This Week in CTE: Happy Manufacturing Day!

October 7th, 2016



Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals makes the case as to why CTE, STEM education and apprenticeships are key to the American workforce, economy and manufacturing industry. Read more in their piece, The Economy of Manufacturing and Community.


Visit our Learning that Works Resource Center for the latest research, policies and reports on CTE and career readiness, including the Manufacturing Institute, SkillsUSA and the Education Research Center of America’s report, Attracting the Next Generation Workforce: The Role of CTE, which found that personal industry experience — through involvement with Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), internships, summer jobs and co-op study programs — can impact students’ future career interests.


Desert View High School’s precision machining and mechanical drafting program of study is a model program in the Manufacturing Career Cluster, demonstrating the incredible impact a strong employer and educational partnership can have on the community. A 2016 Excellence in Action award winner, this program of study was developed in partnership with the Tucson, Arizona business community to build a pipeline of skilled and qualified employees.

“When an industry comes forward and tells a district or administration, ‘our community needs this program, and we will support you,’ this becomes the leverage for change that enables the school to make those difficult decisions, to prioritize your program. Companies are moving to Tucson because they see a pipeline and workforce being built. This program has created an economic development change for our community,” said Kathy Prather, Director of CTE at Sunnyside Unified School District.

p.s. If you haven’t already, join 4,000 of your peers and cast your vote to include CTE in the next presidential debate on Sunday, October 9th!

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 


How Do States Identify and Endorse Industry-Recognized Credentials?

October 7th, 2016

Credentials_of_Value_2016Latest Advance CTE Brief Explores Promising Strategies

One of the core components of a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program is that it culminates in a credential of value. But with more than 4,000 credentialing organizations in the United States today, states are grappling with the challenge of narrowing down the field.

Advance CTE today released a policy brief to help states get started in this work. The paper, titled “Credentials of Value: State Strategies for Identifying and Endorsing Industry-Recognized Credentials,” highlights promising practices from Florida, Kansas and Louisiana, which have each made considerable progress developing a system for students and employers to navigate the tangled universe of credentials. The brief further describes how each state tackles the challenge in a different way, building a system that suits their local economy and context, and highlights a few common strategies.

For one, these states engage business and industry leaders early on in the process to verify that credentials are recognized and accepted in the labor market. This helps ensure that students are only pursuing — and states are only incentivizing — those credentials that have value. One example that the brief explores is in Louisiana, where regional teams are required to submit letters of endorsement from businesses in the state whenever they propose a new credential for the statewide list.

From there, the process of vetting high-quality credentials often involves a concerted effort from a variety of different institutions. The brief describes how, in Florida, the state-approved credential list at the secondary level is developed with input from the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the state’s workforce development board (an independent non-profit called CareerSource Florida) and the Department of Education. This ensures that the state can leverage the expertise of each agency to approve only those credentials that are valuable to students and to the economy.

Another challenge the brief explores is that credentials available on the market today range in value, quality and the effort required to earn them. Thus, states have begun to recognize this difference and classify credentials based on their rigor and utility in the labor market. Kansas, for example, is examining a framework that categorizes credentials into three tiers: those required by law or regulation, those mandated by industry, and those preferred by industry.

Even then, states should be prepared to adapt to fluctuations in the labor market or unforeseen problems with the credential review process. Take Florida’s Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE) for example. CAPE provided additional funding for teachers and school districts whose students earn state-approved credentials, but the state soon realized that the program was not structured appropriately to eliminate some gaming of the funding incentive. Over the years, Florida has gradually adjusted the funding formula to address these concerns and align incentives to encourage more students to earn high-quality credentials.

With two-thirds of all new jobs projected to require some postsecondary education and training by 2020, there is a growing need for states to play a larger role in identifying and endorsing credentials of value.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

New Resources and Supporters for Putting Learner Success First

October 4th, 2016


8As we move into our fifth month since the launch of Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE, we have much to update you on! We’re excited to update you on how Putting Learner Success First is being shared far and wide.


We’ve developed a variety of new resources to help states share and implement the vision including discussion questions to assist in unpacking the vision’s principles and actions. The questions aim to support states as they reflect on the policies they have, and the progress made, as well as determine next steps. The document, which is in Word format to make it user-friendly, can also be used internally or to facilitate cross-sector and multi-stakeholder discussions.

Additionally, we have new two-pagers that demonstrate the importance of this vision to two stakeholder types. First, we discuss how critical this vision is to state CTE leaders, and how they can carry out the work of this vision. Secondly, this vision couldn’t be enacted without the support from CTE educators. The Association for Career and Technical Education provided an overview of why CTE educators need to be involved, and how they can carry out the vision in their own work.

Which leads me to our last resource, a chart that demonstrates how this vision is truly shared, and the work each supporter is doing to carry out the principles in their work.


In addition to new resources, our vision supporters are growing steadily. We have four new national supporters including Asia Society, FCCLA, Goodwill and SkillsUSA and we are thrilled to have this support from organizations that represent the cross section of education, workforce, policy, employers, and students, who all are necessary if we are going to transform education into a system that truly works for all learners.

Individuals from 32 states have also signed onto our Putting Learner Success First campaign, and let us know how they plan to use the vision. Here are what a few are saying:

“Throughout all the work we do training, managing, operating and advocating for education, CTE and CTSOs, we’ll be keeping this at the forefront of our work and support for learners and leaders.”

“The vision of Putting Learner Success First will become the linchpin of our state’s professional development campaign for our CTE leadership teams.”

“I will be sharing the Putting Learner Success First information with all of my constituents during conferences, academy’s and workshops.”

Be sure to let us know how you plan to use the vision, and if you don’t see all the resources you need here, email us to let us know what we can do to help you share and implement Putting Learner Success First.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications


NOCTI: Supporting Teacher Quality and Retention

October 3rd, 2016

As a longstanding member—50 years to be precise—of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, NOCTI has watched many NOCTI--Navy--Med--Web-Usechanges in both perception and reality as it relates to CTE in popular media and public policy. Sometimes the changes are favorable and currently CTE is experiencing some significant support. Although it appears that federal legislation regarding CTE will be stalled until after the presidential election, the reauthorization did receive almost unanimous support in the House of Representatives for the “Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century” Act at 405-5. Yet, there is a looming issue that affects us all—an issue that has a significant impact on the success or failure of all CTE programs. That issue relates to finding quality CTE teachers and ensuring resources are available to support and retain them. Primarily, this applies to CTE teachers who enter the classrooms directly from industry—something typically referred to as an “alternative certification.”

Over the last few years, the CTE community has experienced increased interest which has fueled the need—or the demand—side of the equation. Yet, at the same time many states have struggled to keep supply channels open. NOCTI is aware of the issue because we are part of the certification process for CTE teacher candidates in approximately 25 states. An additional number of states use NOCTI resources to determine if candidates are competent in all aspects of their technical fields. In just the last three years, the number of assessments used for teacher credentialing has jumped an average of 40% in approximately ten states. In addition, five other states have requested to establish NOCTI teacher candidate testing centers in their states. Lastly, if one looks at the Advance CTE two-minute roundup report from 2015, the biggest struggle at that time was recruiting, retaining, and supporting quality CTE teachers.

It is common knowledge that CTE teachers are a “special breed” of teacher; they bring workforce experiences to the classroom, are passionate about what they do and why they are working in education, and have a “whatever-it-takes-to-accomplish-the-goal” attitude. These individuals make up 14% of our nation’s teaching force—it is critical that they have a strong and useful support system.

As a non-profit entity lead by a Board of Trustees 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 is in serving the CTE community, we’d like identify a few resources which may be helpful for your state.

  1. Teacher Certification and Competence Resources: NOCTI’s initial goal was to help states secure competent CTE teachers and, as mentioned above, our resources are used in a number of state teacher certification systems. Remember, however, that even if your state does not have a formal process for alternatively-certified CTE teachers, NOCTI’s resources are available for you to provide an objective third-party assessment of a candidate’s competence. Learn more!
  2. Awareness of Resources for New CTE teachers: NOCTI works in every state in the nation and because we have a strong focus on accountability, professional improvement, and credentialing, we have encountered numerous examples from several states. As a brief example, the work underway in California’s “CTE TEACH” program utilizes the development of a support structure for CTE teachers during their “formative” years. Learn more!
  3. Partnerships: NOCTI’s focus on assisting CTE teachers in experiencing success has led to partnerships with like-minded associations like ACTE. There are currently two publications available that focus on new CTE teachers with a third installment on the way. NOCTI and ACTE also collaborated on a publication focused on instructional improvement. Learn more!

Since we’ve mentioned ACTE, it is important to note that they also offer resources through their online Core Community which focuses on different aspects of CTE teacher skills. NOCTI has collaborated with ACTE to provide individuals taking advantage of this resource with a digital badge.

We hope this blog serves two purposes: 1) that it highlights the importance of the CTE teacher shortage, and 2) that it identifies some helpful resources to use. If NOCTI can be of service, please contact us at to see how we can help you. NOCTI is excited to be a GOLD sponsor of the Advance CTE fall meeting; be sure to seek us out and say hello!

This post was written by NOCTI, a sponsor of the Advance CTE 2016 Fall Meeting. Thank you NOCTI! 

This Week in CTE: Students tell their CTE stories

September 30th, 2016



It’s Time for Vocational Schools to Get Some Respect explores Career Technical Education in Massachusetts citing schools that have provided students with a pathway to a successful career. One student said, “Madison taught me how great it is to have an education and about being a professional in life. I just can’t ask for anything better. Madison Park saved my life.”


Idaho CTE launched a new website with some fantastic student stories about their journey through programs of study that lead to their chosen career.


500 SkillsUSA student leaders came together in Washington, D.C. to take part in a leadership training and to advocate for CTE. Check out this video about their experience.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

Career Readiness Partners Gather in Washington, DC to Collaborate and Learn

September 30th, 2016

Career readiness can be achieved through statewide systems change — but it will take a unified effort from national partners working together to achieve that vision. That, at least, was my takeaway from Monday’s “Career Readiness in K-12 and Beyond” meeting hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) at the National Guard Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

The meeting brought together nearly forty partners representing non-profit organizations, foundations, government agencies, think tanks and companies to raise awareness about ongoing initiatives and to coalesce around a shared vision. With numerous efforts already underway at the national, state and local levels, I could feel the energy in the room around the subject of career readiness.

Former Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday kicked the meeting off by sharing the background of CCSSO’s Career Readiness Task Force. The task force launched in 2014 when Holliday was president of CCSSO, and in which Advance CTE’s Kimberly Green participated along with a number of State CTE Directors.  The task force released a report, titled “Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students,” with recommendations for states to transform their career readiness systems. Currently, CCSSO — along with Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, with funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co. — is leading the  New Skills for Youth initiative to implement the task force’s recommendations in 24 states and D.C. We recently launched the Learning that Works Resource Center in support of the initiative, and if you haven’t visited the Resource Center yet, I highly recommend doing so.

The meeting quickly jumped from national to state and local efforts. For me, the most impactful part of the event was when Ghafoor Siddique, an Aerospace Instructor from Sno Isle Tech in Washington, spoke about developing an aerospace program for high school students. Siddique had been working for Boeing doing commercial flight tests when he was recruited by Sno Isle Tech. The program relies on the Core Plus curriculum, which was developed by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, the Boeing Company, the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle and other companies. The curriculum uses industry-validated knowledge, skills and abilities to help students develop technical skills related to a particular career field.

Siddique also told us how, with support from his students, he launched an in-house aircraft maintenance company that services private planes, using profits to buy equipment for the class. This allows students to learn hands-on how to build and repair aircraft, while simultaneously allowing the school to sustain the aerospace program despite potentially prohibitive equipment costs. In the first few years since the program was launched, Siddique reported that several of his students had gone on to work for Boeing. The company, one of the largest global aircraft manufacturers, is based in Seattle, Washington.

Such programs are part of the reason why there is growing enthusiasm across the states for career readiness. That enthusiasm was clearly present among the attendees at Monday’s meeting. In between panels, we had the opportunity to share our own work and identify opportunities to collaborate with one another. We learned about efforts ranging from developing apprenticeship programs to encouraging adoption of industry credentials, each in support of the larger goal of improving career readiness for tomorrow’s workers.

Next month, states in the New Skills for Youth initiative will gather in Washington, DC to share their progress and outline their plans to transform career readiness systems back home. While only ten states will qualify for the next round of funding, many will follow through on their action plans, recognizing the need and importance of an educational system that prepares students for the workforce. Such aspirations are the reason why classes like Siddique’s can succeed.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Change is Necessary; Change is Possible

September 29th, 2016

How do we lead an effective Change effort? John Kotter, author of the renowned book called “Leading Change” explained eight steps for leading change. The first step is to create a sense of urgency. Without an understanding of the true challenges facing an organization, a business, or a community, it is difficult to garner the energy for sustained work around change.

Also of note is his third step: To “create a vision for change and key strategies.” One aspect of creating this vision is not only to articulate a positive future, but to convince people that change is possible and beneficial.

As leaders in Career Technical Education (CTE) and the broader Pathways Movement, these two ideas – Change is Necessary, and Change is Possible – go hand-in-hand.

In my new book, The Power and Promise of Pathways, I devote two chapters to organizing and communicating the most credible research and data available around these topics. The second chapter focuses on findings related to big economic and workforce trends of which everyone should be aware. I call these the Visible Challenges. They are:

1. The Skills Gap: There are Too Few Skilled Workers NC3T logo
2. There is an Entrepreneurship Gap
3. Too Many Are Opting Out of the Workforce
4. Too Many Youth Are Not Working and Not Going to School
5. Too Few Youth and Young Adults Are Completing Postsecondary Education
6. The U.S. Workforce is Slipping in Competitiveness
7. Too Many Young Adults are Facing Economic Set-Backs

Next, I identified a number of Root Causes that find their home in our education and workforce systems. These Root Causes start to point the way to a Pathways System initiative as the solution. They are:

1. Many Youth Don’t Experience Impactful Career Development
2. U.S. Culture is Dominated by “University-for-All” Message
3. Most Schools Don’t Embrace Employer Perspectives on Career Readiness
4. Too Many Youth Are Disengaged From Learning
5. Too Many Youth Have Weak Academic Skills and Lack College Readiness
6. Too Many Students Still Drop Out of High School
7. Very Few High School Graduates Have Well-Developed Career and Technical Knowledge
8. Our Student Population is Becoming More Diverse But Large Achievement Gaps Persist

In the next chapter, I organized research findings that suggest the effectiveness of Pathways System initiatives, as well as discreet education reform strategies that can be incorporated into a Pathways system. The positive evidence includes:

1. Pathways Initiatives Help Improve Academic Achievement
2. Pathways Initiatives Help Increase Rigorous Academic Course Taking
3. Pathways Initiatives Help Improve High School Graduation
4. Pathways Initiatives Help Develop Career Readiness Skills
5. Pathways Initiatives Help Increase Long-term Earnings

Specifically, Pathways-related reforms point to the following benefits:

1. Career Exploration

  • Career Exploration Helps Students Make Better College Choices
  • Career Exploration Leads to Better Postsecondary Achievement
  • Career Exploration Helps Students Make More Intentional Choices
  • Career Courses Help Improve Academic Achievement

2. Career and Technical Education

  • CTE Strengthens Student Achievement
  • CTE Credentials Boost Earnings
  • CTE Course-taking Reduces High School Dropouts
  • Career Technical Student Organizations Enhance Student Engagement
  • CTE Students Develop Workplace-relevant Competencies
  • Arkansas CTE Provides Achievement and Graduation Outcomes
  • Massachusetts CTE Elevates Achievement

3. Employer and Community Engagement

  • Employer Engagement Enhances the Student Learning Experience
  • Employer Engagement Improves Student Motivation for School Achievement
  • Employer Engagement Helps Students Makes Better Career Decisions
  • Community Volunteerism Strengthens Student Motivation and Achievement

4. Structured Student Supports

  • High School Support Strategies Help Prevent and Reduce Student Dropouts
  • High School Supports (AVID) Strengthen College Retention and Persistence
  • College Support (ASAP) Improves College Retention and Completion
  • Supports and Guidance Help Improve College Completion

5. Structured Programming

  • Structure Programs Improve College Enrollments and Completion (Early-College Initiative)
  • Guided Pathways in Community Colleges Strengthen Student Retention and Completion

6. Dynamic Teaching and Learning

  • Active Learning Strategies Help Improve Student Learning
  • Integrated Math-in-CTE Improves Student Achievement
  • Integrated Literacy-in-CTE Improve Student Achievement
  • Integration of Academic and CTE Content Promotes Postsecondary Success
  • Accelerated Developmental Education Increases Postsecondary Success

Of course, in this blog, we don’t have the space to explore the specifics behind each of these findings. But for those promoting Career Technical Education and Pathways Systems, rest assured that the data is compelling, and every day and every year, the body of knowledge is growing.

At the upcoming Advance CTE meeting, we are excited to offer a complimentary copy of The Power and Promise of Pathways to each meeting participant. I hope the way this information is organized will help you and your fellow leaders have more confidence in making the case for CTE and Pathways. Change is Necessary; Change is Possible!

This post was written by NC3T, a sponsor of the 2016 Advance CTE Fall Meeting. Thank you NC3T!

As States Complete Listening Tours, Early ESSA Plans Show Opportunities to Expand CTE

September 28th, 2016

LA MeetingsIn the nine months since President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law last December, states and policymakers have been hard at work digging through the legislation and deciding how to structure their new plans. ESSA, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, presents a number of opportunities to expand access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE). As states prepare to implement the law next year, we will provide periodic updates on their progress and share strategies for leveraging ESSA to support CTE at the state level.

Early Drafts and Proposals from the States

Most states this summer have been gathering input from stakeholders on their ESSA implementation plans as required by the new law. While many are still completing their listening tours (you can find an overview here), a few states have released draft proposals:

  • Illinois recently released a draft of its state plan, which State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith offered as a “work in progress.” The plan describes how Illinois’ secondary CTE system, which is supported, in part, with funds from the Carl D. Parkins Act, aligns with ESSA’s new focus on a ‘well-rounded education’ — a key concept in the new law includes CTE as part of the statutory definition. The state Board of Education also adopted a framework for a college and career readiness indicator, including such components as industry credential attainment, work-based learning participation, and postsecondary credit attainment. It is yet to be determined if the framework will be included in the state’s broader, multi-indicator system of accountability. Illinois plans to conduct 14 listening sessions in September and October, after which time the state will revise and publish an updated state plan later this fall.
  • After much deliberation, the California Board of Education approved a new accountability system earlier this month, adopting an indicator for college and career readiness. The indicator allows schools to count students completing a CTE pathway, although the overall score will not differentiate these students from those meeting other college and career readiness indicators such as earning a passing score on an Advanced Placement exam. The accountability system lacks criteria to measure students who are “well-prepared” for college and careers. Meanwhile, Governor Brown vetoed a bill that would have revised the accountability system to place more weight on test scores.
  • Louisiana released a summary report from its listening tour this summer, providing parents, educators and other education stakeholders an overview of progress towards a new state plan. Suggestions under consideration include incentivizing and rewarding schools for students earning industry-recognized credentials, partnering with business and industry to recruit teachers with industry experience, and providing students more opportunities to enroll in postsecondary education and training during their senior year. It is important to note that Louisiana is still considering these recommendations for the purposes of their forthcoming final plan.
  • Finally, Arizona released a draft state plan for residents of the state to review. While the draft is preliminary, Superintendent Diane Douglas promises the final version will align with the state’s AZ Kids Can’t Wait! Plan, which is currently undergoing updates. The state is receiving feedback through both public meetings and the Department of Education’s website, and plans to release an updated version in mid-October.

Department of Education Releases Guidance on “Evidence-Based” Strategies

ESSA provides states more flexibility to select a turnaround strategy for struggling schools, as long as the intervention is evidence-based. In keeping up with this requirement, the U.S. Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance to help state and local leaders identify and implement evidence-based turnaround strategies. Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) highlighted the potential for CTE to be included in this part of ESSA implementation in formal comments to ED this summer.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Education Sciences updated the What Works Clearinghouse to allow users to search for evidence-based strategies by school characteristics, grade span, demographics and more.

Tackling Accountability: Helpful Resources for Selecting a College and Career Readiness Indicator

college ready plusA new paper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation offers a framework for a  “College Ready Plus” indicator that evaluates students’ postsecondary preparation using measures such as work-based learning and attainment of an industry-recognized credential. The paper describes the role that employers can play in helping states adopt and implement a career readiness indicator.

The American Institutes of Research developed a policy framework to help states align their visions for college and career readiness with requirements and opportunities under ESSA. The brief focuses on the law’s three most salient policy components related to college and career readiness: well-rounded education, multiple-measure accountability systems and purposeful assessments.

Also helpful: a policy paper from the Learning Policy Institute that takes advantage of the ESSA policy window to propose a new model for accountability. The paper offers three potential career readiness indicators — CTE pathway completion, work-based learning and industry-recognized credentials — and discusses strategies for collecting and presenting data in a way that supports continuous improvement.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Registration Closes Friday

September 27th, 2016

Don’t miss your opportunity to network with your peers and experts at this year’s Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland! Join us October 17-19 to take on some of today’s most important CTE issues through informative breakout sessions, facilitated small-group discussions and expert-led panels.

Session HighlightBaltimore

Work with your peers and take a deep dive into how states have tackled the following topics during collaboration roundtables:

  • Developing a Statewide Vision and Fostering Ownership
  • Targeting Stakeholder Messaging
  • Ensuring Quality and Equity in Rural Regions
  • Analyzing Data to Tell the Story of CTE in Your State
  • Aligning Secondary and Postsecondary Systems to Improve Student Success
  • Fostering Meaningful State-Local Partnerships

Also, don’t miss this opportunity to cruise Baltimore’s Inner Harbor during the Advance CTE Fall Meeting! On Tuesday, October 18, this fun and relaxing event will include drinks, dinner, music, and the beautiful sights from the harbor. This dinner cruise was a favorite from several years ago, and we are excited to bring it back for this year’s meeting.kuder_logo

To join us, be sure to let us know you’re coming to this event when you register for the meeting.

This event is made possible thanks to sponsorship and partnership with Kuder, Inc.

Registration Closes Friday so Register Today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

September 23rd, 2016



Have you checked out our Learning that Works Resource Center lately? We’re updating materials regularly so that you can find the latest CTE and career readiness research, reports, case studies and policies.


Our 2016 Fall Meeting is right around the corner! Join us October 17 – 19 in Baltimore, Maryland to tackle today’s most important CTE issues. Registration closes September 30 so register today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate