Recapping the 2017 ACTE CareerTech VISION Conference (Part 1)

Note: Once again this year, Advance CTE attended the CareerTech VISION conference hosted by our partners, the Association for Career and Technical Education. What follows are our staff’s highlights and favorite moments.

Career Clusters at CareerTech VISION

Every year, ACTE and Advance CTE join forces to provide attendees with the opportunity to engage in informative sessions featuring best practices in program and policy, lessons learned and innovations within the Career ClustersⓇ, a national framework for organizing quality CTE programs and cultivating collaboration between secondary and postsecondary CTE. This strand, which is curated by Advance CTE, included a number of sessions digging into compelling topics and providing resources that are useful to national, state and local leaders across the country.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Selling CTE to Parents and Students

In the session, “Selling CTE: Strategies to Attract Students to High-quality CTE,” staff presented the results of our research study released earlier this year in, The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students, providing an overview of the following takeaways:

  • Students and parents involved in CTE are overwhelmingly more satisfied with their education as compared to those not involved in CTE.
  • Finding a career passion was the most important critical selling point for parents and students (over 90 percent) – even surpassing having a career that pays well;
  • The vast majority of parents and students (85 percent) continue to value college as the post-high school aspiration;
  • CTE has an awareness challenge;
  • Across the board, CTE programs are most valued for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system, offering concrete and tangible benefits related to college and career success; and
  • Counselors, teachers and CTE students and alumni are among the most trusted sources of information for students and parents alike.

The session room was packed with more than 70 teachers and administrators seeking to learn how state and local leaders are tackling the CTE perception challenge. One state example included Maryland, which recently released a social media guide to be used in districts across the state.

Sharing CTE Excellence

Additionally, we were excited to put together a session that highlighted two of the 2017 Excellence in Action award winners, hailing from Tennessee and Mississippi. The award, which recognizes innovative and impactful programs of study across the 16 Career Clusters, provides Advance CTE with the opportunity to highlight exciting programs that serve students with the academic and technical knowledge and skills they need to be successful in careers of their choosing.  

Tyra Pilgrim, CTE Coordinator for Rutherford County Schools, presented on Oakland High School’s Mechatronics program and winner in the Manufacturing Career Cluster. The Mechatronic program, in its fourth year, was developed through collaboration with the school district and employers including Bridgestone and the Manufacturing Leadership Council. Pilgrim cited partnerships with postsecondary education and industry leaders as a key component to a program that provides students with pathways to both college and careers. She backed up the program’s success with compelling data demonstrating student achievement, including all students earning postsecondary credit and graduating high school, and 94 percent enrolling in postsecondary education and earning industry recognized credentials.

Eric Williams, Assistant Director, Emergency Medical Technology, Jones County Junior College (JCJC), followed Pilgrim’s presentation with an overview of Jones County Junior College’s Emergency Medical Technology program, a winner for the Health Sciences Career Cluster. JCJC, a model for rural postsecondary education in the south, requires learners to participate in 500 hours of training under the direct guidance of an industry expert and offers seven industry recognized credentials. Williams boasted that students have a 90 percent first-time pass rate on the professional qualifying exam, which far exceeds the national average of 60 percent.

Williams similarly highlighted partnerships as a critical component, not only with industry and secondary education, but also with community organizations. Throughout the year, he attends events ranging from blood drives to Halloween parades to get the word out about JCJC and more effectively market the program. This has resulted in an increase of participation from two students when Williams took over the program, to a yearly participation rate of 25, the cap for the program of study.

Both award winning programs provided attendees with two examples of exemplary programs and insights into how to effectively build a successful program of study.

Katie Fitzgerald, Austin Estes, Kate Kreamer, Kimberly Green, and Andrea Zimmermann — Advance CTE staff

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