Webinar: The State’s Role in Communicating about CTE

September 10th, 2018

Join Advance CTE on Thursday, September 20 from 2 – 3 p.m. ET for Advance CTE’s webinar, The State’s Role in Communicating About Career Technical Education (CTE). Advance CTE will feature Idaho Career and Technical Education and how they have transformed the way in which they communicate about CTE with all stakeholders. Caty Solace, Outreach and Communications Manager at the Idaho Workforce Development Council, will discuss how Idaho CTE created a statewide brand, introduced storytelling as a major component of their communications plan and the tactical strategies they used to better communicate about the value and promise of CTE across all audiences.

Speakers:

  • Caty Solace, Outreach & Communications Manager, Idaho Workforce Development Council
  • Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager, Advance CTE

Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager 

Advance CTE Releases Report on Postsecondary CTE Program Quality

August 1st, 2018

With the majority of “good jobs” that pay a family-sustaining wage requiring at least some college education — such as a technical certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or another credential of value — ensuring the existence of high-quality postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and pathways is more important than ever before in preparing learners for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers.  

Although postsecondary programs are typically considered to be the purview of individual institutions, supported by academic freedom and local control, states have an important role to play in ensuring that each learner has access to only high-quality and relevant programs, notably by leveraging program approval and program evaluation policies and processes. Today, Advance CTE released Driving Quality in Postsecondary CTE: Approval and Evaluation Policies, a report that explores how states are leveraging this role to ensure quality.

Without question, states and postsecondary systems and institutions face unique challenges and opportunities in the quest to ensure program quality and relevance. These challenges include a variety of governance and delivery models, state and federal requirements, and multiple layers of program approval through regional and occupation-specific accreditors. At the same time, states, systems and institutions have meaningful opportunities to support and fund those programs that are best serving learners and their communities’ workforce needs.

Advance CTE’s report also explores a few specific state examples:

  • In Wisconsin, the Technical College System (WTCS) uses its statutory authority to review and approve all postsecondary programs in two phases: concept, where the system office and then the State Board review program foundations, including labor market justification, and program, where the system office and State Board review program curriculum. WTCS also suspends as many associate degree programs as it approves, so that programs that no longer have labor market relevance and/or quality outcomes are phased out and newer programs with higher quality and more relevance are adequately supported.
  • The California Community Colleges system is the largest system of higher education in the nation, with 114 colleges serving 2.1 million students. In 2004 the Chancellor’s Office developed what is now called the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee (CCCCC) to coordinate efforts between local and statewide curriculum processes and work on program and course approval and evaluation. Through the CCCCC, the state has been working to delegate some of the responsibility of program approval and evaluation to individual institutions, but with policy guidance from a thorough and robust handbook. In this way, the system is working to reduce the burden on colleges while still maintaining quality of programs.
  • The Florida College System (FCS) and State Board of Education (SBOE) work together to ease the burden of program approval processes by designing and validating curriculum frameworks at the state level. These frameworks involve input from numerous industry partners and content experts and list key standards and benchmarks that programs must meet. Once a curriculum framework has been approved by the SBOE, other FCS institutions may apply the framework to new programs and are not required to undergo an approval process. Most FCS institutions start programs by using an existing framework, allowing them to start their program more quickly and avoid a lengthy approval process.

Check out Advance CTE’s report to learn more about ensuring quality in postsecondary CTE programs.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

New Resources: Designing Meaningful Career-Ready Indicators (Part 1)

July 5th, 2018

Over the past four years, Advance CTE has been tracking how states value career readiness within their federal and state accountability systems, shared in our bi-annual report, Making Career Readiness Count (released in 2014 and 2016), in partnership with Achieve. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2016 led a significant increase in states valuing measures of career and college readiness in their accountability systems, which has the power to truly transform districts and schools across the country.

With nearly every state’s ESSA plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education, states are in the process of actually designing their new or revised accountability systems, including developing business rules and guidance to locals on data collection and designing report cards.

To help states design and implement the most meaningful career-focused indicators at this key moment in time, Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) are developing a series of career-focused indicator profiles organized around the four types of measures recommended in Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems.

Today, we are releasing two on Progress toward Post-High School Credential and Assessment of Readiness. These profiles explore how leading states, including Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, are designing their indicators to ensure they are based on quality, validated data, are inclusive of all students, and are aligned with meaningful outcomes. They should serve as a resource and inspiration for states working on similar indicators.

In the next few weeks, Advance CTE will be releasing two additional profiles on the other categories defined in Destination Known: Co-curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences and Transitions Beyond High School. And, in the coming months, we will release our third edition of Making Career Readiness Count in partnership with Achieve, ESG and CCSSO. Stay tuned for more!

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

More Evidence Demonstrates How Postsecondary Credentials Can Help Learners Unlock Career Opportunities

June 11th, 2018

Earning a credential of value is still the surest path to success for American workers. A recent New America poll released last month finds that 80 percent of American adults believe there are more opportunities for those who pursue education after high school, compared to 14 percent who think it is better to enter the workforce right away.

For adult learners, the connection between education and careers is even more important. According to Public Agenda, 71 percent of adult prospective students — those who are actively working to go back to school — say that their primary motivation is either to get ahead in their current career or to get the skills they need to start a new career.

Studying the return on investment for credential earners can be quite an undertaking, however, considering the vast number and types of credentials on the market today. Credential Engine, a nonprofit dedicated to counting and cataloging every credential, estimated in April that there are more than 330,000 individual credentials available in the United States today, and only a fraction of them are available at four-year institutions. That count includes nearly 67,000 postsecondary certificates, 13,600 Registered Apprenticeships and 5,400 certifications.

It is well understood that a university education can improve career opportunities. But where to start? Does major matter? And what is the return on investment for other sub-baccalaureate credentials like associate degrees, postsecondary certificates and industry certifications?

More Advanced Credentials Lead to Higher Earnings, but Field of Study Matters

With so many credentials on the market, how can learners navigate the education marketplace and find the credential that best suits their career interests and economic goals?

New research out of the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce helps us begin to demystify the credential marketplace.

The report finds that, while median income rises with more advanced credentials, the field of study matters a lot. A bachelor’s degree in architecture and engineering, for example, will land you a median salary of $85,000, far above the $46,000 median salary for education majors. Further, less education can even lead to higher earnings, depending on the field of study. Associate degree holders who study science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) earn a median salary $13,000 higher than workers with bachelor’s degrees in psychology & social work. Certainly, credentials help learners unlock career success and earn a family sustaining wage, but field of study is far more important than level of education.  

A separate Georgetown study puts a magnifying glass up to one particular type of credential,  postsecondary certifications, examining earnings for individuals who earned a certification at an Oregon community college. The study finds that, on average, certification earners experienced a 19 percent increase in earnings. And Pell students experience an even larger premium, more than 50 percent of their wages prior to enrollment, further demonstrating the power of short-term certifications to provide an on-ramp to a sustainable career.

How Can States Help Learners Navigate the Credential Environment?

As the universe of postsecondary credentials continues to grow, learners will need support and guidance to help determine which credentials to pursue and where to pursue them. Already, a number of states have developed protocols to review, verify and publish a list of high-quality, industry-recognized credentials for secondary and postsecondary students. A new 50-state scan from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign finds that 30 states identify or plan to identify credentials of value at the state level. However, only 23 states report that they analyze employment and earnings outcomes and only 21 seek regular employer input.

If credentials are going to deliver on their promise, the credentialing system must be transparent and learners must be able to know which credentials are valued in the marketplace and recognized by employers. It is important for states to set up systems to regularly gather and put to use employer input. The evidence is encouraging, but there is still a lot of work to do to help demystify the credentialing marketplace and empower learners to achieve their career goals.

To learn more about credentials of value or state strategies to promote high-quality credentials, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

New Video To Help You Make The Case For CTE

May 18th, 2018

We are excited to announce a new CTE video as part of the CTE: Learning that works for America® campaign for you to watch and share with your community.

Why Is This Important? 

We know that how we discuss CTE in the media, with policymakers, employers and families matters. We are thrilled to share a new video that showcases what today’s CTE looks like and how it prepares learners for their future careers while closing the skills gap for employers across the country. We know that learners who participate in CTE graduate at a higher rate, are more satisfied with their education, and just as likely as non-CTE students to go on to postsecondary education. Now, it’s time that everyone understands the incredible value of CTE.

How Can You Use This?

This video is designed to help you make the case for CTE in your community and demonstrate the many benefits of today’s CTE! Share it at your statewide meetings, with partners, and encourage your networks to use it too.

We’ve developed a promotional toolkit to get the word out on this video, which you can find here. If you’re curious about the data points in the video, check out our one-pager on the data here.

Join the Conversation: 

To get you started here are two tweets you can share right now, but be sure you are following us on twitter @CTEWorks.

Tweet: I support the work of @CTEWorks as they continue to combat false perceptions of what CTE is and who it is for. This video highlights how CTE prepares learners for success. We hope that you will watch, share and #RT! https://careertech.org/campaign-video #CTEWorks

Tweet: Learn how Career Technical Education prepares learners for their futures while closing the skills gap for employers across the country. https://careertech.org/campaign-video #CTE #CTEWorks

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager 

How New Skills for Youth States are Defining Criteria for High-quality Career Pathways

May 10th, 2018

What defines a high-quality career pathway? Is it alignment to labor market needs and career opportunities? The quality and qualifications of teachers and faculty? Access to meaningful, aligned work-based learning experiences? Perhaps all of the above?

Defining the the components of high-quality career pathways is a critical priority of the 10 states participating in New Skills for Youth (NSFY), an initiative to transform career pathways and student success by expanding options for high school students. NSFY is a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Strategy Group and Advance CTE, generously funded by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Today, Advance CTE released a series of snapshots highlighting promising practices and achievements of the 10 NSFY states, including the different approaches each state is taking to define and promote high-quality career pathways.

In Massachusetts, a cross-sector committee developed criteria for high-quality college and career pathways (HQCCP), part of an effort to improve career-readiness opportunities for students in the commonwealth. Massachusetts plans to identify, designate and support two types of high-quality secondary pathways: early college pathways, which enable students to earn up to 12 college credits in high school, and innovation pathways, which are aligned with high-demand industries. The joint committee set a high bar to designate each type of pathway. To officially be recognized as a HQCCP, pathways must:

  • Provide equitable access;
  • Be structured around guided academic pathways;
  • Incorporate enhanced student supports;
  • Expose students to different career options; and
  • Be supported by partnerships between at least one institution of higher education, a secondary district or school, and employer partners.

In 2017, Massachusetts began accepting applications to designate HQCCPs, and plans to announce designated sites shortly. These sites will receive support, and in some cases, funding, from the state, and will work together as a community to strengthen meaningful career pathways that are aligned to the joint committee’s HQCCP criteria.

Other NSFY states chose different approaches to defining quality career pathways. Ohio designed a framework for local program administrators to evaluate program quality and make informed decisions about which programs to scale up and which to phase out. The framework is designed using four dimensions: learning environment and culture, business and community engagement, educator collaboration, and pathway design.

Wisconsin took a regional approach through its Pathways Wisconsin pilot. Through the project, which has been rolled out in four regions across the state, regional Pathways Wisconsin directors are working with key stakeholders in their community to identify and recognize different career pathways within priority industry areas.

Defining criteria for high-quality career pathways was a common priority across the NSFY states. Other priorities include:

  • Expanding meaningful work-based learning opportunities and career advising supports: Rhode Island engaged state business leaders to define and develop learning standards for work-based learning that could be implemented at the high school level. Oklahoma and Wisconsin are implementing new academic and career planning policies.
  • Engaging employers to help design and validate relevant career experiences and related credentials: With the help of industry partners, Ohio developed a graduation endorsement called the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal, which recognizes students who demonstrate employability skills upon graduation. In Louisiana, state leaders leveraged existing employer networks to establish education subcommittees on regional workforce development boards.
  • Expanding accountability systems to include a focus on career readiness: As states worked to develop and finalize their ESSA plans, accountability was a priority for NSFY states in 2017. Oklahoma adopted a postsecondary opportunities measure that looks at AP, IB and dual enrollment as well as industry certification and work-based learning. Separately, Kentucky is leveraging the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics to identify and validate industry-recognized credentials, which will be valued in its accountability system.
  • Beginning the work of aligning systems to lay the foundation for sustainability: Tennessee is working to integrate NSFY efforts into Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, a widely popular initiative to improve postsecondary access and success. Nevada codified the governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation into state law. Meanwhile, Delaware is working to strengthen Delaware Pathways, a statewide initiative to enhance and expand high-quality career pathways.

To learn more about the pursuits of the NSFY cohort, read the 2017 NSFY Snapshot Executive Summary or download individual state snapshots.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Putting CTE on the Frontier into Action

April 11th, 2018

Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE lays out a reality where all learners have access to a high-quality education that leads to rewarding career opportunities and can gain the skills they need, when they them, without the limitations of place or time.  Yet in too many states, learners in rural communities are less likely to have access to Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways, experiences and supports than their peers in suburban or urban areas.

Given the unique challenges to expanding CTE on the “frontier,” Advance CTE launched a year-long initiative to unpack the biggest barriers and identify promising practices from across the country. Based on interviews with over a dozen state secondary and postsecondary leaders – in addition to local practitioners and national experts – Advance CTE released a series of four briefs with short case studies on states’ approaches to addressing the most pressing challenges to expanding access to high-quality CTE pathways in rural communities.

While this research and the embedded case studies can serve as a critical resource for states as they advance their own priorities and policies to address gaps in rural CTE pathways and experiences, it also shined a light on how interwoven each of these challenges are and the need for states to address all of them comprehensively and collaboratively.

To support such efforts, Advance CTE has released its CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide. This tool offers series of questions for state leaders to use as they reflect on current efforts to expand access to high-quality CTE and career-focused pathways and experiences in rural communities and to identify future opportunities and actions. While many of the questions may be difficult to answer at this time, those unanswerable questions can provide a lot of direction for a state’s next steps, including data to gather and partners to engage.

Advance CTE has also released a companion facilitation guide to help state leaders make the most of this resource and to support states’ efforts to address the five cross-cutting elements of a rural CTE strategy.

Want to learn more? Join us for a webinar on the CTE on the Frontier research and lessons learned on May 17. Register today!

CTE on the Frontier briefs: 

CTE on the Frontier was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

How Leading States are Strengthening the CTE Teacher Pipeline in Rural America

March 22nd, 2018

In Nebraska, rural districts have been undertaking a wholesale needs assessment of local Career Technical Education (CTE) program offerings under the state’s reVISION initiative. Under reVISION, school and district leaders examine regional labor market data and hear from local employers to determine whether or not the programs available to students are those that are most in-demand.

If programs are out of sync with workforce needs, or deemed to be low-quality, local leaders will phase those programs out and transition resources and staff to higher-need program areas. This includes retraining teachers to teach classes in subject areas with the highest need, such as agriculture, health care and precision manufacturing.

Nebraska is just one of many states working to strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline in rural areas by recruiting qualified instructors, preparing them for success on day one, and providing professional development and re-certification opportunities to help them grow professionally throughout their career.

Today, Advance CTE released the fourth, and final, installment in the CTE on the Frontier series, which examines challenges and strategies for expanding access to high-quality career pathways in rural areas. The series is funded through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Today’s brief explores one of the most pressing challenges rural schools and institutions face: strengthening the pipeline of qualified CTE teachers and faculty. Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers can make or break a CTE program. The following are some approaches leading states are taking to support rural CTE teachers:

  • Recruiting within the community by expanding grow-your-own teacher academy pathways or reducing barriers to entry for industry professionals;
  • Innovating to compete with industry by valuing work experience in teacher and faculty salary schedules;
  • Restructuring new teacher induction programs to extend supports and mentorship opportunities throughout the first year, and providing a continuum of supports for veteran teachers;
  • Strengthening relationships with traditional teacher preparation pipelines; and
  • Adopting a diversified approach to recruiting and training new instructors, establishing multiple pathways into CTE classrooms.

CTE teacher recruitment is a challenge that has dogged state leaders for decades. According to a recent survey of State CTE Directors, 98 percent said that increasing access to industry experts is a high priority in their state. And 20.4 percent of rural districts with CTE teacher vacancies report that CTE positions were either very difficult or impossible to fill.

Such teacher shortages are exacerbated in rural areas, where the pool of qualified candidates is often much smaller. This brief aims to elevate promising practices across the states to help state leaders address rural CTE teaching capacity challenges.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Advance CTE Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog: Oracle Academy Reflects on CTE

March 14th, 2018

This post is written by the Oracle Academy, a Diamon Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

One of the many advantages of being the North America Oracle Academy Regional Director, is the opportunity to spend time talking with education leaders at the State, K12 District, school site, and post-secondary level from all over the nation. I spend time learning, sharing ideas, celebrating successes, and understanding challenges that these leaders face each day. These conversations and experiences are often the most exciting yet humbling part of my job. February is celebrated as CTE Month and this year, I found myself reflecting on the impact that Career Technical Education (CTE) has on our students both now and in the future. A few thoughts to share are:

Reflection #1: CTE continues to evolve to meet changing needs. State and District leadership continue to strive to build sustainable and real-world CTE Pathways that lead our students to college and career success.  It’s the CTE leadership that can both anticipate and leverage, through research and relationships, the corporate workforce need and then translate that need into CTE pathways for students to pursue. Many of these pathways include applicable industry certifications, apprenticeship/internships, and defined articulation programs with feeder post-secondary institutions. At Oracle Academy, we work to ensure our resources continue to support the needs of CTE leadership through curriculum and certification opportunities that reflect industry needs.

Reflection #2: Collaboration between local industry and education leadership continue to drive CTE student success. This isn’t a new concept but what I’ve noticed is an uptick in our education and industry leadership working together to create applicable internships, apprenticeships, and mentorships to support the interest of our students. I’ve heard over and over again the importance that these roles play in supporting and creating sustainable CTE programs.  At Oracle Academy, our role revolves around building the best classroom resources for the student and teacher so that their content knowledge and often times, confidence, is foundationally strong so that attainment of first time internships and/or apprenticeships are successful.

Reflection #3: A focused effort and persistence will prevail!  As we all know, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act is critical to ensuring that quality and sustainable CTE programs meet the changing needs of learners and employers. This act works to improve the academic and technical achievement of CTE students, helps to strengthen the bridge between secondary and post-secondary, and balances the student need with that of a new economy.  As parents, educators, and leaders, it’s our duty to encourage organizations, like CareerTech, that advocate on behalf of CTE programs as well as the teachers and students dedicated to CTE success. Oracle Academy supports this mission by continuing to provide our world-class student-facing curriculum and educator professional development – aligned to the IT Career Cluster Pathway – for FREE.

For those of you not familiar, Oracle Academy is Oracle’s flagship program in education philanthropy, currently supporting more than 3.5 million students annually in 120 countries. We advance computing technology education to increase knowledge, skills development, innovation and diversity in computing fields by providing:

Two years ago, we introduced Oracle Certified Junior Associate certifications in database and Java; these certification exams align to our Java Foundations and Database Foundations courses and are specifically designed with students in mind to help support internship, summer job, and first job applications.

Oracle Academy exists to improve the computing technology skills of young people, globally! If we strengthen the computing technology pathway between secondary, post-secondary, and career, we are essentially strengthening the future for our children!

Career Technical Education holds a very special place in my heart and I hope this blog reflects both the love and respect that I have for CTE programs and its significant impact on student achievement!

Making Students Career Ready in a Globally Connected World

February 22nd, 2018

Increasing numbers of careers are requiring global competence, facility with world languages and cultures, and the ability to work in global teams. Just consider these facts:

  • Ninety-seven percent of business executives identified intercultural skills, or being “comfortable working with colleagues, customers, and/or clients from diverse cultural backgrounds,” as important, including 63 percent who believe these skills are “very important.”
  • Another study found that 80 percent of U.S. executives agree that their businesses would increase if staff had international experience.
  • An international study conducted in more than 100 countries found that employers increasingly need employees who “are not only technically proficient but also culturally astute and able to thrive in a global work environment.” The study also identified the ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints, respect for others, and knowledge of a foreign language as key skills that employers are using and will continue to use to evaluate and retain employees.

At a fundamental level, the goal of Career Technical Education (CTE) is to prepare students for successful careers, and CTE programs should provide opportunities for students to learn and apply global competencies in order for students to successfully participate in the American economy and beyond.

While this may feel like a natural fit, too few educators have the training or resources they need to teach the global aspects of their career pathways. To address this challenge and support the field, Asia Society, together with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Advance CTE, developed a free professional development course and set of tools: Global Competence Through Career and Technical Education.

This web-based, interactive course and related tools are designed to help CTE educators integrate global content and skills into what they are already teaching in their classrooms to prepare students for the global world of work. The tools – which can be used within the context of the course but are also available on their own – including career-planning lesson plans and worksheets, videos providing global competencies in a range of career clusters, sample global CTE classroom projects, project management resources, and more. One of the main features of the online module is that educators not only get to test out these tools, they also have the opportunity to share their experiences with other participants across the country.

As a partner in this work, Advance CTE sees a great opportunity for states to embed this resources in their own professional development offerings. So how can you learn more?

  • Check out the tools yourself and see what they’re all about!
  • Share the website and resources with administrators and educators in your state.
  • Consider your own statewide vision for CTE and where global competency does and should support that vision.
  • Contact Heather Singmaster (HSingmaster@asiasociety.org) or Kate Kreamer (kkreamer@careertech.org) for more information on how to promote and implement the resources.

As states increasingly prioritize career readiness and CTE – including the 35 states that included career readiness indicators in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans, the 10 states participating in New Skills for Youth, and 49 states and DC that passed policies related to career readiness in 2017 alone – this is a critical moment in time to ensure that CTE and related experiences and pathways prepare students for success not only in their own communities but in the entire global community.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

 

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