Staff Reflects on the 2017 Spring Meeting Part 1

May 9th, 2017

Last week, we held the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, which brought over 200 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From digging into new research to updates on federal policy, hear what our staff had to say as they reflected on this year’s meeting in this three-part series. 

Everyone working in the CTE field knows that we regularly face major communications challenges, often needing to combat negative misconceptions many still hold when it comes to our programs and pathways. Given the urgency and importance of these challenges, we dedicated much of Tuesday to digging into polling data and effective messaging around CTE for all students.

Tim Hodges kicked off Tuesday with a keynote exploring a wide array of Gallup’s data that made the case for high-quality CTE. For example, students and parents are increasingly unengaged in their schools, with only 50% of students strongly agreeing that they get to do what they do best every day.  What most stood out to me were the experiences of college graduates who were the most likely to be successful upon graduation (and engaged in their work) – having mentors, participating in internships where they applied their learning and long-term projects – are all hallmarks of high-quality CTE programs. The challenge is that too few students – in K-12 or in postsecondary – have access to these opportunities or even know about them.

Tim’s presentation perfectly set the stage for leaders from Edge Research to then share Advance CTE’s new communications research (released last month) on how to best engage parents and students around the value and promise of CTE.  The Edge team shared some of the most inspiring findings from the focus groups and national survey – like the fact that parents and students engaged in CTE are twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with their education compared to those not involved in CTE – and unpacked some lessons learned around messaging.

Later in the afternoon, I had the opportunity to jointly lead workshops for over 50 meeting participants with Katie Fitzgerald, where we dug into the big takeaways from the research, including “do’s and don’ts,” such as DO use consistent messages, DO leverage the student voice and story and DON’T market CTE as the “non-college” option given parents and students need to know CTE can be a path to postsecondary options, as well as careers.

These are big, thorny challenges that will not be solved over night or by any single person – and it will take a significant shift in how we all talk about CTE and its many benefits to learners.  But we are just getting started and Advance CTE is 100% committed to helping our members and partners strengthen their recruitment strategies and overall messaging around CTE to parents and students.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director, Advance CTE

The Spring Meeting was an amazing opportunity for me to meet Advance CTE’s members! While I couldn’t meet everyone, the members I met were smart, insightful, and passionate about their work. I was continuously impressed by their desire to both dive into complex issues and discuss potential solutions regardless of topic area during informal conversations and breakout sessions alike. Whether members were looking at including work-based learning in their accountability systems, better understanding the role of school counselors in career guidance, or determining how to best meet the needs of rural students, they weren’t afraid to dig into the challenges and share successes. It was truly inspiring to see their commitment to continuous improvement and their dedication to student success. I’m excited to be joining the CTE community and look forward to engaging with more of our members virtually and in upcoming conferences and meetings!

Another highlight of the Spring Meeting was the vibrant discussion around CTE policy! Sessions throughout the meeting touched on the major pieces of federal legislation that intersect with CTE. On Tuesday, leaders from states that are building career readiness into their accountability systems under ESSA shared their stories and examples, which are particularly relevant as states finalize their ESSA plans. In a panel discussion on Thursday, national experts on higher education shared what they see as the opportunities in the Higher Education Act (HEA) to strengthen connections to CTE. The entire panel provided unique insights on the biggest debates ahead and also touched on the areas in which the law could better serve the needs of today’s post-secondary students, something that is at the forefront of my mind as we approach discussions around HEA reauthorization in the coming months. In a particularly timely session, Congressional staff participated in a panel about the new Perkins reauthorization bill and our members had the opportunity to get their questions answered! Each session provided me with a better understanding of the particular policy ideas and issues that are most pressing and important to our members. All in all, it was a tremendous learning experience and I can’t wait for the Fall Meeting!

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy


11 Programs of Study Receive National Excellence in Action Award

May 5th, 2017

Earlier this week, 11 Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study received the Excellence in Action award from Advance CTE. Hailing from 10 states, these programs represent the best of CTE, with each providing clear pathways into college and careers, rigorous academic and technical coursework, strong partnerships with industry leaders, and impactful work-based learning experiences that offer opportunities for career exploration and subject-matter mastery.

Award-winning programs provide learners from diverse communities with the supports to succeed in the education pathway and career of their choice. Advance CTE is pleased to recognize the following award winners in Career Cluster areas:

  • Culinology, Bergen County Technical Schools, NJ (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources)
  • Graphic Arts, Passaic County Technical Institute, NJ (Arts, A/V Technology & Communications)
  • Education Career Academy, Millard Public Schools, NE (Education & Training)
  • Shea Government and Public Administration Academy, Pawtucket School Department, RI (Government and Public Administration)
  • Emergency Medical Technology, Jones County Junior College, MS (Health Science)
  • Culinary and Hospitality Services, Jack E. Singley Academy, TX (Hospitality & Tourism)
  • Networking Engineering, Summit Technology Academy, MO (Information Technology)
  • Law, Public Safety and Security, Milton Hershey School, PA (Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security)
  • Mechatronics, Oakland High School, TN (Manufacturing)
  • Engineering, Harmony Magnet Academy, CA (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)
  • Automotive Technology, Warren County Area Technology Center, KY (Transportation, Distribution & Logistics)

“I am so proud of these exemplary programs and all they offer learners across the country,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE. “Boasting impressive graduation and completion rates, credential attainment, and hands-on learning experiences, these programs demonstrate what high-quality CTE has to offer, and its ability to set students up for success across the spectrum of careers.”

Award recipients were honored at the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting at a luncheon where 30 administrators, educators and students traveled across the country to be recognized.

Find profiles of each winner here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

April 28th, 2017


Advance CTE released a new report, Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High Quality Career Pathways, examining the role state leaders can play in promoting quality by leveraging policy, programs and resources to ensure all career pathways meet minimum standards. Take a look and how Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware took on this important work.

Idaho Career & Technical Education released a video highlighting CTE students career aspirations and prospects.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

New Report Offers Solutions to Better Communicate About CTE with Parents and Students

April 24th, 2017

Career Technical Education (CTE) has had a long struggle with stigma. Despite programs preparing students for both college and career, and a 10 percent higher graduation rate for CTE students compared to the national average, CTE remains plagued by outdated perceptions and stereotypes.

To help combat these perception challenges, Advance CTE with support from the Siemens Foundation, released a new report addressing this important issue, and offering solutions to drive students and parents to consider CTE as an option for their education.

“The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students,” explores the attitudes of parents and students currently involved in CTE, as well as prospective CTE parents and students, to improve understanding of the promise and opportunity of CTE.

The survey had many critical findings including: 





  • More than double the percentage of CTE parents and students are ‘very satisfied’ with their overall education experience compared to that of parents and students not involved in CTE
  • CTE parents and students are more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their classes, teachers and opportunity for career exploration
  • Across the board, CTE programs are most valued for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system, offering concrete and tangible benefits related to college and career success
  • Counselors, teachers and CTE students and alumni are among the most trusted sources of information for students and parents alike

The report highlights findings that can help states, district and local leaders more effectively communicate with parents and students to encourage interested students to enroll in CTE programs.

To help you get started, Advance CTE has developed a series of tools including talking points and supportive statements, Dos and Don’ts and a fact sheet. Learn more here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Get to Know the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council!

April 14th, 2017

This post is written by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) is the nation’s leading industry-led training, assessment and certification organization focused on the core technical competencies needed by the nation’s frontline production and material handling workers. The nationwide MSSC certifications, based upon industry-defined and federally endorsed national standards, offer both entry-level and incumbent workers the opportunity to demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge and skills increasingly needed in the technology-intensive advanced manufacturing and logistics jobs of the 21st century. MSSC applies to all frontline manufacturing production jobs (6 million) and all front-line material handling and distribution jobs (6.1 million). MSSC has developed two nationally portable certifications for this workforce:

Certified Production Technician (CPT): The CPT Certification addresses the core technical competencies of higher skilled production workers in all sectors of manufacturing. MSSC awards certificates to individuals who pass any of its five Production Modules: Safety, Quality Practices & Measurement, Manufacturing Processes & Production, Maintenance Awareness and Green Production and a full CPT Certification to those who pass all four core modules (Note: Green is not required for full-CPT certification.)

Certified Logistics Technician (CLT): The CLT Certification addresses the core technical competencies of higher skilled, frontline material handling workers in all supply chain facilities: in factories, warehouses, distribution centers and transportation companies. MSSC awards the foundational-level Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) certificate and the mid-level CLT certification. CLA is a prerequisite for CLT.

CPT and CLT are the only national industry certifications, for both manufacturing and logistics, accredited under ISO 17024 (personnel certification) and endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers.

“20/20” Vision

Approved by its Board in 2010, MSSC’s vision is to credential 20 percent of individuals entering or employed in the nation’s front-line manufacturing production and material handling workforce in 20 years—2.4 million workers by 2030. To achieve that goal, MSSC offers industry a new set of tools to ensure that both entering and incumbent workers are flexible, easily trainable, and highly motivated knowledge workers able to keep pace with technological change—the “Industrial Athlete of the Future.”

MSSC benefits to employers include:

  • A pipeline of skilled workers by embedding MSSC certification training into schools
  • Decreased recruitment costs by providing job candidates with industry-recognized credentials
  • Elimination of remedial training costs by providing well prepared workers
  • A new ISO standard in certificates companies can use as a common practice throughout their global operations
  • Increased ROI for training by targeting it against the gaps identified by the MSSC Diagnostic Tool
  • An aid to attracting, motivating and retaining qualified employees

The federal National Skill Standards Board formally recognized MSSC as the standards and certification “Voluntary Partnership” for all manufacturing sectors in 1998 and officially endorsed MSSC’s national standards in 2001 which were developed and nationally validated by 700 companies, 378 educational organizations and most industrial unions. MSSC has since been used by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Defense and Veterans Affairs, as well as Job Corps and both Federal and State Prison Systems. MSSC is a Founding Partner in the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)-endorsed Skills Certification System, which has endorsed both CPT and CLT.

MSSC provides annually updated standards, courses, computer-based training materials, textbooks, instructor authorization, assessment center authorization, a national registry, assessments, credentials and diagnostic tools for employers. Companies may use these tools themselves or work through their local community colleges, high schools, unions or other training providers. Individuals can also earn college credit for MSSC courses (three hours each for core CPT modules, two hours for GPM and four hours for full-CLT) based upon the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) course review.

MSSC’s delivers these tools through a nationwide network of over 1,760 trained instructors and 998 authorized assessment centers in 49 states, DC, and three centers internationally. To date, MSSC has given over 141,300 assessments and issued over 105,500 credentials.

To obtain a full description of MSSC certification system tools and price sheets, including volume discounts, please contact Neil Reddy, Executive Director, at or at 703-739-9000, ext. 2221.

This Week in CTE: Finding educators to teach CTE courses remains a challenge across the country

April 7th, 2017



Finding educators to teach CTE courses remains a challenge across the country. “There’s no one answer,” said Kate Kreamer, deputy executive director for Advance CTE, a nonprofit that represents the leaders of state career training programs. “Although alternative certification is increasingly a strategy states are using, it’s obviously insufficient in addressing the overall teacher shortage issue.”


Education Commission of the States released an interactive state education policy tracker displaying enacted and vetoed bills on a wide variety of education topics for the 2013 through 2017 legislative sessions, updated daily. You can sort this information by year, state, and/or issue and sub-issue.


A survey conducted by the Wyoming Department of Education of K-12 educators finds that 99 percent of respondents think students should be prepared for a career, compared to 97 percent who believe students should be prepared for a two-year college.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Getting to Know… Oklahoma

March 27th, 2017

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: Oklahoma

State CTE Director: Dr. Marcie Mack, state director, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education

About Oklahoma: Oklahoma is home to the Oklahoma CareerTech System and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, the state agency that oversees Career Technical Education (CTE) in Oklahoma. The system includes 29 technology center districts — each serving students at both the secondary and postsecondary level — and 395 comprehensive school district with CTE programs; 15 locations for 42 Skills Centers programs for offenders; and business and industry services to more than 7,000 companies annually. The system serves students through more than 500,000 enrollments annually. The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education is governed by a nine-member, governor-appointed Board of Career and Technology Education. The board operates separately from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, enabling the state to collaborate more intentionally across various agencies.

There is growing enthusiasm for CareerTech in Oklahoma, spurred in part by Gov. Mary Fallin’s Oklahoma Works Initiative — a cross-sector effort to strengthen the state workforce and close the skills gap — and the goal to increase postsecondary education and training attainment to 70 percent of individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 by the year 2025. With such enthusiasm on postsecondary attainment, Oklahoma is optimistic the current 50 percent of students in grades nine through 12 who enroll in CareerTech courses each year will increase as the state works to meet the educational attainment goal.

Programs of Study: Oklahoma’s programs of study are organized into 15 Career Clusters® that are aligned to the national Career Clusters framework. The board of CTE uses Perkins funds to develop statewide frameworks for many programs of study that local administrators can download and customize to fit the needs of their communities. To support local delivery and ensure that students receive appropriate and timely guidance, in 2015 Oklahoma launched a web-based career guidance platform called OK Career Guide. It provides data and resources to educators, parents and students to facilitate career exploration and enable students to identify and pursue high-quality learning experiences tied to their career interests.

Cross-Sector Partnerships: As an independent body, the Oklahoma Board of CTE has been able to work collaboratively across various agencies and sectors. One such collaboration is with the Department of Corrections. For years, Oklahoma has provided CareerTech opportunities to incarcerated youth and adults through a correctional education system. Approximately 1,600 individuals are served each year through these programs, with a job placement rate of more than 80 percent.

Oklahoma CareerTech also works directly with counterparts in secondary and postsecondary education. Working closely with the State Department of Education, CareerTech ensures high-quality instruction and curriculum throughout CTE programs in sixth through 12th grades. Core to this partnership is the Oklahoma state superintendent’s position as the chairman of the CareerTech board, which helps to facilitate collaboration on efforts such as teacher certification, academic credit and academy approval. At the postsecondary level, the board works with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to maintain credit articulation agreements for prior learning assessments, helping to streamline the pathways from secondary to postsecondary education.

Additionally, Oklahoma has strong partnerships with business and industry leaders through technology center business and industry services which provided services to more than 7,000 companies last year.  Examples of some of the services include safety training, customized training, Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network, and adult career development to name a few.  The statewide Key Economic Networks (KEN) established with Oklahoma Works include representation from regional stakeholders who collaborate to develop, strengthen and expand career pathways. Through regional KENs, Oklahoma has been able to leverage employer insights, reflect on labor market information and encourage strong partnerships at the local level.

On the Horizon: In January 2017, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced that Oklahoma would be part of a cohort of states focusing on transforming career readiness systems under the New Skills for Youth Initiative. Oklahoma, along with nine other states, will receive $2 million over the next three years to embark on an ambitious statewide effort to improve access to high-quality CTE programs.

Separately, the Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a new accountability framework late in 2016 that aims to count postsecondary opportunities as viable options for the framework, including participation in internships, apprenticeships, industry certifications and dual (concurrent) enrollment. Previously, these indicators were awarded as bonus points only.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

March 24th, 2017



New America recently started a blog dedicated to exploring apprenticeships, hitting topics including youth apprenticeship programs, federal and state policy levers for expansion, trends and new industry and the importance of quality assurance. Check out their first post, Five Key Questions to Confront.


National Association of State Board of Education launched an interactive platform, State Board Insight, to search and analyze trends from state board meeting agendas. In 2017 there have been 12 action items and 14 information items related to college and career readiness. Explore it here.


We are proud to support the Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA):

“Today, more than half of jobs require some form of postsecondary education and yet, far too many students face steep barriers to accessing these opportunities,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE.  “The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act would greatly improve access to critical dual and concurrent enrollment programs so that more students can earn a postsecondary degree or credential at a faster rate, vastly improving their career prospects and success.”

Read the full press release here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Encouraging Students to Dream Big, Plan Accordingly Spurs Economic Development

March 13th, 2017


Looking Towards the Next 100 Years of CTE

February 23rd, 2017

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Hughes Act, the foundation of today’s Career Technical Education (CTE). As we celebrate this important milestone it’s important to recognize how radically different today’s CTE looks compared to 100 years ago. Today’ CTE programs prepare students for both college and career; support all sectors of the economy; combine academic and technical coursework; encourage hands on learning that prepares students for the real world; provide learners with the ability to explore their interests; and ignites their passion for the future.

Today’s CTE is innovative and engaging and truly prepares students for their future, however there is still work to be done to ensure that all learners have access to these incredible CTE programs, and that all programs are truly high-quality. While it’s important to look back at how far we’ve come, it’s critical that we look towards the future of CTE.

To that end, we encourage you to explore Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, which establishes a bold vision for the transformation of education, and CTE’s role in that transformation. Supported by 12 national organizations and over 35 states, this vision challenges our community to continue on the path of fierce dedication to quality and equity, while providing the leadership necessary to continue to re-examine, grow and transform CTE into a system that prepares all students for a lifetime of success.

State leaders, educators, administrators and CTE stakeholders are already leading this charge in a variety of ways:

I will support Putting Learner Success First by increasing exposure to as many elements of the career spectrum as are possible. Looking for ways to expand upon the foundations of Manufacturing Day, Field Experiences in Healthcare, exposure to the full range of Engineering possibilities, and experiencing technology careers that are just emerging. – Illinois

By making sure that our CTE programs are of the highest quality and rigor. – Florida

It has been presented to the CTE stakeholders in Arizona and will be crosswalked with our Arizona CTE Strategic Plan. – Arizona

Develop and deliver rigorous, engaging CTE curriculum which drives high levels of student engagement and achievement. – Connecticut

I will be sharing the ‘Putting Learner Success First ” information with all of my constituents during conferences, academy’s and workshops. – Michigan

I will support Putting Learners Success First by encouraging my students to be thoughtful and proactive in making decisions about their future. My goal is to expose them to the many careers and pathways available. – Texas

I’d like to work on accountability for high quality CTE programs and certification for CTE instructors, especially at the post-secondary level. – Illinois

 I fully support the vision and action steps. One example of our support is to have begun the process of aligning CTE programming from middle through post secondary. We will use this as our guiding light. – Florida

As you celebrate CTE Month and a century of CTE, I encourage you to let us know how you plan to support the next 100 years of CTE here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications