New Advance CTE Report Highlights States that Are Raising the Bar through Career Pathways Approval

April 26th, 2017

Next week, Advance CTE will recognize the winners of 2017’s Excellence in Action awards — an annual competition to elevate and celebrate high-quality programs of study. This year’s slate of competitors is stronger than ever, demonstrating how well-designed programs that integrate academic and technical instruction, span secondary and postsecondary education, and equip learners with relevant work-based learning experiences can prepare learners for academic achievement and career success.

Examples of strong programs of study — and career pathways, more broadly — exist in every state. Yet all too often these career pathways are islands of excellence, setting the bar for quality, but requiring further state action to ensure all students can benefit from strong career pathways. While the approach to developing career pathways varies across the nation, state leaders can play a role in promoting quality by leveraging policy, programs and resources to ensure all career pathways meet minimum standards.

Today Advance CTE released its newest report, Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High-Quality Career Pathways. The report examines successes in Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware to demonstrate how states can use the career pathways approval process to raise the level of quality.

  • In Tennessee, the Department of Education in 2013 underwent an exhaustive course review initiative to align all courses and programs of study with labor market standards. Through the initiative, working groups of teachers, postsecondary faculty and employers reviewed and revised course standards. Ultimately, this effort led to the discontinuation of nearly one hundred courses.
  • The New Jersey Department of Education in 2008 adopted a more hands-on process for enforcing the state’s program quality criteria, which were previously outlined in administrative code. Under the new system, local districts are required submit documentation of program structure for each program within a specific Career Cluster.
  • And in 2015, Delaware implemented a new policy for reviewing and approving both local and state-model programs of study. The policy requires programs of both types to be developed with input from multiple stakeholders, including industry and postsecondary representatives.  

All states have processes in place to review and approve career pathways, but not all use them to promote and uphold quality standards. This report describes a few approaches states can take — such as defining quality criteria, using fiscal and accountability policy to incentivize adoption, and providing regional supports — to promote quality through the pathways approval process.

This report 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.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Effective Stakeholder Engagement Requires More Than a Broad Communications Plan

March 30th, 2017

March 30, 2017

Sustainable and successful transformation of state career readiness systems, including but not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE), requires engagement with a variety of stakeholders who are deliberately working to share ownership. Lead agencies must engage those from industry, who may be new to policy-making, not only to generate buy-in but also to reach state goals for transformation.

To help with this work, Advance CTE created a tool based off of two tools created by CCSSO in June and November 2016. This tool, developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative and generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., guides users through nine steps in planning effective interactions with specific stakeholders:

  • Step 1: Clarify your goals
  • Step 2: Work with partner organizations and ambassadors to identify and engage your stakeholders
  • Step 3: Speak to your audience
  • Step 4: Use multiple vehicles
  • Step 5: Ask for input before decisions are made, and use it
  • Step 6: Keep your materials simple and brief
  • Step 7: Communicate early and often
  • Step 8: Keep your team informed
  • Step 9: Turn these new connections into long-term relationships

Each of these steps is designed to guide users through the entire process of building interactions with stakeholders that will explain their efforts thoroughly and present requests for stakeholder assistance clearly and convincingly.

While this tool should not replace broader communications and stakeholder engagement plans, it enhances their effectiveness by allowing for coordination in focusing and formalizing messages and interactions. The tool also helps with prioritization of stakeholder engagement efforts through the use of a stakeholder map that measures the level of support and the level of influence of each stakeholder. By completing this worksheet and keeping all information on stakeholder engagement in this one place, users will be better prepared to implement communications related to CTE and career readiness reforms.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Measuring Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems: Where to Start

March 23rd, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) affords states the chance to strengthen their accountability systems by adopting multiple measures of school success rather than relying on an antiquated test-based system. Buoyed by this flexibility, state agencies across the country are exploring strategies to integrate career readiness indicators into their accountability systems. While some states have made considerable progress in this arena, others are left wondering where do we start?

To help states navigate this new territory, Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers convened a workgroup of accountability experts and tasked them with identifying and recommending robust metrics to measure career readiness. Their recommendations, released earlier this month in a brief titled Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems, detail four possible measures of student career readiness:

  • Progress Toward Post-High School Credential
  • Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences
  • Assessment of Readiness
  • Transitions Beyond High School

The brief further outlines strategies for measuring and valuing each of these measures, demonstrating how states can implement and gradually increase the sophistication of their measurement indicators. Lessons are also drawn from states such as Ohio, Kentucky and California that have made headway toward adopting and implementing career-focused accountability indicators in recent years.

Moving forward, JPMorgan Chase & Co. aims to support state efforts to adopt these recommendations and enhance their career-focused accountability through New Skills for Youth, a cross-state initiative to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for careers.

Expanding Access to Postsecondary Learning

Separately, students who earned dual credit in Oregon schools were more likely than their peers to graduate from high school, enroll in college and persist through their first year. That’s according to new research from the Research Education Lab at Education Northwest examining dual credit participation between 2005 and 2013. While the study reveals a correlation between dual credit attainment and positive outcomes, the authors note equity gaps in participation across student subgroups. Dual credit earners in the study were more often white, female and not on the federal free and reduced lunch program.

Equitable access to higher education is not a new issue, but it can often be exacerbated by performance-based funding formulas. Without careful design, such formulas can encourage two-year and four-year colleges to be more selective with who they admit into their programs. According to the Center for Legal and Social Policy (CLASP), states should adjust their postsecondary formula weights to counteract selectivity and encourage more open access to postsecondary education.

Odds and Ends

  • The Education Commission of the States published an analysis of State Longitudinal Data Systems, highlighting common approaches and challenges to instituting cross-system data sharing systems. The brief profiles successes in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
  • A study out of Mississippi State University exploring perceptions of CTE found that 45 percent of Mississippi residents were unable to name a single CTE program in their area. The authors put forward a series of recommendations including calling on educators to actively promote the many benefits of CTE participation, such as highlighting college-bound students, program flexibility, fast-track to careers and high-skill, high-demand job opportunities.
  • Two years after the California legislature launched the Career Pathways Trust — a $500 million grant program to finance collaborative career pathways — Jobs for the Future has released a summary of common successes and challenges across different grant sites.
  • A new paper from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign provides a quality assurance framework for short-term occupational training programs and makes recommendations for state and federal policymakers to strengthen such programs.
  • Two reports from America’s Promise Alliance, Relationships First and Turning Points, explore the role that relationship building plays in guiding students along their career pathways. The reports — the first two in an ongoing series — highlight Cafe Momentum in Dallas, TX; Per Scholas in the Bronx, NY; Urban Alliance in Washington, D.C.; and Year Up in the Bay Area.
  • A new study from the Online Learning Consortium examines six institutions in the United States that are experimenting with alternative credentialing strategies to provide flexible postsecondary learning opportunities, including digital distance learning and prior learning assessments.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

March 10th, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK

 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK 

A brief by Education Commission of the States found that workforce development and CTE is a priority of at least 24 governors.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officer’s report, Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems, provides recommendations on the ways states can use college and career readiness measures to drive their accountability systems.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

A video competition by Heads Up America, housed within the College Promise Campaign, is hosting a video competition around the theme, “breaking up with student debt.” The winning Instagram video submission will receive $2,000.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Early Achievements and Innovations from Phase One of the New Skills for Youth Initiative

March 1st, 2017

Last spring, 24 states and Washington, D.C. began a national, six-month effort to examine and transform their career readiness systems and expand opportunities available to students in their states. Under the initiative, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative, states were required to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and use the results to construct a three-year action plan. States were provided grant funds to conduct the needs assessment and begin early implementation of their action plans.

Today, Advance CTE, Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group released a series of snapshots documenting state efforts under Phase One of the New Skills for Youth initiative. The snapshots profile some of the significant achievements and lessons learned through this early work, drawing out strategies that other states can emulate. A holistic summary of the cross-state Phase One work is available here, along with individual state snapshots.

These resources were developed 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.

While all states had CTE and career readiness policies in place prior to the start of the initiative, each began the work at different starting points. Nonetheless, states made considerable progress during the grant period. Cross-sector ownership was one area of focus, as many states worked to distribute the work across various stakeholders — particularly within business and industry — and secure commitment from cross-sector leaders. These efforts paid dividends, ensuring that employers were not only aware of the work, but were empowered to lead key initiatives. Additionally, states that engaged stakeholders early and often found it easier to distribute the work and clarify roles during the planning process. Rhode Island, for example, gathered input from business, secondary education, postsecondary education, the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office, which enabled the state to assign activities in its action plan to individual staff members within each partnering organization.

The snapshots also detail trends related to:

  • The role of equity in early implementation and strategic planning;
  • How states worked regionally to develop and execute action plans;
  • Efforts to link data and build career-focused accountability systems;
  • Enhancing career guidance strategies.

The Phase One planning and early implementation grant period concluded in October, but ten states were selected to receive additional funds and still more have elected to work as a cohort to implement their three-year career readiness action plans. Stay tuned for periodic updates from states’ ongoing New Skills for Youth work.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: States Support #CTEMonth

February 17th, 2017

We’re over halfway through #CTEMonth and states, employers, districts, schools, educators, parents and students have honored and celebrated CTE in a number of ways already. States have been critical in supporting this effort throughout the country, from providing resources to the local level, to meeting with policymakers.

States Develop Coordinated Approach to Support Local Schools 

Alabama Department of Education developed a CTE Month communications plan with tips on how to get positive media coverage, sample social media posts, blog ideas featuring educators and students, and a sample press release. Additionally, they provided their network with a sample proclamation, calendar and sample announcements to help schools in Alabama get the word out, and raise awareness about their CTE programs.

In Mississippi, Mississippi State University created a toolkit that districts can use to promote their local programs and CTE overall. In
the toolkit, they provided a templated poster to announce events, CTE Month-branded press kit with letter head, a state profile and pathway specific flyers, and CTE-fact graphics, one for each day of the month, providing a coordinate set of messages and branding to use at the local level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

States and Students Engage Policymakers 

In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education’s office of Career and Technical Education met with Career and Technical Student Organization presidents and Commonwealth officials as Governor McAuliffe signed the Proclamation designating February as Career and Technical Education Month.  The Governor spoke at length with the students about Virginia’s initiative: Profile of a Virginia Graduate, which focuses on skills and attributes such as critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship, to be successful in life.  The Governor identified Career and Technical Education students as a perfect example of what the initiative hopes to achieve.

 

 

 

 

 

In Kentucky, the Department of Education held an event where State Officers from each of the Career and Technical Student Organizations gathered for training on the legislative process including a debate of current issue and role plays of actual legislative visits.  The following day, State Officers visited legislative leaders to share more the value and impact of CTE.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

CTE Remained a Priority for State Policymakers in 2016

January 25th, 2017

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Release Annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review, Highlighting State Policy Trends from 2016

Supporting and strengthening high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) remains a priority for state policymakers, according to a new report from Advance CTE and ACTE. The report, State Policies Impacting CTE: 2016 Year in Review, is the fourth annual policy scan highlighting state activity. Below are some key takeaways from the report.

More States Passed CTE-Related Policies in 2016 than the Year Before

In recent years, both state and national policymakers have demonstrated a growing interest in strengthening career readiness systems through legislation, executive orders, rulemaking, budget provisions and ballot initiatives. In 2016, states continued that trend, completing a total of 139 policy actions across 42 states. This is a slight increase over 2015, when 39 states passed a total of 125 policies.

This activity reflects that states are increasingly buying into the notion that alternative pathways such as two-year degrees, apprenticeships and industry-recognized credentials can lead to high-wage, high-demand careers. This is fueled in part by national initiatives such as the New Skills for Youth initiative, Pathways to Prosperity and the National Governors Association’s Talent Pipeline Policy academy, which each aim to catalyze the transformation of career preparation in states.

Funding Remains the Most Popular Policy Category for the Fourth Year

Funding was the leading category of policies passed in 2016, consistent with the past four years. Related policies this year include new grant initiatives such as the Strong Workforce Grant in California, which provides $200 million in noncompetitive funding to strengthen workforce development programs in California community colleges, and Massachusetts’ Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program. Last year also saw the restoration of funding for the Arizona Joint Technical Education Districts after a $29 million cut in 2015.

Other extant trends from the past year include policies related to industry partnerships and work-based learning; dual and concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college; and industry-recognized credentials.

States Are Gearing up for ESSA Implementation

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was signed into law in December, 2015 and includes numerous opportunities for states to accelerate work around CTE and career readiness. While most states spent 2016 engaging various stakeholder groups and developing draft plans to implement the law, some states took initial steps to pass policies in support of implementation. West Virginia and Oklahoma, for example, each adopted accountability systems that recognize and value career preparation. West Virginia’s accountability system includes an indicator that recognizes the percentage of 12th grade CTE concentrators, while Oklahoma adopted a “Postsecondary Opportunity” indicator that includes dual credit coursework, internships, apprenticeships and industry certifications.

Successful Ballot Initiatives Demonstrate Voter Support for CTE

Several states saw and passed initiatives related to CTE on the November ballot. In Oregon, voters approved Measure 98, which establishes the College and Career Readiness Fund and directs the legislature to allocate $800 per pupil to establish and expand new programs, including CTE. Meanwhile, Arkansas voted to legalize medical marijuana and subject sale of the drug to state and local sales tax. Under the approved amendment, 60 percent of the revenue generated through the sale of medical marijuana will go to support skills development and training. South Dakota voters also approved a measure that directs the legislature to restructure the way the state technical colleges are governed and remove authority from the Board of Regents.

2016 saw growing momentum in support of CTE at the state level, and this year’s activity tees 2017 up to be an important year for CTE and career readiness in the U.S. We anticipate states will continue the work started in 2016 by picking up legislation introduced in 2016, adopting new strategies to implement federal legislation and beginning the work of implementing policies passed in 2016.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: $20M in grants support 10 states in career readiness system transformation

January 13th, 2017

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Earlier this week, 10 states received $2 million each to strengthen career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs in their state as part of the New Skills for Youth initiative. All states were selected from a cohort of 24 that received $100,000 grants to plan long-term career readiness education programs in March, and will now put those plans into action. Want to learn more about what the 10 states have accomplished so far? Read our 10 state snapshots.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is spearheading this $75 million effort, and CEO Jamie Dimon discussed the importance of providing career opportunities to youth around the country stating, “It is a moral imperative that we get jobs for kids.” Hear more about why JPMorgan Chase is leading this important work.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

New Research out of California Finds Higher Earnings for Students with Credentials in the Health Industry

January 5th, 2017

ca credentialsContributing to a growing body of research on the economic benefit of industry credentials, the Public Policy Institute of California last month released a study of employment outcomes for students in health Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the California Community College system. In California, 18 of the top 25 wage-enhancing degrees are in health. As such, helping students obtain a health-related credential could be one strategy for closing achievement gaps and providing underserved students an on-ramp into the industry.

The authors of the study examined data for a total of 120,000 students enrolled in health CTE programs in California community colleges over the past ten years. Their research found that, despite variations in completion and persistence across different programs, students who obtained credentials increased their earnings by 51 percent compared to non-degree holders.

Earning a credential translates to real changes in earning opportunity. According to the study, students who were not previously employed in the health industry saw a median increase of $8,661 in quarterly earnings after completing a degree or credential.

While a health-related credential may create economic opportunity for underserved students, completion gaps between subpopulations persist. According to the study, there is a six point gap in completion rates for Latino students compared to white students, and a 12 point gap for African American students. However, the researchers also found that providing career guidance and support services could help close the completion gap by helping underserved students identify and complete pathways in high-demand career fields.

A Holiday Surprise from the National Skills Coalition: 50-State Skills Equity Policy Scans

Meanwhile, the National Skills Coalition released an early Christmas gift in the form of four 50-state policy scans. The scans are part of the organization’s Skills Equity series, which includes toolkits to help policymakers identify effective strategies for expanding access to middle-skills training.

One of the reports dives into an increasingly popular method of addressing basic skills gaps, known as Integrated Education and Training, or IET. Now a required activity under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), IET integrates basic academic education with workforce training in order to prepare adults with basic skills for the workforce. While these adults, who are often inhibited by limited English proficiency or mathematical skills, generally struggle to find job opportunities, research shows that IET programs can increase earning potential for students who take at least two credits and earn a credential.

Other scans in the series include state policies on Stackable Credentials, Alignment and Job-Driven Financial Aid.

Odds and Ends

A new report from the Center for Public Education provides a summary overview of CTE, including data and key questions to help policymakers make the case for expanding CTE offerings. While introductory, the report is essential reading for anyone new to CTE.

The National Opportunity Index – which examines education, crime rates, job availability and other indicators to determine a snapshot of economic opportunity by county and state – is out with new data for 2016. While overall opportunity has remained stagnant over the past year, the index demonstrates an increase of 8.9 percent since 2011.

In a series of policy papers released last month, the Education Commission of the States explores strategies for state and federal policymakers to form partnerships to support postsecondary education. One paper highlights opportunities to leverage the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) to support community colleges, such as by using sector partnerships to create career pathways or offering programs that qualify for WIOA support.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE: The State of CTE report is released!

December 16th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Today, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR, we published The State of Career Technical Education: Increasing Access to Industry Experts in High School, examining the shortage of industry experts in secondary classrooms and how to address it. Save the date for a webinar on January 9th that will explore major themes from this report.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

An article by Hechinger Report takes a dive into the recent poll by Gallup-Purdue indicates more than half of college graduates find their alma maters provided inadequate career guidance services, while hailing a notable exception, Wake Forest, which offers college-to-career courses for students to better help them plan for their future.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

 

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