Navigating CTE During COVID-19: Distance Learning for Nursing

May 6th, 2020

The current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and its imprint on the world has impacted education and workforce programs throughout the nation. Administrators, educators and learners are faced with new challenges as traditional classroom education has been largely disrupted and quickly replaced with distance learning. Though this may be the first time that many are using digital learning platforms or online educational content delivery, distance learning programs have been utilized for years and can be scaled or replicated during the pandemic.

The healthcare industry has unique challenges in providing high-quality
distance learning to learners since many of the required coursework is hands-on. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for a strong workforce of healthcare professionals was critical, with healthcare being one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted that between 2018 and 2028, the healthcare workforce
will grow by more than 14 percent. As demographic trends in the U.S. lead to a growing older population, the needs of new health care providers and support professionals will continue to be in high demand. 

Work-based Learning at a Distance 

Work-based learning opportunities and clinical learning requirements are central to many state licensing policies, and a major component of a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. Virtual clinical simulation technologies offer an alternative opportunity to gain experience with clinical decision-making without requiring learners to be physically present in a clinical setting. This technology can replicate many situations that healthcare professionals would experience by simulating real-world patient interactions and clinical experiences. For instance, learners using this technology through a computer screen or virtual reality (VR) simulator can take a detailed medical history, conduct a virtual physical exam and make clinical decisions in scenarios that would mimic real-life interaction. Additionally, the experiences using these simulators can be standardized, allowing for enhanced ability to examine competency across programs. A  large-scale study on simulation technologies, including virtual simulation conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) found that even in research cohort groups that had 50 percent of their traditional clinical hours substituted by simulation technology, no statistically significant differences were found in nursing licensing exam pass rates.

Competency Based Education and Distance Learning

Competency Based Education (CBE), which awards credit based on proving competency of content and not seat or class time, is also uniquely suited to distance education. As CBE programs are largely self-directed and allow learners to go at their own pace in different environments, they are a unique fit that aligns well with distance learning practices. CBE programs help to ensure quality as course completion is only achieved through demonstrated competencies. As distance learning is expanded, programs based on CBE can offer learners potentially a quicker way to program completion – which translates to a quicker ability to enter the workforce.

Benefits of Offering Distance Learning in Rural Communities

Rural areas face particular challenges and the need for a fully-equipped healthcare workforce. Distance learning presents opportunities for communities that have been historically underserved or have limited options for health sciences education programs in their own communities. Leading states including North Dakota, Idaho, Florida, Lousiana and Nebraska have continued to close access gaps by offering distance learning CTE coursework and opportunities. Some standout examples include: 

  • North Dakota’s Interactive Television program connects learners to remote sites in realtime via video to facilitate distance learning. It’s often used at the postsecondary level to enable students to gain access to coursework they need to earn a certification or degree; 
  • Louisiana launched a multifaceted effort combining technology and hands-on teacher supports to connect rural students with employers; and 
  • Idaho Digital Learning integrates CTE instruction into its online course catalog. Each course is aligned with state standards and facilitated by a certified teacher. 

CTE distance learning presents as a short-term challenge during Coronavirus, however, the work done now can offer long-term solutions to providing each learner in the nation with the opportunity for high-quality CTE.

View the new Distance Learning for Rural Communities Fact Sheet.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

New Middle Grades CTE State Resource Repository

May 5th, 2020

In late March, Advance CTE, in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), released Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE, which laid out a theory of action for advancing high-quality middle grades Career Technical Education (CTE) policies and programs. With the promotion of middle grades CTE in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), it is an ideal time for state and local leaders to consider how to best support and expand CTE in middle school.

Today, Advance CTE has released an extensive repository of state-level resources that state and local leaders can leverage as they begin to develop and expand CTE into the middle grades. The repository includes links to resources from all 50 states and Washington, DC, including state middle grades CTE standards, career development guidance and tools, work-based learning and Career Technical Student Organization supports, licensure requirements, state policies and more.

Starting next week, Advance CTE and ACTE will be releasing a series of blogs to lift up promising state and local practices across the core programmatic elements of middle grades CTE.  The first blog will focus on middle grades CTE standards, curriculum and assessment.

Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE and the new repository were 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.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Navigating CTE during COVID-19: Best Practices for Distance Learning

April 27th, 2020

As education moves online in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Career Technical Education (CTE) programs are looking for ways to continue supporting learners virtually and offer high-quality educational opportunities. This edition of the CTE Research Review will synthesize some of the research on best practices for delivering distance learning. While these examples predate the pandemic, they can be a guide to CTE programs looking to implement or scale distance learning in response to the Coronavirus. 

A 2010 U.S. Department of Education meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental studies from 1996-2008 found that distance learning is at least as effective as traditional classroom instruction and most successful for undergraduate and adult learners. Despite being a little dated, the findings from the studies examined likely hold true today. Some best practices identified for distance learning included giving learners an element of control over their learning (such as offering multiple options of learning tools), providing online simulations and building opportunities for individualized instruction and learner reflection.

In 2015, Hanover Research released a report outlining best practices in the development and implementation of high-quality distance learning. Some of the key findings included giving learners the opportunity to collaborate with each other as a means to further learner engagement and ensuring the course platform is easy to use with necessary information such as syllabi, schedules, readings and videos. Additionally, the authors examined the literature of best practices for online instruction specifically at the postsecondary level and cited Penn State’s World Campus’ recommended principles of effective online instruction. The original recommendations in detail are linked here and explain how to effectively engage in online instructing for the following teaching principles: actively engage in online instruction; practice proactive course management strategies; establish patterns of course activities; prepare for potential course interruptions; respond to student inquiries in a timely manner; establish a timely process for returning assignment grades; use the Learning Management System for communication and ensure course quality.  

A 2018 edition of Library Technology Reports focuses on the accessibility of distance learning programs for students with disabilities. Using the University of South Carolina’s Center for Teaching Excellence as a case study, the article identified best practices in online learning and accessibility for students with disabilities. Their recommendations are as follows:

  • “Provide step-by-step instructions for accessing the course and all course materials;
  • Offer multiple formats of materials, including Word and PDF documents;
  • Provide transcripts and closed captioning for all lectures, talks and synchronous or asynchronous interactions with students;
  • Use Sans Serif fonts to increase visibility and accessibility;
  • Use bold to display emphasis rather than color (for students with color blindness); and
  • Maintain ongoing one-on-one and group communication with students and offer accessible opportunities for interaction.”

In addition to these best practices, Advance CTE has compiled resources for distance learning. As the educational environment remains online to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, these research-based best practices and resources can help guide CTE programs as they continue to provide high-quality learning opportunities. In future blogs we will highlight best practices related to delivering work-based learning and CTE-specific coursework online. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

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

 

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