Happy National Ag Day!

March 20th, 2018

Happy National Ag Day! Ag Day is about recognizing, and celebrating, the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. When honoring agriculture and it’s contributions – from the clothes we wear to the food we eat – it is important to understand how Career Technical Education (CTE) prepares learners for careers in this vital industry.

Programs of study across the nation in urban, suburban and rural areas are providing learners with rigorous academic coursework, technical skills and hands-on experiences in all aspects of agriculture – from food science to horticulture. An exemplary agriculture program that deserves recognition as we celebrate National Ag Day is  Advance CTE’s 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster®, the Culinology® program at Bergen County Technical Schools’ Teterboro High School in Paramus, New Jersey.

Remaining flexible to evolving profiles of students and reinventing traditional CTE programs of study in innovative ways to also meet industry needs is the cornerstone of the Culinology program of study. While Teterboro High School has had a Culinary Arts program for well over twenty years, in the past decade faculty started to see a slight change in their student profile. Increasingly, students were not only interested in culinary arts and the food industry, but were also drawn by a strong intrinsic interest in science. More and more, students demonstrated an interest in obtaining a four-year degree.

Recognizing a need to modify the program to better match their students’ needs, Bergen County partnered with the Rutgers University Departments of Biological Sciences and Food Sciences as well as the the Research Chefs Association to develop a first-of-its-kind high school program blending agriculture, food science, culinary arts and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics – Culinology®. All academic courses are delivered at the honors or AP level and students from the program now go on to some of the most prestigious four-year institutions in the nation.

The program now delivers a curriculum that includes college-credit courses (beyond the AP courses referred to above); rigorous academic and occupational skill requirements in agriculture, mathematics, humanities, culinary arts, and sciences; and an emphasis on critical analysis, problem-solving and employability skills. The program also includes a focus on key industry certifications needed to support success in the workplace. The class of 2016 boasted 100 percent high school completion, 100 percent of students having earned postsecondary credit, and 100 percent of students enrolled in postsecondary education. We should be able to hold all CTE programs to this standard of excellence.

Learn more about the Culinology® program of study at Bergen County Technical Schools’ Teterboro High School and our 2017 award winners.

New Fact Sheet Highlights How CTE Teacher Shortages Align with Labor Market Demands

March 20th, 2018

In August 2017, Advance CTE conducted a survey of State CTE Directors to gather information about how states are implementing provisions in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). Responses to this survey demonstrated the consistent challenge of Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher and faculty shortages, with the highest shortages typically occurring in the Career Clusters® that feed into the industries with the highest labor market demand.

Some of the takeaways include:

  • Reported teacher and faculty shortage trends have remained largely consistent since 2008, with Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, Health Science, and Manufacturing among the Career Clusters with the highest shortages;
  • The Career Clusters with the largest teacher and faculty shortages align with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted to be the fasted growing careers in CTE fields; and 
  • Of all required or permissible uses of state leadership funds, 31 states dedicate the majority to professional development for new and current teachers.

Check out the full fact sheet to learn more! We also encourage you to read our report, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR, on increasing access to industry experts in high schools.

Hello from Advance CTE’s Newest Staff Member

March 13th, 2018

I’m Brianna McCain and I’m so excited to join Advance CTE as the new Policy Associate! I’ll be helping to advance and support Advance CTE’s state policy and implementation strategy through developing resources, maintaining the Learning that Works Resource Center, and tracking state and federal legislation.

My interest in education and workforce development began after interning at Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) in New York City, where I assisted with efforts to develop a job readiness program for commercially sexually exploited youth. My experience there taught me about how education intersects with other social issues and the role that education plays in promoting economic mobility. I then went on to get my Masters of Social Work (MSW) at the Brown School at Washington University in Saint Louis to learn more about social and economic development. While at the Brown School, I specialized in policy and helped to develop a strategic policy plan for a nonprofit. Before coming to Advance CTE, I worked at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM), where I supported low-income clients and engaged in policy work related to access and equity.

I became interested in Career Technical Education (CTE) after learning about the critical role that it plays in promoting economic mobility. As I began to learn more about CTE and the role it can play in promoting equitable outcomes, I saw the potential for how high-quality CTE could be leveraged to address inequities and prepare all learners for a successful future. I am excited to advocate for CTE because I view it as a key component to promoting economic mobility and ensuring that all learners have the skills and experience they need to obtain a meaningful career in the future.  

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate 

Contact Your Representative About Signing Perkins Funding Letter

March 9th, 2018

As Congress continues its work on the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations process, efforts to encourage support for programs for FY19 are underway. Read below to find out how you can support a strong federal investment in Perkins and to learn about new updates from the U.S. Department of Education.

Contact Your Representative About Signing the FY19 Perkins Funding Letter

The two co-chairs of the House CTE Caucus (Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA)) will be sending a letter to the Chairman, Tom Cole (R-OK) and Ranking Member, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies encouraging that they consider strong support for Perkins. Right now, Reps. Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson are asking for their colleagues in the House to join them in signing this letter (their request is formally called a “Dear Colleague” letter). Please consider contacting your Representative by March 14 to encourage him/her to sign on to the letter by using the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Action Center or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking your Representative to sign onto the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Perkins appropriations letter. Looking for resources on Perkins funding or how it’s used? Check out the new Perkins page on Advance CTE’s website.

New Resource: the Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice

The Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice is now live on the U.S. Department of Education’s Literacy Information and Communication Systems (LINCS) site. This moderated community offers CTE educators a forum to engage in thoughtful discussions and share tools and resources to increase equity in CTE programming. You can pose questions and help answer those of colleagues. In addition to facilitated discussions, other equity-focused professional learning opportunities will include webinars, interactive resource reviews, blog posts, and important event announcements.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Final Supplemental Priorities for Competitive Grants 

On March 2, the U.S. Department of Education released the final supplemental prioritiesfor discretionary grant programs, which can be used to award competitive grants beginning April 2. The priorities were initially released in October 2017 for public comment and the final priorities include some additional details. The final priorities are as follows: “1) Empowering Families and Individuals to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their 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 with Disabilities and/or Those with Unique Gifts and Talents, 6) Promoting 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) Protecting Freedom of Speech and Encouraging Respectful Interactions in a Safe Educational Environment and 11) Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational Options.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

Getting to Know… California

March 8th, 2018

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: California

State CTE Director: Donna Wyatt, Director, Career and College Transition Division, California Department of Education

About California: California is a state that doesn’t just give lip service to career readiness; it fully commits to preparing learners for meaningful careers. Last summer, the Career and College Transition Division underwent a significant reorganization that elevated the role of career readiness within the Department of Education. The state legislature has also appropriated more than $1.4 billion in the past few years to support Career Technical Education (CTE) and career pathways across the state through various initiatives and grants.

In California, CTE is delivered through comprehensive high schools, career academies, community colleges and 74 Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs). California recognizes 15 industry sectors loosely organized around the National Career Clusters framework, including state-specific sectors such as fashion and interior design. While programs are developed and administered locally, there are seven technical assistance centers across the state that support local districts to evaluate and improve their program offerings. These efforts are guided by a framework of 11 elements of a high-quality CTE system that are outlined in the state’s Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) state plan.

Notable in California – College and Career Indicator: In 2016, the California Department of Education unveiled a new school dashboard with various measures of school performance to provide transparency for students, families and communities. The dashboard is designed to satisfy school accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Included in the dashboard is a College and Career Indicator to rate schools on their success in preparing learners for post-high school transitions. Currently, schools are evaluated on only three levels — prepared, approaching prepared and not prepared — that include measures such as CTE pathway completion and dual enrollment.

While the dashboard was implemented with only three levels for this indicator, efforts are underway to define what it takes for students to be “well prepared” for college and careers. State leaders in California are working to define this level and are exploring options such as work-based learning participation and industry-recognized credential attainment.

Notable in California – California Career Pathways Trust: The California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) is a multi-million dollar grant program authorized in the 2013-14 state budget to accelerate the development of regional 9-14 career pathways. Between 2014 and 2015, grants of up to $15 million were awarded to 87 sites, which include partnerships between high schools, colleges and businesses.

According to a 2017 evaluation of CCPT, more than 800 discrete school-level pathways were developed or strengthened in the first year of the initiative, including in both community colleges and high schools. Many of these included CTE course sequences, work-based learning and student support services. Further, many sites reported that the partnerships established through their CCPT work led to lasting relationships and collaboration with key industry leaders.

While selected sites are continuing to receive funding through CCPT, the program was designed as a one-time investment to accelerate regional career pathways work. Day-to-day CTE programs and career readiness activities are supported through the CTE Incentive Grant program and the Local Control Funding Formula.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Senate CTE Caucus Holds HEA Briefing, Advance CTE Launches Updated Federal Policy Webpage

March 5th, 2018

Career Technical Education (CTE) Month wrapped up this week, but there was no shortage of exciting CTE activity to round out the month. In February, the U.S. Department of Education released a new strategic plan, the U.S. Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing and Advance CTE launched a redesigned federal policy webpage. Read below to learn more about each of these updates!

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Briefing on HEA and CTE 

On February 28, the U.S. Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing, “How Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) Can Better Reflect Today’s CTE Landscape.” Advance CTE’s Executive Director, Kimberly Green, moderated the panel discussion between James Brown (Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition), Steven Partridge (Vice President of Workforce Development, Northern Virginia Community College) and Mitch Coppes (Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education). The briefing touched on how a reauthorized HEA could help address the nation’s shortage of CTE educators, how community and technical colleges and other two-year programs are preparing learners for today’s in-demand jobs and other intersections between HEA and CTE. Senator Kaine (D-VA) also provided remarks about the power of CTE and the importance of sharing best practices in the field going into HEA reauthorization.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022

On February 12, the U.S. Department of Education released a Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) is identified on page 18 of the plan as one of the implementation strategies associated with the Strategic Objective 2.3 to “Support agencies and educational institutions as they create or expand innovative and affordable paths to relevant careers by providing postsecondary credentials or job-ready skills.” This objective is part of the plan’s second strategic goal (of four total), which is to “Expand postsecondary educational opportunities, improve outcomes to foster economic opportunity and promote an informed, thoughtful and productive citizenry.”

Advance CTE Launches Redesigned Federal Policy Webpage, New Resources

To find all of the latest resources related to Advance CTE’s federal policy agenda, check out our redesigned Federal Policy webpage on Advance CTE’s website! The webpage features a new “become a CTE advocate” section. Additionally, check out our new and updated fact sheets, Understanding the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and Funding CTE: An American Imperative on the Perkins page. Advance CTE members can also access additional federal policy resources on the members-only webpage.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Welcome to Heather Justice, Texas’ New State CTE Director!

March 5th, 2018

Heather Justice may be familiar to many within the Advance CTE family from her work at the Tennessee Department of Education, where she led major initiatives to transform the state’s CTE teacher professional development model and revised the state-promoted industry-recognized credentials list.

Now Justice is ready for her next challenge as Division Director of College, Career, and Military Preparation with the Texas Education Agency in a state with more than 1,200 school districts.

“It’s exciting to take some of the work Texas has already done and utilizing that to build across the state and thinking about the impact you can have for over 5 million students,” Justice said.

Justice’s path into CTE was a bit of a side-step, as she first began in the hospitality industry managing kitchen and hotel operations after graduating from Florida State University with a degree in business. Part of that work included training kitchen and hotel staff, a role that Justice fell in love with and realized that she wanted to continue this work as a teacher. So, she pursued her master’s degree in education and taught high school marketing and accounting in Tennessee.

Justice then went on to work as a finance consultant for the then-mayor of Knoxville, Bill Haslam, who was running for Tennessee governor. Shortly after Haslam’s gubernatorial inauguration, Justice was hired by the Tennessee Department of Education as a special projects consultant for the college and career readiness division.

Over the next seven years, Justice would go on to become the Director of Talent and Improvement and then Executive Director of CTE, and play a key role as the state transformed its programs of study offerings. Specifically, as the Director of Talent and Improvement, Justice reimagined the way that professional development could be delivered in the state and shifted to a regional approach that empowered and leveraged teacher leaders to lead communities of practice. As part of this shift, she trained the state CTE staff to provide this regionalized professional development by shifting their work from compliance to support.

Another point of pride for Justice was the state’s work to overhaul its industry-recognized credential list, which had more than 200 credentials. Justice led the work to winnow that list to 53 credentials that were recognized and valued by industry based on a set of rigorous criteria. Additionally, the Department of Education signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) system that ensured students who complete a credential on this list are guaranteed to earn articulated postsecondary credit with TCAT.

Now in Texas, Justice is excited to build on some of the great work happening including the state’s early college high schools and STEM academies as the state continues its work to value college and career readiness and connect CTE to traditional college preparatory models. A major focus will be a regional approach, recognizing Texas’ geographic diversity and how industries such as energy have different needs on the Gulf Coast, compared to West Texas.

“It’s about letting those regional influences really shine,” Justice said.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development

This Week in CTE: Happy CTE Month!

February 9th, 2018

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCES OF THE WEEK

Join the CTE: Learning that works for America campaign to get the word out about CTE in your community! Joining the brand gives you access to the national and state logos, in addition to a variety of new tools and resources. Check out our guide for putting the campaign into action, and check out our tips on how to celebrate CTE Month.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Not only is it CTE Month, it’s also School Counselors Week! To better understand the connection between CTE and school counseling, we conducted research and released a report with the American School Counseling Association. The report finds that, across the board, states are not overly confident in the effectiveness of their career advising and development systems. Fifty-eight percent believe they are only somewhat effectively serving K-12 students, and 55 percent believe they are either only somewhat effective or not effective at serving postsecondary CTE students. And while school counselors who connect students with CTE coursework and career pathways find it an effective career advising and development strategy, relatively few are able to make these connections.

How are you celebrating CTE Month? Let us know by sending an email to Katie at kfitzgerald@careertech.org 

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager

U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Recognizes Outstanding CTE Students

February 8th, 2018


Every year, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes the top high school seniors across the country through the
U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. This 60-year-old program was expanded in 2015 to include students who excel in Career Technical Education (CTE).

This year, there are 227 candidates for U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE, up from 209 last year. The 2018 candidates hail from 47 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Americans Abroad (U.S. citizens living abroad).

The application and approval process is rigorous, to say the least. A U.S. Presidential Scholar in CTE must be nominated by their Chief State School Officer (CSSO), who can nominate only five students. All candidates then complete an application that includes transcripts, a secondary school report, essays and self-assessments. Candidates are then evaluated for academic achievement, character and leadership by a review committee of secondary and postsecondary education leaders. The review committee selects the semifinalists from this group, and the Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of independent individuals appointed by the President from across the country and spanning a range of professional backgrounds, asses the remaining pool to choose the finalists. The Commission selects only 60 CTE semifinalists and up to 20 CTE finalists.

From the current pool of candidates, the review committee will announce semifinalists in April and the Commission will select finalists in May. The final U.S. Presidential Scholars will be invited to Washington, DC to be honored at the National Recognition Program. During their visit, they will spend one week with scholar alumni while they tour the city, hear from elected officials and view performances. Wondering who from your state is a potential Presidential Scholar? Find out here.

Report Describes What Else States Should Do To Support Career Advising and Development

February 6th, 2018

Today, Advance CTE and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) released a report exploring the strategies currently in place across the country to support career advising and development efforts. Too often, career advising and development only occurs at the high school level, even though learners should have access to career awareness, exploration and planning activities from elementary school all the way through postsecondary education. Anecdotally, many state and local leaders assume that this is not happening to the extent that it should be, but there has not yet been an in-depth examination of the data.

This topic has been a key focus of the New Skills for Youth (NSFY) initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. NSFY has provided funding to 10 states to transform their career readiness systems, and all 10 participating states have strategies in place to improve their career advising and development activities.

Advance CTE, as part of NSFY, partnered with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to conduct research with three questionnaires. Advance CTE surveyed State CTE Directors, and ASCA sent separate surveys to a selection of school counselors and to State School Counseling Directors, in states where that role has been specifically identified. Some of the key findings include:

  • Across the board, states are not overly confident in the effectiveness of their career advising and development systems. Fifty-eight percent believe they are only somewhat effectively serving K-12 students, and 55 percent believe they are either only somewhat effective or not effective at serving postsecondary CTE students.
  • States, on average, are supporting a multitude of strategies at the K-12 level for career advising and development (an average of 5.7 strategies), yet they report mixed levels of effectiveness for both the individual strategies and collectively.
  • Similarly, school counselors also employ many strategies (an average of 5.8) in their career advising and development work and generally feel more optimistic about the effectiveness of their strategies than states do about state-level strategies.
  • School counselors who connect students with CTE coursework and career pathways find it an effective career advising and development strategy, but relatively few school counselors are able to make these connections:
    • Only 27 percent of middle school counselors report that they connect students with CTE coursework or career pathways, even though this strategy is rated one of the more effective among those who use it, with 87 percent of the school counselors who use it in middle school labeling it as effective or extremely effective; and
    • Sixty percent of high school counselors use connecting students with CTE coursework and career pathways as a career advising and development strategy, and 91 percent of those find it effective or extremely effective, with a full 50 percent labeling it extremely effective.
  • School counselors struggle with balancing their heavy workloads and other counseling responsibilities, and they want more professional development and community conversations around career readiness to support their students more effectively.

The report examined numerous strategies currently in place to support career advising and development efforts. Wisconsin’s Academic and Career Plan, for example, is an ongoing process for middle and high school students that involves coordinated conversations around career interests and options, and that helps students make informed choices about career pathways. Texas has spent the last few years developing extensive virtual supports for school counselors, available through TXCTE.org and Texas OnCourse. These resources provide school counselors with messaging materials, lesson plans and other information on CTE and career advising. Maryland has leveraged state and organizational partnerships to develop several career advising strategies at the elementary and middle school levels, which incorporate career awareness and exposure with civic engagement and financial literacy.

To hear more about this report, join our webinar on February 20, which will feature presentations from ASCA and Advance CTE, as well as a local CTE practitioner.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

 

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