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 

#CTESpringMtg Twitter Wrap-up

May 26th, 2016

This year’s Spring Meeting was packed with exciting announcements, panels and discussions where participants voiced their opinions in the meeting room, and took to Twitter to keep the conversation going.

To kick off the Meeting, we unveiled the new Vision, Putting Learner Success First with accompanying panels discussing what this means for the education field. 

We discussed the latest policy trends at the federal level. 

We recognized our 2016 Star of Education and Excellence in Action Award winners during a ceremony that brought together Spring Meeting participants and 40 administrators, educators and students representing award-winning schools. Culinary Academy students from Central Campus of the Des Moines Public Schools kicked off the day with a tour of the Marriott kitchen. 

And we told our CTE stories. 

For the full discussion check out @CTEWorks using the #CTESpringMtg hashtag.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Title: The Pain and Promise of Change

May 19th, 2016

Looking online recently, I saw an image of a warning sign that read as follows:

DANGER: DO NOT TOUCHNC3T - Danger do not touch sign
Not only will this kill you,
but it will hurt the whole
time you are dying

While this sign may or may not have been mocked up for humorous effect, it reflects how many of us feel about the prospect of change. And not without cause: We probably all bear the scars of changes we weren’t fully prepared for, or worse, scars from “change management” efforts that went awry.

Why is this relevant? Because CTE is now awash in a sea of change. These changes are almost universally positive: Business and political leaders are realizing the value of CTE and their essential connection to workforce systems, and this is driving funding decisions (like JPMorgan Chase’s recent investment in the field), policy efforts (like WIOA federally, and countless efforts at the state level), and the push towards college and career pathways (where CTE should be a primary and driving force).

But even though the changes are positive, that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer the threat of danger and pain. Failing to meet the expectations of funders, industry partners, and policymakers can bring disappointment, diminished support, or even increased oversight. And most importantly, these changes offer a real opportunity to improve the future lives of students, and no one in education wants to be responsible for shortchanging them.

That’s why the National Center for College & Career Transitions (NC3T) was founded: To help secondary and postsecondary educators, industry partners, and community leaders successfully navigate the changing landscape and build quality CTE and pathways models that serve students and all other stakeholders.

The mission of the National Center for College & Career Transitions (NC3T) is for “every learner to have a dream NC3T logoand a plan, and every community to have a capable, ready workforce.” We support CTE offices and other stakeholders in the following areas:

  • Pathways System Design and Development – NC3T provides coaching for the design and implementation of college and career pathways. Our proven planning process and Pathways Design Specifications guide community leadership teams as they create pathways that help students transition from high school to postsecondary education/training to the skilled workforce.
  • Building Statewide Pathways Networks – NC3T manages state-level networks in Pennsylvania and Indiana to build awareness of, and engagement with, college and career pathways efforts, and is actively looking for additional states to support through its Pathways Innovation Network (PIN) model.
  • Employer Engagement Tools and Training – Businesses and schools need to connect; NC3T’s resources, workshops, and coaching make that happen by bringing everyone to the table.
  • Program Improvement Review – Using program quality criteria, NC3T professionals provide a structured process for reviewing and enhancing the quality of CTE and STEM programs.

NC3T is a proud supporter of Advance CTE – we look forward to seeing you all in May at the 2016 Spring Meeting  and working with you to capitalize on the opportunities that change provides.

Why Computer Science for All Is Not a False Peak

May 16th, 2016

Anyone who has ever climbed a mountain knows the experience of a false peak: the exhilaration of finally reaching what has looked like the top Oracle -of the mountain all day, only to summit and see that the real peak is further on and higher up.

Sometimes these historical apex moments—like the public recognition of the importance of computer science education culminating in the White House’s announcement of the Computer Science for All initiative—can seem like a false peak. It’s all there: the challenge, the endurance, the euphoria of reaching the top, and then the difficult realization that there is still a long way to go.

But: there is how things seem, and then there is reality.

For those of us who have been working in computer science education for some time, the two months since President Obama announced the CS for All initiative have been nothing short of amazing. In the blink of an eye, the relative moonscape that was the U.S. computer science (CS) education space has become a Los Angeles freeway at rush hour—and we could not be happier about that. Evidence that our kids need access to computer science education abounds, from Bureau of Labor Statistics data to corporate anecdotes, and with new state-level efforts, coding camps, non-profit organizations, schools and traditional curriculum providers all entering and strengthening the conversation, there is now a real opportunity for our kids to get that education. And I don’t just mean kids with techie parents or kids in affluent schools—Computer Science for All challenges us to make CS education available to every American student, everywhere. It’s an important, and worthy, challenge.

That’s why I’m especially proud that my company, Oracle, is formally making a Computer Science for All commitment today. Although we’ve been working to advance computer science education globally for more than two decades, we’re usually pretty quiet about the work we do. Through our flagship Oracle Academy program, we work to serve educators and provide them the skills and tools they need—including academic, vendor-neutral curriculum—to bring computer science to life with passion in the classroom. We teach teachers and help fill the CS education supply pipeline. We engage with a range of partners, organizations, and events to introduce kids to computer science and inspire them to become tomorrow’s technology innovators and leaders. In all, we invest more than $3.3 billion in resources annually to help educators bring computer science to more than 2.5 million students in 106 countries.

At Oracle, we have been successfully partnering with public education for a long time. We know that an investment in education is very much like climbing a mountain; the children who were primary school students when we started this work in 1993 are just now 20-somethings in the workforce. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and seeing an investment yield real results takes endurance, patience, and faith. The investment we make in introducing a first grader to computer science today will not realize its full potential until the year 2034, or beyond.

Given timelines like this, there is the potential for Computer Science for All to be a false peak in computing education. It is a much needed infusion of focus, passion, and funding into a vitally important issue, and we, as a nation, are now at a high point where we can look proudly back at where we’ve been, and what we’ve done. But we can also more clearly see the work still ahead. Of the people and organizations on this peak today, who will become discouraged and turn away when the wins aren’t quick and the resources become scarce? And who will persevere?

Those of us who are committed to supporting education, though, know that achieving success in education isn’t like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, a freestanding mountain surrounded by plains. It’s more like mountaineering in the Rockies; for every peak you climb, there is always another summit to reach. Make no mistake: Computer Science for All is a summit. It is an honor for me, as a part of Oracle, to join this strong and committed Computer Science for All cohort. Now, more than ever before, access to computer science education is the key to economic growth and social mobility. We’re all on this journey with our children—for our children. Won’t you join us?

 This post was written by Oracle, a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.! 

Safety is a Life Skill

May 13th, 2016

How many of us have taken the time to think about our first safety training? Most of us think about a CareerSafe Logo Orange Blue (1)safety lesson in school or a safety course at work, but in reality it began at home long before we understood completely what we were being told. Do you remember when your mom would yell, “No! Don’t touch that pan, you will burn yourself!” Or perhaps you remember your father saying, “Get out of that tree! You’ll fall and hurt yourself!” Do you remember someone yelling at you, “Stop playing with those matches! Do you want to burn the house down?” All these life instructions were meant to keep us safe and healthy which is why, at CareerSafe, we advocate — “Safety is a Life Skill”— and as such, safety awareness training is not just the responsibility of employers.

Long before students start their first paying job, they work around the house, on their family farm or ranch, at school, in student organizations, volunteering, or at places of worship. In each of these settings, young people are exposed to many of the same hazards they will find in the workplace. If you Google®” student dies”, you will get 153 million results in 0.43 seconds. We do not have to look very hard to find that hazards to students are everywhere all the time. It sad to think that many of these lives might have been saved if only these students had been better prepared to avoid commonly encountered safety hazards.

Our sons and daughters are the future and they deserve a foundation of safety awareness training as part of their life skills long before they reach their first employer. Providing students with safety training early is crucial to establishing good safety and health practices before our children develop bad habits that place them at risk. We must recognize that safety is not simply the concern of business, but requires the responsibility of people at all levels of our communities in order to protect those who are least prepared and most at risk.

There is a reason why our parents and the other adults in our lives spent so much time telling us what not to do. They love us. This love is what drove them to constantly correct our behavior. They wanted to make sure we would understand how to recognize and avoid those life hazards that would place us at risk. In our role as CTE educators, we have a responsibility to share our life lessons to help students build a solid foundation of safety awareness as part of their preparation for managing and living a better quality of life. Let’s always remember that No Job is Worth a Young Worker’s Life.
About CareerSafe
Since 2003, more than 670,000 students have enrolled into CareerSafe safety training programs. By providing fundamental safety knowledge and awareness to entry-level workers, students enter the workforce more confident, capable, and efficient. CareerSafe’s OSHA 10-Hour training courses give students the opportunity to lay a long-term groundwork for future career success. At a cost of $25 per student, CareerSafe provides the most affordable authorized online OSHA training programs in the country. America’s youth are our future. Make safety a priority. For additional information about CareerSafe, visit our website.

This post was written by CareerSafe, a sponsor of our 2016 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. 

NOCTI: The Right Credentials

April 18th, 2016

As a longstanding member of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, NOCTI has seen the pendulum swing many NOCTI--Navy--Med--Web-Usetimes regarding technical training. Sometimes the pendulum swings in favor of the CTE community while other times it does not. At least from a current media perspective, it certainly appears the pendulum is in CTE’s favor and CTE is enjoying some time in the “spotlight.” From most perspectives, being in the spotlight provides a positive opportunity to broaden public support. Because the spotlight moves from issue to issue quickly, it generally forces those who are under it to focus their message quickly. Sometimes that message can become generalized and lose its specificity. We fear this generalization may be happening within the area of credentialing.

Most readers of this blog know that NOCTI spent its early days as part of the “vocational” teacher certification process. They may also be aware that through its current foci on leadership in the areas of technical data-driven instructional improvement, credentialing, and digital badging, NOCTI continues to be proud to be a contributing member of the CTE community. As a non-profit entity lead by a board 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 links to credentialing and the assessment associated with it, we’d like to share a few of our observations. Aside from obvious issues of cost and delivery, the focus will be on five areas NOCTI believes every CTE program should consider during the credential selection process.

1. Proprietary vs. Non-Proprietary Credentials: Simply put, assess the motive of the credential provider. Is the ultimate goal of the credentialing assessment to focus on a particular product line or service? Is it to establish a lifelong pattern of acquiring certificates by the learner as a revenue generator for the providing organization? Can an administrator access the technical manual (this provides statistical data on test construction and performance) on which the assessment is based?

2. Quality: Does the credentialing assessment meet accepted national and international standards? There are thousands of credentials that claim to meet legally defensible standards but do they? Nationally accepted standards are the American Psychological Association (APA), American Educational Research Association (AERA), and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) and international standards for credentialing bodies are found in ISO 17024.

3. Program of Study Alignment: Does the credential assessment provide an outline of what is measured in the assessment? More importantly, do the credential and your program of study align? Are you setting your students up for failure by assessing information they have never been taught?

4. Instructional Improvement Value: A credential that provides a simple pass/fail score provides no ability to improve a teacher’s instruction for succeeding cohorts of students. It is like shooting at a target wearing a blindfold. Does the credential provider offer meaningful data to continuously improve your instruction?

5. Relevant Information for Employers: Credentials and certifications can be seen as a “shorthand” for the skills and knowledge a learner has acquired, but a certificate alone may not provide enough detail for the employer during the hiring process. Does the credential identify specific skills obtained that can be compared against an individual employer’s needs? Detail is key!

This blog was written by NOCTI, a sponsor of the 2016 Spring Meeting. For more information about NOCTI, reach out to nocti@nocti.org or be sure to meet them at the Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.! 

International Baccalaureate Prepares Students for the Real World

April 13th, 2016

When Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, decided to add the International Baccalaureate’s new Career-related Programme (CP) to its offerings in 2012, it already had five career academies in place. They offered courses in engineering (affiliated with Project Lead the Way), finance (affiliated with NAF), early child development (affiliated with the Maryland Department of Education and Montgomery College), hospitality management (completion and graduation certified by the National Restaurant Association) and medical careers (after successfully completing the first year of the program, students are eligible for certification as a nursing assistant by the Maryland Board of Nursing). Since then, students and academies have benefited in many ways, says CP coordinator Lisa Ingram.IB_logo_FC (1)

The Career-related Programme has enriched everything about the CP students’ experience and learning, Ingram says. “The CP prepares students to be amazing learners for whatever future they anticipate. They’ve had strategic lessons. That’s huge when they transition to the real world.” Meanwhile, the academies have grown and retained students, and Watkins Mill even added a computer science pathway. The medical academy actually doubled in size.

The CP is an excellent choice for students who have already decided on their area of career specialization, seek academic challenge and want hands-on learning and experience in their chosen field. The program provides students with an impressive portfolio of accomplishments for college study and employment. It allows students to create an individualized path that leads to higher education or to employment after graduation.

Here’s how the CP works: It combines courses from the International Baccalaureate’s highly regarded Diploma Programme with an approved career-related study and a unique CP core. The core consists of four components— a personal and professional skills course, service learning, language development and a reflective project–blended together to enhance both critical and ethical thinking and intercultural understanding. Combined, these elements help students develop the communication and personal skills necessary for success in a rapidly changing world.

A key feature of the CP is that it offers flexibility to allow for local differences. Each school creates its own distinctive version of the program to meet the needs and backgrounds of its students. The school selects both the DP courses it offers as part of the CP and the career-related study best suited to local conditions and students’ interests. The career-related study must meet International Baccalaureate criteria.

At Watkins Mill, Ingram talks about one student who chose the Child Care Academy. “She was born to be a teacher,” Ingram says. “She thrives in the child care environment, and since we have an onsite child care center, she’s in the thick of it here.” She has been deeply involved in a CP service learning project that provides child care for Watkins Mill feeder middle schools during evening parent meetings and on Saturdays.

Ingram also remembers the day that educators from Colorado visited her school to learn about how the CP worked there. Watching students answer questions from these adults, she couldn’t help but think about how the kids “would have been blushing purple as sophomores. But they were completely poised this year talking about their research projects and the program. I think there’s a lot of risk taking and stretching your learning in IB classes. It kind of forces those kids out of their comfort zone.”

Not everyone can tour another school to learn about the CP. However, Ingram strongly recommends getting into details and seeing how it really works. “Presuppositions will sell it short,” she says. “The program gives all these worthy tools to the kids and really respects the way they learn.”

Thank you to International Baccalaureate, one of our 2016 Spring Meeting Sponsors! Want more information on how you can become a sponsor? Email Karen at khornberger@careertech.org. 

Advance CTE Spring Meeting: Early Bird Registration Closes Next Week!

April 6th, 2016

The early bird registration deadline is approaching fast and you don’t want to miss United States CapitalAdvance CTE’s annual Spring Meeting featuring speakers from across the country including:

  • Experts from 10 national organizations who will share insights into the future of CTE
  • State leaders who will discuss best practices and what’s most effective in their states, and
  • Congressional staffers and policy experts who will provide updates of federal policies including the Carl D. Perkins Act and Every Student Succeeds Act.

Hear From Your Peers
States across the nation are leading CTE in innovative and exciting ways. Learn from your fellow State CTE Directors and Advance CTE members on what’s working in their states on topics ranging from accountability to workforce development.

Celebrate Excellence
Join us to honor Advance CTE’s annual Excellence in Action award winners during a ceremony and luncheon on May 24th. Learn about and meet the winners spanning 11 Career Clusters from 9 states!

Early bird deadline: Thursday, April 14

Register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Spring Meeting Agenda Announced!

March 2nd, 2016

Twitter_SpMtgJoin us for Advance CTE’s annual Spring Meeting! You can tap into the vast talent pool in attendance, engage in collaborative discussions with national resource experts, network with your peers from across the country, and get an in-depth look at the most important topics in the field today including the latest state-level trends and federal policy updates. Below is a day-by-day look at the panels, breakout sessions, discussions and celebrations we’ll feature at this year’s Spring Meeting.

We’re offering an early-bird registration rate, so be sure to register today!

A New Vision for CTE
The meeting will kick off with an entire day dedicated to the new Vision for CTE. Advance CTE’s officers will present the vision, followed by panels of Future of CTE Summit co-conveners and leaders in the education reform community who will reflect on the new vision, what it means for members and what work needs to be done for the vision to be realized.
The second half of the day will focus your work, and how participants can help to implement and advance the new vision through interactive roundtable discussions.

Excellence in Action
The second day of the meeting will begin with a panel discussing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and what the new law means for the CTE community. Next, State CTE Directors will share their experiences and strategies in implementing the the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and encouraging collaboration between education and workforce systems.
Our 2016 Excellence in Action award winners will be announced and honored at an awards ceremony luncheon celebrating winners across the country.

Participants will then choose from a series of engaging small group breakout sessions and hear from state leaders around topics from supporting students through career coaches to increasing career readiness through state accountability systems.

CTE in 2016: Federal Policy Outlook
The meeting will conclude with a half day focused on the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins), where you will hear from key stakeholders and staff about the reauthorization process and where the law is likely to go moving forward.

Learn more about the Spring Meeting agenda here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

 

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