SREB: Addressing Access and Equity in CTE

March 20th, 2019

This post is written by the Southern Regional Education Board, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

Increasing Access and Equity

Despite pervasive national rhetoric around college and career readiness, studies indicate a small percentage of high school graduates complete a full college—and career—preparatory curriculum, and nearly half of all graduates complete neither a college nor a career-preparatory curriculum. The numbers are worse in schools serving high percentages of minorities and schools in geographically isolated or economically disadvantaged communities. 

We believe that career pathway programs that blend quality career and technical education and college-preparatory academics offer a way to increase readiness, postsecondary attainment, career advancement and economic stability for youth of all genders, races, socioeconomic backgrounds and ability levels.

The Southern Regional Education Board has a long history of helping K-12 schools and technology centers in racially, economically, and geographically diverse communities adopt school improvement frameworks that are based in the belief that students can master challenging academic and career pathway curricula if schools create environments that encourage them to make the effort to succeed.

SREB’s Making Schools Work frameworks are also grounded in research showing that high-quality CTE keeps students engaged and achieving at higher levels, prevents dropout, promotes successful transitions to postsecondary education and the workplace, and offers special benefits to students from low-income families, minorities and young men.

At the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, you can learn more about three SREB programs helping address the issue of access and equity in CTE. Please stop by the SREB table to meet with the directors of the following three programs:

  • Technology Centers That Work (TCTW) unites centers, home high schools and postsecondary institutions around career pathways that give students a head-start on a high-demand credential or degree. TCTW can be adapted to suit full-time centers, extended-day or extended-year programs.
  • Teaching to Lead is a teacher preparation program that helps professionals from business and industry become great teachers.  The program helps induct and retain teachers for new and emerging career pathways.
  • Advanced Career curricula consist of four courses featuring fully developed lesson plans, projects and assignments.  As complete programs of study, AC’s college-preparatory, STEM-intensive pathways are taught in the context of a college-ready academic core.

In urban, suburban and rural settings, SREB school improvement frameworks and programs provide a structure that empowers schools to make the changes needed to expand or improve access to high-quality programs and ensure that all students – regardless of their gender, race, socioeconomic background, ability level or location – discover a purpose for learning and life.

We look forward to sharing more information with you in Washington, D.C. next month.  – For more information contact Dale Winkler

The Importance of State CTE Leadership

March 18th, 2019

This post is written by NOCTI, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

In the summer of 2018, the 115th Congress finalized the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century” act and it was subsequently signed by the President with an effective date of July 2018. That legislation marked the next revision in the 100-year history of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and the legislation was dubbed “Perkins V” by the CTE community. This act was touted for its alignment to other pieces of relevant legislation including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  The additional flexibility provided to state CTE leaders was highlighted, and the law made a number of subtle changes that could impact the way individual states provide CTE to their learners. Though it may seem like a bit of an understatement, we believe that state CTE leadership is critical as each state outlines the opportunities for its workforce during this initial planning phase.

Here are just a few examples of the importance of CTE state leadership:

  • Perkins V requires a needs assessment and suggests numerous voices that can be a part of that conversation. Leadership will need to identify the most important voices to be included and the type of input that should be expected.
  • Perkins V requires state leaders to determine performance measures consisting of the core indicators outlined in the act. These measures must contain expected targets showing continuous improvement.
  • Perkins V includes some determination of secondary indicators of performance including a recognized post-secondary credential, post-secondary credits earned during the secondary experience and/or student participation in work-based learning.

In addition, Perkins V provides a host of permissible uses of funds including initiatives such as statewide programs of study, statewide industry partnerships, and statewide professional development targeted to recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. As a non-profit organization serving the CTE community, and as long-time practitioners of CTE, we recognize these challenges and applaud those bold enough to take this opportunity to improve our students’ technical competence and academic underpinnings.

With a focus on data-driven improvement, NOCTI and its partners have served the CTE community for over 50 years.  Our services and processes have continued to evolve over the past five decades and we understand the importance of a dedicated and focused state leader. NOCTI is available to provide helpful and relevant resources that state leaders can use in their planning activities.

Resources include a collaborative series of books that include examples from over 40 states on CTE teaching, administration, and use of data for instructional improvement. Other resources focus on credentials that meet the WIOA definition of a post-secondary credential, while at the same time offer college credit meeting the requirements the secondary performance indicator. Resources are also available to address statewide professional development, workplace readiness credentialing and curriculum, customized state credentialing assessments, as well as digital badges and extensive data reports.

Interested in knowing more about what NOCTI can do for your state?  Seek us out at the upcoming Advance CTE meeting where we are pleased to be a sponsor!  You can also reach us at if you have more specific questions about how we can assist your state with a customized solution. Thanks for all you do; we look forward to seeing you in April!

Opening Eyes and Opening Doors to College and Career Pathways

March 14th, 2019

This post is written by Project Lead The Way, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

CTE provides vital resources for all students, particularly those who may otherwise not see STEM career opportunities.

“Students can’t be what they can’t see.”

This has become a mantra at Project Lead The Way (PLTW). While this statement applies to all students, many female, minority, or economically disadvantaged students may find it particularly difficult to see a variety of college or career options for themselves – especially in STEM fields. Yet STEM jobs continue to be the most in demand and highest paying.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s STEM Jobs: 2017 Update, STEM employment growth far exceeds growth in non-STEM occupations, and experts project that trend will continue. Career and Technical Education (CTE), including PLTW programs, give students opportunities to explore interests that can lead to lucrative and rewarding career paths.

PLTW’s PreK-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science empower students to develop in-demand skills needed to pursue rewarding careers, solve important challenges, and contribute to global progress. Providing students with these hands-on, real-world applied learning experiences is critical. In the 2017 report “STEM Occupations: Past, Present, and Future,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that STEM occupations experience above-average growth and that 93 out of 100 STEM occupations have wages “significantly above the national average wage for all occupations.”

In order to break down barriers that may keep students from “seeing” career opportunities, PLTW works to increase diversity and equity in CTE. How can CTE programs across the country expand access to all students?

Create Opportunities for Early Access to Career Learning

Access to engaging, high-quality, relevant, confidence-building STEM experiences is vital for all students – especially girls – and the earlier, the better. Research published in the journal “Child Development” shows that children express the stereotype that mathematics is for boys, not for girls, as early as second grade. Additionally, 65 percent of scientists and graduate students interviewed in one study published in the “International Journal of Science” reported that their interest in science began before middle school.

Since 2014, PLTW has expanded career learning well before middle school with the addition of PLTW Launch for PreK-5. PLTW Launch empowers students to adopt a design-thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects, and problems that build upon each other and relate to the world around them. Students engage in hands-on activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. Initially developed for K-5, PLTW added PreK in 2018 to engage learners as they first begin entering the school setting.

Leverage Partnerships and Community Resources to Expand Reach

PLTW is committed to engaging more students – including those from underrepresented backgrounds – in STEM, and research supports PLTW’s effectiveness in this area. A national demographic analysis of PLTW students finds that PLTW programs are distributed across the entire economic spectrum, and many schools with high minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged student populations have implemented PLTW with success.

The Toppenish School District, for instance, is a PLTW district in rural Washington. Ninety-five percent of its student population is Hispanic and Native American, and 100 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. In 2010, Toppenish High School implemented PLTW. Today, all students take at least one PLTW course, and female/male enrollment in the second year of PLTW courses is nearly equal. High-level math and science class enrollment has skyrocketed, and remedial class enrollment has dropped. The district now offers PLTW in all of its schools, and the graduation rate is 97.5 percent, compared to 90.4 percent five years prior.

PLTW leverages philanthropic partnerships to expand program access through grants, providing underserved students with access to high-quality STEM learning. For example, PLTW and Verizon have partnered since 2014 to provide computer science curriculum in schools with an average free or reduced-price lunch eligible population of 85 percent, benefiting students in 36 states across the U.S. PLTW also partners with organizations committed to increasing diversity in STEM, such as the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME).

Provide Mentoring and Career Shadowing Opportunities to Open Students’ Eyes

PLTW alumna Markie Wagner shared in a recent episode of InspirED, a podcast from PLTW, that career experiences and mentoring opportunities play a critical role in inspiring students to pursue STEM interests, especially for girls and underserved communities. We all have a part to play in opening students’ eyes in order to open doors to endless possibilities, ensuring a better equipped and diverse workforce for the future.

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

A Pivotal Point for Opportunity in Education

March 12th, 2019


Last fall, the world was captivated by the story of Geoffrey Owens – an actor famous for his 80’s TV roles who made national news when he was photographed bagging groceries at a Trader Joe’s. After a series of articles highlighted his fall from stardom, Owens took advantage of the media spotlight to change the narrative. In an interview with Good Morning America, Owens said he hoped his story would serve as a reminder “of the honor of the working person” and that “every job is worthwhile and valuable.”

My grandfather often said, “all work that’s honest work is good work,” and many of us grew up hearing similar expressions celebrating the importance and dignity of work. However, I think Owens’ message resonated so widely because our nation is in the midst of a major economic shift that’s transforming the future of employment and job creation in real time.

Recognizing this trend – and the fact that the majority of high-demand jobs are being created in skilled trades like construction, health care, and advanced manufacturing – our next generation’s future will depend on realigning our public education system with the demands of the global economy.

Instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all model where success is defined by earning a liberal arts degree, we must accurately adjust educational curriculum to provide more choices and options for students.

Over the past 10 years, the state of Georgia has aggressively invested in linking public education with the needs of industry by creating a statewide network of 46 College and Career Academies, while significantly expanding dual enrollment, industry apprenticeships, and post-secondary opportunities for high school students. Partnering with technical colleges, universities, and local businesses, College and Career Academies offer students access to college courses and pathway programs. These opportunities allow students to obtain industry credentials for quality, in-demand jobs that meet the needs of each community’s workforce.

The Georgia Chamber, Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the U.S. Chamber Foundation have proven their commitment to investing in our students through these initiatives – and further integrating business leaders into our public schools will only increase each community’s economic potential.

Last year, Georgia also launched a statewide partnership with YouScience to offer all middle and high school students access to an extremely innovative aptitude-based career guidance program. YouScience utilizes proven algorithms to generate personalized results, guiding students to make more informed postsecondary and career choices. Beyond simply preparing our students with the skills and training to be successful in high-demand careers, this program allows each school’s faculty to engage students in making proactive choices that will maximize the value of their education.

Education Drives the Economy

When our public schools are aligned with industry needs, they are fully capable of building a workforce second to none. Because of our statewide initiatives, we’ve lifted our state’s graduation rate more than 22 percentage points, created 700,000 new jobs, and Georgia’s economy now leads the Southeast in GDP growth.

More importantly, thousands of high school students are graduating each year with associate degrees, industry certifications, and employment experience in skilled professions.

Our nation is at a pivotal point in which we will have the opportunity to fuel unprecedented growth, innovation, and prosperity that addresses the greatest challenges facing our communities. However, to take full advantage of this moment in history, it’s vital that industry and business step forward as partners with our public schools to meet the evolving needs of the 21st-century economy.

Moreover, it’s just as critical for our public schools to respect the value of responding to the needs of industry. When we meet this challenge, our success will unleash a new wave of economic prosperity that leaves no one behind.

This post is written by Former Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in conjunction with YouScience, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

Disguised Opportunity

March 6th, 2019

This post is written by Fleck Education, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

When the Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers and leaders I know first heard about the new Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) Local Needs Assessment requirement, their reactions were less than positive. That’s putting it kindly. Many expressed a mix of anxiety and frustration about “another new mandate.”

That sentiment makes sense: change is difficult. Being nimble and adaptable – the soft-skills we teach to our students – can be tough to put into actual practice. The biggest fear appears to be the “risk” of opening up local CTE programs of study to the opinions – and possible misunderstandings – of local employers, parents, leaders and community members. Maybe they’ll tell us how we should or shouldn’t fund our programs or think CTE is less rigorous than traditional school programs.

The reality is that all of us working with CTE already face these misconceptions on a daily basis, whether expressed verbally or not. The majority of people living  in our communities have only a fuzzy understanding of CTE.

A potential benefit of  the local needs assessment requirement is that many of these same community individuals will be invited to attend meetings where they will discover CTE’s amazing graduation rates, career readiness programs, and how CTE impacts students lives. When these local needs assessment meetings occur, it is likely you will hear misunderstandings and misgivings loud and clear. However, the meetings will also provide the opportunity to correct misinformation and present the full picture of CTE, along with data that shows what’s working well and the challenges that lie ahead. They’ll hear touching CTE student success stories and can reflect on how the obstacles are not just CTE challenges but also a community responsibility. By being at the table, stakeholders at your local needs assessment convenings will deepen their understanding of CTE and come to recognize their role in the support and ultimate success of CTE in your community.

To prepare, it is important to think through how you will handle the personalities of some of the individuals who may show up at your meetings, such as:

  • The Naysayer. This individual doesn’t like anything being done in education. If every student graduated and transitioned to a career with a $150K annual salary, this person would still not be happy. Use facilitation strategies that allow for their input during the meeting, with limits, and offer a post-meeting discussion. “I appreciate your concerns and really do understand this frustrates you, so let’s talk about this more after the meeting…”
  • The Usual. Often, but not always, the “usual” is that employer who says “All I need are employees who show up for work on time, every day, and pass a drug test.” Or “Just get them to me and I’ll teach them everything they need to know.”  Be empathetic and suggest that they would be an ideal member of a task force to study this issue further. At some point, when it doesn’t come across as confrontational, reiterate CTE’s purpose of preparing students for the multitude of careers they may have in their futures, not just the skills for one specific job.
  • The Misinformed. Some individuals still believe the only pathway to success is a traditional four year college degree leading to a white collar occupation. Anything else is setting students up for a life of disappointment. While it may be subtle, you’ll recognize their bias. These individuals typically come around when they review actual salary data and career satisfaction reports and meet students and adults who have succeeded through a variety of alternative pathways.

For all of these individuals, and for some of us too, the new local needs assessment mandate will require us to change our thinking and how we do things. It may be uncomfortable at first and will undoubtedly be tough. But it will also be an opportunity to substantially build the reputation, the quality and the overall success of our local and state CTE programs.

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” When we look past the hard work the new local needs assessment requires, I believe we will uncover a significant opportunity to further enhance the value of CTE in our communities.  

2019 Spring Meeting Registration is Now Open!

January 17th, 2019










Join state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders from across the country April 8-10 in Washington, D.C. for a three-day professional development conference that will explore the latest issues and challenges influencing CTE today.

The annual Spring Meeting will equip you with the resources and knowledge you need to be innovative and bold as you begin to implement the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and help you develop a clear vision to guide CTE in your state. Our agenda features breakout sessions featuring promising practices, roundtable discussions for peer-to-peer learning and panels led by CTE experts.

This meeting is more important than ever as it will be Advance CTE’s only public conference this year while we support state efforts to implement Perkins V.

Register today here

April 8-10, 2019
Omni Shoreham
2500 Calvert St NW
Washington, DC 20008

Deadline to register: March 15, 2019

Deadline to reserve a hotel room: March 18, 2019

Register for Insights into the 2019 Excellence in Action Award Webinar

October 19th, 2018

Advance CTE’s annual Excellence in Action award recognizes and honors superior Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study from across the nation. Do you think you have one of the best CTE programs of study?

Apply for the 2019 Excellence in Action award to showcase the amazing work of your learners, instructors, partners and faculty at the national level. The application submission deadline is November 21, 2018.

Join us for a webinar on November 1, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST to learn all about the application process from Advance CTE staff. You will also hear from a 2018 award winner, the Building Construction Technology program of study at the Dauphin County Technical School in Pennsylvania.

Learn more about what makes an award-winning program and get tips on how to fill out your application directly from an award winner. Register Today!

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate


Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: PMIEF & The Big Picture of Project Management

September 27th, 2018

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

Reengineering the Learning Experience

Across the globe, there’s a widening gap between employers’ need for key skills and the availability of professionals to fulfill those needs. A strategic mindset is the most desired yet, hardest-to-find skill among employers. Given recent changes in the economy, we need to ask how schools organize learning to support new economic realities and encourage deeper learning outcomes. Are students:

  • Learning how to utilize their own interests and passions to grow their skills? 
  • Mastering core academic content that is relevant to the challenges of their future careers?
  • Collaborating with others; learning complex skills and behaviors needed to successfully complete projects likely encountered in college, universities, and especially in the workplace?

Most young people will manage projects every day for the rest of their personal and professional lives. Applying project management methodology in the classroom offers students rich opportunities to learn how to manage and lead effective projects, hone a variety of essential 21st century skills, apply these skills to deepen their subject-matter knowledge, and reduce the talent gap.

If we want to empower the millions of students for whom college is not a given or those without access to a quality education, then consider project management and the big picture: projects aren’t the big picture or an end result – they’re part of the picture itself and project management provides a standard framework for consistently doing projects well.

To learn more about changing the way children learn, live, and plan for the future through the knowledge and application of project management, visit PMI’s Educational Foundation (PMIEF)or visit our booth at the 2018 Advance CTE Fall Meeting.

Advance CTE Begins a Critical Conversation about Equity at the 2018 Spring Meeting (Part 2)

May 9th, 2018

In alignment with Advance CTE’s work to empower state leaders to advance high-quality CTE policies and programs for each learner, Advance CTE held long overdue equity discussions at the 2018 Spring Meeting to begin an important conversation about how CTE can be leveraged to help promote equitable outcomes for various learner populations.

After a panel discussion on equity in CTE, attendees of the Spring Meeting went to breakout sessions facilitated by partner organizations that focus on equity challenges and allowed for an open and honest dialogue to take place about equity in CTE.

From these breakout sessions, major themes emerged about challenges to achieving equity in CTE, as well as states’ efforts and ideas to address these barriers.

Discussion Theme: Data on CTE and Equitable Outcomes

The inability to connect existing CTE data across systems to measure the outcomes for specific populations makes it difficult to communicate to students, parents, school boards and stakeholders the effectiveness of CTE as a tool for equitable outcomes. Members in multiple sessions mentioned that it is difficult to disaggregate CTE data by race, disability or income level. For many states, data cannot be connected across systems or disaggregated to make claims regarding equitable access or outcomes, which hinders their ability to make informed decisions to ensure equity in CTE.

However, states should not use the lack of data as an excuse; they should be using existing data as a first step in examining equity gaps and strategizing ways to close those gaps.

Discussion Theme: “Vocational Education” Stigma

A common theme from all the sessions was the stigma still surrounding CTE as a result of the history of “vocational education,” which in many situations included the tracking of low-income students and students of color into vocational education programs. State leaders identified the messaging around CTE as a challenge, as they work to rebuild trust in communities where the “tracking” of students was common, and emphasized the importance of communicating that high-quality CTE programs can result in high-wage, high-skill, high-demand jobs.

Some states have made efforts to address the stigma and messaging around CTE. Maryland, Indiana, Washington and New Jersey are participating in the Siemens Foundation initiative with Advance CTE, which involves incorporating nationally tested messages about CTE in a variety of in-person events and virtual campaigns to improve the perception of CTE. Additionally, in the “Serving Students of Color” breakout session, participants suggested that states elevate efforts to build relationships with leaders within communities to spread awareness about the effectiveness of high-quality CTE programs.

Discussion Theme: Lack of Resources for Special Populations

Many sessions recognized that basic necessities such as food and transportation need to be satisfied for special populations to participate and succeed in CTE programs. Attention was drawn to the need for daycare, transportation, food, flexible schedules and financial aid to accommodate diverse populations at the secondary and postsecondary level.

Discussion Theme: Lack of Representation and Cultural Competency within Secondary and Postsecondary Institutions

Participants recognized that instructors often are not representative of their students in regard to income, race, gender and ability status. This, coupled with the general difficulty that institutions face when recruiting and retaining CTE instructors, makes it difficult for programs to recruit teachers that are representative of the population they are educating.

State participants recognize that this lack of representation may hinder certain populations from participating in CTE programs and negatively impact their experience within programs due to feeling isolated or receiving biased treatment. Participants recognized the need for targeted professional development opportunities for instructors to address any potential implicit bias and to promote cultural competency at the institutional level.

These breakout sessions represent the beginning of Advance CTE’s ongoing commitment to promoting equity in CTE. As part of our equity initiative, throughout 2018, Advance CTE will be releasing a series of briefs about equity in CTE.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Advance CTE Begins a Critical Conversation about Equity at the 2018 Spring Meeting

May 3rd, 2018

As part of Advance CTE’s vision, Putting Learner Success First, our organization has challenged the Career Technical Education (CTE) community to continue on the path of fierce dedication to quality and equity so that each learner is empowered to choose a meaningful education and career. Advance CTE recognizes that if we’re going to ask our community to commit to equity in CTE, then we must lead the way.

Our first step was to create the space at our 2018 Spring Meeting to begin this long overdue conversation with our membership about how we define and can achieve equity in CTE.

The conversation began with a panel discussion that featured experts in education and equity from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the  Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Law and Social Policy and United Way of Delaware.The panelists took a critical look at equity in CTE and examined the history of CTE and tracking students, the stigma around CTE and how equity should be defined within CTE. From this discussion, major themes about equity in CTE emerged:

  • While CTE provides students with a variety of college and career options, institutions need to recognize that their “all are welcome” policies aren’t enough to engage diverse populations.
  • Many institutions are operating with a “compliance mindset” by only focusing on gender equity (largely because of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act). To truly address equity concerns in CTE, institutions must move from a “compliance mindset” to an “improvement mindset.”
  • Equity in CTE cannot only be about achieving proportionate representation in CTE courses. Student outcomes across populations must also be examined.
  • State leaders have control over mechanisms (policy “levers”, program “levers”, funding, partnerships with organizations) that they can use to ensure equity in CTE.

Notably, Kisha Bird from the Center for Law and Social Policy  recognized that while equity is a complex issue in that it is influenced by numerous social, economic and political factors, it is ultimately a simple problem that can be addressed by continually asking the following of any action: Am I creating or breaking down barriers?

The conversation held at the equity panel represents the beginning of Advance CTE’s ongoing commitment to promoting equity in CTE. As part of our equity initiative, throughout 2018, Advance CTE will be releasing a series of briefs about equity in CTE. This post is the first of two blogs that will highlight the equity discussions from the 2018 Spring Meeting.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate