Unpacking Putting Learner Success First: Committing to Program Quality

A little over one year ago, Advance CTE launched Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This document, which was developed using input from a broad array of stakeholders, calls for a systematic transformation of the education system grounded in five principles. This blog series will dive into each principle, detailing the goals and progress made in each area.

For more resources related to Putting Learner Success First, including state and local self-assessments, check out our Vision Resources page.

All CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence

This first principle of Putting Learner Success First is a topic that has been an area of focus for many states for a while now. Many states and districts have worked to improve program quality, though the country still lacks an agreed-upon, detailed definition of high-quality for all programs of study. More work is needed from all stakeholders to ensure that all learners have access to excellent programs, no matter their zip code.

Those who have signed onto the principle have committed to accomplishing this objective through the following actions:

  • Develop and implement rigorous review and approval processes and policies to ensure only high-quality programs of study exist
  • Align funding to high-quality programs of study
  • Develop and implement sustainable processes for employers to inform, validate and participate in the implementation of programs of study

Since the launch of Putting Learner Success First, Advance CTE has been conducting research and policy scans to raise up examples and promising practices related to this principle. Now, when state leaders put their commitment to quality into action, they have access to multiple resources related to program approval, program evaluation and academic and CTE standards integration.

Principle in Action

  • South Carolina: Education and Economic Development Act
    • South Carolina’s Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA), passed in 2005, structures high school CTE programs to ensure effective alignment with Career Clusters. The bill requires every high school student to declare a ‘major’ aligned with a Career Cluster and requires that every district offers a standards-based academic curriculum organized around Career Clusters to provide students with choices.
  • Tennessee: Standards Revision Process
    • Beginning in 2012, Tennessee overhauled the state’s CTE program standards, bringing them into alignment with the newly adopted K-12 standards. This overhaul embedded both CTE and academic standards within full and rigorous programs of study. The process took place over three multi-step phases.
  • Nebraska: ReVISION
    • Nebraska’s reVISION grant process promotes excellence in CTE programs by offering schools the opportunity to evaluate their career preparation and career guidance systems. Schools also receive state support to improve those systems in a way that’s tailored to each school’s greatest areas of need.

Relevant Resources

  • Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High-quality Career Pathways
    • This report from Advance CTE examines successes in Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware to demonstrate how states can use the career pathways approval process to raise the level of quality across the board. The report examines common approaches and unpacks key policy levers available to states.
  • Excellence in Action Award Winners 2014-2017
    • Since 2014, Advance CTE has been recognizing superior programs of study across the nation in all 16 Career Clusters. Award winning programs of study show a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education, provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and have a substantial and evidence-based impact on student achievement and success.
  • Defining High-quality CTE: Quality CTE Program of Study Framework, Version 4.0 (Beta)
    • This resource from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) builds upon the organization’s previous work defining high-quality CTE to provide a research-based blueprint for designing and implementing strong programs of study. The framework can be applied to a single, local CTE program of study spanning secondary and postsecondary education and can be used for self-evaluation, program improvement and catalyzing partnerships.

Upcoming Resource

  • Program Approval and Evaluation Benchmark Tool
    • Launching later this year, this benchmark tool will describe and define the non-negotiable elements of an effective policy for approving and evaluating programs of study.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

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