomination will be voted on by the full Senate. 

House Committee Advances its Piece of Relief Bill
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

Early Wednesday morning, the House Education and Labor Committee voted 27-21 to approve a $357.9 billion draft proposal for inclusion in the COVID-19 relief package that’s slated to move through Congress under the Fiscal Year 2021 budget reconciliation process. The process is important because it is a maneuver used to allow the legislation to pass the Senate by a simple majority, instead of the normally required 60-vote threshold.

The bill directly appropriates a total of $170.1 billion for education programs within the U.S. Department of Education. Of the $170.1 billion, $169.8 billion is for the education emergency relief fund. Unlike the two previously enacted bills, there is no separate fund for governors to administer. Below is a further breakdown of funds.

  • $128.6 billion for K-12 education – The bill provides the funding under the same terms as previously for the Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund, with 90% of the funding going to local educational associations (LEAs). 
  • $39.6 billion for higher education – The bill provides 99% of the funding ($39.2 billion) for public and private non-profit institutions of higher education, which must use at least 50% of their funding on emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • Other education-related provisions
    • $1 billion for Head Start
    • $1 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service
    • $23.975 billion for childcare stabilization funding for providers
    • $15.0 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
    • $200 million for Institute of Museum and Library Services  

To learn more, below are links to various documents related to the legislation:

The committee is one of several that has begun considering portions of the COVID-19 relief package within their committee’s jurisdiction. Committees must submit their legislation to the House Budget Committee by February 16. The total package, which is expected to cost $1.9 trillion, is moving under the budget reconciliation instructions included in the FY2021 budget resolution (S Con Res 5) the House and Senate adopted last week.

House Passes National Apprenticeship Act 

At the end of last week the House passed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (H.R. 447), which was introduced by the House Committee on Education and Labor leadership at the end of January. The bill would invest over $3.5 billion to expand  registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships over five years and create close to 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities. Additional information about the bill is available, including a fact sheet, section-by-section summary and full bill text. Advance CTE is pleased to support the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021. 

Executive Order Advances Racial Equity 

Following President Joe Biden’s inauguration there were numerous Executive Orders signed into law. One of these orders was on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The order directs “that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” The order outlines an interagency process led by the Domestic Policy Council, including: 

  • The Office of Management and Budget identifying methods to assess equity; 
  • Conducting an equity assessment in federal agencies; 
  • Allocating federal resources to advance fairness and opportunity; 
  • Promoting equitable delivery of government benefits and equitable opportunities; 
  • Engaging with members of underserved communities; and
  • Establishing an equitable data working group. 

President Biden also revoked former President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13950 on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which did not allow federal contractors or subcontractors to provide workplace diversity training and programs. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Governors Praise CTE, Workforce Development in 2021 State of the State Addresses

February 11th, 2021

Since the beginning of the year, over 35 governors have delivered their State of the State addresses, sharing their visions for the future of their state and highlighting educational priorities. Some addresses proposed to create new Career Technical Education (CTE) initiatives or increase funding for work-based learning, while others emphasized the importance of preparing students for their careers. In all, 24 addresses implicated CTE in some capacity, especially in the areas of workforce development, work-based learning and funding.  

Workforce Development

Speeches most commonly addressed workforce development at all learner levels which, considering states’ strategies for economic recovery, comes as no surprise. At the secondary level, Missouri Governor Mike Parson set a goal of 12,000 high school students with the WorkKeys Certification, calling the program an “important stepping stone for students who are not immediately college bound but have the knowledge and skills to fill high-demand jobs.” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced the creation of the Better Kentucky Promise Program, a postsecondary-focused initiative to help over 6,000 Kentucky residents complete associate degrees or secure industry-recognized certificates. At the adult level, Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana announced the establishment of the Montana Trades Education Credit, which subsidizes businesses through scholarships up to 50% of the cost of upskilling or reskilling employees, and highlighted the Missouri One Start program, which has trained over 100,000 adults through 400 employer training partnerships.

Work-Based Learning

Many governors highlighted the importance of work-based learning initiatives in providing secondary students with career-ready skills. Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa applauded efforts to integrate work-based learning into the K-12 curriculum and called on legislators to make work-based learning an expectation in all Iowa schools. Governor Brad Little similarly highlighted the role of work-based learning in Idaho, committing to further connecting students and employers for on-the-job experiences and professional skill development. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy also called for an expansion in this area, directing the Alaska Department of Education to create an apprenticeship program allowing secondary students to receive credit while working for local employers.

Funding and New Initiatives

Announcements of new or proposed funding also featured prominently across many speeches. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster proposed $97 million for high-demand job skills training and workforce scholarships and grants to improve access to skills-based certificates. Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee highlighted the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act, which consisted of $25 million in grants for 28 projects focused on CTE program expansion, and proposed a $10 million expansion for ten new sites, prioritizing economically disadvantaged communities. North Dakota Governor Doug Borgum advocated for $45 million allocated to supporting the expansion and development of successful CTE centers through matched grants, while South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced the Build Dakota Scholarship, a five-year, $40 million investment to match students with high-demand career opportunities. Investment in access to and expansion of CTE programming and training remains a clear priority nationwide. 

Outside of CTE related areas, governors also focused heavily on equity in education, including highlighting how COVID-19 has disproportionately exacerbated achievement gaps for communities of color and allocating additional funding for expansion of broadband to students still participating in virtual learning. Advance CTE will continue to monitor the State of the State Addresses as they happen for their relevance to CTE.

Additional resources can be found in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

State of CTE: Dual Enrollment in Perkins V State Plans

February 2nd, 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. 

Perkins V is an important federal education statute that charges states to develop high-quality programs of study that build coherent, options-rich connections between middle, high school, college, and careers. A high-quality program of study should offer on and off-ramps for learners along their pathways and create seamless transitions between K-12, postsecondary institutions and the workforce. One key aspect of quality that is a priority within states’ plans was the expansion of dual/concurrent enrollment. These early postsecondary opportunities are critical because they help CTE learners understand their post-high school options, earn degrees or credentials faster, saving them time and money and prioritizing their individual needs.  

Approximately one-third of high school graduates take courses for postsecondary credit at some point during their educational careers. Historically, about a third of all dual credits earned have been in CTE courses. Participating in these opportunities can lead to higher rates of college enrollment and success, as they demonstrate to learners that they are prepared for college-level work and enable them to get a headstart on their credential or degree. Ensuring there is equitable access to these programs is an important part of building educational cultures where each learner, especially learners of color, can see college as a viable option.

One foundational way that Perkins V elevates the focus on dual/concurrent enrollment is through the introduction of a new secondary program quality indicator. States can choose from three options — work-based learning, recognized postsecondary credentials (credentials of value), and postsecondary credit attainment (dual/concurrent enrollment and articulation). 

Advance CTE’s analysis of state Perkins V plans found that states largely took up the mantle of supporting and expanding early postsecondary opportunities. Generally, many of these state decisions represent a continuation of prior commitments to programs of study and ensuring seamless transitions between secondary and postsecondary. 

  • More than half of the states (28 total) include dual/concurrent enrollment or articulation as part of their CTE program approval process.
  • About a quarter of states (13 total) have selected postsecondary credit attainment as at least one of their secondary CTE program quality indicators within their Perkins V accountability system.
  • Forty-one percent of states (21 total) are prioritizing dual/concurrent enrollment and articulation within their comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA) or local application for Perkins eligible recipients.
  • A quarter of states (12 total) are leveraging Reserve Funds to advance dual/concurrent enrollment.
  • A third of states (17 total) are leveraging Perkins to develop statewide articulation agreements.

State Strategies to Advance Dual/Concurrent Enrollment and Articulation









Key Innovations

  • Illinois will utilize disaggregated data to identify and provide targeted technical assistance, more effective resource allocation and enhanced continuous quality improvement efforts to address equity gaps in dual enrollment. This will require better communication to underrepresented students and their families regarding dual credit options, including the courses offered, the impact on a student’s career trajectory, and the related career opportunities that align with each program.
  • Connecticut’s College Career Pathway (CCP) program provides high school students with the opportunity to complete postsecondary coursework before graduation. The state requires its Perkins eligible recipients that have a CCP or another similar articulation agreement with a postsecondary institution to dedicate, at minimum, 5 percent of their local Perkins grant to support these efforts. Further encouraging collaboration in this area, postsecondary eligible recipients in the state must use a minimum of $20,000 of their local Perkins grant in support of these partnerships. 

The Work Ahead

Most states’ focus within their Perkins V plans was around providing secondary learners early postsecondary credit opportunities. While these efforts are critical to help learners transition from secondary to postsecondary education, more can still be done to facilitate transitions at the postsecondary level. States should continue efforts to develop additional pathways to help postsecondary and adult learners translate experiences in non-credit programs to pathways that provide credit, through efforts such as credit for prior learning. 

Similarly, state Perkins V plans rarely included efforts to support transitions from two-year institutions to four-year institutions. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is through statewide articulation agreements to ensure full transferability of any credits that are earned by learners. Yet only a third of states are prioritizing the creation of statewide articulation agreements in their Perkins plans, including some states that previously had such agreements in place.  

Finally, states need to continue to ensure that dual/concurrent and articulation opportunities are meaningful, equitable and fully aligned to a learner’s program of study. For instance, only about half of states that are using postsecondary credit attainment as their secondary CTE program quality measure explicitly require that these credits be related to a learner’s CTE program of study or wider career pathway, which is required by the law. States need to make intentional decisions about which courses count and how many credits are earned and collect and use the data on which credits are actually articulated, by which learners, across institutions.


Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Amy Williams, Executive Director, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships

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