Challenges & Opportunities to Improving Youth Apprenticeship Data Quality: Reflections from the PAYA Data Work Group

November 17th, 2020

Apprenticeship in the United States is an under-utilized but promising education and employment strategy — particularly for youth whose connections to college and paid work are even more tenuous due to the COVID-19 economic crisis. In 2018, New America launched the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), a national network of partners (including Advance CTE), states, local intermediaries and philanthropies to define and scale up high-quality youth apprenticeships nationwide. In just a couple short years, the network has made incredible progress, sowing the seeds for future programs.

But through all of this work, data quality has emerged as a persistent challenge for states as well as local intermediaries. Improving the quality and availability of youth apprenticeship data can help PAYA network partners evaluate program quality, address gaps in equitable access and outcomes, and make the case for further investment in youth apprenticeship. But building the infrastructure to collect, validate, warehouse and analyze youth apprenticeship data can be costly and time intensive. 

To dig deeper into this challenge, Advance CTE and New America organized a practitioner workgroup on youth apprenticeship data quality in early 2020. The workgroup met several times throughout 2020 to discuss the following questions: 

  • What common challenges do states and intermediaries face in collecting, validating and using youth apprenticeship data? 
  • What are effective strategies to build a high-quality youth apprenticeship data infrastructure at the state and local level? 

The workgroup’s conclusions are summarized in a new report, Improving Youth Apprenticeship Data Quality: Challenges and Opportunities. The report addresses five challenges with improving youth apprenticeship data quality and several promising strategies to mitigate data roadblocks: 

  1. Determining what to measure: Some states have taken the guesswork out of data collection by establishing statewide business rules for collecting youth apprenticeship information. But in others, local intermediaries are left to their own devices, leading to inconsistencies in how youth apprenticeship data is collected. State and local leaders should work to develop and adopt consistent definitions and business rules for collecting for youth apprenticeship data. 
  2. Clarifying roles and responsibilities: Another challenge is clarifying who is collecting what data in the first place. Because youth apprenticeship involves partnerships across the K-12, postsecondary and workforce systems — with state agencies, intermediary organizations and employers in the mix — clarifying roles and responsibilities for collecting and sharing data early on is important. Local intermediaries can coordinate this process, ensuring all partners are aware of their responsibilities. 
  3. Building the infrastructure: Collecting and warehousing data can require costly technology. Building out an entire data system before launching a new youth apprenticeship program might not be feasible, but state and local leaders should establish systems and processes at the beginning that can be scaled easily. They can also leverage existing systems — such as student information systems housed at the school district or college — or develop new tools to minimize the data collection burden on educators and employers. 
  4. Accessing data: Privacy rules, data transfer limitations and incompatible data systems can, at times, limit access to data for youth apprenticeship participants. To ensure that all relevant partners can access the data they need, intermediary organizations should establish data sharing agreements that specify what information will be shared and in what format as well as the process and frequency for sharing this information. States can facilitate this process by developing local data sharing templates and demystifying rules and regulations for data sharing. 
  5. Scaling and sustaining: Finally, the workgroup elevated challenges with bringing data collection processes to scale as youth apprenticeship programs expand statewide. State leaders play an important role in supporting the sustainability and scale of youth apprenticeship programs by streamlining data collection processes, integrating youth apprenticeship data into existing state databases, providing sustainable funding, and offering professional development opportunities to build the capacity of frontline actors. 

 

Data is rarely among the first priorities in setting up a new youth apprenticeship program, but it should be. With reliable and valid youth apprenticeship data, states and local intermediaries can help scale quality programs that expand college and career options for high school students and meet the training needs of employers and industry.. The report Improving Youth Apprenticeship Data Quality: Challenges and Opportunities outlines the most common barriers to improving youth apprenticeship data quality and provides actionable recommendations for states and local intermediaries to strengthen the reliability, validity and use of their data. 

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research, Advance CTE

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

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

New Resource: Prioritizing CTE Through and Beyond COVID-19

July 30th, 2020

Advance CTE released a new tool focused on supporting state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders in prioritizing CTE learners and the delivery of high-quality programs as states prepare to reopen schools and campuses – be it in-person, remote or hybrid instruction – this upcoming academic year.

Earlier this summer, Advance CTE released, COVID-19’s Impact on CTE: Defining the Challenge and the Opportunity to identify the challenges that impact the design, delivery and assessment of CTE programs across the country. Now, as the next school year draws near, it is time to develop key action steps in preparing for and implementing strategies to provide quality, equitable CTE during the coronavirus and beyond.

State CTE leaders can leverage this tool when planning for short- and long-term priorities. The resource asks state CTE leaders to reflect on the past and future impact of the coronavirus on CTE learners and programs, consider how to use data and engage the field to make informed decisions, and identify key action steps to assist the state in preparing for and implementing strategies to provide quality, equitable CTE this coming year. 

Prioritizing CTE Through and Beyond COVID-19 is organized around the following key topics that must be addressed for learners to access high-quality CTE experiences: 

  • Equity and access;
  • CTE teachers and faculty;
  • CTE instruction;
  • Assessments and credentials;
  • Work-based learning;
  • Counseling and advisement; and
  • Career Technical Student Organizations.

The final section of this tool includes an optional action plan template to help organize the various short- and longer-term priorities and lay out an implementation plan. 

Download Prioritizing CTE Through and Beyond COVID-19 here (Word, PDF).

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Expanding Access and Equity to Career Technical Education for Youth and Young Adults in the Justice System

June 9th, 2020

Ensuring that young people have access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs is vital to preparing them for future employment. Yet, youth and young adults in the justice system historically have been left behind in states’ and localities’ efforts to improve workforce development and employment outcomes. More than 30,000 youth are incarcerated in the United States each year in the juvenile justice system, and more than 325,000 youth are placed on some form of juvenile probation. Increasingly, youth in the juvenile justice system are older and are seeking to enter the workforce and transition to independence. 

In an economy that is now being reshaped by COVID-19 (Coronavirus), it is more critical than ever that young people in the justice system are fully equipped to succeed in the rapidly changing labor market and meet workforce needs. Advance CTE’s latest resource, developed in collaboration with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, outlines five key actions that state CTE leaders can take in partnership with juvenile and adult criminal justice agencies and other entities to ensure that youth and young adults in these systems have access to high-quality CTE programs and the opportunity to secure and maintain viable employment. Specifically, Making Good on the Promise: Improving Equity and Access to High-Quality Career Technical Education for Youth and Young Adults in the Justice System examines how state CTE leaders can:

  • Ensure that CTE programs for youth and young adults in the justice system are held to the same rigorous standards as other CTE programs in the state;
  • Help justice and education agencies and program providers adopt and implement promising practices;
  • Leverage federal funding to support CTE programs in correctional facilities;
  • Appoint a state-level designee to oversee the development and delivery of CTE programming for youths and young adults in the justice system; and
  • Collaborate with justice agencies to collect and share student-level data and program outcome data to enhance accountability of CTE programs for youths and young adults in the justice system.

This resource is part of the Making Good on the Promise series, which confronts the negative aspects of CTE’s legacy and defines the key challenges learners face today. The series provides promising solutions to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE to ensure that each learner is able to attain the promise of CTE — a high-skill, high-wage, in-demand career. 

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

New Middle Grades CTE State Resource Repository

May 5th, 2020

In late March, Advance CTE, in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), released Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE, which laid out a theory of action for advancing high-quality middle grades Career Technical Education (CTE) policies and programs. With the promotion of middle grades CTE in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), it is an ideal time for state and local leaders to consider how to best support and expand CTE in middle school.

Today, Advance CTE has released an extensive repository of state-level resources that state and local leaders can leverage as they begin to develop and expand CTE into the middle grades. The repository includes links to resources from all 50 states and Washington, DC, including state middle grades CTE standards, career development guidance and tools, work-based learning and Career Technical Student Organization supports, licensure requirements, state policies and more.

Starting next week, Advance CTE and ACTE will be releasing a series of blogs to lift up promising state and local practices across the core programmatic elements of middle grades CTE.  The first blog will focus on middle grades CTE standards, curriculum and assessment.

Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE and the new repository were created with the support of the Middle Grades CTE Shared Solutions Workgroup, comprised of national, state and local leaders, convened by Advance CTE with support from ACTE and generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Highlights from Advance CTE’s 2019 Annual Report

March 4th, 2020

Advance CTE is excited to share our 2019 Annual Report, highlighting our major priorities and accomplishments of the last year. And what a year it was!

Some highlights from 2019 include:

  • We enjoyed our sixth straight year of growth in our membership, with all 50 states, Washington DC and four U.S. territories joining as state-level members.
  • We leaned in heavily to support the implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), hosting three implementation meetings, coordinating an expert review of 38 states’ draft Perkins plans and providing intensive technical assistance to 12 states.
  • 42 states received federal policy technical assistance and engaged in Advance CTE’s congressional advocacy efforts.
  • 49 states participated in Advance CTE’s in-person meetings.
  • 100 percent of participants said the Perkins implementation meetings met or exceeded the objectives.
  • Advance CTE staff presented or provided technical assistance at 91 events or meetings and visited 28 states and Washington, DC.
  • Our Twitter followers increased by 24 percent and our website had over 1.8 million page views.
  • We were fortunate enough to have 13 grants and contracts from foundation, partners and state agencies.

We are deeply appreciative of our amazing members, partners and funders who make what we do possible and, more importantly, help advance our goal of ensuring each learner has access to a high-quality CTE program that prepares them for the career of their choice. Thank you all!

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with you all in 2020, as we celebrate 100 years of Advance CTE; host the CTE Forward Summit; and continue to prioritize equity, data quality and federal advocacy!

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

States Passed At Least 208 Policies to Support CTE in 2019

January 29th, 2020

On the federal and state levels, 2019 was an important year for Career Technical Education (CTE). In addition to creating their four-year state plans for the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), at least 45 states and Palau enacted at least 208 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness.

Today, Advance CTE, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the Education Commission of the States released the seventh annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review report, examining 2019 legislative activity, including legislation, execution orders, board of education actions and budget provisions. To develop the report Advance CTE, ACTE and Education Commission of the States reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state action and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. In 2019, states most frequently addressed the following topics:

  • Funding;
  • Industry Partnerships and Work-based Learning;
  • Industry-recognized credentials;
  • Governance; and
  • Access and Equity.

In total at least 41 states enacted policies that affected CTE, making funding the most common policy category for the seventh year in a row. Illinois increased funding for CTE programming by $5 million, while Massachusetts and Delaware both invested in work-based learning programs. For the second year in a row, industry partnerships and work-based learning was the second most common policy category with at least 35 states taking action in this area. In Connecticut, the legislature passed a law to require the Connecticut Department of Labor and the Board of Regents for Higher Education to jointly establish nontraditional pathways to earning a bachelor’s degree through apprenticeships, while Colorado enacted a law to launch a statewide resource directory for apprenticeships.

Most states have taken action relevant to CTE since the Year in Review report was launched and in total more than 60 policies passed in 2019 than 2018. This indicates a continued commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. To view previous years’ Year in Review reports, click here. Advance CTE, ACTE and Education Commission of the States will be joined by Texas to discuss these policies in more depth on February 18 from 3-4 p.m. EST- to register for the webinar, click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand

January 23rd, 2020

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) places a strong emphasis on the alignment of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study with state, regional and local economies. The legislation requires Perkins-funded programs to prepare students for “high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations.” These terms — high skill, high wage and in demand — are foundational to Perkins V, appearing in both the purpose of the law and the definition of CTE.

As with many Perkins V requirements, the responsibility of defining these terms rests solely with states, providing them with a major opportunity to set a meaningful bar for determining which career opportunities anchor their CTE programs. The stronger focus on labor market alignment compels state CTE leaders to ensure that all program offerings are relevant to today’s economy and that learners will participate in CTE programs with data-driven and validated labor market value.

Advance CTE newest paper, Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand, describes some approaches that states are taking to partner across agencies to access and review labor market information; develop definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand; provide local flexibility, while maintaining guardrails; and disseminate the information widely to key audiences.

For example:

  • District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education led a collaborative process, engaging the Workforce Investment Council, Department of Employment Services, industry partners and other key stakeholders to identify data sources and set their definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand.
  • Nebraska’s H3 site provides the state definitions of high wage, high skill, and high (in) demand, as well as a search tool for identifying those occupations at the state or regional level.
  • Texas allows for local flexibility through a regional program of study application process that enables locals to present regional LMI to justify a program of study, which, once approved, can then be offered by any district within the region.
  • OhioMeansJobs is an initiative developed through the state’s Office of Workforce Transformation. In addition to the state’s identified in-demand jobs, the site also offers a great deal more for students and job-seekers, such as a career interest inventory, job and company search engines and other career exploration tools.

For more, including specific definitions used by the states mentioned above and others, read Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand.

The report was made possible by the generous support of the Joyce Foundation.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

The Global Imperative for CTE Programs at Community and Technical Colleges

January 13th, 2020

Learners today are no longer preparing solely for careers in their communities, states or even country, but rather within the global economy. At the same time, when individuals enter the workforce, they increasingly are called upon to engage with a diverse set of colleagues, work with international supply chains, hold multiple perspectives and develop products and services for a more diverse and culturally conscious group of consumers.

Within this context, it is clear there is a greater need to ensure all learners are entering the workforce global competent and prepared for the ever-changing world. Yet global competency is not often an explicit focus of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

To elevate this critical issue, Advance CTE partnered with Asia Society, Longview Foundation, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Career & Technical Education (ACTE) on Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce: The Global Learning Imperative for Career and Technical Education Programs at Community and Technical Colleges. This paper builds on the foundation from a paper released in 2015, which focused on how global competency can and should be integrated into secondary CTE programs of study, and explores the role postsecondary institutions can play in advancing global competency.

This paper provides data and evidence on why and how community and technical colleges can lean in on “internationalizing” their programs and embed global competency in curriculum and instruction, along with specific examples from leading institutions like Ivy Technical Community College of Indiana, Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   The examples in this paper aim to support community and technical colleges and their faculty as they work to integrate global competence into existing CTE courses and advance their missions of graduating career-ready learners.

In the coming months, Asia Society will work to create new tools and resources to assist postsecondary CTE faculty in integrating global issues and perspectives into their courses. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Heather Singmaster, Director of CTE, Center for Global Education, Asia Society: hsingmaster@asiasociety.org. To view current tools and resources for middle and high school educators, click here.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

 

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