How to Sell CTE to Parents & Students: States Share Lessons Learned

August 15th, 2017

In the spring, Advance CTE conducted focus groups and a national survey with parents and students to explore their attitudes towards Career Technical Education (CTE). Detailed in the recent report,  “The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students,”  Advance CTE found that students involved in CTE, and their parents, are extremely satisfied with their education experience – from the quality of their courses to the opportunity for work-based learning. Additionally, those not involved in CTE want more of these same opportunities, which we know CTE can provide.

Four states piloted the messages developed through the research in a series of onsite and online events with the goal of increasing enrollment into CTE programs of study. On September 7, join us from 3 – 4 p.m. ET for a webinar to hear how two states, Maryland and New Jersey, developed their recruitment strategies and activities, utilized the messages and research, and empowered educators, employers, administrators and even students to carry out the messages to middle and high school students and their parents.
Speakers: 
  • Marquita Friday, Program Manager, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Lori Howard, Communications Officer, Office of Career Readiness, New Jersey Department of Education
  • Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications, Advance CTE
Space is limited to be sure to register now! 
Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Top Findings from Reviews of State ESSA Plans

July 25th, 2017

How long does it take to read through and analyze 17 state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)? Two months seems to be the sweet spot for many of the nation’s education thought leaders. Since the first submission window closed this spring, a number of groups, Advance CTE among them, have released their takes on the first round of state plans.

Federal education policy inevitably draws opinions, advice and criticism from all corners of the country, and states’ planning around ESSA implementation has been no exception. Below we round up some of the latest takes and summarize conclusions from the first round of submitted plans.

ESSA: Early Observations on State Changes to Accountability Systems (Government Accountability Office)

Purpose: The GAO was requested by Congress to study and report on states’ progress and approaches toward amending accountability under ESSA. To conduct the report, GAO policy researchers interviewed national stakeholders and met with education officials in California and Ohio, two states that were identified as taking different approaches to accountability.

Key Findings: The report finds that states are taking advantage of increased flexibility under ESSA, though the degree of change ranges by state. The authors classify ESSA accountability development by four dimensions: 1) determining long-term goals, 2) developing performance indicators, 3) differentiating schools and 4) identifying and assisting low-performers.  

ESSA Equity Dashboards (Alliance for Excellent Education)

Purpose: To highlight strengths and draw attention to growth areas in ESSA plans, the Alliance for Excellent Education is developing ESSA Equity Dashboards that rate key components of state plans. Dashboards are available for five of the first 17 plans, with the remaining expected in August. The dashboards examine long-term goals, support and intervention, and accountability.

Key Findings: The Alliance for Excellent Education highlights Louisiana’s plan for its focus on academic outcomes and the design of the state’s “Strength of Diploma Indicator.” Reviewers flagged Colorado’s long-term goals for math and reading performance.

ESSA Leverage Points: 64 Promising Practices from States for using Evidence to Improve Student Outcomes (Results for America)

Purpose: This analysis from Results for America examines the first 17 submitted ESSA plans and evaluates the degree to which states aim to use evidence-based practices in certain parts of their plan. The analysis is based on 13 key ESSA leverage points identified by Results for America and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Leverage points include monitoring local education agency implementation, allocating school improvement funds, monitoring and evaluating school improvement, and more.

Key Findings: The reviewers found that:

  • Sixteen states included at least one promising practice for building and using evidence to
    improve student outcomes.
  • However, only four states emphasized the role of evidence-based practices through Title II and Title IV and only nine states prioritize evidence when reviewing and approving school improvement funding applications.

An Independent Review of ESSA State Plans (Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success)

Purpose: To supplement the Department of Education’s peer review process, Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success convened a peer review team of their own, drawing together more than 30 local, state and national experts to review and rate state plans. Their analysis focused on nine key elements.

Key Findings: The results of the peer review are broken down by state at https://checkstateplans.org/. Overall, the reviewers found that:

  • States are taking advantage of increased flexibility to broaden their accountability systems, focusing on college- and career-readiness, year-to-year student growth and other indicators including science, attendance, physical education, art and school climate.
  • However, many states could not describe how their proposals would play out in practice, neglecting to specify how many schools would be identified for improvement or how federal funds would be used to increase student success.

Leveraging ESSA to Promote Science and STEM Education in States (Achieve)

Purpose: This analysis from Achieve examines 17 round 1 state ESSA plans through the lens of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, pinpointing how states are leveraging assessments, graduation requirements and other goals to promote science and STEM.

Key Findings: Achieve’s analysis finds that, among the 17 round 1 state plans:

  • Only two states set clear achievement goals around science;
  • Ten states are including science in their accountability system (though many included measures under the academic achievement indicator, which has been disputed by the U.S. Department of Education); and
  • Several states are exploring opportunities to use grant funds under Title II and Title IV to support STEM education.

Making the Most of ESSA: Opportunities to Advance STEM Education (Education First)

Purpose: Education First, with support from the Overdeck Family Foundation, examined 25 state plans (including 17 submitted plans and an additional eight draft plans) to identify leverage points for STEM education and review whether and how states are taking advantage of these opportunities. Their review focused on four key dimensions of state plans: inclusion of state science assessments in accountability systems; including of Career Technical Education (CTE) indicators in accountability systems; inclusion of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate indicators in accountability systems; and STEM elements in 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Key Findings: The reviewers found that:

  • Seventeen states included or are strongly considering including performance on state science assessments in their accountability systems;
  • Seventeen states included or are strongly considering including CTE indicators in their accountability systems;
  • Nineteen states included or are strongly considering including Advanced Placement/ International Baccalaureate indicators in their accountability systems; and
  • Ten states are requiring or encouraging STEM activities in their 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants.

Reflections on State ESSA Plans (American Institutes for Research)

Purpose: Researchers at the American Institutes for Research reviewed 17 submitted plans and three additional draft plans to get a broad perspective on how states are prioritizing certain strategies. Their analysis covered plans for accountability, STEM, school improvement, technology and more.

Key Findings: Notably, the researchers at AIR found that, among the 20 plans reviewed:

  • State accountability systems are becoming more sophisticated, including indicators such as college- and career-readiness and chronic absenteeism.
  • However, states have a ways to go to more fully develop indicators of career readiness (a question recently explored at length by Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers).

Overall, reviewers seem impressed with states’ efforts to include more comprehensive indicators of student success in their accountability system. However, states were light on details about how their plans will be implemented and how schools will be supported to improve student performance. The remaining two-thirds of states planning to submit plans in September can draw on these findings, along with Advance CTE’s report on career readiness and ESSA, to ensure their plans are robust and sufficiently leverage all that ESSA has to offer.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

New Resource: Connecting CTE Students & Apprenticeship Programs

June 21st, 2017

Last week was certainly a big one for apprenticeships! In the midst of White House announcement, U.S. Department of Labor memo and the introduction of legislation in the Senate was the release of a new report form Advance CTE – Opportunities for Connecting Secondary Career and Technical Education Students and Apprenticeship Programs.

This new report was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education and prepared by Advance CTE with support from Jobs for the Future, Vivayic and RTI International to help state and local leaders begin to understand the ways in which they could expand access to apprenticeships for high school students, and bring the CTE and apprenticeship systems into better alignment.

At the center of this paper are eight case studies of aligned CTE-apprenticeship programs, which Advance CTE and its partners visited last year to see how they were providing opportunities for high school students to engage directly in pre-apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and/or registered apprenticeships.

While the eight sites differ in structure, intensity and the state policy environment, there are common lessons learned that apply to any state and local leader looking to build such programs in their own communities.

For example, when it comes to program design, we found there is no inherently “right” or “wrong” approach to connecting CTE students to apprenticeship programs. The sites’ geographic, socioeconomic, and resource characteristics, and differing administrative or legislative policies, all impacted program structure. That being said, when considering program design, a few takeaways emerged:

  • Programs must align with workforce demand, at the state, regional, and local levels – an lead to real employment options for students.
  • Effective programs require meaningful collaboration and buy-in from all partners. Teachers, employers, parents, and students must see the value of their participation if the program is going to succeed
  • At most sites, the drive for the program came from employers and/or labor associations seeking to bolster their pipeline of workers – and this was key to their launch and success.
  • There is no minimum or maximum number of students who should participate in a program. Program size simply has to be a function of regional demand and available placements with apprenticeship sponsors- and so some program just need to stay small

Advance CTE & Apprenticeships
From Advance CTE’s perspective, aligning CTE and apprenticeship programs, policies and systems is simply common sense. It comes down to providing more pathways to college and career success for more students and for strengthening our overall talent pipeline in key industries like advanced manufacturing, IT and construction, which leveraging existing structures. But, we still see too many missed opportunities due to largely disconnected systems.

This is why, even as this project winds down, we will continue to support efforts to strengthen apprenticeships, and their connections to CTE at the secondary and postsecondary levels, through partnerships like Apprenticeship Forward and ongoing discussions with OCTAE and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Apprenticeship.

Related Resources
In addition to the report, OCTAE also commissioned supportive resources to help state and local leaders turn this research into action, including two recently-released videos on Expanding Opportunities: Aligning CTE and Apprenticeship and Elements of CTE and Apprenticeship Alignment. Later this summer, OCTAE will be releasing a planning guide, templates and mini-guides to bring all the key partners to the table.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

This Week in CTE

June 16th, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

By integrating classroom instruction and hands-on learning, both apprenticeships and CTE can enhance the high school experience and better prepare learners for future career success. Not to mention, secondary apprenticeships equip students with skills in high-demand career pathways, helping to strengthen the talent pool and close critical skills gaps.

A new report, Opportunities for Connecting Secondary Career and Technical Education Students and Apprenticeship Programs, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education and prepared by Advance CTE with support from Jobs for the Future, Vivayic and RTI International, profiles eight secondary apprenticeship programs to identify strategies to connect CTE with apprenticeship programs. The report classifies each program as either an apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship and maps each by the degree of instructional alignment and program articulation.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program is conducting a survey to learn the perspectives of individuals focused on preparing young people ages 16- 24 for work. If you provide services to youth in this age range, complete this survey.

AWARD OF THE WEEK

On Monday, applications open to the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, which includes over $500,000 awarded to 10 outstanding skilled trades teachers in American public high schools and the skilled trades programs in their schools.

Judges for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence will look for those programs that are led by a teacher who clearly loves the subject matter and is both highly knowledgeable and skilled; where the curriculum is matched to a relevant career pathway and future work choices, and is designed to flow seamlessly into next step options, whether to employment or college; that encourages exploration and experimentation among students in a safe environment; and that connects students to new relationships and worlds outside the classroom.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

CTE is Not an Either/Or – A Response to “General Education, Vocational Education, and Labor-Market Outcomes over the Lifecycle”

June 12th, 2017

A new study came out recently that is garnering some media attention and calling into question the long-term value of CTE for students internationally. In a nutshell, this study, General Education, Vocational Education, and Labor-Market Outcomes over the Lifecycle, finds that the labor market advantage associated with participation in vocational education diminishes over time as the vocational individuals’ skills become outdated,making them less able to navigate the ever-changing world of work, compared to those students who completed a general education (or non-vocational) path in high school.  

Needless to say, this is raising questions for some about what this means for U.S. CTE system. While the study raises some important questions about the consequences of a truly tracked system, it also validates the direction CTE has been going here in the U.S.  In particular, this paper reaffirms so much of the exciting work going on – led by states and supported by the federal government, advocacy organizations like Advance CTE, and philanthropic partners like JPMorgan Chase – to raise the quality and rigor of CTE programs and pathways so that they serve as effective platforms to both college and careers for students.

The study compared students on the “vocational” track to those on a “general-education” track in 11 individual European countries. Right off the bat, the idea of a “track” is one that we have been very intentional about moving away from. And, the researchers freely admit this:

The United States, for example, has largely eliminated vocational education as a separate track in secondary schools on the argument that specific skills become obsolete too quickly and that it is necessary to give people the ability to adapt to new technologies. On the other hand, many European and developing countries, led by Germany’s “dual system,” provide extensive vocational education and training at the secondary level including direct involvement of industry through apprenticeships.”

This is hugely important, but also a bit ironic. I can’t tell you how many articles I have read or conversations I have had about how we can better replicate the German model for CTE. The fact is, CTE and academics are not an either/or in the U.S. system – all high school students are still required to take an academic core and, in many states, a college- and career-ready course of study, in addition to having the option to pursue a CTE pathway. From this perspective, CTE is a “value add” to the traditional high school experience, offering opportunities for specialized, career-focused coursework, hands-on learning and access to a network of mentors inside and outside the classroom, in addition to core academics.

Equally important is that high-quality CTE programs are designed to develop lifelong learners. Programs of study, by design, begin with foundational knowledge and skills and then progress to more occupationally-specific expectations over an intentional sequence of courses that extend across secondary and postsecondary. Programs of study like our Excellence in Action award winners offer opportunities for early postsecondary opportunities, meaningful work-based learning experiences and are anchored in credentials of value. These are programs not focused on short-term labor market needs – although they may fill them – but rather on the lifetime success of their students.

There is undoubtedly real value in this paper. It identifies important trade-offs and offers a potential cautionary tale of focusing on the short-term needs of an economy when designing a career preparation system. While it is important to continue to study international models – or, really study any models, policies or strategies that we think can help us get smarter about designing effective and meaningful career-focused pathways – this study also reaffirms that the efforts across the U.S. to drive quality CTE programs deserve just as much attention, if not more.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

This Week in CTE

June 2nd, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Can you imagine a world where all learners have the opportunity to realize their full potential and achieve career success? Check out our newest video, which demonstrates what the world would look like if all vision principles of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE are put into action.Advance_CTE_5.16.17_Final_HD1080P

RESEARCH OF THE WEEK

New America released national survey data about perceptions of higher education. Some interesting findings:

  • 75 percent believe it is easier to be successful with a college degree than without
  • 64 percent believe that two year community colleges “are for people in my situation” (though this is virtually the same for public four-year colleges and universities)
  • More people (80%) believe that two year community colleges prepare people to be successful. This is higher than four-year public (77%) four-year private (75%) and for-profit (60%).
  • 82 percent believe two-year community colleges are worth the cost. This is higher than four-year public (61%) four-year private (43%) and for-profit (40%).
  • 83 percent believe two-year community colleges contribute to a strong workforce. This is higher than four-year public (79%) four-year private (70%) and for-profit (59%).

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Scholarships for Career or Technical Certificates or Degrees: The Horatio Alger CTE Scholarship program is pleased to announce it is now accepting applications for more than 1,000 awards of up to $2,500 each.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Have completed high school (or earned a High School Equivalency credential) by Summer 2017
  • Will be enrolled in an eligible CTE program in Fall 2017
  • Exhibit a strong commitment to pursue and complete a career or technical program at an accredited non-profit post-secondary institution in the United States
  • Demonstrated financial need (must be eligible to receive the Federal Pell grant as determined by completion of the FAFSA)
  • Demonstrated perseverance in overcoming adversity
  • Be under the age of 30
  • Be a United States citizen

Funds may be used for tuition, fees, books and supplies.  All scholarship funds are paid directly to the institution on behalf of the recipient.

More information can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/le9ovq2

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

New Resources to Help You Sell CTE to Parents and Students

June 2nd, 2017

In April, Advance CTE released a new report, “The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Findings from a National Survey of Parents and Students.” The report explores findings from a national survey to better understand parents and students attitudes about CTE, and how we can better ‘sell’ CTE to parents and students. The report findings include:

  • Finding a career passion was the most important critical selling point for parents and students (over 90 percent) – even surpassing having a career that pays well;
  • The vast majority of parents and students (85 percent) continue to value college as the post-high school aspiration;
  • Across the board, CTE programs are most valued for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system, offering concrete and tangible benefits related to college and career success;
  • These findings were consistent across all socio-economic groups; and
  • Counselors, teachers and CTE students and alumni are among the most trusted sources of information for students and parents alike.

As part of this research, we have developed core messages to use with parents and students to encourage them to enroll in CTE programs in their communities. To help you use use these messages and this research, we’ve created a number of materials:

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Two States Report Positive Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Results

May 18th, 2017

Colorado and Washington both released reports recently citing positive numbers on participation dual and concurrent enrollment. In Colorado, 38,519 students, which equals 30 percent of all 11th and 12th graders, participated in concurrent enrollment during the 2015-16 school year. Nearly 40 percent of those students participated in Career Technical Education (CTE) concurrent enrollment courses, which allow students to apply credit towards a technical certificate or degree. Students passed 93 percent of all the credit hours attempted in any concurrent enrollment program.

In Washington, 190,000 students, or two-thirds of Washington high school students, earned dual credit in the 2015-16 school year, which is an increase of 18,000 students over the previous year. In addition to promoting Advanced Placement courses, the state provides supplemental funding for students who enroll in college-level courses at community and technical colleges. While this is an encouraging mark of progress, state officials were quick to note that work remains to be done in closing gaps between racial subgroups.

ACTE Releases Recommendations for Effective Career Counseling in Middle School

The Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), in partnership with Career Cruising, recently released a report and set of recommendations related to career counseling in middle schools. Research has shown that middle school is an excellent time to explore different careers and take introductory CTE courses. The report goes on to describe six recommendations, which are listed in the graphic on the right, for effective career counseling programs and dives into some of the barriers middle schools can face in providing students with quality career exploration experiences. Though many of the recommendations are focused at the local level, the authors note that state leaders have an important role to play in supporting these local innovations and practices.

Odds and Ends

A new analysis out of the California Community College system finds high salary returns for students completing an associate degree. According to the study, which draws on public earnings data through Salary Surfer, 48 percent of students graduating with an associate degree and 44 percent of students graduating with a certificate earned $56,000 or more within five years of completing their credential.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow computer science coursework to fulfill a core graduation requirement. That’s according to a new state scan from EDC and other research organizations examining state strategies for writing, adopting and implementing computer science standards. The report describes state policies related to ten policy priorities and identifies common challenges and approaches across the states.

A survey of entry-level employees, conducted by the Rockefeller Foundation and Edelman, finds that 49 percent of employees aren’t using skills they learned in college while 90 percent feel they are using skills they learned on the job. The authors suggest that screening candidates based on college degree may limit the talent pool and cut off high-quality employees who could be trained on the job.

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 

 

Series

Archives

1