Staff Reflections Part 2: Honoring State CTE Leadership Award Winners

October 31st, 2018

At the Advance CTE Fall Meeting, we were thrilled to honor three Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders through our new State CTE Leadership awards. Wendi Morton, CTE Coordinator of Federal and State Programs at the Utah State Board of Education, received the Rising Star award. Richard Katt, the former State CTE Director at the Nebraska Department of Education, and John T. Pulver, Associate Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Career & Technical Administrators (PACTA), each received the Distinguished Leadership award.

Thalea Longhurst, State CTE Director, Utah State Board of Education, was moved in the moment as she reflected on Wendi’s accomplishments and dedication to CTE. One of those many accomplishments was overhauling the state’s program approval process to guarantee that every learner is participating in a high-quality program of study. She has also worked across departments to ensure that both full- and part-time instructors can be licensed seamlessly, enabling all learners to be taught by knowledgeable experts.

Lee Burket, Director of the Bureau of Career Technical Education in Pennsylvania introduced Pulver. She described Pulver as instrumental to federal policy work by meeting with multiple Congressional staff during the reauthorization of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) to ensure that the new law met the needs of today’s and future learners.

Katt wasn’t able to attend but Katie Graham, State CTE Director of Nebraska gave remarks on his behalf that had the whole audience laughing and clapping. He is well known in the Advance CTE community and served as a Board of Directors member for over 15 years. He has dedicated 17 years of his life working in the role of the State CTE Director in Nebraska, influencing the lives of over 91,000 learners each year. He was the driving force behind the development of the reVISION strategic planning process. He also developed the Nebraska Career Education Model, which has been replicated across the country. While Katt wasn’t physically there, his inspiration to ‘be bold’ was a theme throughout the entire Fall Meeting.

Advance CTE thanks all of those who dedicate their work and passions to elevate CTE in their state.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

Siemens USA CEO Keynotes Advance CTE Fall Meeting

October 26th, 2018

On Tuesday, October 23, Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens Foundation gave the keynote address at the Advance CTE 2018 Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Humpton’s many responsibilities include managing the company’s strategy and engagement and leading more than 50,000 employees. Humpton began her remarks by emphasizing the importance Siemens places on investing in their employees. The Siemens Foundation has invested more than $100 million in the United States to advance workforce development and education initiatives in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Humpton also shared her personal connection to Career Technical Education (CTE). She developed her passion for STEM early in her education and the opportunity to gain experience working directly with IBM inspired her to continue in this area. Humpton’s passion grew as she saw the impact of her work. “What matters to me is the mission, what matters to me is purpose, doing things because they are making a big change in the world,”  she said.

Her search for meaning in her career mirrors the aspiration of learners and their parent’s across the country. She cited The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students to emphasize this key finding – discovering a career passion is the most important critical goal for both learners and parents– even surpassing having a career that pays well.

Humpton challenged the attendees to work to reach more people and help them see CTE’s true potential. How we talk about CTE is important and continuing to create platforms that share learner success stories and high-quality programs can contribute to changing outdated perceptions.

She closed by stating that this is an important moment for CTE. She encouraged all of us to be bold, to reach out to employers, to discover and utilize the talent in each community and thanked the CTE leaders for their commitment to students and public service.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate 

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Staff Reflections Part 1

October 26th, 2018

Advance CTE reflects on sessions and activities at the Advance CTE Fall Meeting held earlier this week in Baltimore, Maryland. Learn more about sessions you may have missed in this series. 

Moving Beyond a Seat at the Table

This year’s Fall Meeting included a session called, “Moving Beyond a Seat at the Table: Advancing CTE Through Partnerships and Collaboration” on how state leaders in Career Technical Education (CTE) can build meaningful relationships. Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director of Advance CTE, moderated this session, and encouraged the room to be intentional when building partnerships and evaluate not just the strength of the relationship but also the value.

There were many good points from the panelists, but one that I found particularly compelling was the push to consider whether there are mutual benefits coming out of a partnership. As CTE increasingly gains national traction, leaders in the area are being pulled into a variety of conversations. However, the panelists encouraged us to consider whether we are being included in order to “check a box,” or whether we are gaining anything substantive from each other.

I found the push to consider what we can bring to the table in a partnership, and what type of role our partner can play for our own goals, to be especially valuable. Quality of engagement, instead of quantity, is something that we can all consider as we continue on in our own work.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Equity in CTE

Since I’ve joined Advance CTE’s team in March 2018, equity in CTE has been a constant topic in the office. Advance CTE has reached out to state leaders as well as partner organizations to learn about how we may help state leaders advance equity in CTE. It was exciting to share some of our findings from this outreach with our members during the Building Trust to Ensure Equity in CTE session at Fall Meeting.

The session allowed our members to learn about how Wisconsin is using policy levers to advance equity in CTE for historically marginalized populations and how Oklahoma is promoting a culture in the state agency and teacher workforce that values equity through diversity and inclusion trainings. I’m excited to use the questions and comments from session participants to inform Advance CTE’s future equity briefs.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Discussing Data and Funding at the Fall Meeting

Here are two topics that don’t often get a lot of attention: data and funding. All too often states are constrained by resources, capacity, funding and policy from making any real progress on either front, leaving these two very important issues to take a back seat to more pressing concerns. But all that is beginning to change. In 2017, funding was the number one policy priority across the states – and that’s during a year in which 49 states and Washington, DC collectively passed more than 240 CTE-related policies. The federal government has also increased funding for CTE through the Fiscal Year 2018 and FY 2019 budgets. And with Perkins V implementation on the horizon, states are starting to think very seriously about restructuring their data systems to meet more rigorous expectations for data collection and reporting.

At the Fall Meeting, attendees had the chance to hear from leading states that are using funding and data to improve outcomes for learners. One of the breakout sessions highlighted Tennessee’s efforts to braid funding across a variety of funding streams including the Perkins reserve fund, the state’s Experienced Professional in the Classroom (EPIC) project to support CTE teacher pathways, and the New Skills for Youth initiative. Participants also heard about the North Carolina Community College system’s tiered funding structure, which is designed to incentivize and support programs in high-demand industries.

During a general plenary about using CTE data, participants got to hear a conversation with State CTE Directors facilitated by Elizabeth Dabney of the Data Quality Campaign. Elizabeth talked about common challenges and policy recommendations for making the most of data by building trust, protecting privacy and, most importantly, measuring what matters. State leaders from Hawaii, Ohio and Texas shared some of their own lessons and strategies for using CTE data.

Austin Estes, Senior Associate, Policy

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Gold Sponsor, Ohana Solutions

October 19th, 2018

According to recent social media trends, modern Americans, especially Millennials, would happily trade traditional gift-giving for the gift of travel or experience in relation to how they most want to enjoy a contribution toward life.

Because we know this (or had at least heard about it on our own perusing around social media), my husband and I offered a last time adventure opportunity for our oldest daughter the summer before she left for college.  We decided to embark on a family trip from our home in Florida all the way out west to Yellowstone.

This trip was, of course meaningful on all parenting levels, but it also made me wonder about all the states we had not explored.  With the passing thru of all, I rattled off state statistics, highlights, and fun facts of each one, and we all learned a little something new.  I started to wonder, how many children actually know things about states that make them appealing outside of the wonders they maybe once had to do a diorama about in grade school.

For instance, do the students of Alabama know that their state built the rocket ship that took the first Americans to the moon?  What about Utah—do the students there know it was here that the Jarvik-7, the first artificial heart was created and surgically implanted? Or how about Massachusetts’ claim toward the invention of the World Wide Web.

This trip made the former educator in me wonder what if we ever actually explore the benefits of our own backyards—the inventions, the manufacturing, the industries that create and contribute to our own communities?   Are we aware of how our state contributes toward the greater vision of the entire nation and even global economic advancements? Do our children know?

Thankfully, with workforce incentive programs, placing an emphasis on classroom content that pairs students to the particulars of their own home states, can make some real headway into bringing back a tradition of career-leveled job opportunities. And students won’t have to travel halfway across the world to see this as new or innovative.  In fact, with content paired directly to local industries, students should be able to not only define what it is their state might claim as bragging rights, but they can also see where they might fit in the local workforce.

As Americans, we all deserve an opportunity to contribute in some way toward the appreciation of our own state industry.  We need to know what exists there, how we might contribute toward it, or how we might advance it toward a far-reaching goal only before imagined. Like me, Ohana Solutions believes in this promise for American students as well.  We want to see industries highlighted and communities enhanced–and the content we created for specific career pathways will do just that.

Using the localized careers found within the career and technical industries of each state, students will be able to cite off those statistics necessary for prosper and advancement. I hope to find the careers those states produce being enhanced in great ways by a generation who wants to lead it toward greater findings and contributions.

And I hope to someday see, on those push-pinned maps of teenage bedrooms, the industries lead by a team of innovators who successfully contributed toward putting their states on that map simply because they were taught about it in grade school, and they believed they could.

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Diamond Sponsor, YouScience

October 18th, 2018

This post is written by YouScience, a Diamond Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

YouScience is a revolutionary career guidance platform that is poised to change the way learners explore Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study and plan for their futures.

CTE has changed quite a bit over the years. CTE programs offer great exposure to many postsecondary options, but there is often a missed opportunity to get learners into CTE programs – a problem that is perpetuated by current interest-based surveys. Results from interest-based surveys are limited by learners’ exposure, reinforce social bias, and don’t often recommend young women and minorities to explore high-wage, high-demand CTE career paths.  

A recent study found that while there was a significant disparity in reported interest between males and females for careers like construction, information technology and manufacturing, gender aptitude fits were comparable across all industries. That is, there are just as many young women with the natural talent, and potential to succeed in technical careers.

States that are becoming aware of this “exposure bias” limitation are shifting their focus and are having great success. Georgia, for example, is using its Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) dollars to identify non-traditional learners with the aptitude for underrepresented pathways by using an aptitude-based advisement tool called YouScience.

“It frustrated me in the past that all we did were interest inventories. As a career pathway educator, I really did not put a whole lot of stock in an interest-only survey or test.  You have to put the aptitude part in to understand students’ real, natural abilities,” said Tim Brown, Career Pathways Director Marietta City Schools. “And for some of these students, truly it’s been the first time that someone has told them that they’re good at doing something.”

Technology is changing at a rapid pace and so should career guidance. By using real measures of natural aptitudes, combined with interests, YouScience uniquely helps administrators guide learners into their best-fit programs, and gives learners hope, purpose and relevance. “Beyond simply preparing our students with the skills and training to be successful in high-demand careers, YouScience allows each school’s faculty to engage students in making proactive choices that will maximize the value of their education,” said Georgia Lt. Governor, Casey Cagle.

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Discover the Stories in Your Data

October 15th, 2018

This post is written by PTD Technology, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting. 

“Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.” — W. Edwards Demming

“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” — Jim Barksdale

These two quotes sum up the importance of having data to support any action or program.  However, just having data is not enough, as the next quote explains;

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” — Daniel Keys Moran

The goal really isn’t data, but information. With the advent of local, state and federal mandates for the collection of data, paired with modern data collection tools, we are data saturated. As such, data is no longer the problem.  The steps to transform data into information are:

The inability to clean, model and visualize data in a timely manner leads to less effective decisions. Until these steps are completed, subject matter experts cannot do their work of interpretation and analysis.  Visualizations such as the charts and graphs are often created by people who do not understand the nuances of the data, and end up creating marginally useful, static or unchangeable information.

Modern Data Analytics to the Rescue

Just as modern data collection techniques have improved, so have tools to prepare data for analysis.  Business Intelligence (BI) tools, such as Microsoft’s Power BI or Tableau, enable users to clean and model data effectively and efficiently. Powerful and useful dynamic visualizations, when presented through dashboards, empower all stakeholders to make timely, successful decisions.

PTD Technology (PDT) can get pertinent information into the hands of those who need it, when they can still use it!

Participation and performance gap analysis for program improvement

Empower teachers, school counselors and administrators to identify and address gaps in performance.

Trend analysis

Combine multiple years of data to discover trends.  Slice and dice the data in real-time to compare special populations, gender, special population characteristics, districts, or even programs.

Publish dashboards to any website 

PTD has tools that make publishing dashboards to any site very easy.  We can provide appropriate access to information for administrators, teachers, parents, learners, or any other stakeholders.   

Take advantage of data you already have

Let us show you how easy it is to turn data you already have into effective, customized dashboards. Stop by our table at the 2018 Fall Meeting to learn how easy it is to create dashboards for your state using your federal EDEN/EdFacts submissions and take advantage of a Free Trial.  Discover how quickly you can create customized dashboards based on your organizational needs and how easy they are to maintain.

We look forward to helping you turn your data into information you can use to tell your Career Technical Education story.  Hope to see you there!

Visit our website to learn more

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: From Pipelines to Gardening

October 12th, 2018

This post is written by the National Center for College and Career Transitions or NC³T, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

The most common image when talking about workforce development is that of a “leaky pipeline;” where we lose people at every key transition point along the way to the labor pool. In high school, we lose learners who drop out before graduation. Among those who do graduate, we lose the ones who don’t go on to some form of postsecondary education. Among those who do pursue postsecondary credentials, we have another round of dropouts who leave before earning a degree or certification. As a result, the final pool of qualified workers is much smaller than the pool we started out with.

Our workforce development model was designed in the 1960s, and it worked because the largest demographic cohort in history – the Baby Boomers – feed into the pipeline. There were a limited number of jobs requiring advanced skills or credentials. But things have changed – the Boomers are retiring, and the number of jobs requiring advanced education and training has grown exponentially.

To deal with this challenge, NC³T is advocating for a “gardening” mentality, in which every seed is nurtured. That means providing every single learner with opportunities to explore the world of work, gain hands-on experiences, identify their interests, develop a path and pursue the college and career options that provide the best possible fit. It works for them as students – there’s plenty of research on improved outcomes and levels of engagement – and it works for them as entrants into the workforce. And of course, it works for employers as well.

Our approach is one of Career Connected Learning, ensuring that connections to the real world – specifically, the world of work – are made for every learner. This is the heart of Career Technical Education (CTE). Our role is to build awareness, advocate, train, and support the work that educators and policymakers are doing in this arena. We look forward to working with all of you to build and manage rich, engaging experiences for all learners. Visit our website here.

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Filling the IT Skills Gap: Validate In-Demand Technology Skills with Certification

October 11th, 2018

This post is written by Certiport, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

Every year thousands of technology positions go unfilled. Schools all over the country are working to help learners prepare to fill those roles. Take cybersecurity, for instance. The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study revealed that we are on pace to reach a cybersecurity workforce gap of 1.8 million by 2022, a 20 percent increase over the last study two years prior and a clear opportunity for students entering the workforce in the next five years.

The increased urgency to match employer needs with workforce skills points out the value of certification. Entry-level certification utilized as part of a Career Technical Education (CTE) program of study can help learners identify strengths and start on a path to building an Information Technology (IT) career of their choosing. Certification validates the skills needed to meet the needs of employers all over the country, especially in IT fields with growing skills gaps like cybersecurity.

Starting Early on an IT Career Path

There are several entry-level technology certifications that can form the foundation of almost any career path – such as Microsoft Office Specialist, IC3 Digital Literacy, or Adobe Certified Associate certifications. In addition, more specialized certifications are gaining popularity to help learners enter their desired career path with industry-recognized validation proving they have the skills needed to perform on the job from day one.

Certiport recently launched the EC-Council Associate cybersecurity certifications and curriculum to allow students to get started in the exciting and critical world of cybersecurity. Many schools have already recognized the need in the marketplace for graduates with cybersecurity skills, and the EC-Council Associate Series certification exams give them a method to validate those skills so graduates can fill the growing demand.

Learn More

We invite you to read more about the need for technology skills in the issue brief that will be included in your Advance CTE Fall Meeting bag. Certiport offers learning curriculum, practice tests, and performance-based IT certification exams to open up academic and career opportunities for learners.Our offerings include:

  • Microsoft Office Specialist;
  • Microsoft Technology Associate;
  • Adobe Certified Associate;
  • App Development with Swift Certification;
  • Autodesk Certified User;
  • EC-Council Associate;
  • QuickBooks Certified User;
  • IC3 Digital Literacy Certification; and
  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Please join us the evening of Monday, October 22, for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and discussion at our Hospitality Suite at the BWI Marriott immediately following the awards dinner. Click here to pre-register.

We look forward to visiting with you at the Fall Meeting.

Eldon Lechtenberg, Vice President, Sales-Americas
Mike Maddock, VP, Microsoft Volume Licensing Business – Americas
Lori Monson, Senior Director, NOAM Sales
Brent Clark, Director, Strategic Accounts – NOAM

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Collaborating to Provide Every Student Access to High-Quality Career Learning

October 10th, 2018

This post is written by Project Lead The Way, a Diamond Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

Project Lead the Way LogoIf learners don’t know what’s possible, they can’t explore opportunities available to them and pursue paths that position them to thrive.

It is because of this that Project Lead The Way (PLTW) believes every student deserves access to high-quality career learning experiences – that is, learning experiences that show students the array of opportunities that exist and empower them to develop the knowledge and skills they need to take advantage of those opportunities.

PLTW’s Career Learning Approach

To support our career learning philosophy, PLTW provides transformative learning experiences for students and teachers across the United States through seamless, scaffolded PreK-12 curricular pathways and teacher training in computer science, biomedical science and engineering.

These efforts are proving effective. Independent third parties validate PLTW’s work, and we hear stories of impact every day from students and teachers nationwide. One PLTW middle school student stated:

PLTW has made me think of goals that I never would have even thought of in the first place, and given me the confidence to pursue them.”

This approach to the classroom is invaluable for learners and businesses. Especially, as industries express concerns about a possible skills gap in the future workforce.

Linking Career Learning and CTE

Career learning exists in direct alignment with Career Technical Education (CTE). Really, CTE is career learning, and vice versa.

In communities across the country, CTE leaders and PLTW work together to provide learners with critical learning opportunities. But we have much more work to do. We need to revolutionize the approach to PreK-12 education, with an emphasis on learner-driven career learning experiences, starting at an early age. This includes equipping students with ways to measure their mastery of the skills in a manner that provides value and currency beyond high school. It also includes engaging all relevant stakeholders – from school administrators and educators, to industry, to public officials – in these efforts.

We look forward to continuing this conversation at the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland and discussing the ways we can collaborate to advance this important work. Learners are depending on us, and we can’t afford not to act.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for PreK-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. Approximately 11,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs. For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Making the Most of School Counselors in Career Development

October 2nd, 2018

This post is written by the Fleck Education and Thomas P. Miller & Associates, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

School counselors find connecting learners with Career Technical Education (CTE) coursework and career pathways to be an effective career advising and development strategy.  Yet, few counselors are able to make these connections. In their report, “The State of Career Technical Education” Career Advising and Development, Advance CTE and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) looked to see if states and their school counselors are using effective strategies, finding that more than half (58 percent) of states believe “they are only somewhat effectively serving K-12 learners with career advising and development systems” and less than 30 percent of middle school counselors connect students with CTE coursework or career pathways, despite the fact that the majority (87 percent) of those who use this strategy find it effective or extremely effective.

In their study of school counselors’ perceptions of competency in career counseling, Morgan, Greenwaldt, and Gosselin (2014) found that while school counselors did not identify specific training areas that would have helped them, they did acknowledge that continuing education was imperative based on what they received in their graduate preparation programs.  Overall, they mostly relied on their professional networks for support, describing casual, question-and-answer partnerships being used most frequently.

As providers of professional development, we witnessed this desire to consult and collaborate in our recent work conducting workshops with local State CTE Directors and school counselors.  Overwhelmingly, school counselors appreciated having a facilitated “nuts and bolts” discussion about CTE and programs of study, but especially valued being given the time to collaborate with one another.  This was reflected in a sample of their feedback on what they found helpful:

  • “Solutions to challenges instead of just defining problems;
  • [Obtaining] “need-to-know” information. I also liked that we were able to ask questions, confirm ideas, etc.;
  • It was nice to collaborate with other counselors;
  • Being able to hear about what others are doing with success;
  • Being able to talk to fellow counselors; and
  • Brainstorming with fellow educators.”

Because Advance CTE is recommending more effective professional development and resources to school counselors, and the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) now requires the provision of professional development for a wide variety of CTE professionals, CTE programs of study might consider the following opportunities:

  • Provide professional development to currently practicing school counselors through workshops or webinars.  Allow for time to be devoted to collaboration and sharing;
  • Identify if there is a formal or informal communication system among school counselors in the state—a listserv or website.  Consider creating a listserv for counselors geared toward career counseling and advising;
  • Reach out to all school counselors at all levels – elementary, middle and high school – with developmentally appropriate information on CTE. For example, for elementary school counselors, it could be as simple as guidance on designing a field trip to a CTE program or center;
  • Partner with your state’s school counselor association or become a sponsor of their statewide conference. Present at their conferences or professional development opportunities; and
  • Collaborate with school counselor education programs in your state, particularly the faculty who teach the career theory/development course.  This is a required course for all school counselor education graduate programs and is typically taught by faculty who focus on theory with little to no opportunity for real-world application.

Finally, professional development that focuses on the practical skills of career counseling will help fill the knowledge gap experienced by most of today’s working school counselors.  This could include a “refresher” on interpreting career assessment results, how to have developmentally appropriate career conversations with students, and identifying connections between Career Clusters® or areas of interest.

Fleck Education and Thomas P. Miller & Associates will attend the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore scheduled for October 22-24, 2018. For more information on our services, please contact Kelly Dunn at