State Policy Update: Sharing State Resources

March 30th, 2016

This month’s State Policy Update is focusing less on legislative activity and more on sharing some of the interesting things happening in the states around CTE:

New State Resources

  • The California Career Resource Network, supported by the state Department of Education, has released new “Career & College Readiness Lesson Plans.” There, you can find 45 lessons geared toward 5th-12th grade students, with around five lessons per grade. Though organized by grade level, the lessons could be used for any grade. Additionally, the Network has developed an Educator Guide, a bi-lingual career readiness glossary, and Spanish-language student handouts.
  • A new partnership between ArkansasDepartment of Career Education and the Arkansas Research Center has helped the department save time and money. In a blog post from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, the department partnered with the research center to develop new technical solutions for Perkins reporting. The center, which has two software developers on staff, created software that reduces the burden of Perkins reporting as well as save the department an estimated $500,000 over the next 10 years.
  • In somewhat state-related news, LinkedIn, Burning Glass Technologies and the Markle Foundation have launched a new kind of job website – The site is specifically designed for middle-skills job seekers with job ads, career exploration tools, and more. The site launched in Colorado in March focusing on information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care. The site plans to expand to the Phoenix area in April.

News of Note

  • In a blog post in Education Week, the Council of Chief State School Officers illustrates how states can use their accountability systems to affect student learning. The post leans heavily on contextualized and personalized learning, a hallmark of CTE.
  • Also in Education Week, an article highlighting that while K-12 spending is expected increase for most states this year, the budgets of the state education agency are getting cut in favor of directing money to local school districts. This squeeze is coming at a time when many state departments are gearing up to consider how best to fully leverage the flexibility provided for in the new federal Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA). As a special resource for only for Advance CTE members, be sure to check out our ESSA cheat sheet about the opportunities and intersections for CTE in the new law.

And finally, because we couldn’t resist some legislative, state board and gubernatorial news:

  • Earlier this month, the Michigan Board of Education adopted energy as its 17th Career Cluster®. Michigan industry leaders led this effort in order to develop a skilled energy utility workforce to combat the state’s skills gap, which is expected to grow retirements over the next 10 years. The Energy Career Cluster will use energy industry content standards developed by the Center for Workforce Development, a non-profit consortium of energy utilities.
  • The National Skills Coalition has a round-up of the workforce development initiatives proposed by governors in their budget and State of the State addresses this year.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Salmon, Maryland’s Newest State CTE Director, Looks Towards Preparing Students for College and Career

March 25th, 2016

Dr. Karen Salmon, the newest State CTE Director in Maryland and the current interim Deputy State ksalmonSuperintendent, has deep roots in Career Technical Education (CTE). She spent most of her career in Maryland serving roles that span the education sector, including teacher, an evaluator and coordinator to support people with disabilities at a CTE center, administrator, and assistant superintendent. From working on the ground as an educator to serving as a superintendent in both New York and Maryland, Salmon has a breadth of expertise and knowledge about how CTE works from the classroom to the state level.

In taking over as the State CTE Director, Salmon is focused on fine tuning the programs in the state. This includes further developing programs of study in the STEM Career Cluster, which resulted in an almost $1 million grant to promote biomedical programs in Maryland.

Additionally, the state is honing in on what it means for their students to be college and career ready, in which CTE will play a large role. To that end, Salmon is working on an initiative in response to a Senate bill requiring all students to be college and career ready by their junior year. When looking to the future, Salmon believes there needs to be a shifting of priorities of students, parents and the education system. “What we need to tell our kids is that everyone needs to be preparing for a career,” said Salmon. “College is not a career. College is the most expensive career development program we could ever have. We have to confront this idea that everyone is going to go to college.”

Despite CTE’s strength in preparing students for both college and careers, like many states, Maryland is facing a perception challenge. “We have to change the mindsets of many parents, teachers, and counselors all the way up the line about what the goals of CTE programs of study are. While it remains difficult, we’re constantly working on how to market ourselves more strategically and positively,” said Salmon. One of the ways this is being accomplished is through stronger student organizations, which help communicate the value of CTE to not only students, but also their parents.

We look forward to Salmon’s leadership in promoting college and career readiness, and advocacy in CTE’s important across the state.
Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

This Week in CTE

March 18th, 2016


Northwest Suburban High School District 214’s $1,000 Twitter-based scholarship contest asks seniors to record 30 second videos explaining how they are college or career ready. The scholarship goes hand in hand with the district’s Redefining Ready Initiative, which encourages looking beyond test scores to determine college an career readiness, looking at metrics from dual enrollment to industry certifications.


NOCTI announced the winners of their 2016 video contest with the theme, Be Your Own Hero! Students submitted videos highlighting the skills they’ve gained and the benefits of CTE.


The Southwest Transportation Workforce Center and Advance CTE cosponsored the webinar, Innovative Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Partnerships featuring teachers, administrators and industry partners who presented best practices for delivering transportation curriculum to students grades 6-12.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

March 4th, 2016



John King, Acting Secretary of Education, published an article celebrating Career Technical Education during CTE Month. “… CTE matters more than ever to the success of learners of all ages: because CTE is a way to open up real, clear, rewarding career pathways for all students.  As an instructional approach, it offers quality, rigor, and relevance,” said King.


The International Association for K-12 Online Learning released a new resource this week, Innovation Zones: Creating Policy Flexibility for Personalized Learning. The issue brief provides background information on innovation zones and how they spur the development of innovative learning models.


Education Policy developed an infographic based on the National Career Clusters framework.


















Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Education and Business Partnerships Necessary to Prepare a Skilled Workforce

March 3rd, 2016

This post was written by Becky Hoelscher, Director of AC Aftermarket, Emerson Climate Technologies Air Conditioning Business for our Friends of CTE series. 

While I was in high school, I was enrolled in a Career Technical Education (CTE) program where I was introduced to hands-on learning tactics that taught me valuable career competencies. After completion of this program, my classmates and I were prepared to enter into a workforce that was not only high in demand, but also required a high level of academic knowledge and technical skills. I am believer in and advocate for CTE because as a graduate myself, I understand just how important hands-on learning is for students preparing to enter into the workforce.

Need Recognition for HVAC Professionals
At Emerson Climate Technologies, we are working to recruit heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals to meet the growth predicted for our industry. In fact, in less than ten years, there will be 55,900 HVAC jobs1 added to the U.S. economy without the skilled workforce to fill the positions.
As skilled trade workers retire at a rapid speed, there are simply not enough trained individuals entering the workforce to replace them. Additionally, as older HVAC equipment becomes outdated and inefficient, current professionals will need to upskill and become familiar with new technologies, while future workers will need to be trained in both old and new technologies. At Emerson, we see HVAC jobs left unfilled every day. This is why supporting HVAC education and training has become a top priority for us.

Supporting the Future of HVAC Professionals
One of our strongest partnerships is with Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC), a nationally recognized CTE center located near our headquarters in Sidney, Ohio, where students develop valuable academic, employability and technical HVAC skills by learning how to design, install and maintain controlled environments.

Emerson has representatives on UVCC’s Advisory Council, where we contribute curriculum development expertise for students and faculty regularly. We have also provided grants, donated equipment and conducted professional development for instructors to keep them up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field. Over the years, we have consistently hired current UVCC students as interns, as well as recent graduates because we know they so well qualified.

Additionally, Emerson has provided marketing support for UVCC – helping develop the “Cool School, Hot Career” 11194628_10152906910723196_5261498197260186941_omarketing campaign – to generate interest in the HVAC field and recruit students to the program. As part of the campaign, we host career days where employees teach students about the variety of careers available across the HVAC industry.

This year, Emerson Climate Technologies was announced as the Association for Career and Technical Education’s Business of the Year for our commitment to CTE through our 17-year partnership and support of CTE professionals.
By partnering with local CTE programs, we are able to benefit the students, the local community, our wholesalers, contractors and the company itself. Seeing the benefit of this hands-on training, we will continue to support CTE by collaborating with local schools to create high-quality programs such as the program at UVCC. We encourage businesses in not only HVAC, but across all sectors, to provide support to CTE programs.


Learn more about our Friends of CTE Series.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Advance CTE Unifies CTE Field

February 26th, 2016

While I’ve held a variety of positions at the state leader level in Florida, Washington and Arkansas including my current role as the Florida Department of Education’s Chancellor for the Division of Career, I began my career in the classroom as a teacher. From the local to the state level, I’ve seen first-hand the impact high-quality CTE has in preparing students for meaningful careers, and have spent my career advocating so that all students have access to CTE opportunities.

The rebrand of Advance CTE allows the field – from classroom teachers to state leaders – to unify under a common message about who we are and how we value CTE. While CTE directly engages policymakers, businesses, state leaders and educators, in many cases there is still the perception of CTE as the “vocational” education model of previous days. The Advance CTE brand is fresh, new, and forward thinking, and represents the CTE of today and the future, while still honoring our past.

This rebrand process was an exciting opportunity to hear from the membership and Board of Directors who represent CTE across the nation about what Career Technical Education represents to them, and where we are headed. In the end, we were able to come together as a unified Board around a new brand that will certainly propel us into the future. On a personal note, as someone who has been an associate member, a state member and now the President of Advance CTE’s Board of Directors, it has been a particularly exciting journey to me.

Rod Duckworth, Chancellor, Division of Career and Adult Education, Florida Department of Education, Advance CTE Board of Directors President

#CTEMonth @ the Local Level

February 19th, 2016

So far during CTE Month we’ve covered some of what’s happening at the State level and on the Hill. Today, we’ll take a look at how schools, employers, students and educators are celebrating CTE Month on the ground.

CTE Site Visits

Earlier this week, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) held a site visit at Cardozo Education Campus, IMG_4753serving students grades 6-12 with world-class Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study in Washington, D.C. One program, the TransSTEM academy, which includes Project Lead the Way curriculum, creates opportunities for work-based learning in both the classrooms and off campus. One of the only schools in the country, Cardozo includes a FLEX-ACE lab, which replicates a test-range control room and operations center with state-of-the-art computers, flight simulators and a miniature air-traffic tower. Additionally, the academy partners with a multitude of employers at the national and local level to provide students with job shadowing, internships and mentors. The site visit included representation from the program’s alumni, national partners, Hill staff and students themselves.

Career Exploration

In addition to site visits, CTE Month is a perfect time to help students plan for their futures and to highlight how CTE programs of study can get them there.

Speight Middle School in Stantonsburg, North Carolina focused on career exploration at the middle school level. All rising freshman were required to complete a career self-assessment and research a career based on their assessment results. Educators assisted and monitored the research, which students then translated into a project to be showcased at the school’s first annual career fair. Eight graders will present their projects to their younger peers and community partners who will judge the event.

Dinwiddie High School in Dinwiddie County, Virginia held its annual Career & Industry Day with over 40 vendors including local and state police, medical professionals, culinary & event planning employers, Amazon, Walmart, Veterinarians and more. The event was expected to attract almost 1,000 students.

CTE Month in the News:

While CTE has been a hot topic in the news lately, there are still plenty of misconceptions about what CTE is and how it prepares students for successful careers. Getting the local media engaged during CTE month is a way to communicate the impact of your CTE program, and raise up the voices of your students, educators and partners who make your program great.

The Frederick News Post in partnership with the CTE Advisory Council in Maryland will publish a series of four articles written by journalism students that highlight successful CTE alumni during the month.

A Future Business Leader of America educator in Montgomery, Alabama won the local news station’s Golden Apple Award after nomination by a student.

Janet Goble, CTE Director in Canyons School District in Utah, was featured on the local news talking about the many ways schools prepare high schools students for careers.

CTE Month on Social Media

The #CTEMonth hashtag is still going strong on Twitter, where schools are highlighting their awards programs, featuring learning happening in the classroom, and honoring their CTE students and educators.




Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Inside International CTE: China

February 18th, 2016

Vivien Stewart, Senior Advisor for Education, Asia Society, shares what China’s education system is doing to raise the quality of its workforce. This post part of our ongoing partnership with Asia Society’s Global Learning Blog on EdWeek

The Shanghai Construction School
Last fall members of Asia Society’s Global Cities Education Network (GCEN), including representatives from Denver, Hangzhou, Hiroshima, Houston, Lexington, Melbourne, Seattle, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Toronto met in Shanghai. Their focus: how to implement 21st century competencies in their schools. One of the site visits was to a school run by the Shanghai Construction Group. The 16th largest construction company in the world, the Shanghai Construction Group has built some of China’s most spectacular skyscrapers, in collaboration with the world’s most famous architects, and increasingly works outside of China as well. It recruits more than 1,500 employees a year, about half from university and half from its own upper secondary vocational school and college. Students who attend the vocational school and college are drawn from those who did not do well enough in school to pursue an academic route to university. Most are from poor backgrounds, including rural students who board at the school. The curriculum includes math, Chinese, English, construction engineering, computer-aided design, and mechanics. In the third year, students do practical work in the company, rotating through several departments and receiving a stipend. The company employs about one third of the graduates of the school and college and many other companies come to the school to recruit its highly regarded graduates.

GCEN members were impressed that students work on the most up-to-date equipment, for tunnel construction for example, and use leading edge construction simulations. Teachers in the school include construction managers from the company as well as regular teachers with backgrounds in academic engineering, who work in the construction company in the summer to keep their knowledge up to date. The school’s curriculum is constantly adjusted to follow new developments in the construction industry, including those from the company’s own research center on innovation in construction. Shanghai Construction Group is a strong believer in lifelong education and graduates of the secondary vocational school can rise through the ranks and may eventually be sent by the company to get a BA or MBA, often at institutions abroad.

China’s economic and skills transition
All in all, the Shanghai Construction School is an impressive model of vocational education – imparting modern skills in high demand and providing social mobility to its graduates. But not all vocational and technical education in China is like this. “Made in China” has become a ubiquitous label as China has become the manufacturing workshop of the world, powering three decades of astounding economic growth. But the label is often synonymous with low quality and China’s surging economic growth has come at huge costs in terms of environmental degradation and inequality. The global recession of 2008-2009 caused massive unemployment in China and created a sense of urgency about the need to shift from an economy based heavily on low-cost, low-skill manufacturing for export to an economy based on higher quality goods and services. To achieve this transition, China needs to massively ramp up its skill levels. Critical shortages of skilled workers, qualified technicians, and service providers exist in many industries including electronics and information technology, steel and equipment manufacturing, automobile repair, and hotels/tourism. Where are these skilled workers to come from?

Innovations in China’s VET system
China’s vocational and technical education system has been plagued with problems, many of them similar to those here. It is widely viewed as a weak link in the education system and has low status in the public mind. As in the U.S., many of China’s VET schools have had a narrow curriculum, relatively weak connections to industry, and lower funding than academic education. Teachers typically lack industry background and there are few pathways between vocational education and academic education. In China, there is a huge mismatch between employer expectations and the skills of graduates of both the academic and technical education systems—especially with regard to their inability to apply their knowledge.

Read the full article here

Sheila Ruhland, Institutional Leader and Board of Directors Representative, Applauds Advance CTE

February 18th, 2016

As President of Tacoma Community College, someone who has held a number of positions at various community and technical colleges and a graduate of Madison Area Technical College (Madison College) myself, I am a strong believer in the importance of high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) as an essential component of a student’s education.

Having dedicated my professional life to supporting CTE students and programs, it has been so exciting to see CTE in the well-deserved spotlight. The future of CTE is very bright, with employers investing their time, money and resources; Congress and the Administration supporting such efforts like apprenticeships, community colleges and career readiness; and increasing demand from students, parents, educators and employers for an education system that truly prepares one for a long and fulfilling career.

Speaking as both an institutional leader and as the Board of Directors representative for all Advance CTE associate members, I believe this is the perfect time for the organization to undertake a rebrand, particularly one that better highlights the many voices it takes to deliver high-quality CTE. The Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work brand clearly articulates the many state leaders who are necessary to build the partnerships and programs that are key to workforce and economic growth in our communities.

Advance CTE has engaged the organization’s leadership and members every step of the way through this process, evident by a brand that perfectly represents the breadth and depth of their work, mission and members. It has been an exciting journey and I am looking forward to continue my life’s work to ‘advance CTE.’

Sheila K. Ruhland, Ph.D. President, Tacoma Community College

Announcing our new name, Advance CTE!

February 16th, 2016


We are thrilled to announce the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium has launched the new name, Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work.

Advance CTE, the sole organization dedicated to representing state leaders of Career Technical Education (CTE) for nearly 100 years, will continue the tradition of serving as the voice for our state CTE leaders, as well as carrying out our overall vision of an innovative CTE system that prepares individuals and the U.S. economy for success under this new brand.

Thank you for your continued work in CTE and support of our organization. We hope you enjoy the new name and look.

Vision & Mission
Our name may be different, but our Mission and Vision remain the same. Our current name and tagline strongly reflect our:

Vision: Through leadership, advocacy and partnerships, we support an innovative CTE system that prepares individuals to succeed in education and their careers and poises the united states to flourish in a global, dynamic economy.

Mission: Support visionary state leadership, cultivate best practices and speak with a collective voice on national policy to promote academic and technical excellence that ensures a career-ready workforce.

What’s Changed?
While our logo and name have changed, the majority of our resources, our membership structure, our Board structure and staff all remain the same. We have revamped and retooled a few sections on our website including the CTE: Learning that works for America section to make information more easily accessible and up-to-date.

Learn More
We’ve developed a variety of resources to further explain what the new brand means and how it will impact the organization. You can find more information on our updated About Us page, FAQ and Press Release, and, please reach out with any questions or comments.

2015 Annual Report
2015 was an amazing year of growth and change for the field and for us – of which our new brand is a reflection. From the continued interest in CTE on Capitol Hill, in state houses across the country, by major national reform organizations, and even in the media, CTE is very much in the spotlight as a strategy for and solution to addressing many of our education and workforce challenges. Learn more about our many accomplishments throughout the year in our 2015 Annual Report.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate