This Week in CTE

October 21st, 2016



Harvard Political Review published an article making the case for Career Technical Education as an important option for students who want a pathway to a successful career:  “Students often leave CTE programs with certifications that allow them to immediately enter the workforce. Surprisingly, some see this as CTE’s greatest failing. Yes, welders might make up to $140,000 dollars a year, but how can the government support “condemning” students to blue-collar labor? The reasoning of many against CTE programs seems misguided at best.”


Join us for a webinar on November 10 taking a deep dive into the application process for the 2017 Excellence in Action award. You will hear from past award recipients and a member of the selection committee on what makes an award-winning program, providing insight into how to create a successful application.


National Skills Coalition released a report on the importance of providing supports to low-income people for postsecondary education and training, citing Arkansas’ Career Pathways Initiative as a model program.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

This Week in CTE

October 14th, 2016



The Pew Research Center and the Markle Foundation released a study on the changing attitudes of the workplace with some interesting findings.


Workforce Data Quality Campaign published, “Data Policy Toolkit: Implementing the State Blueprint,” highlighting policies states can enact to improve data infrastructure and use in their state.


On Tuesday November 15 at 2:30-3:30 pm ET, join us for an update on Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE and learn about ways in which you can help support this vision of career success for all learners. Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

This Week in CTE: Happy Manufacturing Day!

October 7th, 2016



Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals makes the case as to why CTE, STEM education and apprenticeships are key to the American workforce, economy and manufacturing industry. Read more in their piece, The Economy of Manufacturing and Community.


Visit our Learning that Works Resource Center for the latest research, policies and reports on CTE and career readiness, including the Manufacturing Institute, SkillsUSA and the Education Research Center of America’s report, Attracting the Next Generation Workforce: The Role of CTE, which found that personal industry experience — through involvement with Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), internships, summer jobs and co-op study programs — can impact students’ future career interests.


Desert View High School’s precision machining and mechanical drafting program of study is a model program in the Manufacturing Career Cluster, demonstrating the incredible impact a strong employer and educational partnership can have on the community. A 2016 Excellence in Action award winner, this program of study was developed in partnership with the Tucson, Arizona business community to build a pipeline of skilled and qualified employees.

“When an industry comes forward and tells a district or administration, ‘our community needs this program, and we will support you,’ this becomes the leverage for change that enables the school to make those difficult decisions, to prioritize your program. Companies are moving to Tucson because they see a pipeline and workforce being built. This program has created an economic development change for our community,” said Kathy Prather, Director of CTE at Sunnyside Unified School District.

p.s. If you haven’t already, join 4,000 of your peers and cast your vote to include CTE in the next presidential debate on Sunday, October 9th!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 


As States Complete Listening Tours, Early ESSA Plans Show Opportunities to Expand CTE

September 28th, 2016

LA MeetingsIn the nine months since President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law last December, states and policymakers have been hard at work digging through the legislation and deciding how to structure their new plans. ESSA, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, presents a number of opportunities to expand access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). As states prepare to implement the law next year, we will provide periodic updates on their progress and share strategies for leveraging ESSA to support CTE at the state level.

Early Drafts and Proposals from the States

Most states this summer have been gathering input from stakeholders on their ESSA implementation plans as required by the new law. While many are still completing their listening tours (you can find an overview here), a few states have released draft proposals:

  • Illinois recently released a draft of its state plan, which State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith offered as a “work in progress.” The plan describes how Illinois’ secondary CTE system, which is supported, in part, with funds from the Carl D. Parkins Act, aligns with ESSA’s new focus on a ‘well-rounded education’ — a key concept in the new law includes CTE as part of the statutory definition. The state Board of Education also adopted a framework for a college and career readiness indicator, including such components as industry credential attainment, work-based learning participation, and postsecondary credit attainment. It is yet to be determined if the framework will be included in the state’s broader, multi-indicator system of accountability. Illinois plans to conduct 14 listening sessions in September and October, after which time the state will revise and publish an updated state plan later this fall.
  • After much deliberation, the California Board of Education approved a new accountability system earlier this month, adopting an indicator for college and career readiness. The indicator allows schools to count students completing a CTE pathway, although the overall score will not differentiate these students from those meeting other college and career readiness indicators such as earning a passing score on an Advanced Placement exam. The accountability system lacks criteria to measure students who are “well-prepared” for college and careers. Meanwhile, Governor Brown vetoed a bill that would have revised the accountability system to place more weight on test scores.
  • Louisiana released a summary report from its listening tour this summer, providing parents, educators and other education stakeholders an overview of progress towards a new state plan. Suggestions under consideration include incentivizing and rewarding schools for students earning industry-recognized credentials, partnering with business and industry to recruit teachers with industry experience, and providing students more opportunities to enroll in postsecondary education and training during their senior year. It is important to note that Louisiana is still considering these recommendations for the purposes of their forthcoming final plan.
  • Finally, Arizona released a draft state plan for residents of the state to review. While the draft is preliminary, Superintendent Diane Douglas promises the final version will align with the state’s AZ Kids Can’t Wait! Plan, which is currently undergoing updates. The state is receiving feedback through both public meetings and the Department of Education’s website, and plans to release an updated version in mid-October.

Department of Education Releases Guidance on “Evidence-Based” Strategies

ESSA provides states more flexibility to select a turnaround strategy for struggling schools, as long as the intervention is evidence-based. In keeping up with this requirement, the U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help state and local leaders identify and implement evidence-based turnaround strategies. Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) highlighted the potential for CTE to be included in this part of ESSA implementation in formal comments to ED this summer.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Education Sciences updated the What Works Clearinghouse to allow users to search for evidence-based strategies by school characteristics, grade span, demographics and more.

Tackling Accountability: Helpful Resources for Selecting a College and Career Readiness Indicator

college ready plusA new paper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation offers a framework for a  “College Ready Plus” indicator that evaluates students’ postsecondary preparation using measures such as work-based learning and attainment of an industry-recognized credential. The paper describes the role that employers can play in helping states adopt and implement a career readiness indicator.

The American Institutes of Research developed a policy framework to help states align their visions for college and career readiness with requirements and opportunities under ESSA. The brief focuses on the law’s three most salient policy components related to college and career readiness: well-rounded education, multiple-measure accountability systems and purposeful assessments.

Also helpful: a policy paper from the Learning Policy Institute that takes advantage of the ESSA policy window to propose a new model for accountability. The paper offers three potential career readiness indicators — CTE pathway completion, work-based learning and industry-recognized credentials — and discusses strategies for collecting and presenting data in a way that supports continuous improvement.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

September 23rd, 2016



Have you checked out our Learning that Works Resource Center lately? We’re updating materials regularly so that you can find the latest CTE and career readiness research, reports, case studies and policies.


Our 2016 Fall Meeting is right around the corner! Join us October 17 – 19 in Baltimore, Maryland to tackle today’s most important CTE issues. Registration closes September 30 so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Ask Your Members of Congress to Support Perkins Reauthorization!

September 8th, 2016

United States CapitalOn Tuesday, Congress returned from its annual summer recess to begin the final stretch of the 114th Congress. Lawmakers have been out of session since mid-July, but that doesn’t mean everyone s has been away from the Capitol. In fact, work has continued in both the House and the Senate to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins).

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee unanimously approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—the first comprehensive Perkins reauthorization legislation to be considered by Congress since the current law’s passage in 2006. This month the House chamber has the opportunity to build on this strong showing of bipartisan support by voting on this bill.

Ahead of further consideration of Perkins in the House, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement of support urging both Chambers of Congress to move forward with its efforts to renew Perkins before the end of the year.

In order to make sure this legislation gets across the finish line, we need your help! Please take a few minutes to contact your member(s) of Congress and let them know how important Perkins reauthorization is to your community, your state, and our country.

You can find your member of Congress by visiting here. By visiting ACTE’s CTE Action Center you can contact your Senators and Representative directly to express your support for moving the Perkins reauthorization process forward. We also encourage you to take to social media to make the case for Perkins and CTE. Sample tweets are available here.

As Perkins reauthorization continues, be sure to check back here for more updates and analysis.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Bipartisan Interest in Perkins Grows with Pending Legislation on the Hill

August 31st, 2016

As we shared earlier this summer, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act last month with a 37-0 vote. Prior to and after the introduction of this reauthorization proposal, members from both houses of Congress have continued to introduce legislation to make their priorities for Career Technical Education (CTE) known. Three bills of interest — two in the Senate and one in the House — aim to expand dual credit opportunities for CTE students, increase representation of nontraditional genders in high-wage career pathways, and equip students with the skills they need to be successful in the workforce. While these bills have little chance of advancing further on their own, they do represent areas of interest for members as Perkins reauthorization continues to take shape in Congress.

The Workforce Advance Act (S. 3271)

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in July introduced the Workforce Advance Act, which aims to expand dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities for CTE students across the country. According to Sen. Bennet, dual and concurrent enrollment strategies have “helped more [Colorado students] enroll and do well in college.” The bill would amend the permissible uses of Perkins funds at the state and local levels to include tuition, books, fees and transportation costs for students completing dual or concurrent enrollment courses. The bill would also allow Perkins funds to be used for professional development costs for teachers seeking to obtain credentials needed to teach these courses. At the national level, the Workforce Advance Act would allow the Department of Education to use CTE national activities to research strategies for expanding dual or concurrent enrollment programs in high schools.

The Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2016 (S. 3417)

Citing gender disparity in high-wage career pathways, the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act aims to help schools fully implement Title IX, a federal law that prevents sex discrimination in education. The bill, introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), would create an Office for Gender Equity under the Department of Education that would be responsible for helping educational entities in their implementation of Title IX. The Office would provide technical assistance, share best practices, administer a new competitive grant program and more. Under the bill, the Office would also be responsible for training Title IX coordinators annually.

The Four C’s for Careers Act (H.R. 5663)

And in the House, Representative Ryan Costello (R-PA) introduced legislation to promote what he calls the “four C’s CTE providers should promote in their curriculum: critical thinking, communications, collaboration, and creativity.” According to Rep. Costello, these are the skills that industry leaders say will best prepare students for success in the workforce. The bill, a bipartisan piece of legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), would amend Perkins to promote these four skills through a number of educational strategies, including blended learning, public-private partnerships, and data-driven career counseling. The bill would also encourage participation with local industry leaders by allowing states to use Perkins funds for a needs assessment to identify the strategies, tools and resources needed to promote greater engagement with industry partners.

While Advance CTE has not endorsed these proposals, we will continue to work with these offices to ensure that some of these key concepts find their way into future Perkins legislation. Stay tuned for future updates on all things Perkins as the 114th Congress heads into its final stretch.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: Let Us Know How You Get Industry Experts in the Classroom

August 26th, 2016



Kansas released a new tool to help users find high-demand, high-wage occupations in their communities, along with what education and training it takes to work in those occupations.


Winners of the Reach Higher Career App Challenge were announced by First Lady Michelle Obama this week. The challenge, which called on students, educators and the public to develop mobile applications that helped middle and high school students navigate career pathways was won by ThinkZone Games, who will receive $100,000.


We released a new brief this week as part of our Connecting the Classroom to Careers series exploring work-based learning. The latest installment highlights examples from three states that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.


One of the five principles of Advance CTE’s Shared Vision for CTE is that all learning should be facilitated by knowledgeable experts. Within that principle is a call to action to build and support a pool of experts to supplement learning, including bringing experts in as full-time, part-time or adjunct instructors through alternative and dual certification, along with other strategies.

To advance this principle, we are surveying state and local leaders across the country to understand how they are approaching this issue. In particular, we are hoping to discover what local innovations are happening in this area. The information from this report will be analyzed and released in a report later this year.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Election 2016: From Governor’s Mansions to the Senate, the Democratic Ticket Boasts Years of CTE Experience

August 24th, 2016

This is the second part of a series exploring the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions, records and statements about Career Technical Education (CTE). This post examines the Democratic ticket. A previous post covering the Republican ticket is accessible here.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in AnnandaleAn Advocate for Children and Families, Clinton Sees Opportunity in Free College

With decades in the public eye, Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton has had ample opportunity to define and hone her position on education, which she says “should be the great door-opener.” Her campaign aims to knock down barriers to the middle class through apprenticeships, career technical education (CTE) and debt-free college.

Clinton’s work in public education dates back to 1983 when, in her role as First Lady of Arkansas, she led an initiative to develop more rigorous standards for public schools in the state. Years later, as New York’s junior Senator, she went on to serve on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. There, she worked on two foundational pieces of education legislation: the No Child Left Behind Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

Clinton’s education policy platform for the 2016 election aims to expand access to the middle class by removing barriers to higher education. She has proposed a plan to make community colleges free and to cover the cost of tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities for families making less than $125,000. These proposals are loosely based on similar efforts in Tennessee and other states that have seen increased enrollment and higher retention rates at community and technical colleges.

As crucial as college is, Clinton asserted in her Democratic National Convention speech in July that, “a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.” She went on to say “we’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.” To do this, her campaign has proposed a tax credit of up to $1,500 for businesses hosting apprentices and is considering “options to incentivize CTE programs and help provide grants to train workers for the 21st century economy.”

Tim Kaine’s Support for CTE Dates Back to His Work as a Teacher in Honduras

Perhaps the the lengthiest CTE résumé this cycle goes to Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine. His education record — which includes broad initiatives as Virginia Governor and tireless support for CTE in the Senate — dates all the way back to his childhood.

The son of a welder, Kaine briefly helped manage a technical school in Honduras before returning to complete his law degree at Harvard University. Kaine’s interest in CTE followed him to the Virginia Governor’s mansion where, in 2008, he announced an initiative to create six Career and Technical Academies across the state. The initiative, which was launched with a grant from the National Governor’s Association, aimed to align K-12 instruction in STEM fields with workforce and postsecondary expectations, while equipping more students with marketable skills that lead to high-demand, high-wage careers.

In Virginia, Kaine also launched the Governor’s CTE Exemplary Standards Awards Program, which recognizes CTE programs that align with industry standards, effectively engage local partners, provide relevant and integrated academic and technical instruction, and more.

In the Senate, Kaine co-founded the bipartisan CTE Caucus along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in 2014, stating that “career and technical programs … can strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation.” His work with this caucus has led to the introduction of a number of CTE-related legislation, including the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would establish a formal definition for CTE programs of study within the Perkins Act.

His persistent advocacy for high-quality CTE in the Senate led to a number of legislative victories, most recently in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA). With Kaine’s support, ESSA now includes provisions to fund career counseling programs, help teachers integrate academic and technical instruction, add CTE to the definition of a “well-rounded education,” encourage states to use career readiness indicators in their accountability systems, and fund professional development for CTE teachers.

CTE has long benefited from bipartisan support, and the 2016 election is no exception. With mere months until the election, we look forward to the candidates continuing to elevate high-quality CTE as an effective educational strategy in their platforms, in their speeches and in the debates later this fall.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate


Illinois Tackles Career Readiness with New Education Bill; Meanwhile North Carolina Creates Credential Incentive Program

August 23rd, 2016

With Half of Illinois Community College Students Required to Take Remedial Courses, New Law Aims to Improve College and Career Readiness in the State

IL Graduation RatesLast month Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois signed the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act into law, cementing a cross-sector effort to transform the educational system in Illinois and better prepare students for college and careers. According to Advance Illinois, an education nonprofit, half of high school students enrolling in community colleges in Illinois are required to take remedial education during their first year. The law aims to reduce the remedial education rates in the state and prepare students for future careers through four major strategies:

  • Defining Postsecondary and Career Expectations: The law calls on a joint committee (including the State Board of Education, the Board of Higher Education, the Community College Board and the Student Assistance Commission) to define specific, grade-level expectations for career and postsecondary exploration. These expectations, which cover grades 8 through 12, are to be published by July 2017.
  • Piloting a Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Program: A new pilot program established under the law will permit selected school districts to replace current graduation requirements with competency-based learning systems. One challenge with competency-based education is evaluating student learning in a way that is recognized by colleges or employers. As such, the law requires participating school districts to create a plan to assess student mastery and to partner with two-year and four-year higher education institutions to ensure that a competency-based system can still provide colleges the information they need to admit incoming students.
  • Establishing a College and Career Pathway Endorsement Program: The endorsement program is designed to recognize student learning and incentivize entry into high-need career pathways. To be eligible for an endorsement, students must develop and maintain an individualized college and career plan, complete at least two years of coursework on a career pathway that leads to a degree or certificate with labor-market value, complete career exploration activities, and demonstrate readiness for non-remedial coursework.
  • Providing Transitional Instruction in Math and Reading: Finally, the law calls on community colleges and K-12 school districts to reduce remedial education in college by creating transitional math and reading opportunities in 12th grade. These classes will help prepare students for credit-bearing college courses and, as such, will be recognized by colleges across the state. In developing competencies for instructional coursework, the law also requires the state to draw on expertise from private sector employers.

The law will be implemented over the course of several years. The competency-based education pilot program will be launched during the 2018-19 school year;  the pathways endorsement program will be launched in the 2019-20 school year; and transitional mathematics courses will also be available statewide by 2019-20. 

North Carolina to Offer Teacher Bonuses for Industry-Recognized Credentials in New Pilot Program

When North Carolina passed its budget for fiscal year 2016-17 last month, it launched a new pilot program to encourage student learning in high-demand industries. The program — which will start immediately, using data from the 2015-16 school year — will reward Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers with up to $50 for each student who goes on to obtain an industry-recognized credential.

The size of the reward will depend on the academic rigor and employment value of the earned credential. Academic rigor will be evaluated based on the instructional hours, work experience and postsecondary credit that are associated with the credential. The second value criteria, employment value, will consider the entry wage, growth rate and job opportunities for the occupational category.

Before the pilot program sunsets in June 2018, the State Board will report back to the legislature on the amount of awards provided, the number of industry credentials earned, and the effects of the program on teacher performance and retention.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate