State Roles to Support Remote Learning: Part One

June 17th, 2020

This is the first of a two-part blog series examining the state’s role in remote learning. Check back next week for additional information!

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has forced K-12 and postsecondary education to move quickly, and without a ton of preparation, to the distance education space. State and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders have grappled with how to deliver high-quality programs remotely over the past few months while looking towards potentially delivering programs virtually in the fall. While districts and colleges have taken significant steps to adjust their curricula, state leaders play an important role in strategizing as well by gathering local information, gauging what strategies should be elevated and scaled statewide and communicating these practices across the state.

Identifying Learners’ and Educators’ Needs 

In this time of uncertainty, it is important for state leaders to have an accurate understanding of what learners and educators need to be successful so they can target resources and make changes to policy to ensure continuity of learning. With the access that they have to learners and instructors statewide, state CTE leaders are uniquely positioned to gather information on the supports needed. One way to do this is by administering a needs assessment survey, as has been done in California. The results were informative and showed that 82 percent of respondents were unsure how to continue with classes online and wanted help developing lesson plans. From there, state leaders updated the existing website, cteonline.org, to include a repository for lesson plans that had already been created, organized by sector.

Such a survey can provide a view into the biggest areas of concern and allow state leaders to directly address what local leaders need. Additionally, state leaders can use the results of their needs assessment survey to identify promising practices and match districts or colleges that are struggling in an area to others that have been more successful, taking the burden off of individuals and removing duplication of efforts. In Phoenix, Arizona, local leaders made the commitment to call learners each week. By putting in place a system for regularly checking in on learner and teacher needs, state leaders can scale their response to the crisis and better target resources to those most in need.

Creating Forums to Share Out Curriculum and Instructional Resources

The quick change to remote learning and unanticipated length of time meant that states did not have time to prepare for what this time of education delivery would entail. One way that state leaders can accelerate the adoption of evidence-based practices and distance learning innovations is by creating a forum for instructors to collaborate, share resources and learn from one another. Many states such as Michigan and Rhode Island developed online statewide websites for instructors to share curriculum and instructional supports. Easily accessible resources take some of the burden off of instructors. In addition, with thoughtful curation by state CTE leaders, such forums can allow for quality additions and some consistency across the state.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

COVID-19 Will Disrupt Early Postsecondary CTE Credit Attainment: Don’t Make Learners Bear the Burden

June 15th, 2020

The last weeks of March were a test of adaptability for the nation’s education institutions. Over the span of weeks, school districts, community/technical colleges and area technical centers had to amend remote learning policies amid unprecedented school closures. The rapid pace at which systems and institutions have adapted to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has been likened to turning a battleship at the pace of a speedboat.

Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSO) – which include dual enrollment, dual credit, concurrent enrollment and other related opportunities – play an important role in facilitating successful transitions between secondary and postsecondary education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately one-third of high school graduates take courses for postsecondary credit at some point during their educational careers. The integration of EPSO courses in Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways is creating options-rich, intuitive linkages between high school, college and career. This approach yields benefits to students, their families and their communities: earning postsecondary CTE credit in high school can lead to higher rates of college enrollment, persistence and success. But as schools, districts and colleges adapt to a new Coronavirus reality and a pervasive shift to online learning, where does that leave learners who are enrolled in CTE EPSO courses?

Coronavirus-related shutdowns put pressure on CTE EPSO courses in a number of ways:

  • Credit attainment and transfer: Many institutions have transitioned to binary (pass/ fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory) grading for the spring and summer 2020 terms in recognition of the myriad of equity and logistical challenges presented by an abrupt, unexpected move to online education. This approach attempts to hold the learner harmless in weathering this dramatic shift in their education. Binary grading may have a wide-ranging impact on the acceptance of transfer credit of which EPSO credit is a subset. Like transfer credit, EPSO credit enjoys wide acceptance, often guaranteed by state law or system governance, but those policies were not developed to account for widespread use of binary grading.
  • Applied curriculum: Hands-on learning is a key feature of CTE, and without access to school buildings, learners may face challenges in demonstrating all of the skills and competencies necessary to receive credit for coursework. Even as many postsecondary courses transition to online and remote delivery, many practical CTE courses have been suspended altogether or significantly scaled back. Similarly, programs that integrate work-based learning activities as an important component of the curriculum are struggling to gain access to clinical hours, internships and other high-value college and career crossover activities. There is an opportunity to look at thoughtful approaches that extend deadlines for course completion, leveraging competency-based approaches, badging, certifications, portfolios and challenge exams to document the attainment of learning outcomes by students.
  • Funding: Funding for EPSOs varies from state to state, but in most cases tuition is paid through a combination of state funding, support from the learners’ home districts and from the learners themselves. Funding to decrease the cost of participation is an important equity lever for states looking to ensure they have a strong, robust talent pipeline to address their current and future workforce needs. What happens if a class is suspended mid-semester of if a learner withdraws due to circumstances related to the Coronavirus? States and institutions will need to clarify how to address these cases.
  • Data and accountability: More than a dozen states are measuring postsecondary credit attainment as their CTE program quality indicator for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) performance accountability system. Enrollment disruptions in the spring and summer 2020 terms will impact states’ performance benchmarks, and if closures continue into the fall, this will impact their first year of Perkins V reporting. The Coronavirus also threatens to affect the other secondary CTE program quality indicators, as many learners earn recognized postsecondary credentials or complete work-based learning opportunities through partnerships with postsecondary institutions. EPSO programs are built on partnership and require mutual support, understanding and investment by school districts and postsecondary institutions. These partnerships create a better opportunity pivot in approach and resource sharing.

The field has been quick to recognize these challenges, but given the decentralized nature of higher education – in most cases, articulation agreements for CTE credit are negotiated at the local level between individual districts and partner colleges – the response has been inconsistent and incomplete. This situation creates both challenges and opportunities.

So how can states respond to some of these challenges? Next week the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) and Advance CTE will explore some strategies to minimize the burden on students and honor their commitment to learning.

This blog post is the first in a two-part series about the impacts of the Coronavirus on CTE dual enrollment. It was written by Amy Williams, Executive Director of NACEP, and Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research for Advance CTE.

Legislative Update: Perkins V State Plans Approved and Higher Education Emergency Grant Guidance

June 12th, 2020

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved 10 more state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Read below to learn about which states are approved, the new interim guidance regarding eligibility requirements for higher education students to receive emergency funding, as well as hearings on remote learning and reopening schools. 

ED Approves 10 More Perkins V State Plans

Today U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that 10 more states’ Perkins V four-year plans were approved. The newly approved states include Arizona, DC, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. Highlights from each plan can be found here. The department has now approved 25 state plans. Advance CTE is tracking approval and links to final plans here

ED Publishes Rule for Emergency Relief Grants to Higher Education Students

Secretary DeVos shared the updated regulations for eligibility of students receiving Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants from an institution of higher education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This guidance doubles down on ED’s April position, and states that students must be eligible for Title IV aid under the Higher Education Act (HEA) to receive this emergency funding. Following the initial guidance, Advance CTE in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to ED with concerns about these exclusions. The CARES Act does not specify that students must be Title IV-eligible to receive HEERF grants. 

The department has said that it will not retroactively enforce this rule for grant funding that has already been distributed by colleges. 

This interim final rule is expected to be added to the Federal Register on June 15, 2020 and will then be open for a 30 day comment period. 

Congress Holds Hearing on Returning to School

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on “Going Back to School Safely,” to discuss how to reopen K-12 schools. There was agreement across the Committee that schools should reopen as soon as safely possible, and that attention must be paid to the education gaps that are being exacerbated during the pandemic. Witnesses included: Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Commissioner of Education; Dr. Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska Commissioner of Education; Susana Cordova, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools; and the Honorable John B. King, Jr., President and CEO of the Education Trust. The full video and testimonies from this hearing can be found here

This follows a HELP hearing last week that focused on “Going Back to College Safely”- the full video and testimonies of that hearing can be found here. Witnesses included: Mitchell Daniels, President of Purdue University; Dr. Christina Paxson, President of Brown University; Dr.Logan Hampton, President of Lane College; and Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. 

ED Holds Forum on K-12 Remote Learning 

Earlier this week ED hosted a virtual forum with K-12 education leaders to discuss challenges and successes. The educators represented students in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. They discussed the learning curve that teachers and students simultaneously experienced during the abrupt transition to online learning. Strategies were also shared such as including activities that do not require electronics in a lesson plan.  A full readout of the forum can be found here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Navigating CTE During COVID-19: Equity Considerations for Re-entry

June 11th, 2020

For most learners, the academic year has ended. States are now in the process of planning for learners to re-enter school and college and how to best support learners who may not have had access to the resources and supports they needed to succeed during periods of remote learning. As state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders prepare for re-entry, there are key considerations they should take into account to promote equity and access in CTE.

Leverage Early Warning Systems to Address Equity Gaps

As learners return to their institutions of study, it will be important to identify supports that learners who experienced disrupted learning may need to succeed in CTE opportunities. An early warning system is one tool that can be leveraged to help with this. Specifically, state and district leaders can adapt and expand predictive indicators of early warning systems to identify which students may need additional supports. Early warning systems often examine attendance, behavior and course performance to identify “at-risk” learners. These indicators can be modified to reflect the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on learners’ ability to succeed in education and workforce programs. For instance, since the pandemic shifted the organization of learning experience to an individual/family effort, students’ participation in learning activities may be the most important “attendance” metric during the pandemic. Early warning systems provide a critical signal; however, states and districts’ responses to the early warning system indicators will need to be routinely analyzed and adjusted to ensure that the proper supports are provided to learners.

Provide Professional Development to Instructors and Staff

State agency staff and instructors are facing unprecedented circumstances. Educators were thrust into an environment that required them to use unfamiliar technology, reimagine their lesson plans and do full-scale distance learning instantly. Similarly, state agency staff had to develop creative solutions to support high-quality CTE programs during the pandemic. As institutions prepare for re-entry, it will be critical to provide professional development to instructors and staff to equip them with the skills and knowledge to close existing and new equity gaps that emerged because of the pandemic. Instructors and staff will need professional development on how to leverage tools, such as early warning systems, to identify and address equity gaps in virtual, blended and in-person environments. 

Apply an Asset Mindset to Planning

Core to advancing equity in CTE is constructing systems that support each learner. This means taking a learner-centered approach to developing systems and not placing the onus on learners to close equity gaps. More than a fifth of secondary learners did not participate in school during coronavirus closures, with larger truancy rates in high-poverty communities. The “COVID-slide” coupled with “summer melt” has the potential to place students at a learning “deficit” at the start of the new academic year; however, it’s critical that states take an asset mindset when planning how to support learners. An asset mindset focuses on the strengths and potential of a learner, rather than a learner’s “deficits.” While it’s important to acknowledge performance gaps, it’s essential that state and district leaders focus on the strengths of learners as well. State and local leaders at the secondary and postsecondary levels can work with learners and community organizations that represent the interests of different populations to identify the strengths and assets of learners to help them succeed during these unprecedented times. 

This is the third blog in a series of blogs that will map out how state leaders can continue to advance equity, quality and access during the coronavirus pandemic. Read the first and second blogs in the series here and here. To learn more about Advance CTE’s commitment to advancing equity in CTE, click here. To access resources related to equity and the coronavirus, click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

COVID-19’s Impact on CTE Defining the Challenge and the Opportunity

June 10th, 2020

Today, Advance CTE released COVID-19’s Impact on CTE: Defining the Challenge and the Opportunity to identify the challenges that impact the design, delivery and assessment of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs across the country during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and beyond. 

What makes CTE unique, like the ability to participate in hands-on, work-based learning experiences in the workplace, earn meaningful industry recognized credentials and connect directly with employers, present specific and complex challenges when being delivered virtually. Within these challenges lies opportunity, and the pandemic can and should serve as a catalyst for change in the way states consider offering CTE programs to ensure that each learner – no matter their race, ethnicity, age, gender or zip code – is afforded access to and equitable delivery of high-quality CTE in their communities.

This paper focuses on: 

  • Expansion of distance learning; 
  • Providing work-based learning experiences; 
  • Earning industry-recognized credentials; 
  • Collecting data and ensuring accountability; 
  • Supporting implementation of Perkins V; 
  • Planning for re-entry to the classroom; and 
  • Ensuring CTE remains a priority in the education and workforce conversations.

Advance CTE’s work continues to provide members and the entire CTE community with the tools, resources and supports needed during this time, which too is outlined in the paper. 

Help us share:
Tweet– What sets #CTE apart is also what presents unique challenges in the #COVID19 era. View @CTEWorks latest paper outlining the challenges and

Navigating CTE During COVID-19: What Are Credential Providers Doing to Respond to COVID-19?

June 4th, 2020

Even as unemployment numbers climb steadily upwards and the stock market continues its volatile roller coaster ride, it is far too soon to measure the full effect of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and its impact on Career Technical Education (CTE) and industry-recognized credential attainment in particular. High schools, community colleges, area technical centers and places of business have shut their doors to protect learners and to comply with state orders. It is fair to predict that, based on the challenges states have encountered in maintaining industry-recognized credentialing opportunities during this time, credential attainment among secondary, postsecondary and adult learners will fall precipitously during the second quarter of 2020.

The slowdown in industry-recognized credential attainment will have a twofold impact on our current crisis. For one, industry-recognized credentials – which verify that an individual is ready for work in a given occupation – can act as barriers to entry in essential industries when education and assessment opportunities are not widely available. This threatens to weaken the workforce pipeline in sectors such as healthcare where access to talent is urgently needed.

Second, as states and businesses start planning for the economic recovery, industry-recognized credentials will help to get millions of recently unemployed Americans retrained and back to work. But without efforts to sustain credentialing opportunities now, there is the possibility of a critical bottleneck as soon as states reopen.

As we covered in an earlier blog post, states have been swift to address industry-recognized credentialing amid the Coronavirus. But what are the credential providers themselves doing to adapt to the crisis? How are they extending flexibility to states and learners without compromising the rigor and validity of their credentials?

Scaling Up Remote Proctoring

Advance CTE examined nearly 20 common credential providers to understand how they are addressing the Coronavirus. These providers were identified using ExcelinEd’s Credentials Matter database and were corroborated using secondary and postsecondary credential lists in three states.

One major takeaway from this research is that many credential providers are making the shift from in-person to remote proctoring, albeit at an additional fee. There are three common approaches to remote proctoring, each of which requires a computer and access to high-speed internet:

  • Live Proctoring: In the live proctoring approach, the proctor is given access to the individual’s web camera and computer controls and can actively monitor their facial expressions, key strokes and web activity as they complete the exam. This is the most trustworthy, but also the most expensive, method and is best for high-stakes assessments.
  • Record and Review: This approach uses artificial intelligence to identify risky behavior and alert a proctor, allowing them to respond in real time. This is a relatively secure approach to credential assessment and is recommended for mid-stakes testing.
  • Just Review: The just review method verifies the learner’s identification and records a video of them completing the test, which is available for administrator review after the test is completed. This option is less secure and only allows for review after the assessment has been completed.

Virtual proctoring is the best way that credential providers have been able to meet the sustained demand for industry-recognized credentials amid the pandemic. However, the strategy is not easily scalable and requires significant investment of funds as well as human capital. Not to mention, the reliance on computers and high-speed internet exacerbates the digital divide. States and credential providers should take an equity lens as they work to scale up these opportunities.

Extending Flexibility to Learners and Workers

Aside from virtual proctoring, credential providers have extended flexibility and resources to learners, educators and test takers. To encourage continuity of learning, many providers have made curriculum, resources and other supports and materials available online for free amid COVID-19. The CTE Coalition, a growing partnership of industry associations, non-profits and credential providers, is one example.

Many are also extending eligibility windows for testing, either for learners who have recently applied or met pre-qualifications, or veteran workers whose certifications are up for renewal. This added flexibility takes the pressure off of learners and workers and ensures they can wait to complete their assessments until it is safe to do so.

Additionally, some testing centers have been offering in-person credential examinations on a very limited basis, and only for credentials in essential occupations. In these rare cases, the testing centers have committed to enforcing social distancing and upholding a strict cleaning regimen.

Amid the uncertainty with the Coronavirus, one thing is clear: a qualified and credentialed workforce will be an essential building block for the forthcoming economic recovery. It will take a coordinated effort within and across states, and in partnership with credential providers, to ensure a robust, talented workforce is ready as soon as the doors are open once more. The actions that states and credential providers take today will facilitate a swift recovery once things return to normal.

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research

Navigating CTE During COVID-19: Remote Learning-Delivering Postsecondary Education

June 1st, 2020

The spring of 2020 saw postsecondary institutions close out semesters remotely due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The transition to distance learning was quick, forcing postsecondary systems and colleges to shift lesson plans and instruction methods in real-time. As the spring semester comes to a close, many colleges are expecting that the summer and fall semesters (at a minimum) will be delivered remotely as well- either in entirety or in some kind of hybrid. 

An article by Inside Higher Ed explored methods and challenges for delivering culinary, arts and Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs remotely. One instructor shares that he is trying to make the most of the online instruction by teaching the fundamental skills that learners will need to master the hands-on elements later in the program. Colleges are experimenting with transitioning courses into research and reading-based rather than hands-on learning, to accommodate the switch to remote education. Others are recording videos of themselves doing the work that the students would have been replicating. Instead of requiring students to mimic a technique, they may be required to write about what they learned.  

Across the country, postsecondary systems are doing what they can to support colleges. The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) has a publicly available webpage with links to online Career Technical Education (CTE) resources to use during Coronavirus. The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) has been cognizant of the full support services higher education students need during this time. One large component of this is ensuring all students have access to reliable internet. WTCS colleges are doing everything from providing free WiFi on campus, to extending WiFi access to parking lots so that students with cars can study from their vehicles. WTCS colleges are also striving to continue campus services remotely- such as counseling. Colleges are also making use of the campus food supply that is no longer needed. One institution donated all food, while another set up a food pantry.  

As colleges prepare for the summer and fall semesters, there are many considerations of how to deliver high-quality programs remotely. A survey of over 800 higher education administrators and faculty across 600 institutions by Bay View Analytics found that 97 percent of surveyed faculty had never taught online before, and 56 percent were using new instruction methods. This means that shared resources and professional development are needed now more than ever. Sharing out promising practices and strategies through publicly accessible websites is one way that the CTE postsecondary community can support each other.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

May 29th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

WEBINARS OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE kicked off the Summer Learning Series on Thursday, May 28th, 2020, with a webinar covering how state CTE leaders can ensure each learner has opportunities for career success and is supported in identifying and realizing their career goals. National experts shared how CTE systems should be constructed to close equity gaps during and after the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The webinar recording can be viewed here

In addition, NCLA co-hosted a webinar with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Presenters discussed school re-entry in the fall,what can be done to compensate for class time that has been missed, and how the current pandemic will alter education in the near future and beyond. The webinar recording can be viewed here.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

The U.S. Department of Education announced the first round of approvals of Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans. We congratulate the following six states: Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. View this Twitter feed for a key point from each state’s plan that will contribute to the local and national economic recovery. 

The U.S. Department of Education also announced the second round of approvals of Perkins V state plans. We congratulate the following nine states: Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming 

EDUCATION INNOVATION OF THE WEEK 

One CTE teacher in Colorado turned their backyard into a crime scene lab for criminal justice students. Another supplied lumber to students for at-home renovation projects. Boulder Valley School District teachers have demonstrated their creativity and are sharing how they have made their curriculums work in an online format. View the article here, published by Boulder Daily Camera. 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

This resource is a comprehensive guide that builds on research from Advance CTE’s  “Connecting the Classrooms to Careers” series to help states develop and implement a statewide vision for work-based learning. The guide provides key considerations and guiding questions to walk states through the steps of building and scaling a high-quality work-based learning system, drawing on examples from states such as Tennessee and West Virginia to highlight innovative solutions to common challenges.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

Navigating CTE During COVID-19: Principles for Supporting Work-Based Learning in COVID-19

May 27th, 2020

COVID-19 (coronavirus) has brought many challenges to Career Technical Education (CTE) over the past few months. One of the most persistent challenges has been providing work-based learning experiences – which offers an opportunity to reinforce and deepen classroom learning in a real-world setting – to learners amidst a health pandemic that has shut down much of the nation’s economy. With their doors closed, many businesses have had to cancel or indefinitely postpone any work-based learning programs. 

Amid these challenges, the response by schools, colleges, employers and work-based learning intermediaries has been largely ad-hoc. In some cases, employers have been able to maintain their summer internship commitments by onboarding and supporting interns remotely, just as if they were part of their staff who are already working from home. Certain industry engagement opportunities can be sustained virtually through video conferencing platforms. However, such piecemeal solutions can exacerbate inequities and further contribute to learning loss. 

As states address work to ramp up work-based learning and scale remote opportunities, they should consider the following principles:  Quality, Equity, Mentorship and Breadth. These principles should help establish a clear statewide vision for what work-based learning can look like in times of continuous disruption with a set of common expectations and resources for those managing work-based learning experiences on the ground. 

Reaffirm Quality: Learners should continue to be engaged in real work experiences that are aligned to their program of study and have opportunities to interact with colleagues and learn from professionals in the field. States can leverage intermediaries and build their capacity to support this principle. To ensure work-based learning experiences remain high-quality, states should maintain the high expectations they set for work-based learning experiences and:

  • Ensure that all work-based learning experiences require a strong training plan that focuses on technical and employability skill development. The learner, their instructor and employer should have clear expectations of what that training plan is. 
  • Encourage strategies for building relationships such as:
    • Assigning projects that can be completed remotely
    • Creating opportunities for regular check-in calls
    • Setting up opportunities for regular feedback. Feedback should not only support learner technical competency development but also employability skills- communication, teamwork, etc. 
    • Arranging virtual networking opportunities 
  • Develop and/or maintain a systems- and student-level approach to assessing equitable access, student participation and learning, and the overall quality of remote work-based learning programs. This includes assessing and disaggregating student and industry participation, student learning and attainment of knowledge and skills. Given the challenge of staying engaged in a distant environment, it may also be important to consider additional measurements such as tracking the number of engagements an employer has with the learner. 

Equity: Technology is the most obvious way to offer remote experiences along the work-based learning continuum. However, technology is not easily applicable to most career pathways and not all students have reliable access to broadband connections. Also, technology may not always be adaptable for students with special needs. States can promote equity by:

  • Examining demographic data to see which learners are getting access to remote internship and youth apprenticeship opportunities
  • Encouraging work that can be done remotely, without internet access.
  • Regularly checking in with local districts to help build capacity, if necessary (with an intentional focus on rural and urban districts)
  • Encouraging employers to continue offering paid internship and youth apprenticeship experiences or ensuring learners can earn academic credit as compensation for their work. To encourage compensation and relieve financial pressures put on employers to hire and compensate learners, states could:
    • Maintain employer incentives for offering work-based learning opportunities through tax credits or related policy levers.
    • Align existing summer youth employment programs with work-based learning activities.

Mentorship: Building relationships and networking is one of the most valuable experiences of any work-based learning opportunity. For economically disadvantaged learners, these relationships help build invaluable social capital that they can leverage throughout their careers.  As best as possible, states should promote these in-person networking experiences that a learner might receive in a traditional setting by:

  • Developing guidelines and templates for remote mentorship, including  mentor agreements that define the roles of the student, mentor and instructor
  • Identifying and making available technology that allows for virtual networking
  • Partnering with the state workforce agency, chambers of commerce and other industry associations to build remote micro-industry engagement opportunities such as virtual lunches and staff meet and greets at scale

Breadth: Some CTE programs of study, such as those in the Information Technology Career ClusterⓇ, are easier than others to transition to remote or virtual learning. While attending to all programs of study, states should address work-based learning experiences in the industry sectors that are more difficult to deliver in a remote or virtual environment. Intentional collaboration with industry experts, local businesses and chambers of commerce representing these priority CTE programs of study is one way to address this gap. Some approaches to expanding remote or virtual work-based learning opportunities to other Career Clusters include:

  • Investing in simulated work-based learning. West Virginia’s simulated workplace program has demonstrated strong outcomes, and many programs have weathered the transition to remote learning through creative solutions. 
  • Investing in virtual reality equipment or at-home laboratories to provide students with hands-on experiences.

These principles are intended to guide states in setting a vision for what work-based learning can look like in light of continuous economic and academic disruption. Given that these challenges are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, states have to rethink the way they deliver work-based learning. There must be intentionality behind providing remote work-based learning programs that maintain the same high standards as a traditional experience and extend opportunity to all students across geography or socioeconomic status. These principles are proposed to be the floor, not the ceiling, to what is possible during these novel times. States can build on these principles to create a policy environment that supports the needs of industry and puts learners to work. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Check out this resource from Advance CTE, Connecting Classrooms to Careers: A Comprehensive Guide to the State’s Role in Work-Based Learning, to learn more about setting a statewide vision for work-based learning in your state!

This Week in CTE

May 22nd, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

States are increasingly innovative in their use of technology during the pandemic to deliver CTE to learners across the country. Here are two great stories of how CTE continues despite social distancing and stay-at-home orders. 

VIRTUAL FACILITIES TOUR OF THE WEEK

In North Carolina, the cosmetology program at Union County Public Schools created a virtual tour of their facilities for prospective students and their families. 

VIRTUAL CAREER EXPLORATION TOUR OF THE WEEK

Career counselors in Ohio have switched gears from in-person business tours for CTE concentrators to a virtual week-long career exploration tour with local businesses. Students were able to tour the facilities and speak with a professional in the industry where they were provided the opportunity to ask questions about education, skills and on-the-job activities. Read more in the article from The Business Journal of Youngstown, Ohio.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

One factor contributing to the alignment of CTE programs to the workforce is the equipment made available to students. In California, new robotics equipment has arrived! The robotics program is open to students across the Shasta Union School District, making this new equipment accessible to all program concentrators. Learn more in this article by KRCR News.

PODCAST OF THE WEEK

CTE is going to be essential to the economic recovery of our nation. One school district in the state of Virginia is already getting a head start on framing the conversation of what high-quality CTE looks like and sharing its robust programs to students, families and the community. Listen to episode four of their podcast, HENRICO CTE NOW, as they discuss the energy career cluster. 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

This study from the Online Learning Consortium examines six institutions in the United States that are experimenting with alternative credentialing strategies to provide flexible learning opportunities, including digital distance learning and prior learning assessments. View more resources such as this in our Learning that Works Resource Center

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

We encourage you to let your representative know that you support including CTE funding and flexibilities in the next stimulus bill by following the quick prompt here

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

 

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