CTE Leaders Explore German TVET System

December 12th, 2017

This post was authored by Dr. Elaine Perea, CTE State Director, New Mexico and Dr. Pradeep Kotamraju, State Director, Iowa based on their recent experiences exploring the German Technical and Vocational Education system. 

The Goethe Institut brought together leaders from education, workforce development, industry, and law makers as delegates to visit Germany and learn about technical and vocational education (TVET), the international name for Career Technical Education (CTE).  Dr. Elaine Perea, CTE State Director, New Mexico and Dr. Pradeep Kotamraju, State Director, Iowa, represented their states as well as Advance CTE.  Over six days, delegates learned about German education and workforce development, with special emphasis on apprenticeships, through visits with students, educators, employers, and government officials.

The program included visits to different education and workforce preparation institutions. TVET is part of the nation’s compulsory education, and the first visit was to a realschule (a lower secondary school).

The most notable difference between the students at the realschule and similarly aged students in the United States is the self-awareness that realschule students possess. Every one of them was able to discuss, in concrete terms, their strengths and preferences as it relates to the world of work. Each student expressed their vision of their future career based primarily on their individual traits, as well as their full access to career guidance and development information, which included real-world experiences through internships at the workplace of their choice.

For example, a young man told us that he wanted to work in the automotive industry because he loves cars and speaks English, German and Italian. The delegates assumed he wanted to be a mechanic, or perhaps even an engineer. He realized our mistake, and corrected it – because he loves automobiles, he is inspired to sell them! In contrast, imagine an American ninth grader proudly expressing his desire to be a car salesman, and the reaction that would likely provoke from teachers.

These self-assured learners are proud of their strengths and see themselves as an important part of the economy. Academics are not forgotten, but students at realschule learn about themselves and the world of work in concrete ways that allow them to make informed decisions about their own future.

In the ninth and tenth grade, students arrange their first work-based learning opportunities via a short, two-week internship. The teachers help students think through options and instructors provide support in technical writing task. However, research about where to intern is up to students, and students must contact employers directly and request to be hosted.

In short, teenage students in Germany own their career choices. Not once during the program did a student express the idea that the primary determinant of preparedness was an adult. Instead, one after another, students demonstrated an impressive level of self-determination about their goals and ambitions.

Employers Play Vital Role

Employers are at the heart of the German workforce preparation and apprenticeship system, and all sizes and types of businesses participate and host students as both interns and apprentices. While a commitment to host an intern only requires a few weeks, accommodating an apprentice is a substantial responsibility that includes two or more years of salary support.

One key takeaway is that the role of industry in the German system is both the heart of the endeavor and the most difficult aspect to replicate in the United States without a full-fledged commitment of time, resources and dedication. Students spend a third of their time on formal, structured training with a set curriculum, and two thirds of their time in on-the-job training, which is also directed by curriculum and weekly learning objectives.

Business and industry are highly involved in job classification and curriculum development. While the government oversees qualifying exams and state certifications, the content is developed with significant input from business.  Regional chambers of commerce serve as the intermediary between education and business.

Instructors Help Learners Find Their Paths

Teachers are not apart from the system; instead, they might be called “learning technicians.” They are asked to deliver state-provided curriculum and prepare students to pass a state-administered certification examination.

In Germany, every single student is on a path to a career, and instructors see it as their job to ensure students find their way. Students believe it is their responsibility to find a match between their skills and the world of work. Germany’s low level of youth unemployment (around 6 percent) suggests that youth are authentically engaged in developing their careers.

German teachers play an oversized role in nurturing student’s self-awareness. Especially at the realschule, the role of educators seems to sit squarely within the realm of socio-emotional development. Finding a path forward precedes skills attainment, and teachers are essential to discovering that path.

Implications for US CTE System

Recognizing the level of business and industry involvement is critically important for understanding the German model. Significant resources are provided: direct financial support to the trainees, staff oversight, training materials and advisement on curriculum development. Any widespread work-based learning initiative in the United States will require similarly significant levels of investment.

After learning of the German model, delegates did not arrive at any sort of “plug and play” ideas that are easy to transport back to the United States. Instead, we developed a deeper and nuanced understanding of the system, with the insight that ownership of what happens within the education system, but more specifically, within the TVET system, seems to “belong” much more to the employers than to the government.

The visit was a catalyst for creative thinking about how to improve work-based learning in the United States. Key suggestions include adequately incentivizing employer participation through tax deductions and direct funding, considering employee training and loyalty as a company asset, running Pell grants and guaranteed student loans through employer training channels, and increasing teacher knowledge of technical careers.

While none of the delegates thought the German model could or should be transported in its exact form, the delegates agreed that American learners would be well-served if they had more work-based learning and real-world experiences.

The outreach program was sponsored by several key partners, include the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Goethe-Institut, Deutsche Bank, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the Siemens Corporation. All travel costs were covered by Goethe-Institut and its partners.

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

High-quality State Policy is Crucial for Ensuring Program Quality

October 3rd, 2017

Advance CTE has just released a Policy Benchmark Tool that will allow states to evaluate and improve their program approval policies. In this tool, Advance CTE has defined and described the non-negotiable elements of an effective policy for approving and evaluating programs of study, which encompass both secondary and postsecondary CTE.

Any policy – be it regulatory, legislative or programmatic – related to ensuring high-quality CTE programs are developed and implemented should include and/or address the following core elements. While there may be other elements within a CTE program approval policy, if a state does not address the list below, its CTE program approval policy will not be able to sufficiently ensure that all CTE programs are high-quality.

  1. Rigorous course standards and progressive, sequenced courses: All CTE programs must be comprehensive, aligned with rigorous standards and prepare learners for opportunities in high-skill and in-demand fields
  2. Secondary and postsecondary alignment and early postsecondary offerings: All CTE programs must vertically align across the secondary and postsecondary education levels to ensure seamless transitions for learners, and allow learners to earn credentials of value, including postsecondary certificates and degrees.
  3. Industry involvement: Industry partners at the state and local level must play an active role to identify, develop and regularly review CTE programs of study.  
  4. Labor market demand: CTE programs must prepare learners for careers in high-skill and high-demand fields.
  5. High-quality instruction: Any CTE program must have appropriately certified instructors in place before being approved by the state. Ensuring instructors have the necessary academic content, knowledge of pedagogy and industry expertise must also be a top priority.
  6. Experiential learning: High-quality CTE programs must provide opportunities for learners to engage in authentic experiential learning both inside and outside of the classroom.  

 

State leaders can use the CTE Program Approval Policy Assessment Rubric to identify gaps in their current state policy on these six criteria and prioritize policies that validate potential programs of study in a way that shows they are high-quality and are aligned with the state’s vision and definition of success. Once state leaders have completed an assessment of their state’s CTE program approval policies, they can begin planning for implementation using the templates and prompts. After they have completed these sections, state leaders can then examine the CTE Program Evaluation Policy Criteria for potential criteria to inform CTE program re-approval, evaluation and potentially phasing out CTE programs that are not deemed high-quality.

To support its members in using this tool, Advance CTE has also created a facilitation guide for the rubric, and is eager to provide virtual and/or in-person assistance to a select number of interested states. Email Ashleigh McFadden at amcfadden@careertech.org for more information.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

New Advance CTE Brief on Rural Access to the World of Work

September 28th, 2017

High school students at Tolsia High School in West Virginia have created an industry-validated carpentry business within their classroom.  Students at Haynesville Junior/Senior High School in Louisiana are connected with physical therapists, diesel mechanics, a marriage and family counselor and other industry professionals on a biweekly basis through virtual “micro-industry engagements.” In North Dakota, nursing students can earn their associate’s degree through one of four community colleges, while taking their classes at rural hospitals and health care facilities.  And in Montana, a mobile laboratory is deployed across the state to engage students around various career opportunities.

These are just some of the strategies states are leveraging to ensure all learners – regardless of geography, transportation barriers or the size or diversity of their local industries – are exposed to the world of work.

To help states identify innovative and scalable strategies for ensuring geography doesn’t limit access to real-world experiences, Advance CTE today released the second in a series of briefs titled CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners with the World of Work. (You can read the first brief on program quality here). The brief explores state strategies to expand access to work-based learning, employer engagement and industry-driven pathways for rural learners, drawing on promising practices from the states:

  • In West Virginia, Simulated Workplace allows students to transform their classrooms into business and is now available in every school across the state, reaching over 13,000 students.
  • Louisiana – as part of its Jump Start CTE initiative – has launched a multi-faceted effort combining technology and hands-on teacher supports to provide rural students with employer engagement, a process the state calls “micro-industry engagement.”
  • The Dakota Nursing Program, in North Dakota, leverages existing infrastructure and partnerships to turn health care facilities and hospitals into college classrooms, training over 2,000 health care professionals since its launch.
  • Montana is strategically leveraging federal, state and private funds to expand CTE and apprenticeships across the state in health care and other high-demand fields.

While there is no simple solution or silver bullet, states are making important progress and leveraging innovative ways to bring the world of work to learners and provide the necessary resources, technical assistance and supports to ensure local communities can support and sustain those efforts.

CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners with the World of Work 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.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

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

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 

New Resources to Help You Sell CTE to Parents and Students

August 3rd, 2017

While Career Technical Education (CTE) continues to struggle against outdated perceptions resulting in a stagnant enrollment rate over the past decade, Advance CTE, with the support from the Siemens Foundation, has tackled this stigma issue head on in an effort to better communicate the value of CTE to parents and students.

The first step in this important work was conducting research with parents and students to explore their attitudes towards CTE. Detailed in our recent report,  The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students,” we now know that students involved in CTE, and their parents, are extremely happy 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.

To put this research into action, Advance CTE has developed a series of tools to help CTE leaders better sell CTE to parents and students, and increase enrollment in CTE programs of study. The resources include advocacy and case-making materials, information about how to use the research in your recruitment efforts at the state and local levels, and a guided tool to assist you and your team in thinking through strategies to engage parents and guardians to convince them CTE is a fantastic option for their child. Find more information about these resources here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Unpacking Putting Learner Success First: Committing to Program Quality

June 29th, 2017

A little over one year ago, Advance CTE launched Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This document, which was developed using input from a broad array of stakeholders, calls for a systematic transformation of the education system grounded in five principles. This blog series will dive into each principle, detailing the goals and progress made in each area.

For more resources related to Putting Learner Success First, including state and local self-assessments, check out our Vision Resources page.

All CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence

This first principle of Putting Learner Success First is a topic that has been an area of focus for many states for a while now. Many states and districts have worked to improve program quality, though the country still lacks an agreed-upon, detailed definition of high-quality for all programs of study. More work is needed from all stakeholders to ensure that all learners have access to excellent programs, no matter their zip code.

Those who have signed onto the principle have committed to accomplishing this objective through the following actions:

  • Develop and implement rigorous review and approval processes and policies to ensure only high-quality programs of study exist
  • Align funding to high-quality programs of study
  • Develop and implement sustainable processes for employers to inform, validate and participate in the implementation of programs of study

Since the launch of Putting Learner Success First, Advance CTE has been conducting research and policy scans to raise up examples and promising practices related to this principle. Now, when state leaders put their commitment to quality into action, they have access to multiple resources related to program approval, program evaluation and academic and CTE standards integration.

Principle in Action

  • South Carolina: Education and Economic Development Act
    • South Carolina’s Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA), passed in 2005, structures high school CTE programs to ensure effective alignment with Career Clusters. The bill requires every high school student to declare a ‘major’ aligned with a Career Cluster and requires that every district offers a standards-based academic curriculum organized around Career Clusters to provide students with choices.
  • Tennessee: Standards Revision Process
    • Beginning in 2012, Tennessee overhauled the state’s CTE program standards, bringing them into alignment with the newly adopted K-12 standards. This overhaul embedded both CTE and academic standards within full and rigorous programs of study. The process took place over three multi-step phases.
  • Nebraska: ReVISION
    • Nebraska’s reVISION grant process promotes excellence in CTE programs by offering schools the opportunity to evaluate their career preparation and career guidance systems. Schools also receive state support to improve those systems in a way that’s tailored to each school’s greatest areas of need.

Relevant Resources

  • Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High-quality Career Pathways
    • This report from Advance CTE examines successes in Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware to demonstrate how states can use the career pathways approval process to raise the level of quality across the board. The report examines common approaches and unpacks key policy levers available to states.
  • Excellence in Action Award Winners 2014-2017
    • Since 2014, Advance CTE has been recognizing superior programs of study across the nation in all 16 Career Clusters. Award winning programs of study show a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education, provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and have a substantial and evidence-based impact on student achievement and success.
  • Defining High-quality CTE: Quality CTE Program of Study Framework, Version 4.0 (Beta)
    • This resource from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) builds upon the organization’s previous work defining high-quality CTE to provide a research-based blueprint for designing and implementing strong programs of study. The framework can be applied to a single, local CTE program of study spanning secondary and postsecondary education and can be used for self-evaluation, program improvement and catalyzing partnerships.

Upcoming Resource

  • Program Approval and Evaluation Benchmark Tool
    • Launching later this year, this benchmark tool will describe and define the non-negotiable elements of an effective policy for approving and evaluating programs of study.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

 

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