The Number of States Counting Career Readiness Has More than Doubled Since 2014

March 19th, 2019

In a strong signal of support for Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness in high school, 40 states are now measuring career readiness in their state or federal high school accountability systems. Fewer than half as many – 17 – were measuring career readiness just five years ago.

The sophistication and design of the measures has evolved as well, and many states are working to intentionally link their accountability systems with high-quality career pathways.

That’s according to a new analysis from Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group, Achieve and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The report, the third edition in the Making Career Readiness Count series, uses a four-pronged framework that was developed by an expert workgroup and outlined in the report Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems  to categorize how states are measuring college and career readiness.

The four categories used in the analysis provide a blueprint for states to develop and evolve rigorous measures. They each outline three levels that build upon one another, from Fundamental, to Advanced and Exceptional. The categories are:

  • Progress toward Post-High School Credential: Student demonstration of successful progress toward credentials of value beyond high school.
  • Co-curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences: Student completion of state-defined co-curricular experience(s) aligned to students’ academic and career plans.
  • Assessment of Readiness: Students scoring at the college- and career-ready level on assessment(s) that are validated by higher education and industry.
  • Transitions beyond High School: Successful student transition includes placement into postsecondary education, training or the workforce within 12 months of graduation.

Overall, the most common measure used across the states is Assessment of Readiness, with thirty states and the District of Columbia valuing experiences that are aligned with the Destination Known recommendations. Another 12 states include out of sequence measures that are aligned with this indicator but do not include the Fundamental measure, attainment of state-defined college- and career-ready level on a high school summative assessment. The vast majority of states counted under the Assessment of Readiness category are measuring industry-recognized credential attainment.

Another commonly used measure is Progress Toward Post-High School Credential. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia include measures aligned with the Destination Known recommendations, and another 22 states include out of sequence indicators. A number of states include either pathway completion or dual enrollment coursework in their accountability plans without requiring that experience to be accompanied by the completion of a state-defined college- and career-ready course of study, which is the Fundamental measurement in this category.

Twelve states include a Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences measure in their state or federal accountability systems, often looking at work-based learning participation. Eight states include information on Transitions Beyond High School, reporting either postsecondary enrollment or postsecondary enrollment without the need for remediation.

With all of the progress states have made, there is still room to strengthen and improve measures of career readiness. For example, states should be explicit about how career readiness components – such as work-based learning, industry-recognized credentials and dual enrollment – align to each other and to a students’ career pathways. They should also be transparent with their data and put thought and care into designing accountability systems that value and encourage the experiences that are best aligned with the outcomes they want for students. These and other opportunities are discussed in the report, Making Career Readiness Count 3.0.

The even harder work ahead is to support all students in their preparation for and transition to college, career and life. Regardless of the path students choose to pursue, they need to be transition ready. State and federal accountability systems can and should be used to highlight areas for improvement and connect programs and students with the supports they need to be successful.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

States Passed 146 Policies to Support CTE in 2018

January 29th, 2019

2018 was a significant year for Career Technical Education (CTE) at the federal and state levels. On July 31, 2018, the President signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) into law, which reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV). The reauthorization of Perkins signaled a federal commitment to and a recognition of the promise and value of high-quality CTE. Additionally, at the state level 42 states and Washington, D.C., passed a total of 146 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness, reflecting a commitment from state leaders to advance CTE.

Today, Advance CTE and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the sixth annual Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE report, examining 2018 state legislative activity, including legislation, executive orders, board of education actions, budget provisions and ballot initiatives. To develop the report, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, catalogued all finalized state action and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. For 2018, the top policy areas of focus include:

  • Funding;
  • Industry partnerships/work-based learning;
  • Dual/concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college;
  • Industry-recognized credentials, tied with graduation requirements; and
  • Access/equity.

In total, 30 states enacted policy in 2018 that impacted CTE funding, making funding the most popular policy category for the sixth year in a row. A number of states directed funding toward the needs of underrepresented, low-income or otherwise disadvantaged populations, including California, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and North Carolina. Washington established a scholarship program to support foster and homeless youth entering postsecondary education or pursuing an apprenticeship, among other policies that supported access and equity, and New York is funding 15 early college high school programs aligned with in-demand industries in communities with low rates of graduation or postsecondary transition.

While roughly one hundred fewer policies were passed in 2018 than in 2017, this past year’s policies still reflect a commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. A decrease in the number of CTE policies passed compared to previous years should not be misinterpreted as an indication that CTE is not a priority for states. In fact, at least 16 governors identified modernizing CTE as a priority for their states during their 2018 State of State Addresses.

As states continue to pass CTE related policies, it is important to focus on the quality of the implementation of the policies and not only the quantity. To view the previous years’ Year in Review reports click here. Advance CTE and ACTE will be joined by a state leader to discuss these policies in more depth on February 14 at 2 p.m. EST – to register for the webinar click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

New Advance CTE Report Examines Expanding Middle School CTE

October 30th, 2018

Middle school Career Technical Education (CTE) has the power to expose students to college and career options and equip them with the transferable skills they need to plan for and succeed in high school and beyond. In recent years, a number of states have invested resources and supports to expand CTE and career exploration opportunities in middle schools, a trend that is likely to continue with the recent passage of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which now allows states to use Perkins funding to support CTE as early as the fifth grade.

To help states unpack the potential approaches to expanding and ensuring high-quality middle school CTE options, Advance CTE – in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group, through the New Skills for Youth Initiative, funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. – examine leading states’ approaches to middle school CTE in Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learner Success. Some of the state approaches highlighted in the report include:

  • Nebraska’s use of in-and-out of school experiences to expand access to middle school CTE, particularly to rural communities;
  • Ohio’s use of standards and course options to ensure vertical alignment of middle school and high school CTE;
  • Utah’s competency-based approach to middle school CTE; and
  • North Carolina’s Career and Technical Education Grade Expansion Program.

The report concludes with major considerations for states when implementing or expanding middle school CTE, such as removing any restrictions that prevent states from accessing Perkins V funding and deciding whether middle school CTE is about career exploration, career preparation or both.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

New Advance CTE and College Board Guide Examines How AP Courses can be Integrated into CTE Programs of Study

October 29th, 2018

Advanced Placement® (AP) and Career Technical Education (CTE) courses can and should work in tandem to support career readiness by encouraging the development of the academic knowledge and technical skills that are, together, increasingly important to students’ overall employability. For too long, “college-ready” and “career-ready” coursework and experiences have been viewed as separate in schools. With an estimated 65 percent of jobs in the economy requiring postsecondary education and training beyond high school by 2020, schools should promote college and career readiness.

To help state, district and school leaders think through how to place students on pathways that prepare them for college and career, Advance CTE and the College Board partnered to examine how AP® courses can be integrated into CTE programs of study in Advanced Placement® and Career and Technical Education: Working Together. This guide examines how specific AP courses can be embedded into or used to augment programs of study by Career Cluster®. To help leaders with this work, this resource provides guiding questions for leaders to consider and examines how Maryland and Tennessee integrate AP courses into CTE programs of study.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

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.

 

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