CTE’s Equity Challenge

September 20th, 2018

Throughout history, and continuing today, learners of color, low-income learners, female learners and learners with disabilities have been historically tracked into terminal vocational programs leading to jobs with uncertain promise of economic growth and prosperity. While the quality of CTE programs has significantly improved since then, many of these same learners cannot access high-quality CTE programs of study that prepare them for success in postsecondary education and their future careers.

To help state leaders recognize these historical barriers and adopt promising solutions to close equity gaps in CTE, Advance CTE is launching a new series of policy briefs called Making Good on the Promise. The first two briefs are now available in the Learning that Works Resource Center.

The first brief explores CTE’s history, taking a close look at the practice of tracking learners into low-quality vocational programs and examining the different ways that certain learners have faced barriers to accessing high-quality CTE programs of study. The second brief highlights promising practices from states that are using data to identify and address access and achievement gaps by different learner populations.

Ultimately, each learner deserves to access a learning environment in which he or she is supported, feels welcome, and can acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve lifelong career success. But many of the structures and systems in place today enforce historical biases and discrimination that make it challenging for learners to access these opportunities. Reversing historical trends and expanding access and opportunity for each learner will require tough conversations, humility, and a commitment to both quality and equity.

In Delaware, for example, state leaders made a commitment to use state CTE data to expand equitable access to high-quality CTE programs. Through the regular CTE performance management process, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) compares the population of learners in CTE programs to learners in the larger student body to identify enrollment gaps.

If a certain learner population is either underrepresented or overrepresented in the program of study, it triggers a structured protocol. DDOE staff work in partnership with local leaders to conduct interviews with teachers, learners and parents and dig deeper into the root causes. DDOE and district staff debrief about the conversations and collectively develop a report summarizing the findings of the study. Although local sites are not required to act on DDOE’s recommendations, many recognize the need and seize the opportunity for additional state support.

Conversations about equity are often difficult, but they are necessary to secure access and opportunity for each learner. Collaborative, data-driven strategies like Delaware’s CTE performance management protocol allow state leaders to identify and address inequities in an impactful way.

In future briefs, we will explore how state leaders can work to rebuild trust among communities that have been historically under-served, expand opportunity for every learner, and put mechanisms in place to ensure learner success. The Making Good on the Promise series is made possible 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. These briefs and all future resources can be accessed in the Learning that Works Resource Center at careertech.org/resource/series/making-good-promise.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Webinar: The State’s Role in Communicating about CTE

September 10th, 2018

Join Advance CTE on Thursday, September 20 from 2 – 3 p.m. ET for Advance CTE’s webinar, The State’s Role in Communicating About Career Technical Education (CTE). Advance CTE will feature Idaho Career and Technical Education and how they have transformed the way in which they communicate about CTE with all stakeholders. Caty Solace, Outreach and Communications Manager at the Idaho Workforce Development Council, will discuss how Idaho CTE created a statewide brand, introduced storytelling as a major component of their communications plan and the tactical strategies they used to better communicate about the value and promise of CTE across all audiences.

Speakers:

  • Caty Solace, Outreach & Communications Manager, Idaho Workforce Development Council
  • Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager, Advance CTE

Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager 

New Resources: Designing Meaningful Career-Ready Indicators (Part 2)

August 21st, 2018

Earlier this summer, Advance CTE in partnership with Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), released two profiles highlighting how states were integrating career-ready indicators into their accountability systems, specifically Progress towards Post-High School Credential and Assessment of (college and career) Readiness.

Today, we are releasing the final two of these profiles aligned with the remaining categories in  Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems: Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences and Transitions Beyond High School. The Co-curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences profile focuses on how states like Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina are measuring work-based learning within their accountability system, while the Transitions Beyond High School profile explores how Colorado and Missouri are holding schools accountable for learners’ post-high school success in college and careers. While these are newer indicators and less likely to be included in states’ accountability systems, they are a critical to measuring college and career readiness in learners.

Read all four of the Career-Focused Indicator Profiles here and stay tuned for an update to Making Career Readiness Count (3.0) soon:

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Legislative Update: Perkins Reauthorization Signed into Law

July 31st, 2018

Today, the President signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

As we reported, the House and Senate voted to pass this bill last week. President Trump will travel to Tampa Bay Technical High School this evening to provide remarks about the bill and host a roundtable on workforce development. Watch it live at 6:10 p.m. Eastern Time.

Advance CTE and ACTE released a joint press statement after the President signed H.R. 2353 into law. Check out additional resources on our webpage. To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that impacts Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager

New Resources: Designing Meaningful Career-Ready Indicators (Part 1)

July 5th, 2018

Over the past four years, Advance CTE has been tracking how states value career readiness within their federal and state accountability systems, shared in our bi-annual report, Making Career Readiness Count (released in 2014 and 2016), in partnership with Achieve. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2016 led a significant increase in states valuing measures of career and college readiness in their accountability systems, which has the power to truly transform districts and schools across the country.

With nearly every state’s ESSA plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education, states are in the process of actually designing their new or revised accountability systems, including developing business rules and guidance to locals on data collection and designing report cards.

To help states design and implement the most meaningful career-focused indicators at this key moment in time, Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) are developing a series of career-focused indicator profiles organized around the four types of measures recommended in Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems.

Today, we are releasing two on Progress toward Post-High School Credential and Assessment of Readiness. These profiles explore how leading states, including Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, are designing their indicators to ensure they are based on quality, validated data, are inclusive of all students, and are aligned with meaningful outcomes. They should serve as a resource and inspiration for states working on similar indicators.

In the next few weeks, Advance CTE will be releasing two additional profiles on the other categories defined in Destination Known: Co-curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences and Transitions Beyond High School. And, in the coming months, we will release our third edition of Making Career Readiness Count in partnership with Achieve, ESG and CCSSO. Stay tuned for more!

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Four Lessons for School Leaders from STEM School Principals

June 1st, 2018

Our friends at Bellwether Education Partners provide some tips for education leaders from two of our Excellence in Action award winning schools. Thank you to Kirsten Schmitz who wrote the article below! 

Career Technical Education (CTE) is having something of a moment. An October Brookings report found that media mentions of the term, which commonly refers to programs teaching specific career-oriented and technical skills, have quadrupled in the past four years, and in 2015, 39 states instituted new CTE-related policies, many of which increased program funding.

While researching high-performing CTE programs, I was able to connect with two school leaders: Earl Moore, principal of Highlands, New Jersey’s Marine Academy of Science and Technology (M.A.S.T), and Jeff Brown, principal of Strathmore, California’s Harmony Magnet Academy. Both schools have a STEM focus, and while the institutions have their differences, four shared lessons emerged:

1. Career Technical Education isn’t what it used to be — we’ve come a long way

When I think about vocational programs, I immediately visualize my own eighth grade shop class. It was a six week crash course — a literal crash, we hung drywall and then smashed it to patch it — and while I took away some foundational hammering and sanding skills, the background wasn’t connected to my eventual career aspirations.

But that’s not what many of today’s CTE programs look like, and it’s certainly not the case at M.A.S.T. or Harmony. In recent years, Harmony has added a student-run enterprise program, courses in biomedicine, and a summer coding camp targeting young women. Brown spoke to Harmony’s engineering program’s constant innovation cycle: “We’re always pushing the envelope to develop new opportunities for students; we’re constantly working to find a new way to make it more real.” Moore credited his school’s success to its ability to reinvent itself: “M.A.S.T. today is not what it was in 1981…the key to a successful CTE program is the ability to change with the times.”

2. Get you a program that does both — combining an academic core with STEM-centered courses prepares students for high-value jobs after college graduation

Both M.A.S.T. and Harmony pair traditional academic core classes with CTE-specific coursework. Both leaders found integrating a technical curriculum with a college prep foundation to be especially powerful. “Teaching academic subjects through a technical lens provides immediate opportunities for application, and students really learn at a higher level. We can’t be just a school,” says Brown. M.A.S.T. also combines CTE-specific experiences with traditional academies. All students take four years of Math, English, Social Studies, and Naval Science, but they also have the opportunity to learn on a 65-foot research vessel called the “Blue Sea.” In addition, all M.A.S.T. students participate in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

3. Teacher preparation and professional development matter more than ever

Just as CTE has changed over time, how we teach it has changed, too. It’s critical for teacher preparation and development to evolve with the field. Moore links his staff’s ability to prepare M.A.S.T. students appropriately to an increase in ongoing professional development offered at the school and an awareness of the constantly changing skills and knowledge industry leaders are prioritizing, which are reinforced through partnerships with local businesses. “It’s an investment in money and resources,” he says, “but you need to give educators the professional development they need to achieve the goals of the program.”

4. It takes a village — and also local businesses — to get it right

No school is an island — not even a marine sciences academy. Both Brown and Moore underscored the support of local industry and community partners, from college professors to government officials, in developing their curriculum to align with workforce needs. Says Moore, “Vocational schools really need to be in tune with their local businesses.”

Region-specific programs can foster mutually beneficial relationships. Student interns are both learning and contributing to their community.

Researchers found high school CTE participants are more likely to graduate on time and less likely to drop out than students who do not take CTE courses. At the same time, some policymakers voice concerns around equity and access, as well as wide variation in CTE program quality. There’s a lot to unpack, but programs like M.A.S.T. and Harmony show positive student outcomes using hybrid vocational and academic curriculum are possible.

The New Fact Sheet on the Role of CTE in Statewide Attainment Goals

May 24th, 2018

More than 40 states have set statewide attainment goals for the percentage of adults holding postsecondary degrees or credentials by a certain year. These efforts have been sparked by Lumina Foundation’s 2025 national credential attainment goal – 60 percent of Americans holding a credential beyond a high school diploma by 2025.

Some states have involved Career Technical Education (CTE) from the onset and others are now looking to ensure CTE is part of their overall strategy. The new fact sheet released by Advance CTE explains why and how CTE can be a major driver of postsecondary attainment across the country.

 

What States Should Do

  • Count ALL Credentials of Value towards Attainment While many learners in CTE programs do go on to earn two- and four-year degrees, many others earn industry-recognized credentials, many of which have great labor market value. States should recognize these credentials in their attainment targets.

  • Leverage Secondary CTE to Meet Statewide Attainment Goals: Increasingly, high school students taking a concentration of CTE are just as likely to go on to postsecondary education as their non-CTE peers – and are more likely to enter with workplace experiences and/or industry-recognized credentials. States should include the expansion of CTE pathways and meaningful college and career advising systems as part of their attainment strategy.

  • Support Postsecondary CTE as a Platform for Credential and Degree Attainment: Postsecondary students enrolled in CTE programs have an average attainment rate of 56.8 percent (counting credentials, certificates and degrees at two-year institutions), well above the average graduation rate for two-year institutions.

  • Bring CTE to the Table as a Partner: A statewide attainment goal can and should serve as the driver of a state’s economic and workforce vision, of which CTE must be a part.

Read more about how Oklahoma, New Jersey and Tennessee have connected the dots between CTE and statewide attainment goals in the new fact sheet.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

New Video To Help You Make The Case For CTE

May 18th, 2018

We are excited to announce a new CTE video as part of the CTE: Learning that works for America® campaign for you to watch and share with your community.

Why Is This Important? 

We know that how we discuss CTE in the media, with policymakers, employers and families matters. We are thrilled to share a new video that showcases what today’s CTE looks like and how it prepares learners for their future careers while closing the skills gap for employers across the country. We know that learners who participate in CTE graduate at a higher rate, are more satisfied with their education, and just as likely as non-CTE students to go on to postsecondary education. Now, it’s time that everyone understands the incredible value of CTE.

How Can You Use This?

This video is designed to help you make the case for CTE in your community and demonstrate the many benefits of today’s CTE! Share it at your statewide meetings, with partners, and encourage your networks to use it too.

We’ve developed a promotional toolkit to get the word out on this video, which you can find here. If you’re curious about the data points in the video, check out our one-pager on the data here.

Join the Conversation: 

To get you started here are two tweets you can share right now, but be sure you are following us on twitter @CTEWorks.

Tweet: I support the work of @CTEWorks as they continue to combat false perceptions of what CTE is and who it is for. This video highlights how CTE prepares learners for success. We hope that you will watch, share and #RT! https://careertech.org/campaign-video #CTEWorks

Tweet: Learn how Career Technical Education prepares learners for their futures while closing the skills gap for employers across the country. https://careertech.org/campaign-video #CTE #CTEWorks

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager 

Excellence in Action Spotlight: Jones County Junior College

April 27th, 2018

Our 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Health Science Career Cluster, the Emergency Medical Technical Education (EMTE) program at Jones County Junior College, located in rural Ellisville, MS exemplifies excellence. All learning – in the classroom and workplace – is facilitated by knowledgeable experts leading to program graduates prepared in Health Science careers in areas of critical shortage in rural Southeast Mississippi.

All EMTE students must complete clinical internships in the field. These consist of 500-plus hours of training under the direct guidance of a paramedic, registered nurse, physician, doctor of osteopathy, or equally qualified health care provider. The clinical and field settings provide opportunities for students to begin to observe illnesses and injuries discussed in the classroom, develop and fine-tune diagnostic skills, and put together the overall picture of patient care. Critical to these work-based learning experiences are the highly skilled and knowledgeable experts, called ‘preceptors,’ that lead field and clinical practica. Preceptors guide students during one-on-one encounters throughout their internships, assist participants while at the Human Simulation Center, and give valuable input on current changes in the business of emergency medicine.

Through the course of the program, students are evaluated on their mastery of skills by instructors, clinical/field preceptors, and members of the advisory committee, comprised of nine ambulance services, three hospitals, and the military installation at Camp Shelby.  Without the knowledge and skills of these experts the program could not as effectively evaluate students and their ability to provide patient care.

Learn more about the Emergency Medical Technical Education program at Jones County Junior College and our 2017 award winners.

Staff Reflections of the 2018 Spring Meeting: Part 2

April 18th, 2018

Starting with the first day of the meeting, there was a sense of excitement about federal policy – our meeting began within two weeks of Congress’ passage of an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. With the first significant increase to the federal investment in the Perkins Basic State Grant in years (read more about this in Advance CTE’s statement), state leaders were eager to discuss how we could build on this momentum and move toward doubling the investment in Career Technical Education (CTE). Meeting attendees channeled this enthusiasm into thinking about how to leverage not only the federal investment, but also the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) itself to advance a statewide vision for CTE.

The Maximizing Perkins to Advance Your State’s Vision for CTE panel featured state leaders who did just that – maximized Perkins to continuously improve CTE and move toward their statewide vision. In the workshops that followed, there was much discussion about how a statewide vision for CTE can kickstart important discussions with partners and stakeholders interested in CTE about student outcomes data, the quality of CTE programs and the degree to which learners have access to such programs. These themes came up often in policy conversations during the Spring Meeting – from the panel that focused on the Higher Education Act reauthorization to the session that featured Kara McKee, the Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Policy. Meeting participants also had the chance to bring up these ideas and more during the View from the Hill Panel, which focused on Perkins reauthorization. This was my favorite part of the Spring Meeting – seeing Advance CTE’s members share their stories and engage with staff for members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee about their ideas and priorities for Perkins reauthorization!  

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

I joined the Advance CTE team two years ago, in April 2016. Since then, Perkins reauthorization has been JUST around the corner. But state leaders don’t need to wait for a new bill to pass to re-envision how CTE can be delivered in their states. Imagine, Perkins was last authorized 12 years ago — predating Tesla, the iPhone and the Great Recession. State plans are long overdue for a refresh.

This year at the Spring Meeting, states began discussions to set and execute new visions for CTE. In partnership with RTI International, our team organized a series of workshops to help states plan around a five-step continuous loop: Vision, Analyze, Plan, Execute and Measure. Action steps include identifying and articulating a clear vision, defining and prioritizing equity, and aligning the state vision for CTE with other statewide priorities. As Congress works to approve a new Perkins bill, there is much work state leaders can do now to set in motion new plans for CTE.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

As usual, the Spring Meeting featured sessions highlighting Advance CTE research, and it was fantastic this year to see such a variety of topics and projects throughout the meeting. During a series of breakouts after lunch on Wednesday, April 4, participants could hear about research related to career advising, teacher recruitment in rural areas, messaging for CTE and work-based learning. Advance CTE has released resources related to all of these topics in the last year and a half, and we continue to learn about and share new state examples and promising practices.

Other Advance CTE research was highlighted throughout the meeting, particularly in Friday’s “Problems of Practice” session, where states presented on specific challenges and participated in facilitated discussions around those challenges. States talked about rural employer engagement, CTE teacher certification and postsecondary readiness indicators, all areas where Advance CTE was able to provide specific insights and practices.

I was especially excited to utilize the Spring Meeting to begin the research for our equity initiative, gathering input from a panel presentation and five breakout sessions focused on specific learner populations. In this way, the role of Advance CTE conferences in our research agenda continues to evolve as we use them to share findings but also gather promising practices.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

CTE advocacy and implementation spans across the federal, state and local levels. The Spring Meeting provided a platform to hear from individuals across the entire spectrum. From Friday’s panel with Congressional staffers and an administration representative, to conversations with local practitioners, I found a common message resonated with all: the desire to create quality and accessible CTE programs.

The Spring Meeting also opened the floor to discussions about the range in progress of implementation of these high-quality CTE programs. The Excellence in Action keynote and award series gave insight into examples of leading CTE programs of study throughout the country, and I enjoyed speaking to the program leaders during the session about their unique local stories. Workshops held on Thursday and Friday opened the floor to discussions on challenges faced at the state level. Attendees were able to share common barriers and offer guidance moving forward.

It was a unique experience to hear from a variety of advocates across different stages of CTE program implementation, and I learned something different from each.

Meredith Hills, Graduate Fellow, Federal Policy

 

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