ESSA Marks A Watershed Moment for Career Readiness, But States Leave Many Opportunities On the Table

December 14th, 2017

This year marked a pivotal moment for K-12 education. With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, state leaders have spent the last two years reexamining and strategizing they way they deliver K-12 education. Now that the last ESSA plans have been written and submitted, we finally have a national picture of state priorities for education, including how K-12 education systems will support and reinforce career preparation opportunities.

One of the key priorities for ESSA is alignment and conformity across different federal and state systems. ESSA gives states the flexibility to hold schools accountable, measure student outcomes, and provide supports and technical assistance in a way that is aligned with their own priorities. States are encouraged to streamline services across Career Technical Education (CTE), workforce development and higher education and truly support learners to achieve career success.

Today Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group released an update to Career Readiness & the Every Student Succeeds Act: Mapping Career Readiness in State ESSA Plans. The report examines state plans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to see how states are taking advantage of key opportunities to support career readiness. Overall, two key takeaways rise to the surface:

  • With 49 states including at least one strategy to expand career readiness in their ESSA state plans — and 35 going as far as adopting career readiness indicators in their accountability system — this is a watershed moment for career readiness.
  • However, states left many opportunities on the table, failing to fully leverage all that ESSA has to offer. Nevertheless, a plan is just that — a plan. Given the right vision and commitment, states have considerable leeway to go beyond the letter of their plans and make career readiness a priority, and a promise, for all.

Kentucky’s plan, for example, draws on economic priorities to undergird accountability and supports across each of the different titles in the law. The plan describes the five key industry sectors in the commonwealth of Kentucky and clearly articulates the role that CTE and K-12 education play in preparing learners for success in the modern workforce. Kentucky’s accountability system reinforces this priority by measuring and holding schools accountable for key career readiness metrics, including industry-recognized credential attainment, CTE dual credit completion, apprenticeships and more.

The report also profiles state plans for Title II, Part A funding, which supports the development of teachers and school administrators, and Title IV, which provides critical funding to expand access to opportunities for a “well-rounded education.”

State leaders have completed the tremendous work of engaging stakeholders, identifying priorities and developing strategic action plans to drive education in their states. Now they are tasked with implementing those plans. Given the growing profile of CTE and the elevated role of career readiness in state ESSA plans, the path ahead is promising. But now is the critical time to act, and states should ensure that they fully leverage all of ESSA’s opportunities and follow through on the commitments they made in their plans.  

In addition to the report, a supplemental appendix profiling specific state strategies and an infographic of key takeaways are available to download.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

December 1st, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK

CTE FRIDAY FACT

76% of Americans say middle or high school is the right time to start exploring career options, compared to just 7% who say college is the right time. CTE helps learners find their passion and prepare for the future before investing in their postsecondary education.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

A new article on Education Week, explores the ways in which learners gain critical skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork they need to be successful in a global economy. Read about how CTE and project based learning can be used as a potential strategy to help learners in gaining these skills.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Join a webinar on December 13 from 1 – 2:15 p.m. ET to learn how state leaders can align labor market efforts with the education pipeline to provide students with the academic, technical, and employability skills they need to be successful in the workplace. Aligning the education-to-workforce pipeline can help increase cost-efficiency, promote coherence, and produce better outcomes for students and workers. This webinar will highlight three forthcoming CCRS Center resources, Developing a College- and Career-Ready Workforce: An Analysis of ESSA, Perkins, and WIOA.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Analysis of Labor Market Information is Incomplete without Effective Dissemination of Results

November 9th, 2017

Many states, school districts and postsecondary institutions use labor market information (LMI) to justify the creation of new Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and to inform program design. This information, which includes data on the current and projected number of openings in specific industry sectors, as well as data on salary and any technological or policy advancements that may affect the Career Clusters®, can also be used at the state, regional, local and even student levels for career awareness and exploration in priority sectors.

However, the dissemination of LMI has often been carried out in an ad hoc and not a strategic way, hurting the effectiveness of the data itself. Today, Advance CTE released a guide about the effective dissemination of LMI, which will help states think through this process more strategically. The guide highlights work done in Nevada, Kentucky and Washington and their dissemination of LMI to employers, districts and learners, respectively, and poses guiding questions for states to consider for each of those audiences.

This guide was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In Nevada, the state leveraged newly restructured Industry Sector Councils to create the 2017 In-Demand Occupations and Insights Report, which lists industries’ job growth and salary information for identified priority sectors along with a crosswalk for employers and CTE practitioners that identifies which occupation titles fall into which career pathways. This allows industry partners and CTE practitioners to communicate about LMI with a common language.

Kentucky similarly worked with industry partners to create a common language and used various data visualizations to share that information with school districts. When sharing LMI with district superintendents and CTE coordinators, the state was deliberate in how it presented the information so the LMI would have the most impact on policy with the least amount of confusion or varying interpretations.

Washington takes the state’s LMI straight to individual learners with Career Bridge, an online portal that allows students to explore career pathways and how they tie directly with job projections within the state. Additionally, the portal lists educational providers for specific career pathways and details student outcomes and other relevant data so that students have as much information as possible about their desired pathway.

All three of these state approaches disseminate LMI in various ways, but each is deliberate and thoughtful in both audience and messaging so that LMI can have the greatest positive effect for CTE programs. Read more about these strategies and examine your state’s approach by accessing the guide here.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

New Report Examines Nondegree Credentials and Their Value

October 10th, 2017

The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a new report summarizing the results from the 2016 Adult Training and Education Survey, which gathered nationally representative data on U.S. adults’ training and education.

Overall, 27 percent of adults aged 16-65 have a nondegree credential, with 21 percent having an occupational certification or license and 8 percent having a postsecondary certificate. Among those who have an occupational certification or license, 67 percent prepared for their most important certification or license by taking classes from a college, technical school or trade school. Additionally, 21 percent of adults have completed an apprenticeship or internship, with 14 percent doing so as part of an educational program after high school.

According to the NCES’ blog post on the survey, “the data show that nondegree credentialing and work experience programs are particularly common in the healthcare field. In fact, health care was the most common field in which both certifications and licenses were held and the most common field for which adults had completed a work experience program.

The ATES also found that adults perceive nondegree credentials to be useful for many labor market outcomes. For example, 82 percent of adults who have a certification or license reported that it was very useful for ‘getting a job’, 81 percent reported that it was very useful for ‘keeping you marketable to employers or clients’, and 66 percent reported it that was very useful for ‘improving your work skills.’”

University Innovation Alliance Expected to Exceed Public Attainment Goals

A recent article highlights the successes of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), a group of 11 research universities who banded together to implement strategies that would help more low-income students complete postsecondary programs. Over the past three years, the universities have increased the number of low-income graduates at their institutions by 24.7 percent, and they are on track to surpass their initial goal of increasing the number of low-income graduates by 34,000 students.

Among other strategies, the universities encouraged students to take a minimum of 15 credits per semester to increase their likelihood of completion and shared data analyses and studies with each other to help problem-solve. Their approach has had noticeable effects, even over a short time period. A comparative study recently revealed that 31 percent of the UIA undergraduate students receive Pell Grants compared to 15 percent of undergraduates at Ivy League institutions and at 50 other selective liberal arts colleges. This information is significant in that these 11 research universities are serving vastly more low-income students than many universities, and they are actively committed to helping those students succeed.

Odds and Ends

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report showing the current and projected entry-level degree requirements for various employment sectors. Interestingly, 6.5 percent of entry-level employment in 2016 was in occupations that typically require postsecondary education for entry. From May 2007 to May 2016, the share of U.S. employment in occupations typically requiring a high school diploma or equivalent for entry fell by nearly 2.6 percentage points, from over 38.3 percent to slightly less than 35.8 percent. Over the same period, the share of employment in occupations typically requiring postsecondary education for entry rose by 2.3 percentage points, from 34.2 to 36.5 percent.

Gallup and the Strada Education Network released a report diving into how individuals choose their field of study, based on a survey of 22,000 adults. Respondents were asked from where they received advice about their major, with responses falling into four main groups: formal, informal social network, informal school-based and informal work-based. Somewhat surprisingly, the survey found that the majority of adults used their informal social networks for advice, rather than the more formal (and likely more helpful and informed) channels available to them.

More great news has emerged for the Tennessee Promise program, as results on student outcomes continue to come in. Fifty-six percent of Tennessee Promise students who entered college in 2015, the program’s first year, had graduated, transferred to a four-year university or remained in school two years later. Only 39 percent of recent high school graduates outside of Tennessee Promise had done the same — a difference of 17 percentage points. While officials agree there is still more work to do, they are encouraged by these results.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

This Week in CTE

September 22nd, 2017

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Safe Students, Safe Workers: Construction Safety Programs in Post-Secondary Career Technical Education Webinar: Learn what post-secondary Career Technical Education programs (CTE) in construction are doing and how to support development of students’ skills for safe work in the classroom and on the job. What administrative systems, instructor support, curriculum content and teaching activities are needed? Presenters will share concrete examples and results from site visits, interviews, and a national survey of instructors and administrators in construction CTE programs in 2-year colleges, as well as action steps and resources for administrators and instructors of CTE programs from a new guide.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK 

Submit a proposal to the 2018 Linked Learning Convention. The Convention brings together more than 900 leaders from education, workforce, research, policy, and nonprofits for strategic conversations and meaningful professional learning aimed at ensuring all students are well prepared for college, career, and life.

TOOL OF THE WEEK 

CNA recently released its interactive labor market analysis tool, which is intended to help CTE stakeholders identify high-wage, high-demand careers and associated education and/or training requirements. The tool was created using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national job projections until 2024.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate

Colleges Play Important Role in Creating Alternative Credentialing Pathways

September 12th, 2017

A new report commissioned by The Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences examines the landscape of non-degree postsecondary training. The report focused on five categories: certificate programs, work-based training, skills-based short programs, massive open online courses and other online microcredentials, and competency-based education programs, and provides in-depth analyses of each. While these types of trainings vary widely across sectors and states, the authors found that they all tended to be shorter, more flexible, and more directly aligned with employer-defined skills than traditional postsecondary degree programs.

However, data on learner enrollment and outcomes for these programs is limited, so it is difficult to tell how effective an option they ultimately are for learners. With that in mind, the report also found that more traditional degree programs, which have clearer data on outcomes, are increasingly incorporating elements of alternative pathways into their programs to create programs that provide academic and non-academic instruction.

Survey Measures Student Interest and Readiness for Postsecondary

A recent online survey of over 55,000 high school students revealed some interesting findings related to the enthusiasm and readiness for postsecondary education. 84 percent of students indicated a desire to go to college, with only five percent definitely saying no to college. 68 percent of students had plans to attend a 2- or 4-year college immediately after high school.

Interestingly, only 50 percent of 12th grade students feel that their school has helped them develop the skills and knowledge they will need for college-level classes. Students are aware of the various support services offered, and they generally agree those services are helpful. However, not many students are actually choosing to take advantage of them. This could be for a number of reasons, but advertising these services and reducing the stigma of using them might help.

Odds and Ends

The Education Commission of the States launched a 50-state scan highlighting how states issue and analyze postsecondary feedback reports. An interesting finding is that 39 states publicly report high school feedback reports with data on postsecondary enrollment and/or performance.

A new report finds that English language learners are proportionally under-enrolled in New York City’s CTE programs, and that they are less likely to successfully complete the programs once enrolled. The report’s authors feel that this is a major opportunity to enroll more English language learners in CTE programs, as those who do complete their CTE programs graduate at a rate that is 30 percent higher than other English language learners in the city.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

This Week in CTE: Americans Want More Career Focused Education in Schools

September 1st, 2017

RESEARCH OF THE WEEK 

The Annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released this week and had some excellent findings about CTE and career readiness including:

  • 82 percent of Americans support job or career skills classes even if that means they spend less time in academic classes,
  • 86 percent say schools should offer certificate or licensing programs,
  • 82 percent say it is very important for schools to help students develop interpersonal skills.

The poll finds that increasingly, people expect school to not only prepare students for postsecondary, but also their life after their education. Read more about the results.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 

Job Centered Learning, the documentary exploring CTE courses and the role they play in preparing students for life after school, airs in Mississippi, Alabama and the greater Los Angeles area this weekend. Find out when it’s playing in your state by checking your local PBS network.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Check out six new modules with lesson plans and activities to teach middle and high school students about advanced transportation systems, and introduce the array of careers available in the field.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

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

 

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