Lessons Learned from New Skills for Youth Investments Around the Globe

October 31st, 2019

Launched in 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth is a $75 million, five-year global initiative aimed at transforming how cities and states ensure that young people are career ready. In addition to the state-based investments, which Advance CTE – in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group – has been helping to lead, JPMorgan Chase has also been investing in local innovation sites across the global.

In August, Advance CTE released snapshots on five of these investments located in the United States. Today, we are releasing five additional snapshots on JPMorgan Chase’s international sites, along with a summary report that highlights noteworthy, cross-cutting strategies from these 10 sites.

Despite the diversity of the locations, the populations being served and the challenges to overcome, the initiatives share more in common than one might expect. All 10 innovation sites share a common focus on interventions that target in-demand jobs, career pathways and workforce needs; provide youth with meaningful, industry-aligned work-based learning experiences; and target at-risk and in-need populations.

Looking across the strategies and lessons learned from the 10 innovation sites reveals commonalities and the beginnings of a roadmap for other communities to follow.  Specifically, there are a handful of common and noteworthy design and implementation strategies that are yielding promising outcomes and helping the sites develop long-range plans to sustain and scale each of the initiatives. These strategies include:

  • Engaging cross-sector partners to work collaboratively toward a shared vision;
  • Intentionally focusing on addressing equity, expanding access and removing barriers to success;
  • Building will and shifting stakeholder mindsets;
  • Grounding interventions and strategies in data; and
  • Planning for scale and sustainability at the outset.

The scope and the impact of the 10 initiatives is far reaching, even though much of this work is in the early stages or still being piloted. Individual sites are engaging a multitude of government entities, schools, higher education institutions and workforce organizations, as well as teachers, parents and students. Collectively, these sites are reaching over 200,000 young people from middle and high school into early adulthood. And early outcomes are impressive, including increased high school graduation rates, work-based learning participation, and successful placement into college and careers.

The Snapshots:

Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand: EDC is partnering with secondary schools and technical colleges across the three countries to train teachers in Work Ready Now!, adaptable curriculum modules that provide students with a hands-on bootcamp experience run by local information and communications technology industry partners, as well as work-based learning experiences.

England, United Kingdom: The Education Endowment Foundation is identifying and evaluating effective interventions to help youth ages 16 to 18 achieve a passing rate on the General Certificate of Secondary Education exams in English and mathematics, a current barrier to postsecondary school success.

Maharashtra, India: Lend-a-Hand India is collaborating with the state government to integrate and scale vocational education in Maharashtra, the second most populous state in India. To date, they have provided work-based learning to over 1,000 students, engaging over 200 employers.

Orange Farm, South Africa has two organizations that are bringing technical skills development and work-based learning directly to the Orange Farm community to enable low-income youth to become more employable.

Sichuan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hebei Provinces, China: The China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) is designing and implementing interventions to ensure that the skill level of vocational students meets the demand of employers, while increasing achievement levels and improving the self-confidence of secondary vocational students. CDRF is also collecting and analyzing data about the interventions to inform policymakers on how to further strengthen China’s vocational education system.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Equity in CTE Is Not Just About Access; States Have A Responsibility to Ensure Learner Success, Too 

October 24th, 2019

Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success Through CTEFinancial expenses, work commitments, developmental education and healthcare needs are some of the most common barriers to success for community college students, according to a survey by RISC. To minimize these barriers and bolster postsecondary credential attainment rates, Southwestern Community College (SCC) in Sylva, North Carolina has awarded 129 mini grants to help students address needs such as housing, transportation and educational expenses. 

The grants were issued as part of North Carolina’s Finish Line Grants program, which was started in 2018 using governor’s discretionary funds through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The program is administered by local workforce development boards in partnership with nearby community colleges and provides up to $1,000 per semester per student to address unexpected financial emergencies. 

The Finish Line Grant program, while relatively new, demonstrates the role states can play in removing barriers to success and supporting each learner — at the secondary, postsecondary or adult level — to achieve a credential of value and access an in-demand occupation with family sustaining wages. 

Advance CTE’s latest report, the fifth and final installment in the Making Good on the Promise series, explores other approaches states can take to ensure learner success through Career Technical Education (CTE), including: 

  • Using data-driven support systems to meet learners’ needs: To increase postsecondary credential attainment, some school districts and institutions of higher education have started deploying their data to drive a comprehensive, student-centered support system. Using a method known as predictive analytics, institutions analyze past data on the performance and behaviors of their student body to identify patterns that are correlated with success. They then use this information to identify key indicators — such as absenteeism or low grades in core academic courses — and provide proactive supports to ensure learners can make progress towards graduation or a postsecondary credential.
  • Providing integrated support services to secure wellness, academic preparation and financial stability: Like North Carolina, states can support equitable success in CTE by minimizing common barriers — such as health, academic and financial barriers — that learners encounter along their pathways. Expanding and fully funding integrated support services at both the secondary and postsecondary level can help reduce the burden on learners and ensure they can access the help they need to be successful.
  • Creating the enabling conditions for successful transitions: While completing a program or earning a sought-after credential or degree is important and should be the objective of any pathway, the ultimate measure of success is whether learners transition successfully into the next step of their career pathway, be it postsecondary education, an apprenticeship, employment or other opportunity of choice. States can support successful transitions to postsecondary education by ensuring early postsecondary opportunities such as dual or concurrent enrollment are accessible and equitable. They can also support transitions to the workforce by helping learners develop their occupational identity and expand their social networks through early career exposure and meaningful work-based learning connected to their career pathways. 

Throughout the Making Good on the Promise series, Advance CTE has explored state strategies to identify equity gaps, rebuild trust among historically marginalized populations, and expand access to high-quality CTE opportunities. 

But the work does not stop there. State leaders have a responsibility to ensure each learner is not only able to access CTE, but also feel welcome, fully participate in and successfully complete their career pathway. This means constantly monitoring learner progress and creating the conditions that are conducive for learner success. Making Good on the Promise: Ensuring Equitable Success through CTE aims to provide a roadmap for states to learn from promising practices and develop their own plans for achieving equity. 

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

The Importance of Credit for Prior Learning to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and its Students

October 7th, 2019

Guest blog from Dr. René Cintrón, Chief Academic Affairs Officer, LCTCS

Why Credit for Prior Learning?

Credit for prior learning (CPL) – often described by the American Council on Education as academic credit granted for knowledge and skills gained outside the classroom – supports the unique mission of community and technical colleges. These colleges provide students with the opportunity to earn affordable credentials in a timely fashion that lead to valuable employment and/or transfer, whether the credential is an industry-based certification or a career-technical or transfer degree.

Unfortunately, not every student completes their program. We surveyed Louisiana community and technical college students who withdrew from courses, and found that only 18 percent gave an academic reason for doing so. By far, more students were leaving college without completing a credential because of personal (53 percent) and/or financial (31 percent) reasons. Thus, the majority of students are not withdrawing because of challenges with course content but rather – simply put – because of time and money. CPL has the ability to tackle both of these challenges for students.

Our students come to our colleges with a wealth of knowledge they obtained through their careers, past learning, military service and life experiences.  When relevant, this knowledge can and should be applied to progress towards an academic credential. A few years ago, we started working with military partners in the state to increase the number of military students who enroll and graduate. Our approach was to treat the military transcript as an academic transcript. We don’t charge fees to transfer courses from other postsecondary institutions to ours, so why would we do that for students coming from the military? We took the same approach to students arriving with industry-based credentials (IBCs), transcribing and articulating these credentials as we do with courses on other transcripts. Thus, we consider these students to be “transferring in” just as students do from other institutions.

How Do We Do It?

Credit for prior learning evaluation is the process of determining how to award credit for college-level learning acquired through a variety of means. At the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), expert faculty groups, along with the chief academic officers’ group, met and did the work of compiling existing articulations and mapping future ones. The System reached out to entities such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisiana National Guard, the state’s Department of Education, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the Workforce Investment Council, among others, to collect information on the various military courses and IBCs, to review them and determine which could be converted into Career Technical Education (CTE) courses.

The initial review involved each college determining its equivalent course and adding it to a matrix. The next step was to compile all of the colleges’ determinations into the system-wide articulation tables. These tables are updated and maintained on an annual basis, similar to academic catalogs. Then, importantly, the faculty and chief academic officers recognized that to ensure the staying power of their work, the process should be enacted into policy. In March 2018, the LCTCS Board of Supervisors approved revisions to Policy 1.023, which, in addition to supporting credit for prior learning, established guidelines for processing it, formalized the systemwide articulation matrix, and declared no cost to students for CPL course transcription for those in the matrix. The result: the 2018-2019 academic year, 2,073 students enrolled with credit for prior learning – a 50 percent increase from the prior year.

This kind of collaboration and commitment across a broad scope of professionals to reward students for their prior learning efforts exemplifies how Louisiana’s community and technical colleges are supporting students in reaching their college and career goals in a timely manner.

For more, see Advance CTE’s report Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner

New Skills for Youth Innovation Site Snapshots Released

August 28th, 2019

Launched in 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth is a $75 million, five-year global initiative aimed at transforming how cities and states ensure that young people are career ready. In addition to the state-based investments, which Advance CTE – in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group – has been helping to lead, JPMorgan Chase has also been investing in local innovation sites across the global.

Earlier this week, Advance CTE released snapshots on five of these innovation sites, which document the progress of the local investments that aim to identify and implement the most promising ideas in career education, with a special focus on communities with the greatest needs. While each site as their unique context, each is working to improve and expand career pathways, hands-on work-based learning experiences, and provide support for learners through sustainable partnerships between the education community and business and industry.

The five snapshots:

Dallas, Texas has launched the Dallas County Promise to remove barriers to college and in-demand careers for Dallas County youth

Denver, Colorado’s CareerConnect is a district-wide initiative to redesign the K-12 experience to provide hands-on learning to all students.

Detroit, Michigan has committed to a district-wide expansion of career pathways across the city’s high schools.

New Orleans, Louisiana’s YouthForce NOLA is coordinating a city-wide effort to build career pathways that result in meaningful credential attainment for all high school students.

South Bronx, New York has four investments in place to expand access to and success through work-based learning in health care, transportation and logistics, and technology, as well as to build a data infrastructure to measure career readiness.

Advance CTE will be releasing another five snapshots on some of JPMorgan Chase’s international investments and a summary report in the coming months.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Leveraging the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment to Support Regional Collaboration

August 22nd, 2019

One of the most significant and exciting changes introduced in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is the new comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA). The purpose of the CLNA is to support data-driven decisionmaking and more closely align planning, spending and accountability activities under Perkins V. All local activities – and funding – must align to the findings of local needs assessment. This represents a major sea change in how most states and locals currently support and fund Career Technical Education (CTE), one that brings both opportunities and challenges.

To support states in this undertaking, Advance CTE convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup, with support from the Association of Career and Technical Education and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Workgroup – comprised of state and national leaders – is charged with informing and contributing to the development of resources and tools for the benefit of all states, as they guide local recipients in conducting rigorous CLNA that drives program quality, equity and access.

Today, Advance CTE is releasing the second two deliverables from this Workgroup: Promoting a Regional Approach to the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment and Investing in Quality: Funding the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment.

Many states are looking to the CLNA – and Perkins V more broadly – as an opportunity to promote stronger collaboration and alignment across secondary and postsecondary systems and across CTE and workforce development. Promoting a Regional Approach provides a framework, self-assessment, guidance and key questions to help states considering leveraging the CLNA process to foster regional collaboration – covering the why, what and how of such an approach.

Regardless of what approach a state takes, a well-organized and data-driven CLNA process that leads to strategic decisions and program improvement will require significant capacity and resources.  Investing in Quality identifies potential funding streams to support the CLNA to help make the case for such investments.

All of Advance CTE’s and partners’ Perkins V resources can be found here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Approaches and Considerations for Measuring Secondary CTE Program Quality in Perkins V

July 24th, 2019

It is common practice in the private sector to use big data to improve efficiency, strengthen product quality and better target services to customers. Can data also be used to improve the quality of public education, specifically Career Technical Education (CTE)?

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) gives states the opportunity to use data more strategically to improve quality and equity in CTE. While states have been collecting data for years on student performance in CTE programs, Perkins V pushes them to make more informed decisions about program approval and alignment, equity and access, and program improvement. In particular, states can drive program improvement through the new secondary CTE program quality indicator, a state-selected measure that will be included in each state’s accountability system starting in the 2020-21 program year.

To help states select and define a robust measure of secondary CTE program quality, Advance CTE – in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign; the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of the National Skills Coalition; Education Strategy Group; and the Council of Chief State School Officers – developed a series of short briefs highlighting each of the three indicator options:

  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having attained a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having attained postsecondary credits in the relevant CTE program or program of study earned through a dual or concurrent enrollment program or another credit transfer agreement.
  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having participated in work-based learning.

Each brief examines the pros and cons of each indicator, describes different state approaches, and offers meaningful considerations for implementation. The reports also draw on survey data from one of Advance CTE’s latest report, The State of Career Technical Education: Improving Data Quality and Effectiveness to describe common approaches to collecting and validating program quality data.

Choosing a secondary CTE program quality indicator is a decision state leaders should not take lightly. This choice will send a clear signal to the field about state priorities for CTE and create an incentive structure that will be in place for years to come. To make an informed and thoughtful decision, state leaders should consider:

  • What is the statewide vision for CTE and career readiness?
  • What do stakeholders identify as priorities?
  • Which experiences are equitably available to learners across the state?
  • Is there any evidence to demonstrate which experiences are more highly correlated with positive post-program outcomes?
  • What information is currently available at the state level?
  • Are the data reliable, accurate and well defined?
  • How can the program quality indicator align with other metrics the state is collecting?

The Measuring Secondary CTE Program Quality briefs are available in the Learning that Works Resource Center at this link. Advance CTE is also available to provide input and expertise to states as they select and define their Perkins V accountability measures.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

New Tools to Drive Quality and Equity through the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment

June 27th, 2019

One of the most significant and exciting changes introduced in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is the new comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA). The purpose of the CLNA is to support data-driven decisionmaking and more closely align planning, spending and accountability activities under Perkins V. The results of the local needs assessment must form the foundation of the local application and drive local spending decisions.

The CLNA presents an incredible opportunity for states and locals to bring focus and purpose to their Career Technical Education (CTE) offerings and programs. At the same time, it will take an incredible lift from state and local leaders to truly maximize the CLNA. To support states in this undertaking, Advance CTE convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup, with support from the Association of Career and Technical Education and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Workgroup – comprised of state and national leaders – is charged with informing and contributing to the development of resources and tools for the benefit of all states, as they guide local recipients in conducting rigorous CLNA that drive program quality, equity and access.

Today, Advance CTE is releasing the first two deliverables from this Workgroup: Driving Quality & Equity in CTE: A State Guide to Developing the Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment Template and a State Needs Assessment Crosswalk.

The State Guide helps states identify the major decision points that will impact the design, development and implementation of their CLNA and related local application.  It provides guidance around key decisions such as: how should states structure the template? Who is required to complete the comprehensive local needs assessment? What evidence will be required? How will the CLNA connect with the local application and local uses of Perkins V funds?  The State Guide also provides a bank of questions to draw from to help states create a template that elevates and addresses state and local priorities.

The State Needs Assessment Crosswalk is designed to support state-level discussions about and the coordination of state- and federally required needs assessments, such as the required under Perkins V, the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The crosswalk tool is available in both in Excel and Google spreadsheet.

There will be a second set of deliverables from the CLNA Shared Solutions Workgroup released later this summer.  All of Advance CTE’s and partners’ Perkins V resources can be found here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Expanding Access to CTE Opportunities for Each Learner

June 20th, 2019

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. Today, the quality of Career Technical Education (CTE) has vastly improved, making it a preferred path for many secondary and postsecondary learners. Yet even today, many learners do not have access to high-quality programs of study in their communities. To help state leaders recognize historical barriers and adopt promising solutions to close equity gaps in CTE, Advance CTE launched a series of policy briefs titled Making Good on the Promise. The first three briefs in the series explored the history of inequities in CTE, highlighted promising practices from states that are using data to identify and close equity gaps, and explored how state leaders can build trust with historically marginalized communities that may not believe in the promise and value of CTE.

Building off these briefs, the fourth brief in the series, Making Good on the Promise: Expanding Access to Opportunity, examines strategies state leaders can use to expand CTE opportunities for each learner. Specifically, the brief examines how state leaders can:

  • Secure and leverage resources to close CTE opportunity gaps;
  • Expand geographic access to CTE Opportunities; and
  • Address barriers to entry into CTE programs of study.

To help state leaders accomplish this, the brief examines promising strategies that Tennessee, Rhode Island, Ohio, and South Carolina are using to dismantle barriers that prevent learners from accessing high-quality CTE. For example:

  • Tennessee launched the Tennessee Promise program, which provides two years of tuition-free attendance at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) or other eligible institutions offering an associate degree program; and
  • Rhode Island reallocated state CTE funding to create the Innovation and Equity Grants, which are administered competitively to local education agencies for new or existing CTE programs that expand access to CTE for learner populations that are currently underserved.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Advance CTE 2019 Spring Meeting Staff Reflections Part 3

April 30th, 2019

This year’s Spring Meeting covered an array of exciting topics. Advance CTE staff reflects on the meeting in this three-part blog series. 

Being Bold in Perkins V Planning

Trying something new is a risk but we did just that at the Advance CTE spring meeting! You see we have been encouraging states to be bold in their approach to crafting Perkins V state plans. And while the mantra of ‘being bold’ has taken hold, we have continued to get the question – what does being bold look like? To answer this question, we decided to try a mini case study approach. We often see that the lesson for oneself is found when offering advice to others.  So, we created a fictional state called “Bolder” and shared out a set of facts and data – demographic, labor market, performance, student outcomes, etc. and asked participants to identify the most pressing opportunity related to equity, quality, career advisement, data, and systems alignment, and how Perkins V can be leveraged to best address these important topics. The goal was to help attendees break free of the strictures of their own state and to ideate, create and incubate bold ideas in a fictitious but reality-based state.

I was encouraged to see the engagement of attendees, who easily jumped in to identify the challenges and opportunities. It got tougher when attendees were asked to rethink or leverage Perkins V to address the challenge or opportunity. In the end, we probably didn’t walk out with a ready-to-replicate set of bold ideas but I do think participants flexed their creative muscles and hopefully will take that creativity back home and do something different as a result – look at their data in a different way, ask a tough question, push a bit harder, reach out to a new stakeholder, revisit an antiquated policy or program, commit to using a new lever in Perkins – that is what being bold is all about!

Kimberly Green, Executive Director

Problems of Practice

At last year’s Advance CTE Spring Meeting we introduced the Problems of Practice session, and it was exciting to see how that session grew in size and scope during this year’s Spring Meeting. This time, we were able to feature 16 different table topics spanning middle school, high school, postsecondary education and workforce development. All those at the table had the opportunity to hear from a state leader about what that particular issue looked like in their state, and then the table had the chance for an intimate conversation about common barriers and strategies for success. I enjoyed not only observing states making progress in thinking through common goals, but also forming new relationships with others at the table. Many state representatives and organizational partners exchanged contact information so that they could keep the conversation going outside of this session. It was great to see states working together to advance shared goals!

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Let’s Double the Investment in CTE!

Earlier this year, Advance CTE and the CTE community launched an effort to double the federal investment in CTE. During the Spring Meeting, we held an engaging session where the Advance CTE regions competed to see which one could commit to securing the most employer signatures. Region B won with a total commitment of 5,175 signatures and all of the regions together committed to over 17,000 signatures. While 26 states and every Career Cluster® are represented in the list of signatures from employers, we still need more signatures to meet our goal.

State and local CTE leaders are critical partners in helping us achieve our ambitious goal. How many employers from your state can YOU get to sign on to the campaign? Sign up to receive information about the campaign here. For more information about the campaign and how to get the word out, visit the share page to find sample Tweets, graphics, email blurbs, and more to help you communicate about the campaign.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager

New Advance CTE Report: Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner

April 25th, 2019

College enrollment has increased over the past 10 years and is projected to continue growing over the next 10 for both full- and part-time students. At the same time, institutions face low retention and graduation rates. One policy that shows promise in increasing completion rates, especially for adult learners and those who served in the military, is credit for prior learning (CPL). CPL practices have been found increase access to and the affordability of postsecondary opportunities for a variety of learners — particularly adults and members of the military.

CPL policies can be found at the state, postsecondary system or institutional levels — and most often a combination of the three. Overall, control of CPL implementation tends to be greater at the local level than at the state level. Although creation and implementation of a formalized CPL policy typically falls to the state’s higher education system or the individual institution, state-level leadership can play a vital role in building support and momentum among stakeholders. 

To help states explore the significant impact of CPL and what their role should be in supporting these opportunities, Advance CTE- with support from the Joyce Foundation- examined research and best practices in Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner. This report features data on the benefits of CPL for learners, as well as best practices in Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee and Virginia across topics such as CPL for military service members, portability of credits, building in apprenticeships and industry recognized credentials in CPL, and communicating about CPL opportunities.

The report concludes with recommendations for how states can support CPL with and without statute. The strongest action a state can take is to enact a state statute that calls for implementation of CPL in all public two- and four-year institutions. Minimally, every state should have statewide policies that address CPL’s quality and consistency and ideally make implementation mandatory at each public institution. Aside from state statute, the report recommends that CPL should be incorporated into the state’s broad postsecondary agenda in the following ways:

  • Visible state leaders, such as State CTE Directors, governors and state higher education officials, should elevate CPL to be part of the conversation around education and workforce development.
  • The state should lead the efforts to publicize what CPL opportunities exist.
  • The state should facilitate coordination among the state, system and institutional levels in how CPL policies are developed and implemented.

The full report can be found here and a webinar on CPL featuring CPL leaders from Virginia and Louisiana can be accessed here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

 

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