Staff Reflections of the 2016 Fall Meeting

October 20th, 2016

This week, Advance CTE held its 2016 Fall Meeting bringing together attendees from across the country to take a deep dive into all things Career Technical Education (CTE). Advance CTE staff reflects on the Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland in this two-part series. 

Perkins Reauthorization and Looking Ahead

The Carl D. Perkins Act and related reauthorization efforts in Congress were top of mind throughout our meeting. During a general session on Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to participate on a panel with Alisha Hyslop, the Association for Career Technical Education’s Director of Public Policy, and speak to the current reauthorization processes in both chambers of Congress. With an overwhelming vote of support from the House, activity and focus has centered on the Senate where the parties remain locked in negotiations over the issue of secretarial authority. Following this, Kimberly Green, Advance CTE’s executive director, led a reaction panel with distinguished set of state CTE directors from Washington state, Iowa, and Maryland. With the prospects for Perkins uncertain in this congress, the discussion focused on what states can be doing now, using current law, to promote their respective visions for high-quality CTE.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

Fall Meeting Provides Opportunity for CTE Leaders from Across the Nation to Come Together 

Networking is one of the greatest benefits of attending an Advance CTE meeting. This year’s Fall Meeting was no different – with 150 attendees gathering from 40 states, one territory and D.C. Consistent with our new name and tagline, “Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work,” attendees included State CTE Directors, counterparts, state staff, as well as local and national CTE leaders.

This meeting was made possible thanks to financial support from our many longtime sponsors:

  • Diamond-level sponsors: Certiport, Kuder, and the National Center for College and Career Transitions.
  • Gold-level sponsors: NOCTI and Today’s Class
  • Bronze-level sponsors: CTECs, MBA Research, Realityworks

Many attendees had the opportunity to take part in a special networking opportunity thanks to the generous support from Kuder, who sponsored a dinner cruise along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

With all of the excitement and energy around CTE, we are looking forward to seeing this community of bold CTE leaders continue to grow during our next in-person meeting. Save the date – May 2-4, 2017 in Washington D.C. for our 2017 Spring Meeting!

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Membership Engagement

Advance CTE and Meeting Attendees Lean into Putting Learner Success First

Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE was a central topic throughout 2016 Fall Meeting, which provided participants with insight into how to share and implement the vision including solid state, local and partner examples of the fantastic work already being accomplished. The meeting kicked off with a dinner and opening session that brought together all attendees to learn more about the multitude of resources Advance CTE and partners have developed, the sign on campaign, which has been supported by over 30 states, and the growing list of national partners. We heard from one of our newest supporters, Goodwill, Inc., who described CTE’s importance in serving all learners to bring them successfully into the workforce, the Association for Career and Technical Education who reiterated the success of the vision in speaking to the necessity of high-quality CTE educators, and FCCLA who continues to commit to the success of all learners. We also heard from states including Wisconsin and Nebraska who have worked hard to spread the vision far and wide in their states, and use it as a resource when strengthening their own state visions. We are thankful to our partners, members and meeting attendees who have wholeheartedly adopted this vision for CTE, and continue the imperative work of carrying out vision principles and strategies as we strive to ensure all learners are prepared for a lifetime of career success.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications

What’s the ROI on Industry Certifications?: How industry certifications yield a high return on investment for employers, schools, and students

October 10th, 2016

There’s no such thing as a risk-free investment.Certiport-Pearson-Logo-Final (1)

Or is there?

As employers, schools, and students contemplate how to invest their dollars to yield the greatest return, they may want to consider recent studies on the benefits of earning professional industry certifications.

While it’s true that there’s no such thing as an entirely risk-free investment, the numbers don’t fib: earning professional software certifications yields a high return on investment (ROI) for the workforce, schools, and students.

ROI for the Workforce

The findings of a Burning Glass study drew the attention of The Wall Street Journal in an article titled, “The Key to a Good-Paying Job Is…Microsoft Excel?”

Study highlights show that it’s practically imperative for workers entering the workforce to possess Microsoft Office skills. “The most commonly required skills are also the most basic ones,” the report states. “Spreadsheet and word-processing software such as Microsoft Corp.’s Excel and Word.”

The Burning Glass study also found that:

  • Spreadsheet and word processing proficiencies have become a baseline requirement for the majority of middle-skill opportunities (78%)
  • Digitally intensive middle-skill occupations offer 18% higher wages on average
  • Digitally intensive jobs have grown 2.5 times more rapidly than middle-skill jobs that do not require spreadsheets, word processing, or other digital skills (between 2003 and 2013, 4.7% growth for digitally intensive jobs compared to 1.9% growth for other positions)

Despite these benefits, workers entering workforce often come without the needed baseline digital skills. “Effectively, entire segments of the U.S. economy are off-limits to people who don’t have basic digital skills,” the report notes, suggesting that schools and other training sites should go back to the basics.

Supply and demand dictates that employers will seek and pay for those who have these proficiencies. Industry certifications, such as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), teach and test Microsoft software skills. Further, they provide recognized stamps of approval to those who earn their certification. For employers, the ROI on a digitally skilled employee will be greater than on one who enters the job at a remedial level.

ROI for the Education System

School systems have limited budget to invest in programs that will help prepare their students for higher learning and for pursuing a career.

As it turns out, the ROI is demonstrably high for school systems that invest in programs to train and certify students in Microsoft Office software.

The Florida Case

Florida schools have a CAPE program (Career & Professional Education Act). CAPE focuses on teaching professional-level skills that translate to workforce success. At Dunbar High School, for example, CAPE Academy students perform better than non-academy students. The school invested in a program to train CAPE students and help them earn industry-recognized certifications for Microsoft Office software.

CAPE Academy students who earned professional-level certifications—

  • Outperformed their peers in average GPA (see chart 2)
  • Showed lower dropout rates
  • Showed higher rates of graduation
  • Outperformed non-academy peers on Florida standardized testing (FCAT)

The conclusion? Industry-recognized certification works in academia to boost student performance and longevity. (Note: The study is not just for Microsoft certification, as CAPE Academy cuts across data for students studying in multiple industry segments and technology areas.)


Chart 2











ROI for the Student

The numbers show that student market value (salary) with industry certification is greater than without it (see chart 3).


Chart 3


What do industry certifications mean to me?

That’s the question asked by students, schools, and employers as they consider investing time and money into certification programs. While there’s no such thing as a risk-free investment, the numbers show that investing in such programs is about as close to a risk-free investment as one can get.

Would you like more discussion about this issue and how it affects you? If you happen to be attending the Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, on Monday, October 17, stop by our hospitality suite from 8:00-10:00 p.m. We’ll be in Suite 1026 of the BWI Airport Marriott. We look forward to seeing you!

Contact: Mike Maddock
Director of Strategic Accounts

This post was written by Certiport, a Pearson VUE Business, is the sole provider of industry certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist, Adobe Certified Associate, Autodesk Certified User, IC3 Digital Literacy Certification, and others. Certiport is a sponsor of the 2016 Advance CTE Fall Meeting. Thank you Certiport! 

NOCTI: Supporting Teacher Quality and Retention

October 3rd, 2016

As a longstanding member—50 years to be precise—of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, NOCTI has watched many NOCTI--Navy--Med--Web-Usechanges in both perception and reality as it relates to CTE in popular media and public policy. Sometimes the changes are favorable and currently CTE is experiencing some significant support. Although it appears that federal legislation regarding CTE will be stalled until after the presidential election, the reauthorization did receive almost unanimous support in the House of Representatives for the “Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century” Act at 405-5. Yet, there is a looming issue that affects us all—an issue that has a significant impact on the success or failure of all CTE programs. That issue relates to finding quality CTE teachers and ensuring resources are available to support and retain them. Primarily, this applies to CTE teachers who enter the classrooms directly from industry—something typically referred to as an “alternative certification.”

Over the last few years, the CTE community has experienced increased interest which has fueled the need—or the demand—side of the equation. Yet, at the same time many states have struggled to keep supply channels open. NOCTI is aware of the issue because we are part of the certification process for CTE teacher candidates in approximately 25 states. An additional number of states use NOCTI resources to determine if candidates are competent in all aspects of their technical fields. In just the last three years, the number of assessments used for teacher credentialing has jumped an average of 40% in approximately ten states. In addition, five other states have requested to establish NOCTI teacher candidate testing centers in their states. Lastly, if one looks at the Advance CTE two-minute roundup report from 2015, the biggest struggle at that time was recruiting, retaining, and supporting quality CTE teachers.

It is common knowledge that CTE teachers are a “special breed” of teacher; they bring workforce experiences to the classroom, are passionate about what they do and why they are working in education, and have a “whatever-it-takes-to-accomplish-the-goal” attitude. These individuals make up 14% of our nation’s teaching force—it is critical that they have a strong and useful support system.

As a non-profit entity lead by a Board of Trustees elected by the 56 state directors of CTE across the country and in US territories, NOCTI is determined to stay ahead of the needs of the field it serves. Since NOCTI’s primary focus is in serving the CTE community, we’d like identify a few resources which may be helpful for your state.

  1. Teacher Certification and Competence Resources: NOCTI’s initial goal was to help states secure competent CTE teachers and, as mentioned above, our resources are used in a number of state teacher certification systems. Remember, however, that even if your state does not have a formal process for alternatively-certified CTE teachers, NOCTI’s resources are available for you to provide an objective third-party assessment of a candidate’s competence. Learn more!
  2. Awareness of Resources for New CTE teachers: NOCTI works in every state in the nation and because we have a strong focus on accountability, professional improvement, and credentialing, we have encountered numerous examples from several states. As a brief example, the work underway in California’s “CTE TEACH” program utilizes the development of a support structure for CTE teachers during their “formative” years. Learn more!
  3. Partnerships: NOCTI’s focus on assisting CTE teachers in experiencing success has led to partnerships with like-minded associations like ACTE. There are currently two publications available that focus on new CTE teachers with a third installment on the way. NOCTI and ACTE also collaborated on a publication focused on instructional improvement. Learn more!

Since we’ve mentioned ACTE, it is important to note that they also offer resources through their online Core Community which focuses on different aspects of CTE teacher skills. NOCTI has collaborated with ACTE to provide individuals taking advantage of this resource with a digital badge.

We hope this blog serves two purposes: 1) that it highlights the importance of the CTE teacher shortage, and 2) that it identifies some helpful resources to use. If NOCTI can be of service, please contact us at to see how we can help you. NOCTI is excited to be a GOLD sponsor of the Advance CTE fall meeting; be sure to seek us out and say hello!

This post was written by NOCTI, a sponsor of the Advance CTE 2016 Fall Meeting. Thank you NOCTI! 

Change is Necessary; Change is Possible

September 29th, 2016

How do we lead an effective Change effort? John Kotter, author of the renowned book called “Leading Change” explained eight steps for leading change. The first step is to create a sense of urgency. Without an understanding of the true challenges facing an organization, a business, or a community, it is difficult to garner the energy for sustained work around change.

Also of note is his third step: To “create a vision for change and key strategies.” One aspect of creating this vision is not only to articulate a positive future, but to convince people that change is possible and beneficial.

As leaders in Career Technical Education (CTE) and the broader Pathways Movement, these two ideas – Change is Necessary, and Change is Possible – go hand-in-hand.

In my new book, The Power and Promise of Pathways, I devote two chapters to organizing and communicating the most credible research and data available around these topics. The second chapter focuses on findings related to big economic and workforce trends of which everyone should be aware. I call these the Visible Challenges. They are:

1. The Skills Gap: There are Too Few Skilled Workers NC3T logo
2. There is an Entrepreneurship Gap
3. Too Many Are Opting Out of the Workforce
4. Too Many Youth Are Not Working and Not Going to School
5. Too Few Youth and Young Adults Are Completing Postsecondary Education
6. The U.S. Workforce is Slipping in Competitiveness
7. Too Many Young Adults are Facing Economic Set-Backs

Next, I identified a number of Root Causes that find their home in our education and workforce systems. These Root Causes start to point the way to a Pathways System initiative as the solution. They are:

1. Many Youth Don’t Experience Impactful Career Development
2. U.S. Culture is Dominated by “University-for-All” Message
3. Most Schools Don’t Embrace Employer Perspectives on Career Readiness
4. Too Many Youth Are Disengaged From Learning
5. Too Many Youth Have Weak Academic Skills and Lack College Readiness
6. Too Many Students Still Drop Out of High School
7. Very Few High School Graduates Have Well-Developed Career and Technical Knowledge
8. Our Student Population is Becoming More Diverse But Large Achievement Gaps Persist

In the next chapter, I organized research findings that suggest the effectiveness of Pathways System initiatives, as well as discreet education reform strategies that can be incorporated into a Pathways system. The positive evidence includes:

1. Pathways Initiatives Help Improve Academic Achievement
2. Pathways Initiatives Help Increase Rigorous Academic Course Taking
3. Pathways Initiatives Help Improve High School Graduation
4. Pathways Initiatives Help Develop Career Readiness Skills
5. Pathways Initiatives Help Increase Long-term Earnings

Specifically, Pathways-related reforms point to the following benefits:

1. Career Exploration

  • Career Exploration Helps Students Make Better College Choices
  • Career Exploration Leads to Better Postsecondary Achievement
  • Career Exploration Helps Students Make More Intentional Choices
  • Career Courses Help Improve Academic Achievement

2. Career and Technical Education

  • CTE Strengthens Student Achievement
  • CTE Credentials Boost Earnings
  • CTE Course-taking Reduces High School Dropouts
  • Career Technical Student Organizations Enhance Student Engagement
  • CTE Students Develop Workplace-relevant Competencies
  • Arkansas CTE Provides Achievement and Graduation Outcomes
  • Massachusetts CTE Elevates Achievement

3. Employer and Community Engagement

  • Employer Engagement Enhances the Student Learning Experience
  • Employer Engagement Improves Student Motivation for School Achievement
  • Employer Engagement Helps Students Makes Better Career Decisions
  • Community Volunteerism Strengthens Student Motivation and Achievement

4. Structured Student Supports

  • High School Support Strategies Help Prevent and Reduce Student Dropouts
  • High School Supports (AVID) Strengthen College Retention and Persistence
  • College Support (ASAP) Improves College Retention and Completion
  • Supports and Guidance Help Improve College Completion

5. Structured Programming

  • Structure Programs Improve College Enrollments and Completion (Early-College Initiative)
  • Guided Pathways in Community Colleges Strengthen Student Retention and Completion

6. Dynamic Teaching and Learning

  • Active Learning Strategies Help Improve Student Learning
  • Integrated Math-in-CTE Improves Student Achievement
  • Integrated Literacy-in-CTE Improve Student Achievement
  • Integration of Academic and CTE Content Promotes Postsecondary Success
  • Accelerated Developmental Education Increases Postsecondary Success

Of course, in this blog, we don’t have the space to explore the specifics behind each of these findings. But for those promoting Career Technical Education and Pathways Systems, rest assured that the data is compelling, and every day and every year, the body of knowledge is growing.

At the upcoming Advance CTE meeting, we are excited to offer a complimentary copy of The Power and Promise of Pathways to each meeting participant. I hope the way this information is organized will help you and your fellow leaders have more confidence in making the case for CTE and Pathways. Change is Necessary; Change is Possible!

This post was written by NC3T, a sponsor of the 2016 Advance CTE Fall Meeting. Thank you NC3T!

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Registration Closes Friday

September 27th, 2016

Don’t miss your opportunity to network with your peers and experts at this year’s Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland! Join us October 17-19 to take on some of today’s most important CTE issues through informative breakout sessions, facilitated small-group discussions and expert-led panels.

Session HighlightBaltimore

Work with your peers and take a deep dive into how states have tackled the following topics during collaboration roundtables:

  • Developing a Statewide Vision and Fostering Ownership
  • Targeting Stakeholder Messaging
  • Ensuring Quality and Equity in Rural Regions
  • Analyzing Data to Tell the Story of CTE in Your State
  • Aligning Secondary and Postsecondary Systems to Improve Student Success
  • Fostering Meaningful State-Local Partnerships

Also, don’t miss this opportunity to cruise Baltimore’s Inner Harbor during the Advance CTE Fall Meeting! On Tuesday, October 18, this fun and relaxing event will include drinks, dinner, music, and the beautiful sights from the harbor. This dinner cruise was a favorite from several years ago, and we are excited to bring it back for this year’s meeting.kuder_logo

To join us, be sure to let us know you’re coming to this event when you register for the meeting.

This event is made possible thanks to sponsorship and partnership with Kuder, Inc.

Registration Closes Friday so Register Today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

September 23rd, 2016



Have you checked out our Learning that Works Resource Center lately? We’re updating materials regularly so that you can find the latest CTE and career readiness research, reports, case studies and policies.


Our 2016 Fall Meeting is right around the corner! Join us October 17 – 19 in Baltimore, Maryland to tackle today’s most important CTE issues. Registration closes September 30 so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Early Bird Registration Closes Wednesday!

August 29th, 2016

A lot has changed in Career Technical Education (CTE) this year. With renewed interest from policymakers, attention from the media, fallmeetingand major investments by the philanthropic and private sectors, it’s an exciting time for CTE. Join us October 17-19, in Baltimore, Maryland, to tackle some of today’s most important CTE issues through informative breakout sessions, facilitated small-group discussions and expert-led panels.

Session Highlight:

Leveraging Opportunities to Drive Change within Your State
With career readiness and CTE a top priority for many states and national organizations, there are many new and exciting opportunities to strengthen, support and better position CTE in our education and workforce landscape. As a result, states may need to coordinate multiple initiatives, take advantage of unexpected opportunities, and lay the foundation for future reforms. Learn about how states are leveraging national and state-driven policies and initiatives to drive and implement sustainable change to support learners at all levels.

We’ll also dive into additional topics including:

  • Preview the State of CTE: Industry Experts in the Classroom
  • Learn how states are implementing Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE

Register Today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE: Let Us Know How You Get Industry Experts in the Classroom

August 26th, 2016



Kansas released a new tool to help users find high-demand, high-wage occupations in their communities, along with what education and training it takes to work in those occupations.


Winners of the Reach Higher Career App Challenge were announced by First Lady Michelle Obama this week. The challenge, which called on students, educators and the public to develop mobile applications that helped middle and high school students navigate career pathways was won by ThinkZone Games, who will receive $100,000.


We released a new brief this week as part of our Connecting the Classroom to Careers series exploring work-based learning. The latest installment highlights examples from three states that demonstrate either a systems-level or student-level approach to measuring work-based learning activities.


One of the five principles of Advance CTE’s Shared Vision for CTE is that all learning should be facilitated by knowledgeable experts. Within that principle is a call to action to build and support a pool of experts to supplement learning, including bringing experts in as full-time, part-time or adjunct instructors through alternative and dual certification, along with other strategies.

To advance this principle, we are surveying state and local leaders across the country to understand how they are approaching this issue. In particular, we are hoping to discover what local innovations are happening in this area. The information from this report will be analyzed and released in a report later this year.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Tackle Important CTE Issues at the 2016 Fall Meeting!

August 11th, 2016

Join us October 17-19, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting! 2016 has been an Advance CTEexciting year for Career Technical Education and Advance CTE. This is your chance to get behind-the-scenes information about the ongoing efforts to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, learn about how other states are implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act and Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, and take a deep dive into how you can help advance Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE.

In addition, we’ll dig into some exciting topic areas through informative panels and breakout sessions, as well as collaborative small-group discussions including:

  • Work-based learning including apprenticeships
  • Career-readiness measures
  • CTE and industry experts in the classroom

Don’t miss out on this unique professional development experience! Early bird registration closes August 31,  so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Programs Motivate Students with Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship

November 7th, 2014

Industry-recognized certification is a key part of successful CTE programs, allowing schools to validate technology skills while helping students build their resumes and preparing them to win jobs and internships.

Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, is the world leader in performance-based certification exams and practice test solutions for academic institutions, currently delivering nearly 3 million certification exams each year around the world. Many students see the value of certification, but a good healthy dose of competition never hurts.

Thirteen years ago Certiport held the first Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Championship, a competition to designed to inspire more students to earn MOS certification. Over time the competition has grown in popularity and now educators use it to inspire greatness and generate excitement about certification among their students.

This year more than 300,000 students in the United States entered the MOS competition to demonstrate their level of proficiency in utilizing the world’s foremost desktop computing applications. 40 finalists traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to the MOS U.S. National Championship, where they participated in timed exams and interviews to demonstrate their expertise in Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs. The champions in each program, along with a chaperone, won an all-expense-paid trip to participate in the 2014 MOS World Championship in Anaheim, California.

One of those world finalists, Tyler Millis, is a student of Dunbar High School in tylerFlorida. Dunbar is a magnet school in Ft. Myers, Florida with an enviable CTE program. Dunbar’s Technology Academy Programs offer an outstanding 24 certifications and has certified hundreds of high school students in MOS over the past several years.

Tyler heard about the competition from his teacher, Denise Spence, who has sent finalists in the past. “My teachers all supported me in everything I did and Ms. Spence encouraged me to do my best so I could make it to the World Championship,” said Tyler. He did, and he is already looking ahead since students are allowed to compete for a second time in different exam tracks. “I’m really excited to come back next year if I can,” he said.

Tyler beat out 123 finalists from 40 countries and won the MOS World Championship for PowerPoint 2007 and has become a local celebrity, but the proof is in the pudding, so they say – Tyler has an application development job at a local software engineering company and says winning the MOS World Championship will look amazing on his resume.

Participating in the MOS World Championship is easy – any state, district or school can promote it with marketing materials readily available from Certiport and students enter the competition simply by checking a box when they take MOS certification. Top scorers will be invited to the 2015 MOS United States Championship and the U.S. winners will be invited to compete in the 2015 MOS World Championship in Dallas, Texas next August.

In addition to MOS, Certiport manages a sophisticated portfolio of leading certification programs including: the Microsoft Technology Associate certification program, the Microsoft Certified Educator program, the Adobe® Certified Associate certification program, the HP Accredited Technical Associate, the CompTIA Strata™ IT Fundamentals, the Autodesk Certified User certification program, the Intuit QuickBooks Certified User certification program, and the IC3 Digital Literacy certification.Certiport-Pearson-Logo-Final (1)

Certiport was a wonderful sponsor of our 2014 Fall Meeting held in late October. To learn more about how Certiport and the MOS World Championship can help your CTE program teach and validate in-demand workforce skills with industry-recognized certification, visit