Putting Learner Success First: New Resources, New Supporters & More!

August 16th, 2016


In May, Advance CTE and six partner organizations released Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, establishing a bold vision for all of education, which includes, but is not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE). Since the release, tens of thousands of copies have been distributed across the country and state and local leaders have begun to signal their commitment to its implementation.

To support leaders at all levels turn this shared vision into a reality – and truly support ALL learners on their paths to career success – Advance CTE has created a number of resources and materials. We will continue to build and share new tools and resources in coming months.

New Resources

Want to help spread the word about the shared vision? Check out our tips for sharing Putting Learner Success First or dive right in and use our PowerPoint and talking points.

Looking to make the case to state CTE leaders? Use this two-pager to get started.

Or, want to understand what work is already underway to support the vision’s principles and actions nationally? Review this chart of aligned national efforts to track progress and see where new investment are most needed.

New Vision Supporters

We are so excited to announce that SkillsUSA and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) have both officially signed on as supporters to Putting Learner Success First, joining the original seven supportive organizations! As two of the leading Career Technical Student Organizations in the country, they support the leadership, technical and academic skills of learners in all 50 states – serving over 450,000 learners and instructors. You can read their sign on letters here and be on the look out for their guest blogs soon.

Sign on Campaign

Finally, we recently created a sign on campaign, where leaders and supporters at all levels can show their support for the shared vision. We encourage you to join your peers from across the country and sign on today!


Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Welcome Eric Feldborg, New Hampshire’s new State CTE Director

August 15th, 2016

Eric Feldborg has had a less traditional route to the State CTE Director position in New Hampshire. Beginning his career as a process and product engineer, he then transitioned into building custom furniture, all the while serving as a skiing instructor on the winter weekends. Eventually, Feldborg recognized his love of teaching and decided to make a career of it by becoming a science teacher. Feldborg ended up spending 15 years teaching, eight of which were at a competency-based school. In the process of getting recertified, Feldborg began taking graduate courses and became more deeply interested in education leadership and the social sciences, eventually earning a doctorate of education from Plymouth State University.

While working on his dissertation, Feldborg reached out to the commissioner of education in the state who steered Feldborg towards an innovative project at one of the state’s Career Technical Education (CTE) centers. His research focused on how unplanned strategies emerge in complex systems undergoing transformational change. After earning his doctorate, he continued serving as the Outreach Administrator at Great Bay eLearning Charter School, then moved to the New Hampshire Department of Education. Before assuming his current role, he served as the state’s STEM Director for six months.

As State CTE Director, Feldborg hopes to serve as a facilitator and help create a more cohesive system among state leaders across the education and workforce sectors. Additionally, he wants to refine the monitoring process at the local level to ensure it is seamless and productive. Over the next year, Feldborg plans to learn the ins and outs of the requirements and determine how schools can focus on improving CTE at its core.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Election 2016: Pence’s CTE Record in Indiana Hints at Republican Ticket’s Education Agenda

August 12th, 2016

This is the first part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Republican ticket.

Trump PenceLacking an Education Record, Trump Makes Nods to Parental Choice

Coming from the private sector, Republican Nominee Donald Trump has a limited record on education. Yet he has provided some hints as to what an education agenda would look like under his administration, including a smaller role for the federal government, more choice for parents, and more employable college degrees.

Trump’s campaign website advocates more power for parents, arguing that “education has to be at a local level. We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education.” The real estate tycoon voiced similar sentiments in his Republican National Convention speech, promising to empower “parents [to] send [their kids] to a safe school of their choice.”

While Trump, to our knowledge, has not explicitly endorsed Career Technical Education  (CTE) as an educational strategy, there is some evidence that CTE would be included in a plan to expand parental choice. The Republican party’s 2016 platform calls for “options in learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools.” If this is any indication of what a Trump administration would look like, then CTE would likely be a priority.

In regards to higher education, the Trump campaign’s national co-chairman, Sam Clovis, hinted in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that the campaign wants reforms that would incentivize getting degrees that lead to jobs over liberal arts degrees. He argues that schools should put some “skin in the game” and share some of the risk when students pursue degrees that do not lead to high-wage jobs. This would likely lead colleges to make decisions based on students’ prospective majors and post-graduation employment prospects.

In Indiana, Pence Spearheaded Regional Collaboration and Invested in Expanding CTE

Governor Mike Pence, in contrast, has had 12  years in the U.S. House of Representatives and nearly four years as governor of Indiana with which to demonstrate his CTE chops. His education record in the House is short: he voted against the No Child Left Behind Act on the grounds that it put too much power in the hands of the federal government, and voted for the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006. Since his election as Governor of Indiana in 2012, however, Pence has made a concerted effort to prioritize CTE in schools all across the state, emphasizing the viability of both college and career pathways, which he calls “two Plan A’s.”

Most would say that Pence’s résumé in Indiana is CTE friendly. The crown jewels in his CTE record are the regional Indiana Works Councils and the state-level Career Council, both of which he worked with the state General Assembly to create during his first year in office.

The Indiana Works Councils include 11 regional boards, each composed of education and business leaders who work locally to align CTE programs with regional workforce needs. Together the councils have provided more than $4.3 million to support innovative CTE curricula across the state, which in turn reached more than 2,600 students in the first year.

At the state level, the Indiana Career Council has brought together leaders in education and industry to develop and drive CTE strategies across the state. With a three-pillar strategic plan and ongoing reviews of education and workforce needs, the Council has been the torchbearer for linking K-12, postsecondary and adult CTE to Indiana’s high wage, high demand economic sectors.

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce invited Pence to speak at a hearing in 2015 about expanding opportunity in America’s schools and workplaces. In his testimony, Pence once again reinforced the need for two “Plan A’s” and urged the committee to ensure that non college-bound students “can thrive in their future careers, and one way to do this is to again make career and technical education a priority.”

While the Republican ticket has yet to articulate a proposal to expand and invest in CTE at the national level, we are hopeful that, given the Republican party’s platform and Pence’s record in Indiana, CTE would be a priority in a Trump-Pence administration.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Register today for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting!

July 28th, 2016

Join us October 17-19, 2016, in Baltimore, MD, for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting! 2016 has been an exciting year for Career Technical BaltimoreEducation and Advance CTE. During this meeting, you can expect the latest behind-the-scenes information about  the rauthoirziation of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, legislation that is critical to CTE. In addition, we’ll engage around the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act.

Aside from federal policy, we will explore implementation of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. Since its release in May, the vision has had strong support from the education, workforce and policy community, as well as Advance CTE membership. In the fall, we’ll take a deep dive into how you can implement the vision principles in your own work.

Throughout the meeting, you’ll have the chance to hear from national experts during panels and breakout sessions and, as always, have ample opportunities to exchange ideas and collaborate with your colleagues on the issues and challenges you face every day. Don’t miss out on this unique professional development experience and register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

State Policy Update: California’s Budget Calls for New Initiative to Strengthen CTE Programs in Community Colleges

July 18th, 2016

CA BudgetWith students now on summer vacation, policymakers have been hard at work preparing for the upcoming school year — and Career Technical Education (CTE) has been front and center in several states. Last month, California approved a massive budget, including funds for the CTE Pathways Program and the new Strong Workforce Program. Meanwhile, some states are exploring strategies to address teacher shortages.

The Strong Workforce Program: California’s Investment in Community Colleges

Late last month, California Governor Jerry Brown approved the state’s budget for FY2016-17. Education — and CTE in particular — fared well. Continuing California’s past investments in CTE, the 2016-17 budget authorized $200 million for the Strong Workforce Program, an initiative to expand access to CTE courses and to implement a regional accountability structure.

The Strong Workforce Program was authorized through Assembly Bill 1602 and is based on recommendations from the Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy. The program includes a noncompetitive grant that community colleges can receive by joining regional cross-sector partnerships with education and workforce leaders. The grant, which is awarded based on unemployment rates and CTE enrollment in the community, is designed to:

  • Ensure that CTE and workforce development programs in community colleges are responsive to employer and worker needs;
  • Encourage cross-sector collaboration; and
  • Engage employer and labor leaders in developing and aligning programs to workforce needs.

The budget includes other notable investments in CTE. The CTE Pathways Program, which supports local linkages between education and workforce development from middle school through community college, received a one-time increase of $48 million. The new budget also saw a 2.6 percent adjustment to the Local Control Funding Formula base grant to support the cost of operating high school CTE programs (check out a primer on the Local Control Funding Formula here). 

What the California Budget Means for Teachers

The budget also includes measures to support teacher recruitment and certification, such as:

  • A $10 million grant program for postsecondary institutions to develop integrated teacher preparation programs;
  • $20 million to establish the California Classified School Employees Credentialing program; and
  • $5 million to establish the California Center on Teaching Careers, which would actively recruit teachers into the classroom.

Speaking of Teacher Recruitment…

Other states are exploring innovative strategies to draw more industry professionals into the classroom. In New York, the Board of Regents issued an updated rule that provides three additional pathways for individuals with industry experience to obtain a teaching certificate. Similarly, Utah adopted a new rule allowing districts to hire industry professionals without teaching experience. Under this rule, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or higher, pass a Board-approved content knowledge assessment, and be assigned a master teacher mentor to qualify for a teaching license.

Back to California…

Separately, the California State Board of Education last week approved an early version of its College and Career Readiness Indicator, which is designed to measure how prepared students are for life after high school. If the measure is approved, students would qualify as “Well Prepared” if they complete a CTE pathway with a “C” or better; score “Ready” on the 11th-grade math and English Smarter Balanced Assessment; earn a three or higher on at least three AP exams; complete three or more years of dual/concurrent enrollment in community college courses; or earn an International Baccalaureate diploma. While the Board plans to continue discussion, this early draft previews California’s vision for the Indicator.

Odds and Ends from Other States

In an effort to create a more seamless K-16 education system, the Louisiana state legislature directed the superintendent of education to study and provide recommendations on increasing participation in dual enrollment programs and aligning secondary and postsecondary systems to encourage postsecondary credit attainment in high school. The superintendent is required to report back to the legislature in early 2017, so we will keep an eye out for the final recommendations and report back.

And in South Carolina, Act 252 established the Coordinating Council of Workforce Development, a cross-sector council charged with assessing workforce needs in the Palmetto State and providing recommendations to increase access to workforce training programs. Governor Nikki Haley said the legislation would bring together businesses and technical colleges to help students gain necessary skills to fill the 60,000 job openings in the state.  

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: Perkins

July 8th, 2016


The House Education and the Workforce (HEW) Committee held a markup session for H.R. 5587– The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act– legislation that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act. The markup provided the opportunity for committee members to make amendments and changes to this legislation, which was introduced in late June. The committee ultimately voted 37-0 to refer the bill to the full chamber for a House-wide vote (at a date still to be determined).

Ahead of this Advance CTE sent a letter of support for committee passage of H.R. 5587 which is available here.

An archived webcast of the markup can be viewed here.


The College & Career Readiness & Success Center is hosting a 3-part series highlighting how career pathways can leverage CTE to connect academic learning and career readiness skills.


The Horatio Alger National Career & Technical Scholarship Program is awarding 510 scholarships of up to $2,500 each to students who plan to pursue a career or technical certificate and/or degree. Applications are open until August 1, 2016.

SkillsUSA: How Industry Collaboration Creates Opportunity for the Future of CTE

June 28th, 2016

SkillsUSA ConstructionFor students in high-skill career pathways, winning an invitation to the SkillsUSA national competition is one of the biggest honors in their field. Not only does the annual competition give students an opportunity to showcase their talent in different trades but it also demonstrates what the future of Career Technical Education (CTE) can be: a coordinated, cross-sector effort to put learner success first.

This year’s SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky — the 52nd annual competition — featured more than 6,000 competitors, 4,000 teachers and advisers, and 600 national industry leaders from across the United States. In two days of fierce competition, students took to the exposition floor to demonstrate their mastery in a variety of skilled trades: Automated Manufacturing Technology, Culinary Arts, Health Occupations, Mechatronics, Web Design and Welding, to name a few.

What stood out throughout the conference was not only the passion from competitors and their advisers, but also the relationships that students, educators and conference organizers had with industry leaders in each field. Business and industry representatives were highly engaged, contributing generous prize packages for winners in each category, partnering with SkillsUSA National to align competition criteria to industry standards, and providing judges for each competition. Further, many industry leaders could be seen on the exposition floor throughout the week, observing competitions and scoping out future hires.

While students demonstrated their skills on the competition floor, SkillsUSA allowed CTE thought leaders to demonstrate their own wins through SkillsUSA University sessions. In one such session, Dan Belcher of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) laid out a 12-step plan for facilitating cross-sector collaboration, informed by his experience in the construction industry. He suggested that organizations can start by identifying their needs: the specific skills and knowledge they want to teach their students. This will prepare them to discuss and maximize areas of collaboration with industry partners. On the industry side, organizations should evaluate the resources — equipment, mentorship, strategic guidance, etc. — that they are willing to bring to the table. Such cross-sector collaboration will help streamline pathways from education to career and ensure future success for CTE students. Other sessions included discussions on engaging nontraditional students, engaging the community, and adapting to new assessments.

Advance CTE’s updated Vision, Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, describes a future in which CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence and all systems work together to support learner success. The SkillsUSA conference provides an encouraging snapshot of what this world will look like, with industry experts and educators alike working together to prepare students for their futures. The task remains to take this successful model and apply it nationwide so that all students can access the opportunity that CTE provides.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

The Learning that Works Resource Center: A Quick Guide

June 23rd, 2016

resource centerEarlier this week Advance CTE launched the Learning that Works Resource Center, a repository of high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness research and promising policies. The Resource Center is supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co’s New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of Advance CTE, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group, and is designed to connect state leaders, policymakers, academics and practitioners alike with a vetted bank of resources from which to learn and expand their knowledge of CTE.

While the Resource Center is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, here are some tips and tricks to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.  

I Want to Learn More about a Topic

The home page features 12 different categories of resources related to CTE. Hover your mouse over a topic tile to see a description of the types of resources included in that category.

Once you’ve settled on a topic to explore, click on the tile to enter the Resource Center and view a list of resources. The most relevant documents will be listed at the top, but you can filter even further by using the “By State” and “By Resource Type” filters at top of the page. Note that the icon next to the resource indicates the resource type: Guide/Tool, Policy or Report/Case Study.

Click on any resource title to read a summary and download the full version of the resource. Related resources are located at the bottom of each resource page, but you can always explore another topic by clicking on the menu to the left.

I Am Looking for a Specific Resource

The Resource Center includes advanced search options to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Start by clicking the “Advanced Search” button at the bottom of the home page to access additional search filters. From here you can search by title, keyword, primary topic, resource type and/or state. Be aware: while this feature allows you to hone in on specific resources, including additional filters limits the search response. You may end up seeing only one or two results.

The “Search by State” and “New Skills for Youth” buttons on the bottom of the home page also allow for further filtering. “Search by State” allows you to identify all resources related to a specific state, which may come in handy if you want to learn more about a program or policy in that state. “New Skills for Youth” includes tools and resources specific to the JPMorgan Chase New Skills for Youth initiative.

I Have Limited Knowledge of CTE but Want to Learn More

Good news – you’ve come to the right place! The Resource Center has all the information you need to become an expert on CTE. If you want to get a broad sense of what other people in the field are reading, click on the “Most Popular” button at the bottom of the home page to view a list of the most frequently visited pages. Otherwise, you may want to start by exploring the 12 topics and narrow down your search from there.

The Resource Center already includes a broad collection of resources spanning a range of topics, states and audiences. All the same, Advance CTE will continue to update the website with high-quality documents that meet the Resource Center criteria for inclusion. If you would like to contribute any resources, you can submit them for review here. If you have additional questions that weren’t addressed above, feel free to reach out to us directly at resources@careertech.org.  

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Inside International CTE: India

June 9th, 2016

Today, guest blogger, Heather Ridge, an agriculture and science teacher at Boulder Universal school in Boulder, Colorado will provide insight into the Vocational Education system in India. She has just returned from a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant in India where she spent six months examining workforce readiness. Here is what she observed. This post is part of our ongoing series exploring vocational education around the world with Asia Society’s Global Education blog on Education Week.

By guest blogger Heather Ridge

If you’re looking for an electrical engineer, India is a great place to find one, but good luck getting the phone number of someone qualified to wire the house. The push towards higher education over the last decade has doubled the number of students enrolling in higher education but, much like in the US, the skills they are graduating with have many who follow workforce development concerned. Current policy makers are turning to new programming in vocational education as a way to meet this challenge.

India will soon have the largest and youngest workforce in the world.
With more than 40% of the country’s 1.2 billion people under the age of 20, the level of skills and talents these youth might bring with them will have profound impacts on both social and economic factors within the country and around the world. In a recent report, only 2% of the Indian workforce was considered formally skilled and less than 7% of students under 15 were involved in any form of vocational training. Industry sectors projected to face the largest gaps are skilled trades for construction and infrastructure as well as banking and finance, which are seen as essential to economic growth and development.

These kinds of numbers demand attention from the government to address the growing skills gap between what knowledge and abilities students leave the classroom with and what the workforce demands. With 17 different ministries in India currently engaged in some sort of skill development scheme, the push towards revamping the role that vocational education can play in secondary schools has led to the newly revised policy of Vocationalisation of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education and the launch of the new National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). As a career and technical education teacher (CTE), I spent the first few months of 2016 traveling around India to see how this new policy was being implemented at the classroom level.

Creating a Career and Technical Framework
The National Skills Qualification Framework was launched in 2013 and is a framework that organizes competency-based learning into levels that allow learners to gain certification through both formal and informal skill development. As part of this new framework, both universities and secondary schools are gaining access to resources that allow them expand vocational courses and degree programs. As a high school teacher, I was most interested in seeing how new vocational programs were being created for students in class 9-12 around the country.

With centralized curriculum being taught in the country’s estimated 1.3 million different schools, the first step the government took in creating new vocational course options was to develop learning standards. The creation of new Sector Skills Councils (SSC), which are industry-led groups focused around particular job clusters like manufacturing, agriculture, and trades, has worked to create new National Occupation Standards. Along with industry-specific competencies, each of the job qualification packets that the SSC’s put together include soft skills, such as communication, designed to prepare students for the professional environment. From here, the National Occupation Standards go to the PSS Central Institute for Vocational Education, where they are turned into curriculum and materials for teacher training.

At the implementation level, government-run schools are selected by the state and two vocational programs based on the National Skill Development Corporation’s skill gap analysis. This public-private partnership looks at industry needs and workforce data to map out where skills gaps exist.

Due to the growing technology demand, each school offers an IT/Computer Science program, in addition to options ranging from automotive, agriculture, security, and healthcare as the second program option. From the 40 schools originally piloted, there are now over 2,000 schools around the country offering these four-year programs to boys and girls in class 9-12. That number is expected to double within the next year as more states become involved in the program.

Connecting Industry with Classrooms
The vocational classrooms I visited while in India were cramped, crowded, and under-resourced, but filled with enthusiasm. Students were clearly very excited about a style of hands-on learning that combined both theory and practice and diverged from the traditional rote memorization and recitation that is commonly associated with government schools. Evidence for the growing demand for these types of course can be seen in the enrollment. At all of the schools I visited, applications for the programs far exceeded number of seats available, which are capped at 25 per program per class.

When questioned, it was clear the part of class students liked best was the practical experience that not only involved their own labs, but visits to industry. As part of the newly revised scheme, all programs have a prescribed number of visiting guest lecturers, who are remunerated for their time, as well as field visits to different industry partners each year. While labor laws forbid students actually working as interns at a business, they have multiple opportunities to visit sites with their class and explore careers and skills within that industry.

Through the newly established National Skills Qualification Framework, students within the programs earn standardized level certification that they can take with them to higher education or the workforce.

Read the full article here

Excellence in Action Award Recipients Announced!

May 26th, 2016

On Tuesday we announced the 11 Excellence in Action award recipients that  demonstrate  innovative and high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). The awardees were chosen by a national selection committee based on their proven ability to prepare students for education and career success, demanding coursework, high-quality work-based learning experiences, and sustained partnerships with education, business and community leaders.Iowa

Award winners include:

  • Tulare Join Union High School District Farm, CA (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources)
  • Advanced Technologies Academy, NV (Architecture & Construction)
  • Vista PEAK Preparatory, CO (Business Management & Administration)
  • Peoria Unified School District, AZ (Education & Training)
  • Hamburg High School, NY (Finance)
  • Waubonsee Community College, IL (Health Science)
  • Central Campus of Des Moines Public Schools, IA (Hospitality & Tourism)
  • Southwest High School, TX (Information Technology)
  • Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, TX (Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security)
  • Desert View High School, AZ (Manufacturing)
  • Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center, MI (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)

Cesar“CTE should prepare all students for success in both postsecondary education and careers, and these programs of study do exactly that,” said Kimberly Green, Advance CTE Executive Director. “The eleven award winners were chosen, in part, due to their dedication to ensuring access to and supporting success for all students. We hope these programs of study serve as a model for leaders across the country by demonstrating what high-quality CTE looks like and can offer to students and communities.”

Scott Nail representing Upper Valley Career Center, a 2015 award recipient said, “What an amazing honor for UVCC to be chosen. This award has allowed UVCC to share best practices with federal policymakers and the White House administration, a testament to how CTE is being reshaped to help prepare students for high-demand, high-wage jobs.”

Award recipients were honored at the 2016 Advance CTE Spring Meeting at a luncheon where 40 administrators, educators and students traveled across the country to be recognized.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate