CTE Month: New Resources and State Shoutout

February 7th, 2020

Happy CTE Month! Each Friday in February we will showcase tools and resources to use during CTE Month and highlight the great work states and organizations are doing to get the word about CTE Month. 


Advance CTE developed a number of resources to help you communicate about the value of CTE. Supported by the Siemens Foundation, Advance CTE worked with states to pilot innovative and effective models to communicate about CTE with key stakeholders, students and their families, to guarantee career success for each learner. Learn about model strategies and approaches in three new briefs:

We also created a number of templates including a ready-to-use brochure, flyer, banner, postcard and ad for you to use to make the case for CTE in your community. The materials are designed so that you can plug in photos and information about your school, district or state reinforced by nationally tested messages that we know resonate with students and families. 


Utah State Board of Education released five videos highlighting CTE pathways to in-demand and high-wage careers such as aviation and aerospace, health science, Information Technology and more. 

South Carolina Department of Education released a statewide social media calendar and resource guide to help districts communicate about their successful CTE programs. 

The Arkansas Division of Career and Technical Education launched a social media campaign: What CTE Means to Me where students and school district accounts are posting what CTE means to them alongside facts making the case for CTE using the #WhatCTEMeans hashtag. 




Legislative Update: CTE Month Proclamation and State of the Union Address

February 6th, 2020

February is Career Technical Education (CTE) Month, and to kick it off the administration recognized the importance of CTE in a proclamation and the State of the Union Address. Read below to learn more about how the president supports CTE, as well as a new grant program from the U.S. Department of Education to prioritize innovation. 

Administration Issues Proclamation on CTE Month

The administration released a proclamation recognizing February as CTE Month, reinforcing executive support for CTE and stating the need to expand high quality CTE programs. This proclamation shares that the president’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal to Congress “will include significant increases in funding for these programs.” The budget proposal will be released on Monday, February 10. Advance CTE staff will provide an update on what the budget means for CTE as details are released.

The proclamation also acknowledges the important role that CTE plays in preparing individuals for careers as the world of work continues to evolve. The statement shares that through efforts led by the National Council for the American Worker, more than 400 businesses have signed the Pledge to America’s Workers- committing to creating 14.5 million employment, training and education opportunities over five years. 

State of the Union Address Promises CTE Investment

During Tuesday’s annual State of The Union Address, President Donald Trump asked Congress to support a plan to “offer vocational and technical education in every single high school in America.” Although the President has not released a specific plan of how this would be achieved, his speech was aligned with the CTE Month Proclamation. This coordination emphasizes the administration’s prioritization of CTE.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a statement following the State of the Union. In this press release, Secretary DeVos applauds the commitment to issues such as CTE, higher education and Second-Chance Pell.  

U.S. Department of Education Announces New Flexibility Opportunities for States

Secretary DeVos announced that Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont have been approved for the Education Flexibility Program (Ed-Flex) under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Through Ed-Flex, participating states will be able to waive some federal statutory or regulatory requirements in the name of supporting local innovation. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand?: Amy Klobuchar

January 31st, 2020

Advance CTE is posting a series of blogs on each 2020 presidential candidate who has released an education or workforce development platform and is polling above one percent. Check back for the next blog in this series, and catch up on previous posts!

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar presidential campaign platform includes an agenda for “Shared Prosperity and Economic Justice,” that outlines how education can be more accessible and equitable, as well as connect to workforce development. Klobuchar’s platform includes a postsecondary education plan “for affordable education that connects students with the jobs of today.” The details of this plan cover a number of ways that postsecondary education can be more affordable and support success in the workforce. 

  • Provide Tuition Free One and Two-Year Community College Degrees and Technical Certifications, Promote Apprenticeships, and Respect the Dignity of Work
    Klobuchar proposes a new federal-state partnership to cover the cost of tuition for one and two-year degrees at community colleges, technical certifications and industry-recognized credentials. Klobuchar also shares that she will connect students to jobs by working with high schools, community colleges, universities, business, labor unions, trade associations and job training centers to ensure that students have the information they need about the types of credentials and education needed for different careers, job availability and projections in those careers and expected wages. Support for apprenticeships is emphasized in this plan, and Klobuchar has the goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships throughout her potential first term. She plans for her Secretary of Labor to explore how apprenticeships meet in-demand occupations and create a national campaign in order to achieve that goal. Improving tax incentives for retraining and postsecondary education is also part of this agenda. Klobuchar outlines her proposed Progress Partnerships, that among other things would incentivize state education departments to evaluate and update school curricula to improve career readiness and postsecondary outcomes. Klobuchar makes a campaign promise to help districts take on the tuition costs of dual enrollment.
  • Lower the Cost of College and Reduce the Burden of Student Loans
    This proposal includes a commitment to double the maximum Pell Grant and increase eligibility to families making up to $100,000 per year, as well as ensuring that Pell Grant levels keep up with inflation. Klobuchar will also support states in creating microgrant programs to assist with non-tuition expenses and pilot projects for federal housing to students, as well as expand SNAP eligibility benefits for low-income students. Klobuchar also commits to simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). She shares that she will overhaul the current Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, including expanding to borrowers in in-demand occupations.
  • Support Multiple Paths to Success and Invest in Retraining
    Klobuchar plans to establish a new tax credit for employers to invest in training for employees who would otherwise be laid off through on-site training or by providing paid time off for off-site training. To be eligible for these tax credits the training would have to result in an industry-recognized credential, certificate or degree. Klobuchar also commits to reversing the current administration’s proposal to cut basic education programs for adults. Support for stackable credentials is outlined in this agenda, and Klobuchar shares that she will encourage states to work along with employers, unions, trade associations and community colleges to build stackable credential opportunities for in-demand occupations that offer necessary workplace skills while also moving toward a degree. In addition, this plan commits to starting a grant program for skills-based education so that students can receive academic credit for prior skills and knowledge. Klobuchar will also improve GED programs by connecting them to community college curricula and career skills.
  • Provide All Students Opportunities for Success
    Klobuchar shares that she will expand Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities, especially for underrepresented groups of students. She will also create a new Pathways to Student Success Initiative that would provide participating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) with federal funding to either waive or reduce the first two years of tuition at a four-year school for low-income students. Tribal College and Universities (TCUs) would also be eligible for the Pathway to Student Success Initiative. Additionally, Klobuchar would expand the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, as well as make sure that they are funded at the needed level. This proposal includes supports for veterans through updated education, career counseling and college veteran education centers. 

Klobuchar’s platform covers a “Plan for the Future of Work and a Changing Economy” that promotes success for each individual. This includes building a 21st century workforce in which the education system is coordination with workforce and economic needs, as well as offering additional support to communities that need it in the changing economy. 

To learn more about Klobuchar’s education and workforce development plans you can check out her campaign platform.   

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

States Passed At Least 208 Policies to Support CTE in 2019

January 29th, 2020

On the federal and state levels, 2019 was an important year for Career Technical Education (CTE). In addition to creating their four-year state plans for the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), at least 45 states and Palau enacted at least 208 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness.

Today, Advance CTE, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the Education Commission of the States released the seventh annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review report, examining 2019 legislative activity, including legislation, execution orders, board of education actions and budget provisions. To develop the report Advance CTE, ACTE and Education Commission of the States reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state action and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. In 2019, states most frequently addressed the following topics:

  • Funding;
  • Industry Partnerships and Work-based Learning;
  • Industry-recognized credentials;
  • Governance; and
  • Access and Equity.

In total at least 41 states enacted policies that affected CTE, making funding the most common policy category for the seventh year in a row. Illinois increased funding for CTE programming by $5 million, while Massachusetts and Delaware both invested in work-based learning programs. For the second year in a row, industry partnerships and work-based learning was the second most common policy category with at least 35 states taking action in this area. In Connecticut, the legislature passed a law to require the Connecticut Department of Labor and the Board of Regents for Higher Education to jointly establish nontraditional pathways to earning a bachelor’s degree through apprenticeships, while Colorado enacted a law to launch a statewide resource directory for apprenticeships.

Most states have taken action relevant to CTE since the Year in Review report was launched and in total more than 60 policies passed in 2019 than 2018. This indicates a continued commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. To view previous years’ Year in Review reports, click here. Advance CTE, ACTE and Education Commission of the States will be joined by Texas to discuss these policies in more depth on February 18 from 3-4 p.m. EST- to register for the webinar, click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Clay Long, Achieving His Dream Job

January 28th, 2020

Clay Long is about to hit his two-month mark on the job as the State CTE Director in Idaho but he is no newbie to Career Technical Education (CTE). Serving in this role has been Clay’s dream job for 15 years, since he first held an internship in the state CTE office while he was an undergraduate.

Most recently, Clay served as the chief of staff for the mayor of the City of Nampa, ID, and as a CTE administrator in the Nampa school district, the third-largest school district in the state. As a CTE administrator, Clay pursued answers to the questions, “What does CTE provide as a unique competitive advantage?” and “How can we best connect industry to learners?” Clay focused on CTE branding, marketing and outreach to industry, parents and students. This area of communications is of continued interest to Clay as he settles into the State Director role.

Clay has held a variety of leadership roles, from serving on CTSO boards (Idaho Business Professionals of America (BPA), SkillsUSA Idaho and National BPA), and was the president of Career & Technical Educators of Idaho. Notably, Clay’s passion for CTE is long held, as he taught firefighting at Idaho’s first high school firefighting program, stepping up to lead the program after a struggling first-year.

Looking ahead, Clay is interested in exploring models of virtual education that provides increased access to rural and remote learners – a challenge for Idaho – and collaborating with staff and stakeholders to inform an upcoming five-year strategic plan focusing on the ability to meet the demands and needs of industry. He is excited that CTE is top of mind and frequently mentioned by legislators in his state, and was even mentioned in the Governor’s State of the State address, demonstrating the importance of CTE in Idaho.

Fun Facts about Clay:

Favorite weekend activities: traveling and spending time with family and friends

If he could only eat one type of food for the rest of his life: Italian food


Putting Afterschool to Work: Impactful Work-based Learning in New Orleans

January 24th, 2020

The destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 transformed New Orleans into a place where construction is not just a high demand, high-wage career, but an act of service to the community. unCommon Construction (UCC)—a non-profit organization in New Orleans that delivers afterschool programming and weekend on-site apprenticeships—engages high school students in career pathways within the construction industry, while also building and selling essential market rate homes for residents and families in the students’ home town.

UnCommon Construction provides high school students with the opportunities to gain over 100 paid internship hours per semester in on-site, hands-on work based learning in the construction trades, through partnerships with area schools and the Louisiana statewide CTE program known as Jump Start. UCC student apprentices engage in trainings after school and spend the weekends building a home in their community alongside construction industry experts including architects, engineers, carpenters, electricians, realtors, title attorneys and more. As UCC Founder Aaron Frumin puts is, “the need in this industry is so broad and widespread, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.”

UCC programming utilizes the flexibility of the afterschool hours to emphasize the development of communication and teamwork skills, also known as employability skills, to compliment the work-based learning opportunities students receive on the job site.  During afterschool hours, students participate in a leadership development series called “Framing Character,” and are evaluated using a third-party evaluation tool known as a Hirability Scorecard, developed by MHALabs.org. A student who progresses well through the rubric receives an end-of-program endorsement shared with industry partners upon graduation.

The program prides itself on the success of its completers. Eighty percent of students who enroll in the rigorous program complete their semester. Of those who complete their term, 100 percent have remained on track for high school graduation and gone on to either further their education or acquired a job within three months of graduating high school. Remarkably, UCC has been incredibly successful in engaging nontraditional student populations. While the construction industry is 8 percent female about 40 percent of program participants are female or non-gender conforming.

UCC’s model requires a close collaboration with the schools it partners with, often working directly through a college and career counselor or internship coordinator. The school will inform students about the availability of the UCC program, then assist students with writing their applications, acquiring work permits, soliciting letters of recommendation and preparing for their in-person interviews. Once a student is enrolled as a participant, the UCC program reports attendance and progress back to the school so that the school may assign internship credit. UCC also recognizes that students benefit from individual relationships with the mentors in their program, and has established partnerships with schools to provide students with wrap-around support during the school day during identified intervention times to help the student stay on track for high school graduation and career success.

How Louisiana Supports Programs Like unCommon Construction

Afterschool programming and work-based learning in Louisiana is strengthened by state policy and funding. Louisiana’s statewide Jump Start initiative ensures the high school accountability system credits schools equally for work preparing students on quality pathways to college or career. Through Jump Start, students can earn a career diploma by completing industry-based credentials, and career experiences/internships are considered a core element of a high-quality secondary CTE program. As UCC director Aaron Frumin puts it, “college and workforce pathways are equally prestigious.”

Additionally, schools can draw down state dollars through the Career Development Fund to support students with unCommon Construction’s year-long programming. The fund provides financial resources to schools to support career development activities, including transportation to work-based learning sites, insurance, tools and gear, training by career professionals and the 100-120 hours of work based learning. UCC’s non-profit program then leverages funding from the houses it sells back into the community along with funding from philanthropic partners to provide every participating student with hourly pay above the minimum wage for their work and training.

Leveraging Perkins V to Strengthen Afterschool Work-based Learning

State leaders have a number of levers to strengthen and expand work-based learning through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the new federal law for Career Technical Education (CTE). States can use Perkins V to foster meaningful partnerships with afterschool programs and other intermediaries to ensure all students can access meaningful work-based learning opportunities, especially when paired with programs that support student employability skills and wraparound supports to see students through a successful graduation and onto the next step in their college or career path.

For one, Perkins V gives states the opportunity to hold local recipients accountable for delivering work-based learning through the secondary CTE program quality indicator. States can choose between three different measures for the accountability indicator, and many are choosing to prioritize work-based learning. As a result of this shift, work-based learning—during and after school hours—is expected to become a more integral part of the CTE experience.

Second, Perkins V funds can be used at the state and local level to support the establishment and expansion of work-based learning opportunities for students. Local funding decisions will be driven by a new Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment, which can surface gaps in work-based learning opportunities and give local leaders direction to help expand offerings for students.

Finally, the law’s emphasis on systems alignment encourages CTE leaders to coordinate with other state agencies to support career development and workforce training for learners. This opens the door for meaningful collaboration with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) coordinators, who can align afterschool, youth workforce and career pathways programs.

This blog post is the second in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. It was written by Jillian Luchner from the Afterschool Alliance, Christopher Neitzey from the Afterschool Alliance and Austin Estes from Advance CTE.

Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand

January 23rd, 2020

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) places a strong emphasis on the alignment of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study with state, regional and local economies. The legislation requires Perkins-funded programs to prepare students for “high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations.” These terms — high skill, high wage and in demand — are foundational to Perkins V, appearing in both the purpose of the law and the definition of CTE.

As with many Perkins V requirements, the responsibility of defining these terms rests solely with states, providing them with a major opportunity to set a meaningful bar for determining which career opportunities anchor their CTE programs. The stronger focus on labor market alignment compels state CTE leaders to ensure that all program offerings are relevant to today’s economy and that learners will participate in CTE programs with data-driven and validated labor market value.

Advance CTE newest paper, Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand, describes some approaches that states are taking to partner across agencies to access and review labor market information; develop definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand; provide local flexibility, while maintaining guardrails; and disseminate the information widely to key audiences.

For example:

  • District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education led a collaborative process, engaging the Workforce Investment Council, Department of Employment Services, industry partners and other key stakeholders to identify data sources and set their definitions for high skill, high wage and in demand.
  • Nebraska’s H3 site provides the state definitions of high wage, high skill, and high (in) demand, as well as a search tool for identifying those occupations at the state or regional level.
  • Texas allows for local flexibility through a regional program of study application process that enables locals to present regional LMI to justify a program of study, which, once approved, can then be offered by any district within the region.
  • OhioMeansJobs is an initiative developed through the state’s Office of Workforce Transformation. In addition to the state’s identified in-demand jobs, the site also offers a great deal more for students and job-seekers, such as a career interest inventory, job and company search engines and other career exploration tools.

For more, including specific definitions used by the states mentioned above and others, read Aligning to Opportunity: State Approaches to Setting High Skill, High Wage and In Demand.

The report was made possible by the generous support of the Joyce Foundation.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand?: Pete Buttigieg

January 22nd, 2020

Advance CTE is posting a series of blogs on each 2020 presidential candidate who has released an education or workforce development platform and is polling above one percent. Check back for the next blog in this series, and catch up on previous posts!

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign platform supports Career Technical Education (CTE) by calling for doubling the annual investments in CTE programs in high schools and colleges. His plan for supporting and expanding CTE opportunities are listed out in “The American Opportunity Agenda: Affordable College, Stronger Workforce Development, & Lifelong Learning.” This agenda is comprised of three parts that would support access to training and education with the intention of ensuring success for individuals and the greater economy.

  • Improve College Affordability and Completion
    Buttigieg plans to make college free for low-income students by providing free tuition and financial support for living expenses. This would be done through partnerships between states and the federal government and would make public tuition free for students who are Pell Grant eligible and for all families earning up to $100,000. Buttigieg would also invest $120 billion into the Pell Grant program to in order to cover the cost of tuition and basic living expenses. He plans to increase the size of the maximum Pell Grant allotment as well, and connect it to inflation. Buttigieg also commits to supporting college completion in ways such as creating a $1 billion community college fund to invest in local communities and respond to barriers that college students face, as well as reforming the Federal Work-Study Program to make sure that funding is allocated to models that allow students to work in fields aligned with their career-goals. Buttigieg also supports removing the ban on Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals and expanding the Second Chance Pell program. 
  • Invest in the American Workforce
    Buttigieg makes the campaign promise that he would invest $50 billion into the skills of the country’s workforce. This would include doubling annual investments in high school and college CTE programs. Funding would also go to state and industry partnerships that would give all high school students in CTE programs free college credit, the opportunity to earn industry credentials and participate in work-based learning. In addition, he would implement a tax deduction for employers that offer paid work experience in ways such as internships and youth apprenticeships.

    Another component of the skills investment would be a $10 billion investment in registered apprenticeships. Buttigieg outlines that he would build upon the Registered Apprenticeship system through the National Apprenticeship Act and invest $1 billion annually to double the number of apprentices- with a focus on nontraditional industry sectors. In particular, Buttigieg plans to do the following: develop a challenge grant program for states; create industry-specific centers of excellence to work with employers and intermediary organizations; incentivize employers to participate and invest in apprenticeship programs and build a federal apprenticeship service.

    Buttigieg would also form a presidential “Skills Cabinet” tasked with creating and investing in a skills strategy for the country based on best practices across states. The Secretaries of Commerce, Education and Labor would need to work with industry and labor leaders to create a five-year skills strategy. There would be about a $2 billion annual investment in workforce programs and partnerships, based on the Skills Cabinet strategy, that support collaboration between the economic development and lifelong learning efforts.

    This campaign also outlines a $100 million annual investment in scaling local public-private workforce partnerships with the intention of building “talent ecosystems” that connect education, economic development and workforce development. This funding would be allocated through performance grants in regional workforce partnerships based on successful practices.  
  • Strengthening College Transparency, Safety, and Oversight
    One way that Buttigieg plans to increase transparency is by providing important outcomes information to students about colleges that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education. This data would be available to the public in a user-friendly manner. 

You can read Buttigieg’s full proposals for the above three strategies in “The American Opportunity Agenda: Affordable College, Stronger Workforce Development, & Lifelong Learning.”

To learn more about Buttigieg’s education and workforce development plans you can check out his campaign platform.  

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Learning from CTE Research Partnerships: How Michigan Built Trust with Researchers to Better Understand State Data

January 21st, 2020

As part of our ongoing blog series aimed at increasing state research on career and technical education (CTE), Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate at Advance CTE, and Corinne Alfeld, Research Analyst at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), are conducting interviews with individuals who are part of successful CTE State Director research partnerships. The first interview was with Jill Kroll of the Michigan Department of Education and Dan Kreisman of Georgia State University (and Director of CTEx). [Note: this interview has been edited for length; you can find the full interview transcript here].

The first question we have is about the projects that you work on together: what were some of the research questions you came up with, and how did you come to settle on those research questions?

Jill – I first connected with Dan and with Brian Jacob at University of Michigan when I saw Brian present to our P-20 council about some research that he was doing connecting the wage record data for five community colleges. I was like “Gee, is there any way you can do something similar with the statewide secondary student data?” And he said it was possible. So I worked within our department procedures to find out how we could go about establishing a relationship that would allow this opportunity.

Dan – That led to a whole bunch of other discussions of things that we thought were interesting. So, to say that there is a set of research questions is not the way I view our relationship. We talk with folks in Jill’s office regularly to hear what questions are pressing for them, and then we try to help facilitate answering those and then see where those lead us. I think one of the important things is we try to think about where there are policy levers, so we want to say “If we answer this question, how can the state or the districts use that information to further their mission of providing CTE programming to students in Michigan?”

Jill – I’ve been really happy with the extent to which Dan and the research team have consistently focused on the “so what?” Rather than focusing on vague research questions of interest only to other researchers, they have emphasized their interest in doing research that has practical application, that can be used by educators in the field.

Could you share an example of how you’ve been able to use some of this evidence and research to change policy, or at least to shape your understanding on some decisions that you’re making at the state level?

Jill – When we were starting to work on our Perkins V [the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act] state plan, we had a short time to determine what we wanted to consider for our secondary indicator of program quality. Because Brian, Dan, and their students had been working with this data for so many years, they had the capacity to very quickly do the matching and come up with an approximation for us about what postsecondary credit attainment would look like, and what strengths and weaknesses they saw in the data. It would have been really difficult for our office, or even multiple state agencies, to have been able to work that quickly and give it the critical analysis that they did.

The other thing they did when we were making the decision for that indicator is look at the data that we had for work-based learning and tell us what could be done with it. What came out of that was that the data was not in any form that could be analyzed (text and PDFs). This was really revealing to our State Director Brian Pyles, and it led him to set a policy that we are going to build a consistent way of collecting data on work-based learning. So that is another piece where it influenced practice and policy. One of the most exciting and valuable things that I find about the partnership is that Dan and the other researchers have a lot more capacity to analyze the data in a way that we just don’t have the time to do. Sometimes we don’t have the expertise, and sometimes we just don’t look at the data in the same way.

Dan –And there’s a flip side that without their input, we often are looking at data and can’t make heads or tails of something. And we can get on the phone or write an email to someone over there and say “Hey we’re seeing this thing. Can you tell me what that means?” And they will come back with “Oh, the system changed” or “There was this one policy,” and “Here’s what you have to do to make it fit everything else.” And this happens all the time. We would be completely lost without this open channel that we have to their office.

I think it’s important not to dismiss the power of good descriptive work. Lots of times, the questions that states are grappling with can often be illuminated with some really careful and good descriptive work. You can say, “This is what we’re seeing, this is the big picture,” if you step back for a minute, and that information lots of times has been as valuable as the stuff we try to do that is more causally oriented in our research.

Jill – I agree, and I want to follow up on the whole issue of how important trust is. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to me that Dan and the other researchers come to us with those questions, that they check in with us. That’s absolutely critical. Anyone who works with any kind of data knows that it’s just so complex. If you link tables wrong, or misunderstand a data field, you can come to a completely wrong decision. So that communication and that interaction and trust are key to accurate outcomes.

As you’re both looking ahead, what’s next on the agenda? What are some of the research questions and priorities you have for this partnership?

Dan – Number one is tracking students into the labor market. That’s our biggest and most outstanding question. And the degree to which CTE programs are preparing students for college and the labor market and careers. In terms of other projects, one of the things we’re interested in is technical assessments. We’re also part of a consortium of several states – that’s the CTEx group. We meet annually together, and that allows us to harmonize things across states to see how trends are similar, how enrollment rates work, all sorts of different questions across multiple states.

Jill – One of the things we’re talking about right now is that we don’t have, in an accessible form, data on access to a particular program. We know that career centers serve certain districts, but if someone asked, “If student A is going to Central High School, what programs do they have access to? we don’t have a good way of answering that at the moment. We’ve had a couple of discussions about how we can work together to build basically a dataset that clarifies that. That would be mutually beneficial and would take resources from both in order to do something like that.

Thinking back on this partnership, is there any advice you would give to other State Directors or CTE researchers?

Dan – Building a strong relationship is the first thing you have to do. And part of that is spending time face to face talking about questions, moving around ideas, looking at data together. We had the benefit of a long windup period. We spent at least a year just talking about questions and putting together data before we even started doing any analyses. We also had buy-in from Jill’s office up and down the line from folks who were doing the research to people who were in policymaking roles. And without all of that, none of this would even have been possible.

And the second part is to not downplay the value of just providing good information. A lot of us on the research side don’t realize how little time folks in the state offices have to take a step back and say, “What’s going on with our data? Let’s look at the big picture.” And one of the things we can provide them is just giving them that big picture and handing it to them in a digestible way. And doing that is the first step, is a really good way to start building that trust. They really see the value of what you can do early on. And then you can start to get into more difficult or longer-term questions.

Jill – The first advice I would give is: Do it! Partner with researchers. I can’t say enough positive about it. The second is: Follow department procedures and be transparent with department leadership. You know that windup might be really, really slow while you jog through the channels that you need to in your department to do things by the book, but I think it pays off in the long run.

My third one is: Be transparent and open with school districts. Share what you’re doing and invite their input. Anybody who works with state data would probably know, you’re always a little hesitant about what the public would think about this use of data. The way that Dan and the postdocs and graduate students have openly shared the work that they’ve done with our CTE administrators has really helped, in that I have not gotten any doubt from districts.

The full transcript can be accessed on Advance CTE’s website. Other blog posts in this series can be viewed here.

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand?: Michael Bloomberg

January 16th, 2020

Advance CTE is posting a series of blogs on each 2020 presidential candidate who has released an education or workforce development platform and is polling above one percent. Check back for the next blog in this series, and catch up on previous posts!

Former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg calls out Career Technical Education (CTE) as its own specific piece of his campaign positioning. He names CTE as a way to provide individuals with the skills they need to find career success. Bloomberg makes the campaign promise that he will “invest in pathways that create new opportunities and access to well-paying jobs for all Americans.”

Bloomberg goes into more detail about his “All-In Economy” agenda that would support individuals in getting higher paying and higher quality jobs, as well as modernize education and training practices to provide adults with the skills and credentials needed for careers that offer upward mobility and income growth. This strategy is comprised of five pillars: “Make education and training a national priority; create the jobs of the future in communities today; make work pay; tap into the job-creating energy of entrepreneurs; and connect rural communities.”

In particular, the modernizing education and training piece of the agenda would be the highest priority assigned to the administration’s Vice President. The Vice President would be tasked with working with states, employers, community and technical colleges and other relevant parties to provide millions of people with the skills needed for a career. This would be achieved through: 

  • Training and Retraining
    Bloomberg intends to provide every state with grants to improve career-training systems and programs that are specific to the skills and credentials identified by employers as necessary for in-demand jobs and careers. Bloomberg’s plan requires significant new investments in community and technical colleges and partnerships with employers. In addition, employers, industry groups and educators would collaborate regionally and nationally to define credentials and develop impactful curricula. Part of the grant funding would be competitive and allocated to innovation and scaling up successful and inclusive programs that end with credential attainment.
  • Apprenticeships
    Bloomberg set the goal that “by 2030, one million students annually will enroll in apprenticeship degrees and quality credential programs.” This would mean that youth and adult learners would participate in paid on-the-job learning that is related to classroom and results in both academic credit and employer-valued credentials. This plan includes grants for partnerships that include educational and training institutions as well as employers to create and scale programs. Bloomberg would also provide funding for state and local intermediaries.
  • Helping Working Adults Transition into Different Jobs and Careers
    This component of Bloomberg’s platform addresses the modernization of education and training systems that he plans to undertake. To achieve this Bloomberg would provide innovation grants to education providers and employers to meet the needs of both full and part-time adult learners. Included in this strategy is Pell Grant eligibility for short-term programs.
  • Expanding and Extending Access
    The way that Bloomberg plans to expand and extend access is by making programs more affordable. One way this would be done is by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to short-term programs. In addition, Bloomberg shares that he will open Pell Grant funds to incarcerated individuals.

Bloomberg’s campaign platform also prioritizes Education & College Access by “improving schools and student achievement.” For example, Bloomberg states that increasing student achievement, college preparedness and career readiness would be a national priority if he wins the election. He supports this by sharing his current work leading efforts nationally to increase college enrollment for low-income students. 

To read more about Bloomberg’s education and workforce development platforms you can check out his campaign website

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate