Staff Reflects on the 2017 Spring Meeting Part 3

May 16th, 2017

Earlier this  month, we held the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, which brought over 200 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From digging into new research to updates on federal policy, hear what our staff had to say as they reflected on this year’s meeting in this three-part series. 

This year’s Spring Meeting was one of Advance CTE’s largest to date, and featured a strong, forward-looking agenda that covered the biggest issues in CTE today. We had not one – but two keynote speakers and a range of panels and small group discussions designed to support leaders in strengthening their state systems and increasing access and opportunity for all learners.

More than 200 national, state and local leaders came together from across the country, including 41 State CTE Directors. We saw attendees – many of whom are Advance CTE members – from 48 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This great turnout is a personal point of pride for me as the staff person in charge of our professional development offerings and member engagement.

It also makes me excited for our future meetings. Starting on July 1, the Advance CTE state membership will expand to include up to five individuals. So far, 41 states have exercised this new member benefit, which will cover 136 additional individuals along with the State Directors. Nearly two-thirds of these individuals are new members of Advance CTE, and hail from across the continuum of CTE.

The prospect of these new members make it an exciting time to be a part of Advance CTE, and bring with them the opportunities for us to connect members based on their role in CTE to bring new dimensions to the cross-state sharing and networking that is the cornerstone of our organization.

Not yet a member? Today is the perfect day to join “the family”! Member benefits include discounted meeting registration, which you can use at our next in-person meeting.

We hope to see all of you October 16-18 at our Fall Meeting at the BWI Marriott just outside Baltimore, Maryland!

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Over the past few weeks, I have had the great pleasure of interviewing our 11 Excellence in Action award winners about their amazing programs of study, bringing their applications to life (you can read the two-pagers we created for each program based on their interview here). What is clear is that every program is led by dedicated and enthusiastic educators and administrators that deliver innovative and rigorous programs of study uniquely tailored to their students. These programs provide their students with the ability to find their passions while still in high school, all while earning credits, certifications, and networking with employers.

Earlier this month, we honored these 11 programs at our awards ceremony during the 2017 Spring Meeting. Hailing from 10 states and spanning 11 Career Clusters, they collectively serve over 1,500 students by providing high-quality programs that prepare learners for future success in their education and career goals. 25 program leaders representing education and industry came from as far as California to be recognized by Advance CTE and the over 200 state leaders in attendance.

State CTE Directors introduced each program, and recognized them for seamlessly combining academic coursework and real-life, hands on experiences with industry experts; supported transitions from secondary to postsecondary education, all backed up by incredible data. I encourage you to read more about each program, and look to them as models in the country.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications

Staff Reflects on the 2017 Spring Meeting Part 2

May 10th, 2017

Last week, we held the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, which brought over 200 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From digging into new research to updates on federal policy, hear what our staff had to say as they reflected on this year’s meeting in this three-part series. 

As the topic of career readiness continues to gain prominence in state policy conversations, state and local CTE leaders have been increasingly interested in career advising and counseling as strategies for improving career readiness. In response to that interest, Advance CTE had two sessions at our Spring Meeting on counseling.

The first was our keynote speaker on the second day of the meeting, 2017 School Counselor of the Year, Terri Tchorzynski. Terri, a school counselor at the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Michigan, spoke about how she uses data to plan interventions that support students’ needs not just emotionally, but academically as well. For me, it was informative to hear her discussions on the stigmas and perceptions facing both CTE and counseling, and her superhero examples led to an unofficial theme for the day – describing the people who do this work on the ground in schools as true superheroes.

The second session that day on counseling was a breakout led by Jill Cook, Assistant Director of the American School Counselor Association. In her session, Jill led a discussion with our members on the role counselors can and should play in schools, and how they can support CTE. This information seemed particularly relevant given the report just released on the attitudes of students and parents when it comes to CTE. I’m excited to continue this conversation and find ways for counselors and CTE leaders to work together and help learners.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

 

At last year’s spring meeting we debuted new candies printed with the brand-new Advance CTE logo. We jokingly referred to these as “Advance-mints” in recognition of the new name.

Candy-related puns aside, advancement was a clear and unspoken theme at the 2017 spring meeting. This year’s conference explored thorny issues, celebrated exemplar programs and continued to advance an ambitious agenda centered around the organization’s Putting Learner Success First vision for the future of CTE.

On Tuesday afternoon, Advance CTE coordinated five concurrent workshop sessions, building on a new idea introduced at the October convening. These sessions were designed to help participants go deep on a particular issue and work through challenges with experts in the field. Each session took a different approach — some included panel discussions, while others required participants to roll up their sleeves and work on material they could take back to their states. But the aim of each session was the same: to inspire deep thinking and idea sharing and advance the caliber of the field.

The topics for the five sessions included:

  • Determining Quality Industry-Recognized Credentials
  • Driving Continuous Improvement through Meaningful Local Program Evaluation
  • Finding the Right Message for Students and Parents
  • Input Session: CTE Program Approval Policy Framework
  • Using Career Readiness Data to Drive Student Success

I attended “Driving Continuous Improvement,” which was developed and run by Sandra Staklis and Laura Rasmussen Foster at RTI International. Through a technical assistance contract with the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), RTI has been working with different states to identify relevant metrics and design rubrics to support monitoring and accountability at the local level. In North Carolina, RTI helped design a CTE program evaluation instrument that local districts have since been using to evaluate the quality and health of their programs. In Wyoming, a similar rubric is being used to facilitate regional conversations, using data to explore continuous improvement opportunities.

In the session, we unpacked trends RTI uncovered in their work, and helped participants explore potential metrics to use in their own states. At my table, we decided to prioritize student success outcomes, pulling out metrics such as the “percentage of CTE students enrolling in postsecondary without requiring remediation” and “percentage of CTE students employed in high wage, high demand fields after graduation.” Although these indicators are often the hardest to measure, they are no less important in determining program success.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

College and Career Indicators: How Do You Define CTE Completion?

April 27th, 2017

This post is written by Harris School Solutions, a Diamond Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

As we draw near to the end of another school year, we should be asking ourselves, “Have we prepared this year’s graduates to really be ‘college and career ready?’” To answer that question, we first must decide what, exactly, that phrase really means.

Nearly every state in the nation is on a fast and furious quest to answer this question. College and Career Indicators (CCI) have emerged, as each state is defining various criteria that can be measured to validate “college and career readiness.” In today’s world of data crunching, this phrase should not be just a subjective evaluation; it must be quantifiable, based on specific and measurable student outcomes.

Some examples of CCI are more easily measured. Business internships give students real-world work experience. Practical-skill attainment based on robust CTE Programs of Study can lead to increased student engagement. Industry credentials can be earned before a student graduates from high school.

However, one of the most highly sought after CCIs remains elusive and difficult to define: CTE completion. While everyone wants to claim their students have “completed” a career pathway or program of study, what exactly does this mean? Some states define it by the number of hours a student is enrolled in a given pathway. Others base it on the amount of curriculum completed, where 70 percent is often a universally accepted threshold of proficiency.

CTE completion rates are complicated by the fact that different states offer CTE programs during different intervals of secondary education. High schools that specialize in CTE often provide three- or four-year programs of study, where students can accumulate 360-400 hours of concentrated CTE study per year. In traditional high schools, students may take a CTE course for only two or three hours per week in a given semester, accumulating, on average, 180 hours of study. Some practitioners feel it’s important to distinguish between enrollment duration and attendance hours. If a student is absent for two weeks, she potentially could lose 30 or more hours of seat time, thus affecting her ability to “complete.”

Regardless, if our quest is to measure whether a student is truly “college and career ready,” then expressing these various metrics in a universal dashboard is critical. Though the goal of consensus may be ambitious, aggregating data to share CTE outcomes is nonetheless a necessity for objective comparison and subsequent improvement. Furthermore, interpreting the data to help key stakeholders – students and parents – understand the value of a CTE education will help students to realize the opportunity for high-skill, high-wage, high-demand careers.

California has taken the lead in creating a CTE College and Career Indicator Dashboard. The Association of Career and College Readiness Organizations (CAROCP) is trailblazing an initiative to define what deems a student to be “college and career ready.” What makes the California initiative impressive is that it is a grassroots movement; a group of 11 pilot sites have published the first edition of a California CCI Dashboard. They started with simple metrics, but have gained the attention of the California Department of Education. In fact, superintendents from across California recently marched into the State Capitol, armed with mobile devices, sharing evidence of CTE student success using the CCI Dashboard. The Senators loved it – and asked for more.

We know all students must be “college and career ready” by the time they graduate. By striving to utilize our CTE data in meaningful and productive ways, we can help others to realize the benefits that a CTE education has to offer today’s students in accomplishing that goal. But that only happens if we, as CTE educators, commit our time, resources, and energy to ensuring “college and career ready” stands for something more than just words – we must translate it into numbers.

To learn more about how your state can collect and measure College and Career Indicators, please contact Kathy Ritch, Harris School Solutions, at kritch@harriscomputer.com.

Computer Skills No Longer Optional

April 21st, 2017

This post is written by the Certiport, a Diamond Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

It’s easy to think of the millennial generation, those born roughly between 1982 and 2002, as tech-savvy digital natives — and in many ways they are. Immersed in consumer technology since birth, today’s youth has mastered the art of the swipe, the selfie and social media. So it may come as a surprise that millennials often lack essential digital skills needed to succeed in the workplace — be it a conventional office setting, an auto mechanic’s shop, or in a tractor on a farm.

Technology: Ubiquitous in Every Industry

Digital technology has extended its reach into every field imaginable — and it isn’t limited to white collar careers. Ninety-six percent of working Americans use new communications technologies as part of their daily life, while 62 percent use the internet as an integral part of their jobs.1 Nearly all industries today require at least some on-the-job interaction with a digital device, including sectors the general public often doesn’t consider technology dependent.

Succeeding in the Modern Workplace

Basic digital literacy skills are requisite in virtually every industry everywhere you go, but students often enter the workforce without them. This is why performance-based digital literacy certifications — such as Certiport’s IC3 Digital Literacy Certification — are critical for both employers and students.

“A certificate provides an excellent opportunity for kids to reach a goal. There’s a lot of discipline in obtaining a certificate, and a lot of structure in certificate programs. These elements help students become successful at whatever they pursue beyond high school.”
–Dan Ramirez, National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3)

Learn More

We invite you to read more about the need for globally-recognized, third-party validated digital literacy skills in the issue brief that will be included in your Advance CTE Spring Meeting conference bag.

Certiport offers performance- and knowledge-based certification exams, as well as courseware and practice materials for the following programs:

  • Microsoft Office Specialist
  • Microsoft Technology Associate
  • Adobe Certified Associate
  • Autodesk Certified User
  • QuickBooks Certified User
  • IC3 Digital Literacy Certification
  • IC3 Spark
  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business NEW
  • ToonBoom Certified Associate NEW

Please join us Tuesday evening for drinks and discussion at our hospitality suite (Room 825 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel) from 5 to 7 PM. Click here to RSVP.

We look forward to visiting with you at the Spring 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

 

 

CompTIA: Helping Student Success in IT Careers

April 10th, 2017

This post is written by CompTIA, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

Currently, there are more than 500,000 open IT jobs and not nearly enough qualified candidates to fill them.  Does anyone anticipate this number going down?  We certainly don’t.  As everything becomes more and more connected—lightbulbs, appliances, smart grids—the need also increases to maintain and secure these connections.  In addition, IT is everywhere!  Is there any industry that doesn’t have IT needs?

Did you know:

  • Median IT job salaries are nearly $40,000 higher than non-IT jobs
  • By the end of 2017, the global IT industry will exceed $5 TRILLION
  • According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IT Security Analyst position is the fastest growing job they have ever seen
  • 85 percent of executives indicate there is an IT skills gap in their business

A great way to visualize the size of the skills gap is to visit the new CompTIA sponsored website  www.CyberSeek.org.  This new site includes very recent job data to illustrate the need for  qualified cyber workers by state, region and nation.  There is also a cyber pathway tool that shows specific cyber jobs, salaries and openings in the US.

We need to work together to help students and educators understand the vast opportunities in technology careers.  Employers are looking for candidates that can demonstrate the skills needed to fill technology positions in almost every industry sector.

Providing students with the proper preparation AND a recognized industry recognized credential will help them stand out during their career search.  Keeping skills current and relevant is a challenge, but one answer is to ensure that they obtain Industry-Recognized Certifications.  More than 72 percent of businesses say they believe IT skills certifications are becoming more important.  CompTIA is at the forefront of helping prepare students to become job-ready:

  • We have certified more than 2 million individuals worldwide
  • Our certifications are recognized globally
  • We are the largest vendor-neutral IT certification body in the world
  • Our Academy Partner Program works with secondary and post-secondary schools to support their efforts to train and certify students

What can you do NOW to help properly prepare students for a rewarding IT career?  It must first start in our high schools:

  • Instructors need to be certified in the certifications they are teaching
  • Help students understand the importance recognized certification credentials;
  • Certifications=Jobs, and most colleges provide credit for industry-recognized certifications towards a degree
  • Combine classroom-based instruction with work based learning opportunities—apprenticeships, visits to local businesses, etc.

CompTIA is here to help!  Our Academy Partner Program (free to schools) provides:

  • Complimentary instructor vouchers and CertMaster online learning companion
  • Significantly discounted certification vouchers for students
  • CompTIA Instructor Network community to network with other teachers and provide webinars on how to teach our certifications.
  • Research, posters case studies and other resources

Working together, we can help students get started towards an exciting career in the tech industry.  Please stop by our tabletop to learn more.

Hear from over 25 CTE leaders at the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting

March 15th, 2017

Join us May 2 – 4, 2017 in Washington, D.C. four our annual Spring Meeting bringing together Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders from across the country for two and a half days of panels, breakout sessions and networking opportunities. This year’s meeting will feature over 25 leaders in CTE tackling issues from Perkins reauthorization to expanding access to CTE in rural communities.

As the new administration takes shape, it’s critical to stay up-to-date on how these changes may affect your state. This year’s meeting includes panels discussing timely topics such as:

  • Leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to Drive Career Readiness for All;
  • Reauthorizating the Higher Education Act; and
  • CTE and School Choice

Register Today! 

Not an Advance CTE Member? Become one today and save $175 on registration!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Explore major trends in student engagement at the 2017 Spring Meeting

February 14th, 2017

Advance CTE Keynote Will Explore Student Engagement

For years, Gallup has polled high school and college students, recent graduates and their parents to gauge their perceptions, aspirations and experiences within the U.S. education system. In this session, hear from Tim Hodges, Ph.D., Director of Research for Gallup’s Education Practice, as he leans on years of research to share what students, parents and employers want.

Early bird registration for the 2017 Spring Meeting ends in two weeks! Register today to save $100.

In case you missed it last week, we released an agenda packed with informative panels, engaging breakout sessions and impactful small-group discussions exploring the latest in federal policy and trends in CTE. Register today to save $100 on your registration!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

2017 School Counselor of the Year will Keynote Advance CTE Spring Meeting

February 2nd, 2017

We’re proud to announce the keynote speaker for this year’s meeting: Terri Tchorzynski, the 2017 School Counselor of the Year!

Tchorzynski is a school counselor at the Calhoun Area Career Center in BattleCreek, Michigan, where she and her fellow counselors use the power of data to identify interventions and support students’ social-emotional health, college and career readiness preparation, and academics. Tchorzynski’s remarks will focus on the importance of school counselors and bring some insights into counseling CTE students.

The School Counselor of the Year program is presented by the American School Counselor Association, and finalists are chosen based on creative school counseling innovations, effective programs, leadership skills and contributions to student advancement.

Or hear from one of her former students – now a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Michigan – in her own words.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

Spring Meeting Staff Reflections Part 2

June 2nd, 2016

Last week, we held the 2016 Advance CTE Spring Meeting which brought over 150 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From unveiling our new vision to diving into the federal policy landscape, staff takes a look back at what they found most valuable at this year’s meeting in the second part of this two-part series. 

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager: As a new employee at Advance CTE, it was especially relevant that the first day of my first spring meeting was all about the new Shared Vision for CTE. This document describes the five recommendations for effective CTE policies and practices that will drive our work and the work of our members in the coming years. After unveiling the Vision in the morning and hearing from two informative and thought-provoking panels, participants spent the afternoon brainstorming and discussing strategies for succeeding with the five recommendations. State leaders in secondary and postsecondary first discussed what is currently happening in the recommendation areas, and then expanded their conversations to what can and should be done to drive progress. They also discussed the roles to be played by state, local and national leaders, as well as other key partners. It was inspiring to see our members openly share promising practices and lessons learned with each other, and begin new innovations. After the breakouts, it was clear that these were only the start of many conversations to come on how to act on these recommendations, conversations which we are excited to lead and participate in.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development: One of the greatest benefits of attending an Advance CTE meeting is the incredible networking opportunity. It was wonderful to watch longtime members catching up with one another, and to see new and prospective members making connections that will likely last long after they’ve been promoted and moved on to new opportunities.

Several first-time attendees told me that though this was their first Advance CTE meeting, it won’t be their last. Discounted rates to these meetings are just one of the many benefits of being an Advance CTE member. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, now is the perfect time to join this community!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate: We all know that CTE has a major perception issue and we heard loud and clear from our education reform panel during the meetings first day that the stigma remains around CTE, and that it’s up to our community to tell our story in order to breakdown myths and stereotypes. This call to action came at a perfect time since this year’s keynote, Roxana Moussavian, focused on how we as state and national leaders can shape the perception of CTE by telling the story of the work we do, and the impact it has every single day.

We kicked off the keynote by getting into pairs to share our own CTE stories, which we then discussed as a larger group. Roxana noted how important these stories are in encouraging and shaping policy making at the state and national level, which she experienced firsthand while working at the White House. From there, Roxana debuted her soon-to-be-launched documentary and website where everyone: students, parents, educators, policymakers and employers, can share their CTE story and learn from others from across the nation.

We all know how great CTE is and the impact it has in the lives of millions of students in the US. However, it’s up to us to tell our communities, states and national leaders our CTE story, and Roxana did a great job of demonstrating a few ways in which we can do exactly that.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate: This being my first Spring Meeting (I joined the Advance CTE team in April), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I ultimately decided the best strategy to make the most of the conference would be to keep an open mind, meet as many people as possible, and take detailed notes. While the conference started off with a discussion of Advance CTE’s new vision, the breakout sessions on Tuesday brought these principles home for me with specific examples of effective CTE programs and policies from around the states.

These breakout sessions covered state examples in four relevant topic areas: CTE teacher certification, career counseling, career readiness and accountability, and access to community college. I was lucky enough to attend the last breakout session, which explored Community College Promise programs in both Tennessee and Oregon. The Tennessee program, which supplies last-dollar scholarships and individual mentors to support student access and persistence through college, saw a promising 16,000 participants in its first year. Meanwhile, Oregon has already recruited 7,000 students for its pilot cohort this fall. Each has different requirements for recruiting students, awarding scholarships, and collecting data — though there seems to be a lot of promise for Community College Promise in both states! Overall, the breakout sessions provided helpful examples to anchor the principles outlined in the vision and I’m already looking forward to our next convening this fall!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Spring Meeting Staff Reflections Part 1

May 31st, 2016

This time last week we were in the midst of our 2016 Advance CTE Spring Meeting which brought over 150 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From unveiling our new vision to diving into the federal policy landscape, staff takes a look back at what they found most valuable at this year’s meeting in this two-part series. 

Kimberly Green, Executive Director: Each year, Advance CTE hosts an annual awards ceremony that recognizes two categories of winners. The Stars of Education acknowledges leadership in our own community and those in Congress who fight the good fight on behalf of CTE.  This year, Dr. Charisse Childers, State Director in Arkansas won the Rising Star award and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) won the Star of Education award. We also recognize high-quality programs of study through our Excellence in Action Awards. The selection committee has over 100 applications from 30 states to review and selected 11 winners, each in a different Career Cluster.

I had the honor to emcee this year’s awards ceremony and truth be told I had to hold back tears as some of the winners made their remarks. Their commitment, leadership, inspiration and dedication results in changing the lives of thousands of students each year.  And this array of winners is proof that high-quality CTE can be successful in any and every community in our country.

What is common across all the winners is that they all have leaders who have an unrelenting commitment to quality, create cultures of high expectations, see obstacles as opportunities and put the learner first. My hope is by sharing and celebrating these winners, we both shine a light on their accomplishment but also position them as a beacon for others to benchmark against and learn from.

So to our winners, I say thank you. Thank you for reminding us that high expectations bring about excellence.  Thank you for proving that excellence can be found in any zip code and reminding us that high quality programs for all students – ALL students – is an achievable goal. Thank you for reminding us why we do this work but mostly thank you for what you do every day to help students find their voice, their path and their success.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director: For me, the release of our new vision was the absolute highlight of the Spring Meeting and, in particular, seeing all of our members and partners sign their commitment to this new vision. After over a year of planning – from the early design phase, the Future of CTE Summit hosted with our eight co-conveners, and the work to synthesize the many (many) awesome and innovative ideas to come out of that Summit – seeing the new shared vision in the hands of our members, Putting Learner Success First, was an amazing experience. From the presentation by Advance CTE officers, the panels of our vision supporters and feisty reformers and the Enacting the Vision roundtable, Monday demonstrated how impactful this vision can and will be within and beyond the CTE community and I can’t wait to start putting it into action!

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager: Along with the roll-out of Advance CTE’s new vision, federal policy was top of mind for many at our Spring Meeting. While we heard much about the forthcoming effort to renew the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins) towards the end of our conference, Perkins was a recurring theme throughout many of the conference sessions during the week.

The recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) also took center stage with both bills providing unique opportunities (as well as some challenges) for the CTE community in the coming years. The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) also provided some timely updates for attendees on some national initiatives of interest.

All in all, it was a great week for Advance CTE members and attendees alike to hear from leading experts, Congressional staff, and other stakeholders about what the federal policy environment has in store for CTE.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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