COVID-19 Resources from the U.S. Department of Education: Part Two

March 31st, 2020

dThe U.S. Department of Education added a page to its website with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at  www.ed.gov/coronavirus. The page will be continuously updated by the Department. Below are brief overviews of what can be found in some of the materials on issues with civil rights and students with disabilities. Advance CTE will continue to share posts with a breakdown of the resources, so keep checking the blog!

  • Addressing COVID-19 Risk in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students
    The Department issued a fact sheet discussing the importance of maintaining federal civil rights requirements during the Coronavirus pandemic. This fact sheet, located here, includes information on:

    • Denial of Access on the Basis of Race, Color, or National Origin – reminding school officials that they may not stereotype or make assumptions about a protected class in determining risk factors for school closures (page 2).
    • Obligations for schools under the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to maintain education services for students with disabilities (page 2-3). 
  • Q/A On Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During Coronavirus Outbreak
    The Department issued a broad but informal guide on how local educational agencies (LEAs) and early intervention services can collaborate with state educational agencies (SEAs) to provide and ensure continued services for children with disabilities and their families. That document, located here, includes many questions that the Department has received and aims to provide guidance based on those questions. This includes:

    • Situations in which LEAs are required to continue to provide free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities (page 1);
    • Services that LEAs must provide when schools for children with disabilities are selectively closed (page 3);
    • Activities that IDEA Part B funds (page 5) and Part C funds (page 8) may and may not be used for during Coronavirus outbreak; and
    • When a state lead agency must continue to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities if offices are closed (page 7).
  • Webinar on Online Education and Website Accessibility
    The Office of Civil Rights released a short webinar on ensuring accessibility of online education and websites for everyone – with a focus on ensuring that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in services, programs and activities. This webinar:

    • Urges that online education and websites should be accessible to those using assistive technology, such as speech recognition or eye-tracking software;
    • Recommends both automated and manual routine testing of websites to ensure that individuals are able to fully access the websites’ content using assistive technology; and
    • Directs any questions or technical assistance requests to be emailed to the OCR Web Access Team at OCRWebAccessTA@ed.gov.

      Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE

March 26th, 2020

There is widespread agreement that high school is simply too late to begin to expose learners to the variety of high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers available to them and the foundational skills they will need to be able to access and succeed in those careers. Yet there remains a lack of consensus — or even basic understanding — about what Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness more broadly should entail at the middle grades level.

And, with The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) emphasizing career exploration and career development activities in the middle grades and allowing funds to be spent on students as young as fifth grade, the need to understand what high-quality middle grades CTE is – and isn’t – is more important than ever before.

Today, Advance CTE and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE to support state and local leaders as they work to develop or strengthen middle grades CTE policies, programs and practices. Critically, this resource provides a theory of action for state and local leaders looking to design a new middle grades CTE program or policy or to reflect on and improve upon what is already in place.

Specifically, this paper lays out:

  • Outcomes for student learning that identify what students should gain through participation in middle grades CTE.
  • Ten design principles that must undergird any middle grades CTE program or policy. The principles should serve as a resource to ensure that middle grades CTE is comprehensive and fully meets each learner’s needs.
  • The core programmatic elements of a middle grades CTE program or policy through which the design principles are applied, with relevant questions for consideration to identify strategies or steps for addressing gaps in the implementation of the 10 design principles.

Broadening the Path also includes a design principles self-assessment for state and local leaders to evaluate their current policies and programs.

This resource was created with the support of the Middle Grades CTE Shared Solutions Workgroup, comprised of national, state and local leaders, convened by Advance CTE with support from ACTE and generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For those interested in leading state examples of middle grades CTE policies and programs, check out Advance CTE’s 2018 report, Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learner Success.

 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Highlights from Advance CTE’s 2019 Annual Report

March 4th, 2020

Advance CTE is excited to share our 2019 Annual Report, highlighting our major priorities and accomplishments of the last year. And what a year it was!

Some highlights from 2019 include:

  • We enjoyed our sixth straight year of growth in our membership, with all 50 states, Washington DC and four U.S. territories joining as state-level members.
  • We leaned in heavily to support the implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), hosting three implementation meetings, coordinating an expert review of 38 states’ draft Perkins plans and providing intensive technical assistance to 12 states.
  • 42 states received federal policy technical assistance and engaged in Advance CTE’s congressional advocacy efforts.
  • 49 states participated in Advance CTE’s in-person meetings.
  • 100 percent of participants said the Perkins implementation meetings met or exceeded the objectives.
  • Advance CTE staff presented or provided technical assistance at 91 events or meetings and visited 28 states and Washington, DC.
  • Our Twitter followers increased by 24 percent and our website had over 1.8 million page views.
  • We were fortunate enough to have 13 grants and contracts from foundation, partners and state agencies.

We are deeply appreciative of our amazing members, partners and funders who make what we do possible and, more importantly, help advance our goal of ensuring each learner has access to a high-quality CTE program that prepares them for the career of their choice. Thank you all!

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with you all in 2020, as we celebrate 100 years of Advance CTE; host the CTE Forward Summit; and continue to prioritize equity, data quality and federal advocacy!

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Tips to Help You Make the Best of the Rest of CTE Month

February 14th, 2020

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through CTE Month! Every February, the CTE community celebrates CTE Month® to raise awareness of the role that CTE has in readying our students for careers and college. CTE Month, spearheaded by Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), is a time to recognize and celebrate the CTE community members’ achievements and accomplishments nationwide. Below are some tips to make the most of your CTE Month with some examples of how states are promoting CTE in their state. 

Use the Right Messages
Despite our best efforts, we don’t always speak about CTE in the way that most resonates with students and parents. Be sure that you’re communicating with these two important audiences by checking out our new research on the messages that students and parents want to hear, Dos and Dont’s for using the messages, and a guide on how you can put this research into action. Use graphics in your social media with compelling research data. (Click the link to download)

Celebrate!
Recognize those in your community, whether it’s high-achieving CTE students, exemplary educators, or impactful partners that have a positive influence in CTE by celebrating their accomplishments and showcasing their successes. 

New Hampshire’s Career development Bureau Hits the Road to Showcase CTE
New Hampshire Department of Education’s Career Development Bureau is doing tours of the state out of their new Mobile CTE Classroom called M.A.P., Mobile Access to Pathways. They’re having New Hampshire SkillsUSA instructor and students along to tell the story of what makes CTE so great in New Hampshire

Recognize CTE at the State Level
Engage policymakers in the conversation by encouraging them to designate February as CTE month. Use a sample proclamation created by ACTE

Involve Your Partners
The Career Technical Education (CTE) community encompasses all the people that work to make your CTE program – whether it’s at the local, state or national level – great, including education, community, and business partners. Encourage them to advocate for CTE to their own networks, and invite partners to participate in celebratory events or site visits. 

Wyoming Department of Education Elevates Importance of CTSOs in Wyoming
The Wyoming Department of Education’s CTE unit wanted to celebrate the amazing role Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) play during CTE Month. They are hosting weekly “Brown Bag for the Brain” lunches during the national CTSO week for each CTSO where student leaders explain the history and benefits of the CTSO to all Department of Education employees. They highlight the ways in which CTSOs help students to prepare for college, career or the military; the successes they have had during competitions; and the community service they provide. 

Coordinate
Once you’ve got all partners on board, it’s crucial to coordinate messaging among all who will help to promote CTE during the month. Supply partners with sample social media posts, templates and website copy to be sure all partners are messaging under a common theme. This will negate any chance of message confusion. Consider creating a state-wide social media calendar and resource guide, like South Carolina did for CTE Month in 2020. Also, consider creating a CTE Month communications plan and sample event announcements for local districts and schools like Alabama in 2017.

Kentucky Department of Education’s CTE Office Offers Supports to Educators
The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education and Student Transition (OCTEST) will be hosting eight regional meetings to help educators better understand CTE and its benefits. The meetings will explore how to implement dual credit, improve career/college advising and develop seamless CTE career pathways.  Educators will learn best practices related to dual credit, career/college advising and CTE in their schools by being introduced to new resources, asset mapping and networking opportunities. The sessions are intended for district teams (including Superintendents, High School Principals, Middle School Principals, Technical Center Principals, School Counselors, Dual Credit Coordinators, and Title IV Coordinators) to learn and plan together and ensure everyone understands how to best connect and support students in CTE.

Engage Employers
Contact local employers and businesses that aren’t yet familiar with your CTE program and invite them to school visits to showcase high-quality CTE in action or career fairs with already engaged employers. Use Advance CTE fact sheets and talking points designed specifically to address this audience. 

Join the Conversation
CTE Month is celebrated nationwide, including on social media. Join in on Twitter chats, upload photos of your events, feature student work, and engage in discussion with CTE advocates from across the country using the #CTEMonth hashtag. Be sure to tag us too, @CTEWorks.  

Get the word out!
Let the local media know what’s happening and invite them to your planned awards ceremonies, career fairs or school visits highlighting innovative CTE. Get some tips on how to engage key audiences here. Also, let us know how you’re planning to celebrate the month for a chance to be featured in our weekly CTE Month blog series

Oklahoma Promotes CTE During Superbowl
Oklahoma CareerTech developed an amazing video demonstrating how CTE can get you to your dream career, whether that’s in healthcare, Information Technology or on the racetrack. View the video

Katie Fitzgerald, Director of Communications and Membership

Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand

January 23rd, 2020

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) places a strong emphasis on the alignment of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study with state, regional and local economies. The legislation requires Perkins-funded programs to prepare students for “high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations.” These terms — high skill, high wage and in demand — are foundational to Perkins V, appearing in both the purpose of the law and the definition of CTE.

As with many Perkins V requirements, the responsibility of defining these terms rests solely with states, providing them with a major opportunity to set a meaningful bar for determining which career opportunities anchor their CTE programs. The stronger focus on labor market alignment compels state CTE leaders to ensure that all program offerings are relevant to today’s economy and that learners will participate in CTE programs with data-driven and validated labor market value.

Advance CTE newest paper, Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand, describes some approaches that states are taking to partner across agencies to access and review labor market information; develop definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand; provide local flexibility, while maintaining guardrails; and disseminate the information widely to key audiences.

For example:

  • District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education led a collaborative process, engaging the Workforce Investment Council, Department of Employment Services, industry partners and other key stakeholders to identify data sources and set their definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand.
  • Nebraska’s H3 site provides the state definitions of high wage, high skill, and high (in) demand, as well as a search tool for identifying those occupations at the state or regional level.
  • Texas allows for local flexibility through a regional program of study application process that enables locals to present regional LMI to justify a program of study, which, once approved, can then be offered by any district within the region.
  • OhioMeansJobs is an initiative developed through the state’s Office of Workforce Transformation. In addition to the state’s identified in-demand jobs, the site also offers a great deal more for students and job-seekers, such as a career interest inventory, job and company search engines and other career exploration tools.

For more, including specific definitions used by the states mentioned above and others, read Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand.

The report was made possible by the generous support of the Joyce Foundation.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

The Global Imperative for CTE Programs at Community and Technical Colleges

January 13th, 2020

Learners today are no longer preparing solely for careers in their communities, states or even country, but rather within the global economy. At the same time, when individuals enter the workforce, they increasingly are called upon to engage with a diverse set of colleagues, work with international supply chains, hold multiple perspectives and develop products and services for a more diverse and culturally conscious group of consumers.

Within this context, it is clear there is a greater need to ensure all learners are entering the workforce global competent and prepared for the ever-changing world. Yet global competency is not often an explicit focus of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

To elevate this critical issue, Advance CTE partnered with Asia Society, Longview Foundation, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Career & Technical Education (ACTE) on Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce: The Global Learning Imperative for Career and Technical Education Programs at Community and Technical Colleges. This paper builds on the foundation from a paper released in 2015, which focused on how global competency can and should be integrated into secondary CTE programs of study, and explores the role postsecondary institutions can play in advancing global competency.

This paper provides data and evidence on why and how community and technical colleges can lean in on “internationalizing” their programs and embed global competency in curriculum and instruction, along with specific examples from leading institutions like Ivy Technical Community College of Indiana, Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   The examples in this paper aim to support community and technical colleges and their faculty as they work to integrate global competence into existing CTE courses and advance their missions of graduating career-ready learners.

In the coming months, Asia Society will work to create new tools and resources to assist postsecondary CTE faculty in integrating global issues and perspectives into their courses. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Heather Singmaster, Director of CTE, Center for Global Education, Asia Society: hsingmaster@asiasociety.org. To view current tools and resources for middle and high school educators, click here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

New Resources Available on Statewide Efforts to Boost Career Training

November 18th, 2019

Advance CTE has added new resources to the Learning that Works Resource Center that highlight recent state efforts to coordinate across systems and strengthen career readiness training. Delaware, for example, is building out its capacity to increase postsecondary attainment by scaling regional career pathways and work-based learning. Similarly, Rhode Island is leveraging its New Skills for Youth (NSFY) grant to restructure the state’s entire talent pipeline and strengthen connections across education and workforce systems. Since 2015, Rhode Island has seen a 56 percent increase in the number of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, a 38 percent increase in Advanced Placement course participation, and a tripling of the number of college credits earned by high school students. 

Massachusetts, another state that was awarded the NSFY grant, is also coordinating activities to significantly expand access to high-quality CTE programs. So far, increased investments in technical training equipment have led to a rapid expansion of the state’s career training capacity, resulting in more than 10,000 additional students enrolling in career training programs across Massachusetts. 

To learn more about these initiatives and related work, visit Advance CTE’s Resource Center

Equity in CTE Is Not Just About Access; States Have A Responsibility to Ensure Learner Success, Too 

October 24th, 2019

Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success Through CTEFinancial expenses, work commitments, developmental education and healthcare needs are some of the most common barriers to success for community college students, according to a survey by RISC. To minimize these barriers and bolster postsecondary credential attainment rates, Southwestern Community College (SCC) in Sylva, North Carolina has awarded 129 mini grants to help students address needs such as housing, transportation and educational expenses. 

The grants were issued as part of North Carolina’s Finish Line Grants program, which was started in 2018 using governor’s discretionary funds through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The program is administered by local workforce development boards in partnership with nearby community colleges and provides up to $1,000 per semester per student to address unexpected financial emergencies. 

The Finish Line Grant program, while relatively new, demonstrates the role states can play in removing barriers to success and supporting each learner — at the secondary, postsecondary or adult level — to achieve a credential of value and access an in-demand occupation with family sustaining wages. 

Advance CTE’s latest report, the fifth and final installment in the Making Good on the Promise series, explores other approaches states can take to ensure learner success through Career Technical Education (CTE), including: 

  • Using data-driven support systems to meet learners’ needs: To increase postsecondary credential attainment, some school districts and institutions of higher education have started deploying their data to drive a comprehensive, student-centered support system. Using a method known as predictive analytics, institutions analyze past data on the performance and behaviors of their student body to identify patterns that are correlated with success. They then use this information to identify key indicators — such as absenteeism or low grades in core academic courses — and provide proactive supports to ensure learners can make progress towards graduation or a postsecondary credential.
  • Providing integrated support services to secure wellness, academic preparation and financial stability: Like North Carolina, states can support equitable success in CTE by minimizing common barriers — such as health, academic and financial barriers — that learners encounter along their pathways. Expanding and fully funding integrated support services at both the secondary and postsecondary level can help reduce the burden on learners and ensure they can access the help they need to be successful.
  • Creating the enabling conditions for successful transitions: While completing a program or earning a sought-after credential or degree is important and should be the objective of any pathway, the ultimate measure of success is whether learners transition successfully into the next step of their career pathway, be it postsecondary education, an apprenticeship, employment or other opportunity of choice. States can support successful transitions to postsecondary education by ensuring early postsecondary opportunities such as dual or concurrent enrollment are accessible and equitable. They can also support transitions to the workforce by helping learners develop their occupational identity and expand their social networks through early career exposure and meaningful work-based learning connected to their career pathways. 

Throughout the Making Good on the Promise series, Advance CTE has explored state strategies to identify equity gaps, rebuild trust among historically marginalized populations, and expand access to high-quality CTE opportunities. 

But the work does not stop there. State leaders have a responsibility to ensure each learner is not only able to access CTE, but also feel welcome, fully participate in and successfully complete their career pathway. This means constantly monitoring learner progress and creating the conditions that are conducive for learner success. Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success through CTE aims to provide a roadmap for states to learn from promising practices and develop their own plans for achieving equity. 

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

New Hampshire Welcomes Eric Frauwirth to State CTE Helm

October 16th, 2019

Like many other leaders in CTE, Eric Frauwirth’s journey to his current role overseeing New Hampshire’s CTE program is truly unique. Originally from Massachusetts, Eric took what he describes as the ‘grand tour’ through CTE — traveling around the country teaching at the high school and postsecondary levels, then returning to Massachusetts to serve as the dean of CTE and business at a local community college. 

Eric sees his new role as an opportunity to update New Hampshire’s CTE system and make changes that will have lasting impacts. To accomplish this, Eric has been everything but a stranger to innovative ideas.

“Absolutely everything is on the table,” he said. 

One of Eric’s main priorities is to improve the way in which New Hampshire delivers CTE to better provide access and equity to students across the state. The state will be embarking on an effort to identify all possible delivery models – in addition to the current shared time centers – to provide more CTE programs to more learners. 

“We’re considering taking some of our non-lab CTEs — accounting, business, marketing — and instead of offering one of the courses at a regional center, we offer it at the five comprehensive high schools in the region. This would allow more students to be eligible while also freeing up space at the CTE centers to create more room for labs.” New Hampshire also recently received a $46 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand charter schools and Eric is considering how they might fit into the new CTE puzzle.

Fortunately for Eric, the state’s education commissioner is not only supportive of CTE but also is an out-of-the-box thinker who is willing to let Eric’s team be creative. For example, the CTE office is planning to purchase an RV, with the goal of converting it to a mobile classroom to travel around the state to build exposure and access to CTE. The RV will be equipped to carry out experiments as well as highlight the many programs in the different regions of the state. 

Eric’s team took this idea a few steps further by making it a competition among the CTE programs to design the mobile classroom’s wrap, using the theme “I am CTE.” CTE students will also paint the RV once the design is selected. The winners will get to see their work travel all across the state promoting CTE.

“We brought it to the commissioner and we expected the two outcomes to be either he throws us out of his office or he was going to love it. The first sentence out of his mouth was ‘can I drive it’.”

 

Leveraging the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment to Support Regional Collaboration

August 22nd, 2019

One of the most significant and exciting changes introduced in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is the new comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA). The purpose of the CLNA is to support data-driven decisionmaking and more closely align planning, spending and accountability activities under Perkins V. All local activities – and funding – must align to the findings of local needs assessment. This represents a major sea change in how most states and locals currently support and fund Career Technical Education (CTE), one that brings both opportunities and challenges.

To support states in this undertaking, Advance CTE convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup, with support from the Association of Career and Technical Education and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Workgroup – comprised of state and national leaders – is charged with informing and contributing to the development of resources and tools for the benefit of all states, as they guide local recipients in conducting rigorous CLNA that drives program quality, equity and access.

Today, Advance CTE is releasing the second two deliverables from this Workgroup: Promoting a Regional Approach to the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment and Investing in Quality: Funding the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment.

Many states are looking to the CLNA – and Perkins V more broadly – as an opportunity to promote stronger collaboration and alignment across secondary and postsecondary systems and across CTE and workforce development. Promoting a Regional Approach provides a framework, self-assessment, guidance and key questions to help states considering leveraging the CLNA process to foster regional collaboration – covering the why, what and how of such an approach.

Regardless of what approach a state takes, a well-organized and data-driven CLNA process that leads to strategic decisions and program improvement will require significant capacity and resources.  Investing in Quality identifies potential funding streams to support the CLNA to help make the case for such investments.

All of Advance CTE’s and partners’ Perkins V resources can be found here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

 

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