National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

State Policy Update: Valuing Career Readiness and Strengthening Sector Partnerships

November 10th, 2015

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the National Skills Coalition (NSC), two co-conveners of the Future of CTE Summit, recently released two new reports of interest to the CTE community.

nasbeThe first, “Toward a Better Balance: Bolstering the Second ‘C’ in College and Career Readiness” from NASBE is the result of the organization’s yearlong study group comprised of state education board members. The group examined the policies and programs that prepare students for both college and career. Nebraska State CTE Director Rich Katt and NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green were among the experts who presented to the group.

The study group recognized that career readiness has been largely forgotten within the college and career readiness (CCR) agenda, and called for state boards of education to leverage their unique and important role to reexamine their states’ CCR infrastructure that supports and values college and career readiness equally.

The group’s recommendations include:

  • Building knowledge and understanding of postsecondary, business and workforce initiatives: Understand how your education and workforce systems are governed, funded and operate, and further, how and whether they are connected or operate in silos.
  • Engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to define career readiness: The confusion around what it means to be career ready has muddled the state policies and programs that are intended to advance the full CCR agenda. Defining these terms clearly, and with a broad array of stakeholders, is the first step to ensuring rigor, equity and alignment.
  • Ensure state board policies value career readiness: State boards should reexamine its host of policies and programs that are the “bread and butter” of state boards’ work, and determine whether they truly value career readiness including standards, assessments, accountability, and teacher preparation and professional development.

Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit

NSC has released a toolkit for state policymakers to use when considering how to support local sector partnerships through funding, technical assistance and/or program initiatives. Earlier this year, NSC released a 50-state scan of sector partnership policies and found that 21 states have such policies through at least one of those three key areas. Only 10 states have policies with all three components.

The toolkit is designed to help states establish, strengthen, or scale-up their existing policies. The toolkit includes:

  • Guidance on key elements of a robust state sector partnership policy;
  • Case studies of Massachusetts, Colorado and Maryland with policies and examples of the local partnerships they support; and
  • A legislative template, which can also be used for an executive order.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review: How Did England Triple Its Apprenticeships?

November 4th, 2015

Apprenticeship_Header_2It’s National Apprenticeship Week! The Obama Administration has been raising the profile of (and funding for) apprenticeships through several initiatives. The most recent effort comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, which unveiled its ApprenticeshipUSA Toolkit last week.

The toolkit includes resources to learn about apprenticeships and their benefits, tools to build strong partnerships and apprenticeship strategies, and ways to help implement a fully integrated program into a state or local workforce system. It also features case studies and videos from Iowa, Michigan and Vermont. You can also check out last week’s webinar for a helpful overview of toolkit.

How Did England Generate Two Million Apprenticeships?

The Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank, hosted the first Transatlantic Apprenticeship Exchange Forum to learn more about how England tripled its apprenticeship offerings. The Exchange featured nearly 20 U.S., British and Australian experts and apprenticeship leaders that explored methods for scaling successful and innovative programs including how to recruit employers and support apprentices.

Be sure to check out the full slate of presentations and a video of the event to learn more about the British and Australian approaches to expanding apprenticeships. For the U.S. perspective, here’s a refresher on a 2014 thought piece from the leading U.S. expert on apprenticeships, Robert Lerman.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review: The Workforce Edition

October 29th, 2015

Transforming Workforce Development Policies

A new book from the Kansas City Federal Reserve calls for a comprehensive restructuring of the nation’s workforce development policies and programs to better meet the human capital demands of employers. This compilation of submissions from some of the most prominent thought leaders in workforce development policy today, the Federal Reserve is wading into a relatively new area of research but one where it plans to continue being actively involved.

Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century,” provides thoughtful perspectives on the system itself as well as how to redesign these strategies and evidence-based policies and practices.

The Role of CTERoleCTE

What and who has the greatest impact on students and their career choices? This is the central question of a new report, “Attracting the Next
Generation Workforce: The Role of Career and Technical Education,” from The Manufacturing Institute, SkillsUSA and Educational Research Center of America. The study, which surveyed more than 20,000 high school students enrolled in CTE programs of study, also aims to provide insight into students’ perceptions of the value of CTE preparation.

Overwhelmingly (64 percent), students cited their own interests and experiences as the greatest influence on their future careers. The second and third greatest influences were a student’s father (22 percent) and mother (19 percent). Perhaps surprisingly, guidance counselors accounted for 3 percent –the least important influence on a student’s career choice.

So how did students perceive the value of CTE preparation for the future careers? While 47 percent of all CTE students surveyed said that CTE has helped make their career choices clearer, that number rises significantly for CTE students who also participate in a CTSO or are members of SkillsUSA. Also, those students engaged in CTSOs are nearly 50 percent more likely to pursue a technical career in the field they are studying, according to the survey.

Check out the report to learn about how students are exposed to future employers as well as educators’ perceptions of CTE.

Also new from The Manufacturing Institute is a tool that can help educators make the case for work-based learning and employer partnerships. The tool – a return on investment calculator – is designed to help manufacturers calculate the cost of open positions within a company by factoring in costs across several categories including training, recruiting, human resources and operations.

Also Worth the Read:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

New State Policy Resources: Work-based Learning, State Snapshots

October 27th, 2015

Setting a Statewide Vision for Work-based Learning WBLthumbnail

In recent years, work-based learning has been garnering much attention at the national, state and local levels as an effective strategy for connecting students’ classroom learning to their career interests.

In a new series, “Connecting the Classroom to Careers: The State’s Role in Expanding Work-based Learning,” NASDCTEc explores the important role for states in expanding high-quality work-based learning opportunities for all students, with a particular focus on untangling the major barriers at the K-12 level.

Today, we are releasing our first installment in this series, “Setting a Statewide Vision for Work-based Learning,” with key questions and resources for policymakers and a closer look at how one state used a progressive, skills-based vision to overhaul work-based learning.

NASDCTEc State Policy Tools Updated

On, we offer state policy resources that help demonstrate what CTE looks like across the country. We have recently updated some of these resources, including our state-specific snapshots and state web profiles.

State Snapshots
Our newly revamped State Snapshots are great resources to help illustrate what CTE looks like in your state, and are designed to be great printable “leave-behind” documents when making the case for CTE. The snapshots use state and national data to show how CTE works for students, the economy and the nation.

You can find your state’s snapshots here. While you’re there, be sure to check out NASDCTEc’s entire suite of fact sheets and case-making materials designed to help explain CTE’s most important issues including student achievement, programs of study and the skills gap.

State Web Profiles
We have also provided some new updates to the CTE in Your State tool, which provides data and information about CTE in each state. Our newest round of updates includes the most recent secondary and postsecondary enrollment, institutional and performance data from the U.S. Department of Education. We’ve also added a section to explain how CTE is delivered in each state. As a special feature of NASDCTEc members, you can compare multiple states to see trends.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

September 18th, 2015



The Council of State Governments September/October issue of Capitol Ideas magazine focuses on Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with an article specifically on how Career Technical Education intersects with STEM.
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NASDCTEc in partnership with the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center are hosting a webinar,. Reshaping Tennessee’s Work-based Learning on Thursday, October 15. The webinar will explore how Tennesee is reshaping work based learning to create a rigorous and relevant experience for all students.


Don’t Quit on Me, a report released by America’s Promise Alliance, explores how the role of relationships in a student’s life impacts their chances of graduating high school.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education opened applications for their Excellence and Innovation In Secondary Schools award. The awards will identify exemplary high schools and/or districts that are improving outcomes for undeserved students.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Research Review: Making Sense of Credentials

September 16th, 2015

The number of high-demand jobs requiring an occupational license has grown over the past several years. This shift requires changes from the education community when considering the requisite training and preparation that students will need to enter these careers.

A new report from the White House offers policymakers a framework for the growing field of occupational licensing as well some best practices to consider.

Some interesting facts:

  • More than one-quarter of U.S. workers now require a license to do their jobs, and most are licensed by their state – which represents a five-fold increase since the 1950s.
  • The share of licensed workers varies widely across the states from 12 percent in South Carolina to 33 percent in Iowa. Differences are largely due to state policies not occupational differences across the states.

Also, licenses are just one type of credential that students can obtain in their educational journey, and with states working to meet the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), understanding the different types is more important than ever.

The Association of Career and Technical Education recently published a primer on credentials, in particular the postsecondary space between high school and a two-year degree. Check out the full brief here.

Finally, the two-year degree attracts students of all ages, but which of those age groups are most likely to continue on to earn their bachelor’s degree? A quick fact sheet from the American Association of Community Colleges’ “Data Points” series has the answer.


Source: Association of Career and Technical Education

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review: Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs

August 27th, 2015

In the past few weeks, a number of studies have been released focusing on jobs and careers. Below is a quick rundown of some of the most salient reports.

The U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Transportation: Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry
This joint report, building on the collaboration across these agencies to better align career pathways initiatives and efforts, details the potential employment opportunities throughout the transportation industry, broken down by subsectors, occupations, career areas and geography. A core finding is that transportation industry employers are expected to hire and train roughly 4.6 million workers, an equivalent of 1.2 times the current workforce, to meet the needs of growth, retirement and turnover in the next decade.

Jobs for the Future: Promising Practices in Young Adult Employment
Jobs for the Future has released a series of three briefs to support ways in which education, employers and workforce development can better collaborate to combat the chronic high unemployment of our youngest adults. They released case studies on an EMT Career Pathway program in New Jersey; automotive and manufacturing Career Pathways in Wisconsin and Virginia; and a multi-disciplinary career exploration program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, each of which detail the specific actions taken by employers and workforce development leaders.

Center on Education and the Workforce: Good Jobs Are Back: College Graduates Are First in Line
The latest report from Georgetown’s Center for Education and the Workforce focuses on how many of the jobs created since the Great Recession are “good jobs,” which according to the Center:

  • Pay more than $53,000 annually for a full-time, full-year worker (more than 26% above the median earnings of all full-time, full-year workers, which is $42,000), and
  • Typically are full-time (86%), offer health insurance (68%), and provide an employer-sponsored retirement plan (61 percent).

CEW Good JobsThe report finds that 2.9 million of the 6.6 million jobs added over the Recovery are “good jobs,” most of which require at least a bachelor’s degree. Consistent with many of the Center’s other reports, “Good Jobs Are Back” finds that individuals with a high school diploma or less as the most likely to suffer during and beyond the Recession and Recovery.

Young Invicibles: Best Jobs for Millennials
Focusing on careers that will provide millennials with the greatest opportunities, Young Invincibles analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data using three criteria: projected occupation growth by 2022, median wage and “Millennial share,” or the percentage of the total jobs in that occupation held by young adults aged 18-34. Based on the criteria and a ranking system, the report found that physician assistants, actuaries, statisticians, biomedical engineers and computer and information research scientists were the five best jobs out there for young adults. Across the list of the 25 best jobs identified, over half are “STEM” and nearly all require some education and training beyond high school, a number of which require less than a four-year degree.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

This Week in CTE

August 21st, 2015



NJ County Vocational-Technical Schools Lead Newsweek’s ‘America’s Top High Schools’ List
Newsweek’s 2015 “America’s Top High Schools” list, six of the top ten schools are New Jersey county vocational-technical schools one of which is a 2015 Excellence in Action award winner. In all, 15 New Jersey vocational-technical schools are included in the top 150 (out of 500) high schools speaking to the high caliber of CTE in the state.
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Despite the increasing demands placed on professionals in the education sectors whether in public education, government agencies, foundations or nonprofits to manage the K-12 education system, professional development opportunities are consistently left on the backburner. EdFuel released a report, Hidden in Plain Sight: Tomorrow Education Leaders Already Work for You, diving into the benefits and necessity of training and educating education leaders.


While women represent 50 percent of the labor force, only 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce are women. To celebrate and promote women in this sector, the STEP Ahead Awards program by the Manufacturing Institute launched the Women in Manufacturing award recognizing women at all levels of the industry. Nominate someone you know today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review: Leveraging CTE within Competency-Based Education

August 20th, 2015

CBPA new brief from Achieve and NASDCTEc argues that states can and should leverage CTE when considering how to move K-12 education toward a system marked by mastery, not time. The paper, “Building a Strong Relationship between Competency-Based Pathways and Career Technical Education,” identifies the opportunities for collaboration and strengthened relationships as well the challenges of creating an integrated system.

Competency-based pathways (CBP) have the potential to open new opportunities for students to learn and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways. To do this, students should be able to access engaging learning opportunities that are grounded in application and relevant to their career goals – a central focus of CTE. This is why state leaders should consider how to ensure that CBP and CTE systems are aligned and mutually reinforcing.

In fact, states that intentionally include CTE in their vision for CBP can use its inherently competency-based elements to help break down the classroom walls that separate academics from CTE, and by doing so, can value learning where it happens and create opportunities for teachers to collaborate and innovate.

Leverage points can include:

  • Contextualized learning environments for all students
  • Self-directed pathways anchored in students’ career interests and inclusive of the full breadth of college- and career-ready knowledge and skills
  • High quality experiential learning opportunities
  • Project-based learning as a platform for instruction
  • CTE as a component of assessments to authentically measure student learning

The brief also offers key points of consideration for states moving toward an integrated CBP system:

  • Incorporating CTE at the outset helps break down the historical silos that still exist within the education system
  • Ensuring equitable student access to high quality CBP across CTE areas
  • Building capacity for districts, schools and educators to transition to an integrated CBP system
  • Overcoming data and reporting challenges to capture student proficiency where it happens, especially when it happens beyond the traditional school walls
  • Recognizing that some elements of CTE programs are still beholden to time
  • Crafting a thorough, well-executed communications plan to build buy-in and understanding

The brief includes state examples from Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Read more about how states are implementing CBP here.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review: Career Readiness for All

August 5th, 2015

PathleasttakenThe Center for Public Education has analyzed the National Center for Education Statistics’ Education Longitudinal Study to look at a student group that is often ignored in major research studies – the one in five students who do not immediately enroll in college after graduating from high school. Be sure to check out the first installment of this research series, which looked at the characteristics of this group.

Now, CPE has released its second installment – this time attempting to gain insight into “career readiness” for high school graduates by looking at various job-related and social outcomes of this same group of non-college goers by the time they reached age 26. In fact, the data showed that “credentials” and being well prepared in high school matter, particularly for non-college goers who:

  • Completed Algebra 2 as highest math course and Advanced biology as highest science;
  • Earned a cumulative GPA between 2.51 and 3;
  • Completed an occupational concentration in high school (three or more CTE courses in a specific area); and
  • Earned a professional certification or license.

Specifically, researchers found that advanced courses, such as Algebra 2 and advanced biology, and an CTE focus can have an impact on non-college going students’ likelihood to have a good job and engage in society. If those same students earn a professional credential, then the scale shifts in favor of the non-college goer, meaning they are actually more likely to be employed, earn good wages and vote than their peers who attended college. Further, better preparation also had a greater impact on black graduates than their white and Hispanic peers, showing that higher credentials can be the key to closing the employment and wage gap.

Rising to the Challenge?

A new survey from Achieve asked college faculty and employers who teach or hire recent high school graduates about their preparedness for college and careers. This is the second release of Achieve’s Rising to the Challenge survey. The first release, from late 2014, examined recent high school graduates’ views on their own preparedness. The full survey is an update to a similar survey Achieve conducted in 2004.

The results reveal many parallels to the students’ own responses – in short, that there is a pervasive opinion that public high schools are not doing enough to prepare students for the expectations they will face in college and the workplace. Contrast those responses with those from the 2004 survey, and the picture becomes even bleaker.

All three groups – college faculty, employers and students – all agreed that to improve preparedness:

  • Communicate early in high school about the courses needed for college and careers;
  • Provide more opportunities for challenging courses; and
  • Offer more chances for real-world learning.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate