Beyond the Numbers: Tools and Strategies for Effective CTE Data Reporting 

November 10th, 2020

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes once famously said “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” Without access to reliable, high-quality and timely data, it is impossible for learners, families, industry representatives, practitioners and policymakers to make informed decisions about CTE program development, improvement or participation. 

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) pushes states to improve the public accessibility of Career Technical Education (CTE) data. According to the law, state agencies, as well as local recipients, must share data on the performance of all CTE students, and subgroups of learners, and make this information available widely and through a variety of user-friendly formats.

But judging by the current state of CTE reporting, states have a lot of work to do to make CTE data accessible and actionable to a broad audience. Some of the challenges of state CTE reporting include: 

  • Burying CTE data deep in an agency website or behind a firewall
  • Reporting out static data in tables with little to no interpretation
  • Using CTE jargon that is meaningless to members of the public 

Many of the current CTE reporting challenges result from a lack of time and intentionality, but the good news is that Perkins V gives states an opportunity to hit restart and reimagine their approach to public reporting and communication with a focus on accessibility and understanding. In March, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup of state and national experts to explore strategies for effective CTE data reporting and communication. Over a series of meetings, the workgroup co-designed a set of tools and resources to help states improve their CTE data reporting. 

CTE Reporting Tools Should Draw From Best Practices for Design and Usability

State leaders can look to best practices in data visualization and accessibility to ensure their CTE reporting tools are widely accessible and equip users to make the most of the data. 

The report Beyond the Numbers: Design Principles for CTE Data Reporting provides nine principles for developing effective and accessible CTE data reporting tools: 

  1. Clarify the purposes for sharing data
  2. Make data easy to find
  3. Make data visually appealing
  4. Clearly and consistently label and describe data
  5. Make data accessible
  6. Disaggregate data to highlight equity
  7. Provide context to add meaning
  8. Enable interactivity and customization for key audiences
  9. Help users interpret data and take action

State and local leaders can use these design principles as a blueprint to inform the early design and development of CTE data reporting tools or as a checklist to ensure their final reports align with best practices for access and usability. 

States Should Develop a Plan to Communicate CTE Data

Effective data reporting, however, requires not just well-designed and accessible reports but also a strategy to build understanding among the general public and key stakeholders. What good is data if it isn’t used? Yet state CTE offices are asked to attend to multiple priorities — from program review to professional development to equity monitoring — and communicating CTE data all too often is moved to the backburner. 

Beyond the Numbers: A Toolkit for Communicating CTE Data is designed to build state capacity for communicating CTE data and integrating compelling CTE statistics into a broader CTE communications plan. The toolkit breaks down six steps for communicating CTE data, from identifying a strategic goal and audience, to creating materials, to building an action plan. The toolkit also includes models and templates states can use to build engaging infographics, presentations and other materials to communicate their data. 

Effective Data Reporting Takes Time — States Should Plan Ahead 

States have a long runway to prepare for Perkins V reporting. They are not required to submit data on CTE performance to the U.S. Department of Education until next year, and many states will not publicly report Perkins V data to stakeholders until after that time. 

Still, it takes time to design, develop and invest in high-quality and effective CTE data reports and tools. State leaders should be thinking about their approach to CTE data reporting now so they have the tools and resources ready to share with key stakeholders when the time comes. Until then, states can refer to the design principles and communications toolkit to draw on best practices for their CTE reporting and communications strategies. 

Advance CTE would like to acknowledge the support of ACTE, Next Chapter Communications and the CTE Data Reporting and Visualization Shared Solutions Workgroup in the development of these materials. These resources were produced with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research, Advance CTE

New International Resources from OECD and NCEE and Implications for CTE

November 3rd, 2020

Program for International Student Assessment 

Every three years, fifteen year olds around the world participate in testing that assesses reading, mathematics, and science literacy. Coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) was last conducted in 2018, with reading literacy serving as the major domain to be assessed. The results from the most recent assessment have been published all year long, and reports (including the most recent Are Students Ready to Thrive in an Interconnected World?) are regularly published on the PISA website. 

OECD Education at a Glance 2020 

On an annual basis, the OECD publishes Education at a Glance, a report that serves as a data source to compare structures, finances, and performance outcomes of international education systems. Education at a Glance 2020 has a specific focus on Vocational Education and Training (VET), and provides implications for VET in the US and internationally. 

Implications for CTE 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, career technical education has never been more important, as states leverage Career Technical Education (CTE) programs to rapidly credential adult workers and aid in economic recovery. In a recent webinar with the National Center for Education and the Economy, OECD Director for Education and Skills (and chief administrator of PISA) Andreas Schleicher further illustrated the need for vocational credentialing, arguing that “professions with vocational qualifications have formed the backbone of economic and social life during the lockdown.” The Education at a Glance 2020 report similarly correlates investment in CTE (or VET programs internationally) with increased economic returns. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the healthcare industry are growing faster than average than every other occupation industry, and more students than ever before are expecting to enter into a healthcare occupation. However, PISA 2018 survey results illustrate that students do not regularly have the skill sets required by the job market, nor do they understand the educational demands that their chosen occupation often requires. During a pandemic that relies on skilled healthcare professionals, when learners don’t necessarily have the skills they need to enter this field, and research reveals economic returns from CTE programming, it is crucial that educators and legislators leverage CTE to benefit the healthcare industry and the economy. Career technical education programs could provide learners the necessary information they require to enter into the healthcare field or, as adults, help reskill/upskill to get the credentials learners need to be successful in an ever-growing field. 

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

October 23rd, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

CAREERS IN CONSTRUCTION MONTH

Build Your Future is hosting a construction video contest, I BUILT THIS, and giving away more than $20,000 in prizes. Learn more and submit a video here.

During Careers in Construction month, utilize these classroom resources to engage with students about the opportunities in the construction industry.

TWEET OF THE THE WEEK

Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School in Massachusetts has relied on their mobile classroom to ensure learners across the district have access to hands-on learning and career training. 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced this week that the Federal Work Study (FWS) Experimental Sites will receive additional funding. This initiative seeks to increase earn-and-learn opportunities by removing barriers to off-campus jobs, allowing increased work hours and allowing institutions to pay students for work-based learning. The increased funds will be used for FWS salaries and to develop Job Location and Development (JLD) programs. Further information can be found here.   

INITIATIVE OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE is honored and excited to co-lead the New Skills ready network

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Youth apprenticeship programs can give students access to valuable work-based learning experiences that provide insights into how their interest can connect to education and the workforce. Although these programs are often beneficial for participants, there is little data to show the programmatic landscape and impact.

The Role of Data and Accountability in Growing Youth Apprenticeship Programs highlights current practices from states who are collecting data on youth apprenticeship programs, and what steps have been taken to collect high quality enrollment and outcomes data. 

View The Role of Data and Accountability in Growing Youth Apprenticeship Programs in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

This Week in CTE

September 19th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

STATE DIRECTOR OF THE WEEK

The Wyoming Department of Education State CTE Director, Michelle Aldrich, announced support in funding for the Natrona County School District (NCSD). Funding will allow for a mobile STEM lab to travel across the school district, sharing equipment and providing career exploration opportunities to middle and elementary school students. Aldrich noted that it is important to, “recognize people who go above and beyond the norm.” Read more in this article published by Oil City News. 

GRANT APPLICATION OF THE WEEK

Colton-Redlands-Yucaipa Regional Occupational Program (CRY-ROP), in partnership with the California Department of Education (CDE), is now accepting applications for the 2020-2021 CTE TEACH Mentor Grant. One grant per local education agency (LEA) will be awarded. Mentoring teachers will be provided resources and supports as they help to transition new CTE teachers from industry to the classroom. Read more about CTE TEACH’s objectives, requirements and application here

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

ApprenticeshipNC shares how these five steps can lead to the start of a registered apprenticeship program for your business. 

CAREER PATHWAY OF THE WEEK

The partnership between the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), the University System of Georgia (USG) and the American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC) has brought new opportunities to secondary learners in the state of Georgia. Since 2018, the Georgia FinTech Academy (GFTA) has provided over 1,900 learners with courses that lead to a career in financial technology (fintech). Aligned with the growing market demand for talent in fintech careers and with the help of an innovative virtual platform, GFTA now reaches every high school in Georgia that chooses to offer the pathway. Fintech college courses are also available for dual enrollment. Read more in this article published by the Atlanta Business Journal.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

On Thursday, the Democrats of the House Committee on Education and Labor released a proposal to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act. The new bill, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, would invest $3.5 billion in Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships over five years, and develop approximately 1 million new apprenticeships.

A fact sheet on the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 can be found here, a section-by-section summary here and the full bill text here.

Follow Advance CTE’s legislative updates for more up-to-date information. 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE, with support from the Siemens Foundation, commissioned focus groups and a national survey to explore the attitudes of parents and students currently involved in CTE, as well as prospective CTE parents and students, to better understand the promise and opportunity of CTE. Making a Winning Case for CTE: How Local Leaders Can Communicate the Value of CTE provides ideas for how local leaders can use the messages and research from the Value and Promise of Career Technical Education report to effectively communicate the importance of CTE, especially to the most important audiences- students and parents.

View Making a Winning Case for CTE: How Local Leaders Can Communicate the Value of CTE in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

Heading Back to School? Don’t Forget to Promote CTE!

September 9th, 2020

Over the past few weeks, learners and instructors across the country put on their first day of school outfits and began a most unusual school year. What the setting looks like – a Zoom room or a classroom – is different from state to state and even district to district. What hasn’t changed is the critical importance of communicating about the value and benefit of Career Technical Education (CTE) to learners, families and other key stakeholders. 

Back to school likely is a lot different this year compared to last, and you may be interacting with families and schools in ways that are new to you, your administration or your state. While your to-do list is certainly long and resources may be thin, Advance CTE has created a number of off-the-shelf materials to help CTE advocates make the case for CTE during and after the pandemic. 

Visit the Engaging Families and Learners section of Advance CTE’s website for templates including an advertisement, brochure, flyer, poster, postcard and banner that are easily customizable with data, photos, quotes and information about CTE in your community. (To access these templates, scroll down to the Digital and Print Materials section and download the Indesign templates). There are also ready-made messaging cards as well as posters in English and Spanish that can be printed out or sent in an e-newsletter. 

Use the CTE 101 video on back-to-school nights or virtual or in-person school visits to showcase how CTE is working for learners and employers every day. 

Lastly, for some stellar examples of how to best reach families at the middle and high school levels both in-person and online, read three short case studies including: 

All of us at Advance CTE wish you a happy and healthy school year!

Katie Fitzgerald, Director of Communications and Membership

How to Promote Career Technical Education as Vital to Economic Recovery

September 3rd, 2020

COVID-19 (coronavirus) has affected the most foundational aspects of our society, including our education systems and nation’s economy. With millions of Americans unemployed and some industry sectors shuttered or undergoing rapid transformation, Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less and female workers have been disproportionately impacted. [1] Now, more than ever, CTE is vital to our nation’s learners, employers and America’s economic recovery.

States play a critical role in making the case for CTE. As such, Advance CTE released new assets to help state CTE leaders communicate with policymakers, the media, employers and other key stakeholders. 

Below is a brief overview of each asset and how it can be used. However, before you get started, make sure you, your staff and key spokespeople are speaking the same messages. Use the talking points in this resource to help guide your presentations, resources you plan to develop, and ensure consistency across all who will be talking about this important issue. Of course, supplement state and local data if you have it! 

VIDEO: 

CTE’s Role in the Workforce and Economic Recovery Video

CTE is a program that works for both learners and employers, and should be a critical component of America’s road to economic recovery. In this short video, there are major talking points that help make the case for CTE. All data referred to in the video is cited here. Link to this video on your state websites and in social media posts. This video can also be embedded in your presentation slide decks and in newsletters.

FACT SHEETS: 

Secondary CTE and the Economic Recovery Fact Sheet

Secondary CTE is critical to preparing learners for an evolving workforce and ensuring they have the foundational and transferable skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. For secondary CTE learners and those individuals at the beginning of their careers, losing opportunities to gain hands-on experience and job training can have a major long-term impact. This fact sheet helps to make the case for a continued investment in our K-12 CTE programs. 

Postsecondary CTE and the Economic Recovery Fact Sheet

One study estimates that 60 percent of job losses may be temporary [2] while other studies predict a quarter of job losses being permanent. [3] It is imperative that we continue to invest in CTE and workforce systems to ensure individuals can have the opportunity to reskill and upskill to be prepared to re-enter or advance in the post-coronavirus economy.

Link to these fact sheets on your state website and in your presentations. Use them as leave behinds at in-person meetings (if you are having them).  

PROMOTIONAL TOOLS: 

Promotional Toolkit

This promotional toolkit provides recommended newsletter language and social media posts, a blog post and graphics. Use these graphics with the recommended language on your social media channels, in your presentations, on your state website and in your newsletters.

How To Talk about Career Technical Education and Economic Recovery

In this guide, you are provided ways to use the assets, independently or together, in your state and who to communicate with to make the case for CTE.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

[1] https://www.stradaeducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Public-Viewpoint-Report-Week-4.pdf

[2] https://bfi.uchicago.edu/working-paper/covid-19-is-also-a-reallocation-shock/

[3] https://www.philadelphiafed.org/-/media/covid/research-for-equity-in-recovery/how-job-training-matters.pdf?la=en

This Week in CTE

August 28th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK 

Advance CTE hosted the final webinar of our Summer Learning Series: CTE’s Role in the Future of Work and our Economic Recovery. This webinar featured insights on the current economic downturn and how CTE can rise to meet the challenge and ensure each learner is prepared for economic mobility.

You can view the webinar recording and presentation material here

STUDENT STORY OF THE WEEK

Keilah Sadler has earned a construction degree from the Metro Community College Career Academy in Nebraska one year after graduating from high school. Taking CTE courses allowed Keilah to develop her future career plans while building self-confidence. Read more about Keilah’s story in this article published by the Omaha World-Herald.

INDUSTRY OF THE WEEK

This week, MxD and the ManpowerGroup released the The Hiring Guide: Cybersecurity in Manufacturing. This hiring guide is a playbook for manufacturing executives, HR departments, educators and policy makers as these groups work together to cultivate a talent pool and workforce to protect the digital interface of the manufacturing industry, now and in the future. Download the guide here

TWEET OF THE WEEK

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

This week, the House CTE Caucus hosted a briefing, The Effects of COVID-19 on Career Technical Education. Speakers included a CTE student, CTE instructor, State CTE Director and employer, moderated by Advance CTE’s Meredith Hills, discussed each of their unique perspectives on how they adapted to remote learning, the challenges unique to CTE, and opportunities for the future. 

The panelists included:

– Makenna Glassman – Welding Academy Student, Gateway Technical College, Elkhorn, WI

– Bob Kilmer – Retired Construction and Architecture Instructor, Enumclaw High School, Enumclaw, WA

– Angel Malone – Director of Career and Technical Education, South Carolina Department of Education  

– Public Sector Representative – Apple, Inc.  

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Louisiana piloted the Building Employment Skills for Tomorrow (BEST) program in 2018 to expand work-based learning opportunities for learners with disabilities. The BEST program connects learners with disabilities to work-based learning opportunities, equips them with real-world skills through training and provides mentorship to program participants. Louisiana continues to ensure learners with disabilities have the support necessary to participate and succeed in meaningful work-based learning and career readiness activities.

View the policy profile in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

Career Technical Education’s Vital Role in Economic Recovery

August 20th, 2020

COVID-19 (coronavirus) has affected the most foundational aspects of our society, including our education systems and nation’s economy. With millions of Americans unemployed and some industry sectors shuttered or undergoing rapid transformation, Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less and female workers have been disproportionately impacted. Now, more than ever, Career Technical Education (CTE) is vital to our nation’s learners, employers and America’s economic recovery.  

While there is great uncertainty about the pandemic’s ongoing and long-term impact on our country, there is certainty that CTE is vital to recovery because of its proven track record. The postsecondary completion rate is nearly doubled for learners in CTE programs (56.8%) compared to all two-year institutions (29%). And 86% of adult CTE learners continue their education or are employed within six months of completing a program. Additionally, about a third of CTE learners are enrolled in programs in leading fields such as health care, information technology and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) – careers that are especially important during the coronavirus.

Through CTE, displaced workers can upskill and reskill and prepare for reentry into the workforce and employers can find a pipeline of well-qualified talent who can adapt to and thrive in the ever-changing world of work. This is especially important given that after the last recession, the majority of new or replacement jobs went to employees with more than a high school diploma, including 3.1 million jobs that went to those with an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificates. 

As our nation simultaneously continues to fight the pandemic and also begins to respond to the economic downturn that has harmed so many businesses and families, ensuring that equitable access to CTE is part of the solution is a message every policymaker needs to hear. To that end, today, Advance CTE released new tools including a short video to help state CTE leaders make the case for CTE to policymakers and other key stakeholders.

This Week in CTE

August 14th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

STATE CTE DIRECTOR OF THE WEEK

This week Advance CTE welcomes Elizabeth Bennet! Elizabeth has been a part of the CTE community for 20 years in Massachusetts and now serves as the state’s Associate Commissioner for College, Career and Technical Education. Read more about Elizabeth here.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Nebraska CTE has welcomed back their CTE teachers, virtually, with great appreciation and gratitude.

CAREER DEVELOPMENT CONTINUUM OF THE WEEK

Johnson County Public Schools in North Carolina has published and shared their new career development continuum during their recent CTE symposium held for new and returning CTE teachers. This career development continuum highlights career exploration in the early learning years and ensures there are transitions from secondary education to postsecondary attainment to the workforce. 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) are continuing to advocate for direct funding for CTE and workforce programs to be included in the next relief package. This would ensure learners are prepared for labor market needs, particularly as the economy begins to rebuild after the pandemic. We need your help to emphasize this message with Congress. Click here to ask your representatives in Congress to support the inclusion of funding for CTE, as provided in the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, in the next relief package.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Business partnerships are critical to the success of delivering high-quality CTE programs of study, yet building and sustaining meaningful partnerships remains one of the biggest challenges faced by state and local CTE leaders. Advance CTE and Ford Next Generation Learning partnered to host two roundtable discussions (in Nashville, Tennessee and Pinellas County, Florida) with employers, big and small, who are deeply involved in CTE in their communities to learn more about why and how employers can support and strengthen CTE programs. 

In Their Words: Why Business Leaders Support CTE, Career Pathways and Career Academies offers successful strategies and recommendations for other communities as they consider their own employer engagement and recruitment strategies. 

View the resource in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

This Week in CTE

August 1st, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

This week, Advance CTE hosted a webinar providing a preview of the 2020 elections at both the national and state level and discussed how the results of the elections may impact policy overall, and specifically CTE-related policy. Panelists also discussed what state CTE leaders can do now to prepare for the elections in November. View the recording of the webinar and register for the next one: CTE’s Role in the Future of Work and our Economic Recovery.

SCHOLARSHIP AWARD OF THE WEEK

GRANT AWARD OF THE WEEK

The Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant will support states’ initiatives in creating innovative ways for learners to continue education in ways that meet their individual needs. States receiving the grant award include: Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. The awards range from $6 million to $20 million. View the press release here.

CTE PROGRAM OF THE WEEK

One local CTE program in Michigan has added a new teacher academy for their learners, which will begin this fall! With the help of a grant award from the Michigan Department of Education, Alpena Public Schools are looking to recruit their own educators for the future of their district. Read more in this article published by The Alpena News.

TOOLKIT OF THE WEEK

To assist state leaders in developing and expanding equitable youth apprenticeship programs, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) and the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) has developed a new toolkit, Equity in Youth Apprenticeship Programs

This toolkit strives to increase access and opportunities for high school students as they begin to transition into the workforce or a postsecondary institution. Read more here

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE in partnership with The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has published a new resource as part of the Making Good on the Promise series, which outlines the five steps state CTE leaders can take to ensure secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities have access to and the supports needed to thrive in high-quality CTE programs. 

View the resource in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

 

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