This Week in CTE

November 4th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

IBM makes the case as to why reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act is critical to the success of America’s workforce.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The Oceans of Data Institute developed an occupational profile identifying the work, activities, skills, knowledge and behavior that define what data practitioners need to know and be able to do. It will be used to develop courses and programs that lead to big data careers.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Next week on November 10 from 11 a.m. – noon ET, we’re hosting a webinar taking a dive into the 2017 Excellence in Action award application process. Learn more about how to apply for the award, hear from some 2016 award winners, and be ready with questions for Advance CTE staff and a member of last year’s selection committee so that you submit an award-winning application.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications

Strengthening the Teacher Workforce through Talent Management Pipeline Strategies

November 4th, 2016

teacher talent pipelinesTalk to any rural district about challenges facing their school system and they’re likely to cite a teacher shortage. Recruiting and retaining high quality educators who are equipped to meet the demands of a 21st century classroom is one of the most pressing challenges the American education system faces today, affecting communities of all sizes and geographies. Crucially, Career Technical Education (CTE) classrooms – which demand highly-skilled teachers – are struggling to fill open positions.

A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF), released this week, examines teacher recruitment practices from school districts in Arizona and finds that many schools struggle to find teachers that are adequately prepared to support the diversity of student needs. Part of this preparation gap is due to the lack of formal systems to communicate teacher supply needs and build pathways into the classroom. Recognizing parallels with other industry workforce shortages, USCCF developed a set of recommendations for school districts to expand the pool of quality teachers through a talent pipeline management strategy. Recommendations include:

  • Schools should come together in groups to define collective demand for talent and define skills needed from candidates.
  • Analyze current ways of sourcing teacher talent.
  • Build and incentivize relationships with top talent providers.

These strategies aim to improve the quality and supply of the teaching workforce by streamlining the talent pipeline and increasing avenues of communication and collaboration from the preparation to the recruitment stage. In regions where teacher workforce gaps exist, states should consider strategies to reach potential teachers earlier in the pipeline and expand pathways into the profession.

Promising News for College Promise

In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress and the states to provide tuition free community college for students in the U.S. This proposal was inspired in part by the Tennessee Promise program, which provides last-dollar scholarships to eligible students in the state. In the time since then, free community college programs have expanded significantly, encompassing a total of 150 programs across 37 states. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently developed a web-based platform that maps and details each of these programs. Additionally, the College Promise Campaign — a national, non-partisan initiative to research and advocate for Promise programs — released its 2016 annual report, profiling pioneer and emerging programs across the states. One example is the Oakland Promise program, which aims to reach back to early learning years in order to create a college-going culture and provide college and career advising supports throughout the K-12 education system. Students who qualify for the scholarship program can receive up to $16,000 towards their postsecondary education.

On a related note, the College Board released its annual “Trends in College Pricing Report” and found that in 2016-17, the average net tuition and fees paid by two-year college students was $920 less than before the Great Recession (though costs have increased since 2011-12). Over roughly the same period, state and local appropriations for higher education declined 9 percent.

Odds and Ends

talent shortage surveyShort on Talent. Manpower Group’s 2016/17 Talent Shortage Survey reports the highest global talent shortage since 2007, largely in the skilled trades, IT and sales industries. As a result, more than 50 percent of surveyed employers are training and developing existing staff in order to fill open positions.

Data Linkages. All 50 states plus D.C. have the ability to connect data between systems — but only 17 (plus D.C.) have a full P20W system. That’s according to the Education Commission of the States’ 50-state comparison of statewide longitudinal data systems.

For the Equity Toolbox. The National Skills Coalition released a set of five policy toolkits with resources and recommendations for adopting and aligning policies to expand equitable access to training, credentials and careers. Toolkits include stackable credentials and integrating education and training, among others.

Standards for CBE. C-BEN, a coalition of more than 30 colleges offering competency-based education (CBE) programs, released draft quality standards for CBE. The standards will be finalized early next year and focus on eight areas, including clear, measurable, meaningful and complete competencies and credential-level assessment strategy with robust implementation.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

October 21st, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

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.”

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

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.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

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 

New Credential Registry Aims to Bring Transparency to a System in Crisis

October 18th, 2016

We’ve seen a lot of activity this year at both the national and local level to expand and systematize the use of industry-recognized credentials (including our own brief on credentials of value, which you can check out here). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics even released a helpful guide that describes different types of credentials and their prevalence in different industries. While credentials can serve as a useful signal of workforce competency that is recognized by both educators and employers, many learners face a credentialing marketplace that is as confusing as it is expansive.

To address this crisis, the Lumina Foundation in 2015 helped launch the Connecting Credentials Initiative, a collaboration designed to advance a well-functioning and sustainable credentialing system. Last month, the initiative revealed a 7-point action plan, based on input from more than 100 stakeholders, that articulates a vision for such a system.

credential_registry_2016One group already working to advance this vision is an organization called Credential Engine (formerly the Credential Transparency Initiative), which last month announced the launch of a national credential registry. The registry is designed to allow job seekers, employers and educators alike to access information about myriad credentials in various industries. The registry uses common terminology and guidelines for organizations to publish comparable information, and provides free and open access. While the system is currently being piloted in 60 sites with plans to expand in the future, we look forward to seeing how employers, job seekers and third-party accreditors alike will use the platform to contribute to a more transparent credentialing system.

Transparency is a key element in a successful credentialing system, particularly when it comes to identifying stackable credentials. According to new research, longer-term credentials are associated with higher earnings, though the return varies on a sliding scale depending on the length of time and effort required to earn the credential. Job seekers must be equipped with the right information to obtain stackable credentials that enable them to enter and exit the labor market at various points, building on their education and experience as they go.

Promising Practices in Work-based Learning

Meanwhile, the National Skills Coalition (NSC) and New America have both sparked dialogue about engaging the nation’s youth in work-based learning. NSC recently released a report titled “Promising Practices in Work-based Learning for Youth” that profiles four exemplar programs using work-based learning as a strategy to engage underserved and at-risk youth. One of the organizations profiled in the report, Urban Alliance, is a youth services organization operating out of Baltimore, Chicago, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Urban Alliance not only connects youth with paid internships through its flagship High School Internship Program, but also provides professional development and linkages to career and postsecondary pathways as well. NSC draws on this and other examples to identify four common policy elements for a strong work-based learning program:

  • Paid work-based learning opportunities, with wages provided either through employer, provider, or combination of the two;
  • Strong partnerships with business and other community stakeholders;
  • Positive youth development and continued support services; and
  • Linkages to career pathways either through future employment opportunities or future education and training opportunities.

In a similar vein, New America announced a project to study opportunities and challenges facing the nation’s youth apprenticeship programs and to develop a set of recommendations. In a blog post, the organization lays the groundwork and begins to identify the most prevalent challenges to expanding apprenticeships to youth. For one, the American apprenticeship system is aimed primarily at adults. With the average apprentice at nearly 30 years old, New America aims to challenge the old guard and find a way to extend these opportunities to younger learners.  

Odds and Ends

pew collegeWhose Job Is It? According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans believe the public K-12 education system is responsible for ensuring the workforce has the right skills and education to be successful in the economy. Interestingly, the same study found that 67 percent of four-year degree holders believe their education prepared them for the workforce, compared to 58 percent for two-year degree holders and 78 percent for professional and technical certificate holders.

Rate Yourself. Building on its College and Career Readiness Organizer, CCRS released a self-assessment scorecard to help state policymakers identify gaps and opportunities for preparing K-12 students for postsecondary success. Based on the needs identified in the survey, the scorecard provides additional resources to help states and districts in their college and career readiness efforts.

The STEM of Success. The Education Commission of the States released a STEM Playbook last month as part of its “SepSTEMber” campaign. The playbook identifies three core components of a successful STEM strategy: statewide coordination; adequate, reliable funding; and quality assurance or program evaluation.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Advance CTE Releases Guide for Building and Scaling Statewide Work-based Learning Systems

October 14th, 2016

WBL_GuideIn a recent nationwide education poll, 90 percent of surveyed Americans said it is extremely or very important for schools to help students develop good work habits. In turn, state education agencies have begun to focus on both college and career readiness to help prepare students for their futures. One popular strategy is work-based learning, which allows students to reinforce and deepen their classroom learning, explore future career fields and demonstrate their skills in an authentic setting.

Today, Advance CTE released a comprehensive guide — building on the “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” policy series — to help policymakers develop and implement a statewide vision for work-based learning. The guide provides key considerations and guiding questions to walk state policymakers 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. The paper not only builds upon earlier briefs in the “Connecting the Classroom to Careers” series, but also ties them together into one comprehensive and easy-to-use guide.

To get started, states must develop a statewide vision for work-based learning and get buy-in from all relevant stakeholders. Tennessee, for example, embarked on a campaign to overhaul its work-based learning programs and establish a framework that would be more inclusive and relevant for students in the state. This resulted in a new, shared vision that prioritizes career exploration, career advisement and hands-on learning for all students — not just those enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE) classes.

Yet setting a vision is only the first step. To ensure the vision is implemented successfully, states must create a policy environment that allows work-based learning programs to thrive. One of the biggest challenges that states face in expanding work-based learning opportunities is overcoming legal barriers, such as child labor laws and safety requirements, that make businesses reluctant to hire high school students. New Jersey demonstrates how state agencies can work together to develop a regulatory framework that supports, rather than inhibits, work-based learning opportunities. One product of inter-agency collaboration in the state is the New Jersey Safe Schools project, a comprehensive health and safety training for CTE teachers.

The guide further explores how states can expand work-based learning by partnering with intermediaries to facilitate partnerships between educators and employers for the ultimate benefit of a student’s career exploration and skill development. Intermediaries can be either independent organizations or, in the case of Georgia’s Youth Apprenticeship Program (YAP) Coordinators, individuals who are based within the school or district. Georgia’s YAP Coordinators are funded by a competitive state grant and help support the full range of work-based learning activities for local students.

WBL GraphicOnce a statewide vision is in place and early implementation has begun, state policymakers should consider how to measure and scale work-based learning. There are two common approaches states take to building a comprehensive measurement and data-collection system: a systems-level approach that examines and evaluates the quality of the program, and a student-level approach that measures student learning and skill attainment. Through its School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative, Massachusetts has built a system to collect pre- and post-evaluations of student skills to determine both the professional and technical skills that students gain over the course of their work-based learning experience. This allows the state to assess difficult-to-measure student outcomes such as accepting direction and constructive criticism or motivation and taking initiative.

Collecting and evaluating program data enables states to not only identify promising practices but also to scale them statewide so that all students can access high-quality work-based learning experiences. One example profiled in the guide is West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace program, which began in 2013 as a pilot program in 20 schools across the state. The Department of Education gradually scaled the program, spending time evaluating and refining processes and policies along the way, to reach 60 schools — and more than 500 classrooms — by 2015.

There is no single way to build and scale work-based learning programs, but Advance CTE’s latest publication, “Connecting the Classroom to Careers: A Comprehensive Guide to the State’s Role in Work-based Learning,” can help states get started. The guide identifies essential strategies in work-based learning programs across the states and provides key takeaways and guiding questions to help states tackle common barriers. While work-based learning is a proven strategy to help students build technical and professional skills, policymakers should draw on examples from other states to thoughtfully build and scale a high-quality work-based learning system.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate and Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

How Do States Identify and Endorse Industry-Recognized Credentials?

October 7th, 2016

Credentials_of_Value_2016Latest Advance CTE Brief Explores Promising Strategies

One of the core components of a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program is that it culminates in a credential of value. But with more than 4,000 credentialing organizations in the United States today, states are grappling with the challenge of narrowing down the field.

Advance CTE today released a policy brief to help states get started in this work. The paper, titled “Credentials of Value: State Strategies for Identifying and Endorsing Industry-Recognized Credentials,” highlights promising practices from Florida, Kansas and Louisiana, which have each made considerable progress developing a system for students and employers to navigate the tangled universe of credentials. The brief further describes how each state tackles the challenge in a different way, building a system that suits their local economy and context, and highlights a few common strategies.

For one, these states engage business and industry leaders early on in the process to verify that credentials are recognized and accepted in the labor market. This helps ensure that students are only pursuing — and states are only incentivizing — those credentials that have value. One example that the brief explores is in Louisiana, where regional teams are required to submit letters of endorsement from businesses in the state whenever they propose a new credential for the statewide list.

From there, the process of vetting high-quality credentials often involves a concerted effort from a variety of different institutions. The brief describes how, in Florida, the state-approved credential list at the secondary level is developed with input from the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the state’s workforce development board (an independent non-profit called CareerSource Florida) and the Department of Education. This ensures that the state can leverage the expertise of each agency to approve only those credentials that are valuable to students and to the economy.

Another challenge the brief explores is that credentials available on the market today range in value, quality and the effort required to earn them. Thus, states have begun to recognize this difference and classify credentials based on their rigor and utility in the labor market. Kansas, for example, is examining a framework that categorizes credentials into three tiers: those required by law or regulation, those mandated by industry, and those preferred by industry.

Even then, states should be prepared to adapt to fluctuations in the labor market or unforeseen problems with the credential review process. Take Florida’s Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE) for example. CAPE provided additional funding for teachers and school districts whose students earn state-approved credentials, but the state soon realized that the program was not structured appropriately to eliminate some gaming of the funding incentive. Over the years, Florida has gradually adjusted the funding formula to address these concerns and align incentives to encourage more students to earn high-quality credentials.

With two-thirds of all new jobs projected to require some postsecondary education and training by 2020, there is a growing need for states to play a larger role in identifying and endorsing credentials of value.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

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

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

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.

EVENT OF THE WEEK

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 

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

August 26th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

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.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

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.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

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.

WE NEED YOUR HELP

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

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

August 16th, 2016

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

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

New Resources

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

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

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

New Vision Supporters

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

Sign on Campaign

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

 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

 

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