CTE Research Review Part II

March 11th, 2016

If you missed yesterday’s post, you can catch it here. And now a quick look at new papers exploring competency-based education, the value of credentials, and many others!

Competency-based Education

Competency-based education continues to garner the attention of policymakers, educators and the research community. Here are a few new pieces on competency-based education in both K-12 and higher education.

In Case You Missed It:

CTE Research Review Part I

March 10th, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve brought you an update on relevant research from the field. There’s so much to cover we’ve broken it into two parts.

A Look at Postsecondary Education

From the New America Foundation, researcher Mary Alice McCarthy challenges the artificial distinction between education and training and calls for “upside-down degrees” to reinvent the outdated concept of what the postsecondary education experience can be.

McCarthy offers reforms to state and federal education policies to create this flipped paradigm. She also points to states and institutions that are building pathways to four-year degrees that start with a career-training program. Others are developing “applied” bachelor’s degrees to help students build on and extend their technical expertise.

Other postsecondary-focused research:

  • The New York Federal Reserve has a report taking a closer look at unemployed college graduates and found that those who major in more technically oriented, occupation-specific fields have much lower underemployment rates than their peers in more general fields.
  • Columbia University’s Community College Research Center looks at institutional and state effectiveness in helping students transfer from community college.

Research from the Center for Education and the Workforce

New from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW), you can take advantage of their new State Initiative, which is a portal to help states use data more effectively to inform policy and planning around education and careers.

Don’t miss CEW’s other new reports:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

January 29th, 2016



236 students across the country were nominated for the 2016 inaugural class of Presidential Scholars in CTE. See who was nominated from your state.


Workforce Data Quality Campaign launched their online state pages resource featuring information about higher education and workforce data in each of the 50 states and D.C. Learn more.


The AT&T/DECA Mentoring Project released a video this week showcasing the impact the mentoring project has made in its first year, providing more than 31,000 hours of mentoring to 11,500 students in 20 schools across the United States. Watch the video.


America’s Promise Alliance released the 2016 Building a Grad Nation Data Brief, which provides an overview of the 2013-2014 high school graduation rates across the country. While the nation hit a record 82.3 percent graduation rate in 2014, there are still major discrepancies in graduation rates for minority students, those from low-income families, and students with disabilities. Read the report.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

January 8th, 2016



Using Dual Enrollment to Improve the Educational Outcomes of High School Students
ACT released a report delving into the benefits of providing dual enrollment opportunities for high school students, with a list of recommendations to expand dual enrollment programs including creating funding structures for programming and exploring online technology to increase accessibility. Read More.


Connecting Credentials is hosting a series of webinars focused on improving credentialing, the first of which is today, highlighting employer engagement in credentialing. Learn more about the series here.


350 employers, industry and education organizations from ACT, Inc. to Xerox signed a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career Technical Education Act. Learn More.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

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 careertech.org, 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.
Read More


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.
Read More


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