This Week in CTE

October 5th, 2018



As we reported, the Senate voted 93-7 on September 18 to advance an FY19 appropriations package that includes the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill ,which includes key investments in education and workforce programs. On September 26, the House voted to approve that package (361-61) and the President signed it on September 28. This bill includes a $70 million increase in the federal investment in Perkins Basic State Grants. Read our blog to learn more.

To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that affects Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!


On-the-Job in a Most Unique Way

The Papillion La Vista Community Schools (PLCS) academies provide learners with real-world, hands-on learning experiences. The PLCS academies include work-based learning opportunities where learners are working with professionals outside of the classroom. In this video, hear from Papillion-La Vista Zoo Academy students and instructors, and the staff of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo where two days a week learners participate in  work-based learning. The curriculum includes studying a Zoology textbook that is used in universities and conducting research that incorporates core subjects. Watch the video to learn more: 


Report: Credential Currency: How States Can Identify and Promote Credentials of Value

There are more than 4,000 credentialing bodies nationwide that offer thousands of different industry-recognized credentials across sectors, making it difficult for states that have encouraged the growth of industry-recognized credentials to determine which ones to prioritize to scale attainment. This report from Education Strategy Group, Advance CTE and Council of Chief State School Officers provides a roadmap for how states can identify which credentials have labor market value and approaches to improve credential attainment and reporting. This report covers common barriers, recommended strategies and opportunities to advance learner attainment of industry recognized credentials with marketplace value.

Learn more here.

Free College: Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program

October 4th, 2018

Advance CTE will be writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore one example of a free college program. Check out last week’s blog on the history of free college, and look for future blogs on the challenges and future of free college.

The idea of free college has gained traction in a number of states. Indiana has been at the forefront of this movement, and has had some form of free college for the past 30 years. Currently, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program allows participants up to four years of free enrollment at a two or four-year institution. This covers the cost of tuition and any additional fees. Indiana is unique in including four-year colleges in this program, since fewer than half of states with free college initiatives include four-year institutions in their policies. 

This program covers tuition on a “first dollar” basis, meaning that students remain eligible for other forms of aid to go toward non-tuition expenses. Any additional aid learners might receive from the state is not impacted by grants received to cover non-tuition charges.  

Learners can become involved in this program as early as seventh grade. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch in seventh or eighth grade are eligible to apply to be part of 21st Century Scholars. Below are 12 requirements that participating students must meet throughout high school in order to qualify:

  • 9th grade:
    • Create a graduation plan (to be updated annually);
    • Participate in an extracurricular or service activity; and
    • Watch “Paying for College 101”
  • 10th grade:
    • Take a career interests assessment;
    • Get workplace experience; and
    • Estimate the costs of college
  • 11th grade:
    • Visit a college campus;
    • Take a college entrance exam (ACT/SAT); and
    • Search for scholarships
  • 12th grade:
    • Submit college application;
    • Watch “College Success 101;” and
    • File FAFSA

In 2017, the program granted over $160 million in financial aid. As of the fall of 2018, there were about 80,000 program participants throughout middle and high school and 20,000 in college. This program has bipartisan support in the state.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

President Signs FY19 Appropriations Bill that Includes Increase for Perkins

October 2nd, 2018

Last week, Congress wrapped up its work on the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) Appropriations bill. Read below to learn more about what the bill included for key education and workforce programs and to find new resources from Advance CTE on Perkins V.

President Signs FY19 Appropriations Package that Includes $70 Million Increase for Perkins 

As we reported, the Senate voted 93-7 on September 18 to advance an FY19 appropriations package that includes the Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill (which includes key investments in education and workfo

rce programs). On September 26, the House voted to approve that package (361-61) and the President signed it on September 28. This bill includes a$70 million increase in the federal investment in Perkins Basic State Grants – check out the press statement from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to learn more. You can also find the bill’s specific levels of investment in key U.S. Department of Education programs in  this table from the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) and in key U.S. Department of Labor programs in this table from National Skills Coalition.

In addition, this legislation included language from the conferees (the Members of Congress who served on a c

ommittee determine the final Labor-HHS-Ed FY19 bill) about the use of Perkins for National Activities, the importance of computer science education and the role of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE). First, it directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to award innovation and modernization grants through Perkins and notes that these funds could “support coding programs that can be particularly important in rural and underserved areas that do not have access to coding resources.” The legislation also discusses computer science education more broadly, noting that “computer science education programs, including coding academies, can provide important benefits to local industries and the economy and help meet in-demand workforce needs. Therefore, the Departments of Labor and Education should work together with industry to improve and expand computer science education programs and opportunities, including through apprenticeships.” Lastly, the legislation also affirms the value of OCTAE and notes the conferees’ concerns about its elimination or consolidation in terms of achieving OCTAE’s mission and implementation of programs. Importantly, it confirms that “OCTAE is authorized expressly in statute and cannot be consolidated or reorganized except by specific authority granted by Congress.”

Advance CTE Releases New Perkins V Resources

Advance CTE released two new resources on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The Perkins V Accountability Comparison examines the secondary and postsecondary indicators of performance in Perkins IV and Perkins V, as well as alignment with performance measures from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Advance CTE also released a side-by-side comparison of the text of Perkins IV and Perkins V that includes an analysis of the changes between the two laws. You can find all of Advance CTE’s Perkins V resources on our Perkins webpage.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy 

Apply Today to the 2019 Excellence in Action award!

October 1st, 2018

Do you think you have one of the best Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study in the nation? Advance CTE is on the search for programs of study that exemplify excellence in the implementation of the Career Clusters®, show a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education, provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and have a substantial and evidence-based impact on student achievement and success. Apply for the 2019 Excellence in Action award to showcase the amazing work of your learners, instructors, partnerships and faculty at the national level.

Not only will your program be featured in the media and an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the spring, you’ll also be contributing to a positive image of CTE programs. In its sixth year, this award showcases innovative programs of study to policymakers, employers and education leaders and lets them know that CTE is for all learners and prepares them for a lifetime of college and career success. Applications are open to secondary and postsecondary schools/institutions. Apply today!

Hear what past award winners had to say:

“The Advance CTE recognition of our programs is wonderful validation of the work of our students and staff. These awards have helped us dispel outdated perceptions of Career Technical Education (CTE) and supported our efforts to reframe the conversation about postsecondary educational options for learners. Students no longer have to choose between college or CTE, and these awards provide public confirmation that some form of college or certification is a part of all quality CTE programs that prepare students for high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers.”

–Stephanie Joseph Long, Traverse Bay Area ISD Career Tech Center, 2018 Award Winner  

“Being selected as an Excellence in Action award winner has been one of the greatest honors that our program has received. The EMS Education Program at Jones County Junior College has always sought to exemplify the characteristics and values that makes Career Technical Education successful. Having been recognized on a national stage by Advance CTE means that we can promote our methods to other programs all across the United States. Since the award, our school has played host to multiple instructors who wish to model our success as an award winner. The recognition is great, but the chance to make a difference with other CTE programs has made everything worthwhile!”

– Eric Williams, Jones County Junior College, 2017 Award Winner

“The Advance CTE award has elevated expectations for students and staff, but more importantly, it has elevated confidence and reaffirmed our efforts. Similarly, it has enhanced industry and community support and awareness for each of our programs.”

-Jason Jeffrey, EdDTraverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, 2016 Award Winner

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

California, Oklahoma and Virginia Invest in CTE

September 28th, 2018

The majority of 2018 state legislative sessions have come to a close. During these legislative sessions, states enacted budgets that illustrate a continued commitment to invest in Career Technical Education (CTE) and opportunities for learners to earn credentials that translate into high-skill, in-demand occupations.

In California, Governor Jerry Brown signed a Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget that invests millions in CTE-related programs and initiatives. The budget includes $164 million ongoing funds to establish a K-12 specific component within the Strong Workforce Program, an initiative that aims to improve CTE programs and increase the number of learners enrolled in CTE programs that culminate in high-wage, in-demand jobs. The budget also includes $6.7 million in funds to offer 338 additional CTE programming slots and to expand CTE to thirteen additional sites in California.

Additionally, the budget provides $100 million one-time and $20 million ongoing funds to establish a statewide online community college. Currently, 2.5 million adults in California between the ages of 25 to 34 only have a high-school diploma, despite an estimated 65 percent of jobs requiring some form of postsecondary education and training beyond high school by 2020. The online community college will provide a cost-effective way for working adults in that age range to earn short, career ready credentials.

In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin signed a Fiscal Year 2019 budget that increases the amount of funds appropriated to the State Board of Career and Technology Education by more than $12 million when compared to last year’s budget. This investment aligns with the the state’s efforts to build and strengthen career pathways through the Oklahoma Works initiative, which aligns education, resources, training and job opportunities to bolster Oklahoma’s workforce.

Virginia’s 2018-2020 biennial budget provides an additional $2 million in grant funding each year for the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program. This program, created in 2016, covers up to two-thirds of the cost of a noncredit workforce training program, requires the Board of Workforce Development to maintain a list of credentials and noncredit workforce training programs in high-demand fields, and encourages participating institutions to award academic credit for credentials earned.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

The State’s Role in Communicating About CTE

September 26th, 2018

On Thursday, September 20, 2018, Advance CTE hosted a webinar to highlight the important role the state plays in communicating about Career Technical Education (CTE) and programs of study available for learners. This webinar is part of the four-part Communicating about CTE Webinar Series.

As CTE continues to gain popularity in the media and even the election campaign trail. However, there is a still a challenge to both communicate what CTE is and the benefits of CTE programs of study. In a survey of State CTE Directors and leaders, 74 percent reported the greatest challenge in promoting CTE is navigating the public’s perception. To offer a solution we spearheaded a research initiative.

Advance CTE, with support from the Siemens Foundation, commissioned focus groups and a national survey to explore the attitudes of parents and students currently involved in CTE, as well as prospective CTE parents and students. The survey revealed that school counselors, instructors and alumni of prospective parents and students are the best messengers to share the CTE story. It also revealed that only 47 percent of prospective parents and learners have heard of CTE, indicating that there is much work to be done to educate stakeholders about CTE.

In this webinar, Dwight Johnson, CTE State Administrator, Idaho Division of Career and Technical Education and Caty Solace, Outreach and Communications Manager, Idaho Workforce Development Council, shared the communications tactics they used to improve the image of CTE.

They provided some key takeaways including:

  • Defining the objective: They developed three messages, at least one of which would resonate with all of their intended audiences.
  • Determine target audiences and focus areas:
    • Audience: Idaho Career and Technical Education employees, learners, families, teachers, administrators, counselors and the general public.
    • Focus areas: create communications tools, find ambassadors with influence within the state, utilize media and create a cohesive brand.
  • Rebranding creates an opportunity to reinvent yourself: They their name from the Idaho Division of Professional-Technical Education to Idaho Career & Technical Education and updated the logo, developed a new mission that focused on preparing learners for high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers and created value statements to share the value of CTE;
  • Include storytelling elements: Idaho Career and Technical Education uses storytelling as a major component of their communications strategy. They have developed videos highlighting learner success throughout the state, developed a partnership with Idaho Public Television to showcase the videos to the general public and conducted photoshoots to show learners in school and workplace environments;
  • Outreach is key in communications work that includes a limited budget: Find ways to share your message in collaboration with others. Solace learned that stakeholder such as school counselors and administrators are hungry for relevant information and materials they can hand out to families and learners. Statewide tours, partnerships with employers and the community are key ways to get the message out.

Idaho Career and Technical Education’s increased focus on communications has  resulted in a 23 percent increase in state CTE general fund budget after decades of being stagnant.

Overall, the advice shared was to be sure that communications is not an afterthought. Create goals, make a plan, establish branding, share real stories and get out into the field to spread the word. Hear the full webinar here. Join us for our next webinar in this series, discussing Engaging the Media, on October 10, 2018 at noon EST. Register here.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate 

Free College: A Brief Policy History

September 24th, 2018

Advance CTE will be writing a series of blog posts profiling the policies and practices of free college in the United States. This post will explore the history of the movement toward free college. Check back for blogs on the challenges, successful practices and future of free college.

College affordability, or lack of affordability, is one of the most pressing problem in the world of higher education. Free postsecondary education has long been a topic of conversation, and various models have been piloted at the state and local levels. The Atlantic’s “Debt Free” article explains that this idea was given renewed national attention when former President Barack Obama addressed the topic in his 2015 State of the Union speech. In particular, President Obama advocated that the place to start implementing such policies was in community colleges. Afterward, with the upcoming presidential election campaigns underway, the conversation of free college remained part of many candidates dialogue. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for example, was a vocal advocate.

Some state higher education institutions previously held free college policies, but found that model unsustainable over time. TIME’s piece, “What Happened When American States Tried Providing Tuition-Free College,” profiled some such examples:

  • For decades, the University of Florida was free for in-state students to attend. Around 1959, “registration and instructional fees” began to be instated and in 1969 full tuition was imposed;
  • The City University of New York system did not have tuition fees for students until 1976; and  
  • When the University of California (UC) system was started in 1868, free admission and tuition for in-state students was ensured. The California State and community-college systems decided the same. However, in 1960, California’s Master Plan for Higher Education allowed for students to be charged certain fees. In 1970, students were charged an “educational fee,” which has increased over time.. From that point on, California continuously decreased the amount of funding towards high education. In 2004-2005, UC allocated only 16 percent of funding to higher education compared to 32 percent in 1974.  

A main driver behind institutions pulling back on free college practices has to do with the significant increase in enrollment, as reported by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Whereas in the 1909-1910 school year only 355,000 of Americans 19-24 years old (2.9 percent of those in that age bracket) enrolled in higher education, by 2012 that number increased to 31.4 million (41 percent). At the same time, state and local funding for public colleges and universities decreased. Just from 2008-2016, overall state dollar allocation across the country to institutions of higher education has declined by 16 percent. If free college policies were put in place at the founding of an institution, the combination of increased enrollment and decreased state and local funding made the model unsustainable.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

September 21st, 2018



Senate Votes 93-7 to Advance FY19 Appropriations Bill

On September 18, the Senate voted 93-7 to approve the FY 19 Appropriations Bill, as well as a continuing resolution that would run through December 7 to extend current funding levels for other government agencies without final appropriations bills in place by October 1. The bill heads to House for a vote next week and if passed, will go to the President for his signature. Read our blog to learn more.

To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that affects Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!


Why Does Idaho Power Invest in Registered Apprenticeship

The Idaho Power registered apprenticeship program employees have a higher retention rate than their overall workforce. This video, developed by Idaho Career & Technical Education,  provides an overview of the elements of an apprenticeship program, the benefits for the employer and the learner. Watch this video to learn more.


Report: Building Better Degrees Using Industry Certifications

CTE programs of study provide learners with a variety of opportunities including earning industry-recognized credentials and participating in meaningful work-based learning experiences. Certifications are a way to demonstrate to an employer that the learner has accomplished a level of understanding and skill. In a recent report, Building Better Degrees Using Industry Certifications, New America conducted research as a follow-up to a 2016 national survey of institutions. This report is a deep dive into how certifications are being included in degree programs. It explores the challenges and successes, and recommendations based on their findings. They report that adults with a degree and at least one industry certification earn nearly 40 percent more than those with the same degree but no certification.

Learn more about this report here.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate 

Senate Approves FY19 Appropriations Bill that Includes Key Education and Workforce Programs

September 19th, 2018

As Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) winds down for the government, Congress is working to advance FY19 appropriations bills. Read below to learn more about the path forward for the FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) appropriations bill and the U.S. Department of Education’s back to school tour.

Senate Votes 93-7 to Advance FY19 Appropriations Bill 

On September 13, the conference committee (comprised of members of both the House and Senate that was formed to negotiate the FY19 appropriations bill for Labor-HHS-Ed) released their agreement. The bill includes appropriations for education and workforce programs. On September 18, the Senate voted 93-7 to approve the bill, which is bundled with the Defense appropriations bill, as well as a continuing resolution that would run through December 7 to extend current funding levels for other government agencies without final appropriations bills in place by October 1. The bill heads to House for a vote next week and if passed, will go to the President for his signature.

We were excited to see that the bill passed by the Senate includes a $70 million increase in the federal investment in Perkins Basic State Grants. Other notable increases included additional support for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant authorized under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Apprenticeship grants and a $100 increase in the maximum award for Pell grants (but this draws down the Pell reserve, the unobligated funds for the program that have been previously appropriated by Congress). You can find the bill’s specific levels of investment in key U.S. Department of Education programs in this table from the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) and in key U.S. Department of Labor programs in this table from National Skills Coalition.

The bill also contains that language about the proposed consolidation of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) and the Office of Postsecondary Education into one Office of Postsecondary and Lifelong Learning, noting that, “In particular, the conferees recognize the value of the Office of English Language Acquisition and the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) and are concerned that the elimination or consolidation of either office will undermine the ability of the Department to fulfill not only its mission, but also congressional directives to implement relevant programs and purposes. Further, the conferees note that OCTAE is authorized expressly in statute and cannot be consolidated or reorganized except by specific authority granted by Congress.”

Assistant Secretary Stump Goes on Back to School Tour

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education began its back to school tour with travel across the country under the guiding theme of “Rethink School,” emphasizing innovative programs in education. On Tuesday, September 11, as part of this tour, Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education, traveled to the Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His tour featured the Center’s 40 CTE programs, small business incubator and college preparatory career academies. On Wednesday, September 12, Assistant Secretary Stump spent time in Wichita, Kansas at the National Center for Aviation Training, where high school students are able to achieve a technical certification in aviation production and maintenance that leads to a career in aviation.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Excellence in Action Spotlighting: A&M Consolidated High School, Information Technology Program

September 18th, 2018

Imagine how you would complete your work each day without technology. Today is a good day to thank the people who keep those systems running smoothly. It’s Information Technology (IT) professionals day or #ITProDay! The third Tuesday in September is a day to celebrate system administrators, network engineers, information security professionals, developers, IT support technicians and more. To honor this day, we are highlighting the Information Technology program of study in College Station, Texas.

A&M Consolidated High School has provided IT Career Technical Education (CTE) programs for nearly four decades. It began as a computer programming course and has transformed into a robust IT program of study designed to provide students with a rigorous academic foundation. Learners gain skills in areas including computer hardware, software, coding, networking and cybersecurity.

This year, the program received the annual Excellence in Action award in the Information Technology Career Cluster®. The program was one of 11 recognized for providing clear pathways into college and careers, rigorous academic and technical coursework, strong industry partnerships, and effective work-based learning experiences that offer opportunities for career exploration and subject-matter mastery.

Over the summer break, learners competed in the 53rd Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Students in their chapter were awarded first place in the Career Pathway Showcase in Information Technology and second place in Cyber Security Demonstration. Read more about all of their accomplishments at this event here.

In addition to winning competitions, learners spend a significant amount of time giving back to their community. The program was awarded a $25,000 grant to work with industry partners to install a network and security infrastructure in an elementary school converted to temporary housing for homeless families. They have even earned recognition from the President of the United States for their commitment to volunteer service by completing a minimum of 1,000 hours of service over a 12-month time period.

In addition to a strong commitment to community service, learners also host events such as video game tournaments where students apply their skills in systems networking, live stream technology, cybersecurity and customer service.

Learn more about the Information Technology program at A&M Consolidated High School and our 2018 award winners.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate