Explore How AP Seminar Can be Embedded into CTE Programs of Study

February 22nd, 2019

High-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) blends academic and technical skills to provide learners with the real-world skills necessary to succeed in today’s workforce. The integration of Advanced Placement (AP) courses into CTE programs of study promotes career-readiness by encouraging the development of these critical academic and technical skills. Advance CTE has previously partnered with the College Board to explore embedding AP courses into CTE programs of study.

AP Seminar course is a foundational, project-based learning course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics. The AP Seminar course is able to fit within multiple CTE programs of study given the focus on critical thinking, collaboration and presentation skills within a projected-based learning experience.

To help state leaders integrate AP Seminar into CTE programs of study, the College Board recently released a guide, Connecting AP Seminar and CTE Programs of Study, that describes AP Seminar’s course contents and provides state, district and student examples of how AP Seminar could be potentially embedded into a CTE program of study. For example, Indiana’s new graduation pathway options include project-based and work-based learning options, such as completing an AP Capstone course or exam (including AP Seminar).

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

CTE Month: Advocating for CTE to policymakers

February 15th, 2019

Learners across the country are advocating for Career Technical Education (CTE). The SkillsUSA national officers came to Washington, D.C. and met with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE). Learners are also attending CTE Month proclamation signing events.

National Skills USA Officers in Washington, D.C.

IOWA: Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation for CTE month

UTAH: State officers of the seven Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) in the state of Utah were at the Utah State Capitol advocating for CTE.

WYOMING: Gov. Mark Gordon held a proclamation ceremony to declare February as CTE Month in Wyoming. He was joined by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and CTE learners.

Perkins V: How can states plan for genuine stakeholder engagement?

February 14th, 2019

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) provides a powerful opportunity to consult and coordinate with stakeholders throughout the state plan and local application development process and beyond. Importantly, meaningful engagement will not only make these plans better, but also foster partnerships and relationships that, if sustained through implementation, can make a big difference in advancing your state’s vision for CTE. As states look at stakeholder engagement for Perkins V, how can they design stakeholder engagement efforts that are genuine? Check out the resources below to learn more.

TOOL: Planning for Engagement: Identifying Key Stakeholders for Perkins V: This tool outlines the types of engagement required in Perkins V and was designed to help states begin the brainstorming process for their engagement efforts related to Perkins V.

REPORT: The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE: This report from Advance CTE examines the employer engagement landscape with a particular focus on the ways in which states can foster and sustain meaningful employer engagement to strengthen their CTE system for all students through policy and practice.

TOOL: Parent Engagement Tool: This tool is designed to help state and local leaders develop an effective strategy to engage parents and guardians.

More Resources

The next issue of this series will include communications resources and in the meantime, please be sure to check out the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy & Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

The Outlook For Higher Education Reform in the 116th Congress

February 12th, 2019

Last week, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) shared their agendas for higher education reform, providing insight into what may be in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

On Monday, February 4, Senator Alexander spoke about HEA reauthorization at the American Enterprise Institute. He announced three proposals for updating HEA:

1) Simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • The senator offered two ways to do this. First, decreasing the number of questions from 108 to a maximum of two dozen. Second, enabling multiple questions to be answered through information that the IRS already has accessible.

2) Streamline the options to repay student loans

  • The senator proposed cutting the number of options to repay loans from nine to two. One option includes deducting 10 percent of a person’s income not needed for necessities directly out of their  paycheck. If the borrower is unemployed no money would be required to be repaid, and this would not affect their credit score. The other option would be a 10-year monthly payment plan. Senator Alexander voiced support for loan forgiveness after 20 years.

3) Create a new accountability system for colleges to report whether borrowers are able to repay loans

  • Every program at every college would be required to report on whether borrowers are able to pay off their loans. This was described as an expansion and simplification of gainful employment.

Senator Alexander also discussed his support for competency-based education and expanding Pell Grant eligibility to include summer programs, as well as giving currently and previously incarcerated individuals access to Pell.

There have been multiple proposals in the Senate that touch upon these three ideas and Senator Alexander plans to work with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, and the rest of the committee to introduce one inclusive piece of legislation this spring so that the full Senate and House of Representatives are able to pass reauthorization by the new year. You can find the video, transcript and summary of Senator Alexander’s remarks here.

Later in the week, at Inside Higher Ed’s event on Higher Ed in the New Congress on Thursday, February 7, Senator Alexander underscored his three proposals. Representative Scott spoke as well, ensuring that HEA reauthorization will be an opportunity for comprehensive higher education reform. Some of the priorities for Representative Scott include:

  • Simplifying FAFSA;
  • Strengthening the federal oversight;
  • Incentivizing states to invest in public higher education;
  • Developing opportunities for tuition-free community college; and
  • Improving campus safety.

Representative Scott reminded the audience that although increased college enrollment is important, increased completion rates are what demonstrate success. He also discussed how HEA must address the rising cost of college in its measures to make college more affordable.  

Both expressed commitment to reauthorizing HEA in a bipartisan manner.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine Releases Report Focused on Strengthening the STEM Talent Pipeline at MSIs

February 11th, 2019

There are roughly 700 Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) that produce one fifth of the nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bachelor’s degrees. To discuss the importance of these institutions to the nation’s future, on February 6, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine hosted a national convocation. The convocation focused on how to leverage MSIs to strengthen the STEM talent pipeline for nontraditional students and students of color.

The convocation was rooted in the National Academies’ report, Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce, which identifies promising programs and strategies to increase the quantity and quality of MSI STEM graduates and conveys the importance of MSIs to stakeholders. The report was developed with input from a committee with representation from industry, education and workforce institutions and identified seven promising practices to strengthen the quality of STEM education, research and workforce preparation for MSIs learners:

  • Dynamic, multilevel, mission-driven leadership;
  • Institutional responsiveness to meet students where they are;
  • Supportive campus environments;
  • Tailored academic and social supports;
  • Mentorship and sponsorships;
  • Availability of undergraduate research experiences; and
  • Mutually beneficial public-and private-sector partnerships.

Key to the report is the emphasis it places on intentionality. To help illustrate what it would mean to be intentional about strengthening and supporting MSIs, the National Academies hosted panels and facilitated breakout groups at the convocation.The panels featured higher education, civil rights, industry and workforce experts with experience working with or advocating on behalf of learners at MSIs. Panelists discussed the importance of being intentional about establishing partnerships that outlast leadership and fostering an inclusive campus culture, among other topics.

Audience members then participated in solution-oriented breakout groups that focused on reimagining MSI partnerships, building financial capacity for MSIs, and being cognizant of culture and intentionality at MSIs. Participants in these breakout groups suggested establishing partnerships that would prepare MSI learners for the future of work, establishing a coalition of business partners to fund MSIs, and engaging non-minority faculty to mentor MSI students, among other solutions.

As state leaders work on promoting equity in Career Technical Education (CTE), they should consider how they can leverage the seven promising practices identified in the National Academies’ report to intentionally strengthen the STEM and other workforce talent pipelines for students of color. To learn more about how to advance equity in CTE, see Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise Series, which provides promising solutions to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

CTE Month

February 8th, 2019

Happy Career Technical Education Month® ! This month we are celebrating the best of Career Technical Education (CTE). We’ll be taking part in Twitter chats, advocating for CTE on Capitol Hill, exploring model programs, and lifting up fantastic work happening at the national, state and local level throughout the month. If you haven’t already, email Nicole at nhoward@careertech.org to let us know how your community is celebrating CTE in February.

The following are some ideas to consider when planning the month’s activities:

Use the Right Messages

Despite our best efforts, we don’t always speak about CTE in the way that most resonates with students and parents. Be sure that you’re communicating with these two important audiences by checking out our research on the messages that learners and parents want to hear, Dos and Dont’s for using the messages, and a guide on how you can put this research into action. Use graphics in your social media with compelling research data. Use this social media guide to help you.

Recognize CTE at the State Level

Engage policymakers in the conversation by encouraging them to designate February as CTE month. Use a sample proclamation created by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).


Recognize those in your community, whether it’s high-achieving CTE students, exemplary educators, or impactful partners that have a positive influence in CTE by celebrating their accomplishments through awards programs.

Involve Your Partners

The CTE community encompasses all the people that work to make your CTE program great, including education, community, and business partners. Encourage them to advocate for CTE to their own networks, and invite partners to participate in celebratory events or site visits.

Engage Employers

Contact local employers and businesses that aren’t yet familiar with your CTE program and invite them to school visits to showcase high-quality CTE in action or career fairs with already engaged employers. Use Advance CTE fact sheets and talking points designed specifically to address this audience.

Join the Conversation

CTE Month is celebrated nationwide, including on social media. Join in on Twitter chats, upload photos of your events, feature student work, and engage in discussion with CTE advocates from across the country using the #CTEMonth hashtag. Be sure to tag us too, @CTEWorks.  

Get the word out!

Let the local media know what’s happening and invite them to your planned awards ceremonies, career fairs or school visits highlighting innovative CTE. Get some tips on how to engage key audiences here.

Here’s an example: https://educateiowa.gov/article/2019/02/07/celebrating-career-and-technical-education

Our weekly CTE Month blog series will highlight CTE activities happening throughout the country.

Institute for Educational Leadership Plans to Rise Up for Equity

February 7th, 2019

On January 25, 2019 the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) unveiled its 2018-2023 strategic plan, titled Rise Up for Equity. The plan aims to prepare leaders to eliminate systemic barriers in education and workforce development. To illustrate what “rise up for equity” means, IEL featured speakers and hosted two panels focused on preparing and mobilizing leaders and innovation, respectively. The panels featured representation from civil rights, educational and public policy organizations and challenged the audience to think critically about how to create conditions, capacities, cultures and policies that would allow each learner to succeed.

One of the speakers at the event, Dr. Talisa Dixon, Superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, discussed why and how she made equity a priority in her district. When she started her role as a superintendent, she noticed that very few African American students were participating in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, despite making up roughly 80 percent of the district’s student population. When Dr. Dixon reached out to students to learn why they were not taking AP courses, she learned that many African American students did not know that they could take AP courses. After this experience, Dr. Dixon immediately told the district board that equity had to be a priority and that policy reform would be part of the district’s solution.

Dr. Dixon’s experience reveals the urgent need to address equity gaps in the education and workforce system and highlights that equity gaps don’t only exist in the form of outcomes but also in the form of access to information and opportunities. Additionally, representatives from IEL discussed how the root causes of inequities occur on the institutional, system and structural levels and are based in racism, classism, sexism and ableism.

As State CTE Directors leverage their positions to influence the Career Technical Education (CTE) system to promote equity, they must consider the root causes of inequities and commit to only advancing high-quality policies and programs that benefit each learner. To learn more about how to promote equity in CTE, view Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise Series.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Numerous Governors Celebrate and Commit to Advancing CTE in 2019

February 4th, 2019

As is tradition at the beginning of the legislative sessions, numerous governors have presented their policy agendas in their annual addresses to their state legislatures. These addresses provide an opportunity for the 20 new governors to highlight their legislative priorities. Many of the State of the State Addresses highlighted successes related to Career Technical Education (CTE) and governors’ commitments to advance CTE in 2019.

Many governors celebrated successes of previous and existing initiatives in their speeches. In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey celebrated the 99 percent high school graduation rate for students in Arizona CTE programs. In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont proposed increasing access to vocational technical schools and apprenticeships and celebrated the successes of students at a new Career Academy in Waterbury, CT. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy celebrated the creation of more than 100 new apprenticeship programs in the past year.

Governors also emphasized the importance of advancing equity in their states. In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds proposed creating a new program called “Computer Science in Elementary,” which will integrate computer coding into class lessons at six high-poverty elementary schools. In Delaware, Governor John Carney proposed a statewide commission comprised of community leaders who will recommend steps to help disadvantaged students succeed.

Other governors set goals for the year and called for additional funding for CTE. In Indiana, Governor Eric Holcomb set a goal for 60 percent of Hoosier adults to have a high-value credential beyond high school. In Nebraska, Governor Pete Ricketts celebrated that the Developing Youth Talent Initiative, which connects middle school students to work-based learning opportunities in the manufacturing and IT sectors, has impacted 7,000 students to date and called on the state to increase funding for the initiative by $1.25 million. In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee proposed a budget that would allow 100,000 students to participate in paid internships and apprenticeships over the next 10 years.

In total, more than 12 governors have celebrated or made commitments to foster CTE in their states during their State of the State Addresses. Advance CTE will continue to monitor the State of the State Addresses as they happen for their relevance to CTE.

To learn about CTE related policies that governors prioritized in 2018, join Advance CTE, ACTE and a state leader to discuss 2018 CTE related policies in more depth on February 14 – to register for the webinar click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

February 1st, 2019

Happy CTE Month!



Happy Career Technical Education Month!

Today is the start of the national campaign that takes place each February to celebrate Career Technical Education (CTE)across the country. It’s a time to share success stories, program highlights and raise awareness of the importance of access to high-quality CTE programs of study for each learner.

Learn more about how you can celebrate here.


An important part of CTE Month is hearing and elevating the voice of the learner. In this video, learners from South Bend James Whitcomb Riley High School in Indiana share the experiences they’ve had in the Audio and Video Production classes.

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/tquINPxRc8k


A new report,  Let’s Get to Work: Learning From Success in Career and Technical Education, by Chiefs for Change, seeks to help state and district leaders throughout the country improve how learners are served through practical, actionable strategies and policies to strengthen CTE. This report focuses particularly on progress in improving CTE programs in Tennessee, Nevada, Denver and San Antonio.

The report includes the following key recommendations for states and districts:

  • Build a truly seamless transition for all students into postsecondary education and career training;
  • Improve the quality and rigor of CTE pathways and courses;
  • Expand work-based learning, such as internships and apprenticeships;
  • Expand and improve support for students and families; and
  • Ensure equity for all students.

Read the full report here: http://chiefsforchange.org/policy-paper/6720/

Perkins V: How can states design meaningful accountability systems?

January 31st, 2019

This new bi-monthly blog series will highlight key Perkins V questions and topics and link them to relevant Advance CTE reports, guides and policy profiles featuring research, promising practices and examples of state policies.

Accountability and Perkins V

With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) within the last five years, states have been looking at how to measure career readiness and the effectiveness of programs. Importantly, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), shifts the accountability indicators at the secondary and postsecondary levels and provides an opportunity for states, in consultation with stakeholders, to select an indicator of secondary “program quality”: work-based learning, postsecondary credit attainment or credential attainment during high school. As states begin to look at this indicator and design their accountability systems for Perkins V, how can they ensure these measures are high-quality and aligned with measures of success across workforce and education programs? Check out the resources below to learn more.

REPORT: Career Readiness & the Every Student Succeeds Act: Mapping Career Readiness in State ESSA Plans: This report examines how states are taking advantage of key opportunities in ESSA to support career readiness, including how states address career-focused measures in their high school accountability systems. Watch a related webinar here.

REPORT: Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems: This report from Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers provides a roadmap for the measures states can use in an accountability system to support all students in achieving success after high school, as well as strategies for putting that accountability system into practice.

PROFILES: These career-ready indicator profiles explore how leading states are designing meaningful, career-focused accountability indicators:


The next issue of this series will include resources on stakeholder engagement and in the meantime, please be sure to check out the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy & Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate