Oregon’s Perkins V Planning Process Aims to Go Beyond Federal Compliance

June 3rd, 2019

While one-year transition plans for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) now submitted, states are very involved in the process of developing their four-year plans, due in the spring of 2020. Advance CTE, in partnership with ACTE, has been contracted to facilitate and inform this process for the state of Oregon, and recently led a workshop with key state and regional leaders to focus on priority areas.

The workshop took place over the course of two days in April in Salem, Oregon, and included around 35 participants, including state-level staff from both the Department of Education and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, as well as regional and institutional representatives and employer and workforce partners. The first day focused on facilitating discussions on Oregon’s previous use of Advance CTE’s Policy Benchmark Tool on program approval policies to examine program quality across secondary and postsecondary. Oregon began using the tool in 2018, and plan to use the findings to inform priorities for Perkins V planning.

On the second day, participants participated in prioritization exercises and provided input on Oregon’s forthcoming state vision and priorities for CTE. This vision and priorities will go beyond the requirements of Perkins V, and instead will leverage the federal law to promote a broad plan for success for Oregon learners. Participants also had conversations focused on equity, career advising and meaningful stakeholder engagement.

The workshop happened in the midst of Advance CTE and ACTE developing and Oregon leaders administering a statewide stakeholder survey, which focused on multiple measures of quality in CTE. Going forward, Advance CTE and ACTE will continue to work with Oregon state leaders, particularly in the facilitation of four work groups, each focused on a priority area identified by participants during the workshop and informed by data from the statewide survey. Oregon staff are also conducting stakeholder engagement activities and working across secondary and postsecondary to ensure that both the Perkins V state plan and broader strategic plan for CTE adequately address the needs of learners in Oregon.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate


May 31st, 2019



Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship Network and Grantees Announced

The Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) is excited to announce the nine outstanding grantees and introduce the PAYA Network. Working with PAYA, these sites will launch and expand high-quality youth apprenticeship programs across the country. Read the press release to here learn more!

New Higher Education Experimental Sites Initiatives Announced

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos shared details about new and updated higher education Experimental Sites Initiatives. The Experimental Sites Initiatives is authorized under the Higher Education Act to pilot and evaluate proposed changes in policy. Through each initiative, the Education Department waives the statutory or regulatory federal student aid requirements relative to that initiative for a limited number of institutions in order to test the effectiveness of that new program. This announcement included the expansion of the Second Chance Pell program, which allows incarcerated individuals to access Pell Grants, by providing an opportunity for additional institutions to apply for inclusion.

Learn more here.

To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that affects Career Technical Education (CTE), sign up for our Legislative Updates!

Rural Community College Grant Application Convenings

This summer the U.S. Department of Education and the American Association of Community Colleges will be co-hosting three convenings designed to help rural community colleges identify, plan, and design projects for federal grant applications. Activities will include facilitated workshops and information from federal agencies with upcoming grant opportunities. These convenings will take place at the following locations:

  • June 6–7 at Gateway Technical College, Racine, Wisconsin;
  • July 18–19 at Lakes Region Community College, Laconia, New Hampshire; and
  • September 12–13 at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Biloxi, Mississippi.


Check out this video of U.S. Congressman for Rhode Island’s Second District speaking about the importance of CTE in regards to building and maintaining our country’s infrastructures. He noted research from the Brookings Institute that stated nearly three million skilled workers will be needed to support this work over the next decade. He asked for congressional leadership to prioritize workforce development in future legislation relevant to this topic crediting CTE as the strategy to use to help train the future workforce. Watch the video here.

Interested in advocating for CTE? Consider sharing the Double the Investment in CTE campaign. If you’re a business you can sign on here.


Putting Pell Grants to Work for Working Students

In this report, the National Skills Coalition outlines policy recommendations and encourages Congress to recognize the important role of community and technical colleges in equipping working students and businesses with the credentials and skills needed in today’s economy. It also describes how increasing Pell eligibility for learners enrolled in short-term credential programs could help address the demand for qualified workers to fill “middle-skill” jobs. The report concludes with case studies highlighting Iowa and Virginia’s efforts to increase access to short-term programs through the GAP Tuition Assistance Program and New Economy Workforce Grant Program, respectively.

Read the report here.

Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship Network and Grantees Announced

May 29th, 2019

The Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), a multi-stakeholder initiative, just announced its nine grantees under the first joint philanthropic investment to expand youth apprenticeship in the United States. These grantees –  selected from an extremely competitive pool of over 220 applicants from 49 states and Puerto Rico – will launch and expand high-quality youth apprenticeship programs in multiple cities, regions, and states, and in a range of industries. The grantee recipients are:

  • Apprenticeship 502 (Louisville, KY)
  • ApprenticeshipNC (Raleigh, NC)
  • The Birmingham Promise (Birmingham, AL)
  • Career Launch Chicago (Chicago, IL)
  • Early Care and Education Youth Apprenticeship (Oakland, CA)
  • King County Regional Youth Apprenticeship Consortium (Renton, WA)
  • Montana Youth Apprenticeship Partnership (Helena, MT)
  • Texas Youth Apprenticeship Program (Austin, TX)
  • Twin Cities LEAP Initiative (Minneapolis, MN)

Grant funding will support sites’ strategy development and implementation activities over a 17-month period, beginning in May 2019. During this period, grantees will engage in cross-site learning and receive tailored technical assistance from PAYA National Partner organizations and other leading experts in the education, workforce, and policy sectors.

In addition, grantees will join the new PAYA Network – a national learning community designed to link high-potential, dynamic partnerships working to across the country to launch, expand, and improve apprenticeship opportunities for high school-aged youth. The PAYA Network was formed to recognize, support, and connect high-potential leaders identified through the PAYA Grant Initiative, and to support them as they work to build the emerging field of youth apprenticeship.

Advance CTE is thrilled to join our partners at New America, CareerWise Colorado, Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship, Education Strategy Group, JFF, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and the National Governors Association in leading this effort. We see the incredible impact such an investment of resources and support will have on expanding high-quality youth apprenticeship in these communities across the country.

To learn more, visit newamerica.org/paya and stay connected to the initiative’s progress by following the #PAYA hashtag.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Sunrise Mountain High School, Fire Science Program

May 28th, 2019

Schools and postsecondary institutions must rely on partners, especially employers and community-based organizations, to augment and supplement learners’ experiences. A high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program requires partnerships that offer support and create authentic real-world experiences. One example of this type of program is the Fire Science program of study in Arizona, a 2018 Excellence in Action Award winner in the Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security Career Cluster®.

The program was started in 2004 due to Arizona’s critical need for employees in fire science. To meet this demand, the Peoria Fire Science Advisory Council worked with Peoria Unified School District to develop the program of study. The Fire Science Advisory Council whose members includes multiple educational partners, eight fire departments, representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, and Professional Medical Transport Ambulance staff, among others. Council members regularly offer work-based learning experiences, including mentorship, job shadowing and internships. The local fire departments are also key partners and their employees serve as mentors, offer internships and even teach in the classroom. For example, the City of Peoria Fire Department has been a partner for over 20 years and provided the first instructors to the Fire Science Department.

“These young men and women come in prepared both physically and mentally while possessing the necessary skills to become a professional firefighter. The Peoria Unified School District Fire Science Program is a huge asset in preparing our future firefighters and lays the groundwork for a successful career in fire service,” said Captain Tony Neely, Lead Recruit Training Officer, Peoria Fire Medical Department.

All learners are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of work-based learning activities, including internships, job shadowing, ride alongs and more. The hands-on skills the Fire Science students are gaining in workplace settings are complemented by their classroom instruction. Program instructors are an active-duty fire captain and a firefighter, each bringing decades of professional experience to the classroom.

The program prepares learners for postsecondary and career success by providing rigorous in-school instruction. Learners also earn college credit, and various industry certification offerings allowing learners multiple on and off ramps throughout their education and career. Specifically, students can earn up to nine dual enrollment credits, which articulate to an associate of science degree in emergency response and operations in fire science.

Learn more about the Fire Science Program at Sunrise Mountain High School and our 2018 Excellence in Action Award winners.

Perkins V: How can states expand access to high-quality CTE in rural communities?

May 23rd, 2019

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) brings a new opportunity for states to examine what access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) looks like in rural areas and develop strategies to address challenges to delivering CTE in rural areas. Perkins V also continues to provide states with the flexibility to leverage the reserve fund to support CTE in rural communities. The reserve fund is an option available to states to distribute funds to local eligible recipients of Perkins funds (e.g., local school districts, area CTE centers, community colleges, etc.) through an alternative method (which could be by formula, competition, a combination, etc.).

In Perkins V, the allowable reserve fund was increased from 10 percent to 15 percent (i.e., up to 15 percent of the 85 percent of Perkins funds that must be distributed to local recipients can be distributed through an alternative method) and must be used in areas with high numbers or percentages of CTE students, or rural communities, or areas with disparities or gaps in performance among population groups. While these funds are flexible, they must be directed to spurring innovation or supporting programs of study. How can states use the new opportunity that Perkins V brings to expand access to high-quality CTE in rural communities? Check out the resources below to learn more.

BRIEF: CTE on the Frontier: Catalyzing Local Efforts to Improve Program Quality: This brief from Advance CTE explores state strategies to improve the quality of local CTE programs to ensure they meet industry needs and expand opportunities for rural learners. The brief highlights different approaches state leaders can take to empower local leaders and support program improvement in rural areas.

BRIEF: CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners with the World of Work: This brief from Advance CTE explores how states have identified ways to bring the physical experience of work-based learning and employer engagement directly to learners through simulated workplace experiences, innovative satellite campuses and mobile labs.

BRIEF: CTE on the Frontier: Providing Learners Access to Diverse Career Pathways: This brief from Advance CTE is designed to help states identify promising strategies for expanding the variety of career pathways available in rural areas. The brief profiles how states have leveraged strategic partnerships and new technologies to reach economies of scale and offer a wider breadth of career pathways to rural learners.

BRIEF: CTE on the Frontier: Strengthening the Rural CTE Teacher Pipeline: This brief from Advance CTE examines challenges and strategies for expanding access to high-quality career pathways in rural areas and addresses one of the most pressing challenges rural schools and institutions face: strengthening the pipeline of qualified CTE teachers and faculty.


Looking for additional resources? Please be sure to check out the Learning that Works Resource Center.

New Higher Education Experimental Sites Initiatives Announced and College Scorecard Expanded

May 22nd, 2019

The big policy news related to Career Technical Education (CTE) in Washington, D.C. this week focused on postsecondary education. The importance of CTE was also recognized with the announcement of the U.S. Presidential CTE Scholars and a Senate CTE Caucus event. Read below to learn more about each of these updates.

Secretary DeVos Announces Higher Education Experimental Sites

This week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos shared details about new and updated higher education  Experimental Sites Initiatives. The Experimental Sites Initiatives is authorized under the Higher Education Act to pilot and evaluate proposed changes in policy. Through each initiative, the Education Department waives the statutory or regulatory federal student aid requirements relative to that initiative for a limited number of institutions in order to test the effectiveness of that new program.

First, Secretary DeVos announced a Federal Work-Study Experiment that would give selected colleges new flexibilities for students to participate in private-sector work-based learning opportunities, including:

  • No limits on the amount of Federal Work-Study funding that institutions can provide to private-sector employers;
  • Increased funding for Job Location and Development, which institutions can use to establish apprenticeship intermediaries; and
  • A reduced wage share for certain private-sector employers (e.g., small businesses) involved with institutions that are part of the experiment.

Second, Secretary DeVos announced the expansion of the Second Chance Pell program, which allows incarcerated individuals to access Pell Grants, by providing an opportunity for additional institutions to apply for inclusion. The Second Chance Pell pilot program was created under the Obama administration in 2015, and renewed in February 2019.

Expanded College Scorecard Released by Secretary DeVos

Secretary DeVos announced changes to the College Scorecard, an online interactive tool that allows users to gather information on the cost and certain outcomes (e.g., median earnings, median loan debt, and loan default and repayment rates) of higher education institutions. New information can now be accessed through the College Scorecard, such as:

  • Data on 2,100 non-degree granting institutions;
  • Graduation rates and transfer information for non-first-time and non-full-time students;
  • Up-to-date metrics from the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System; and
  • Preliminary student loan debt data by field of study.

2019 U.S. Presidential CTE Scholars Selected 

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes the top high school seniors across the country through the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, including students who excel in CTE. A U.S. Presidential Scholar in CTE must be nominated by their Chief State School Officer. All candidates then complete an application and are evaluated for academic achievement, character, and leadership by a review committee of secondary and postsecondary education leaders. The review committee selects the semifinalists from this group, and the Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of independent individuals appointed by the President from across the country and spanning a range of professional backgrounds, asses the remaining pool to choose the finalists. The Commission selects only 60 CTE semifinalists and up to 20 CTE finalists.

The 2019 final U.S. Presidential CTE Scholars have been selected, and include students from Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

Senate CTE Caucus Event Shines a Light on CTE Data

On May 21, Advance CTE’s Senior Policy Associate, Austin Estes, participated in a Senate CTE Caucus briefing on CTE data. The panel event also featured Catherine Imperatore from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Dr. Bryan Wilson from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (an initiative of the National Skills Coalition), and Dr. Nicassia Belton from the Maryland State Department of Education. The panelists discussed the value of data to promoting equity and quality in CTE, and the challenges states face in improving the accessibility, quality, and use of their data as they prepare to meet new reporting and accountability requirements in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Advance CTE shared findings from this year’s State of CTE report, highlighting the need for cross-sector data sharing and partnership across the states.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate & Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

State Leaders Are Prioritizing Workforce Readiness but the Data to Get There Is Missing

May 22nd, 2019

Workforce readiness takes center stage in most education policy conversations these days. With last year’s reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (now known as the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act or Perkins V), state leaders are increasingly focused on how they can improve and increase access to high-quality career technical education (CTE) programs. With more attention being paid to this important work, state leaders must be transparent about which kinds of CTE programs are being offered, who is accessing them, and how participants fare once they’re finished. To do this, states need to collect data that is meaningful and share it in ways that people can access and use to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, CTE data currently available leaves most students and families in the dark.

According to a recent report from Advance CTE in collaboration with partners including Data Quality Campaign (DQC), less than half of State CTE Directors say their CTE data systems provide the information needed to assist in making decisions about program quality and initiatives at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. The majority of states report being able to collect learner-level data on a variety of career readiness measures at the secondary level, but for a variety of reasons this information isn’t found on states’ most public-facing resource about school quality, their school report card.

In January 2019, DQC reviewed every state’s report card and found that only 21 states included the number or percentage of students who completed a CTE program or earned an industry credential. Almost no state reported a separate graduation rate for CTE concentrators. How states chose to report this information also varied greatly, making it difficult at times to understand and interpret the data. Some states reported CTE certification rates as a standalone indicator, while others rolled it into a broader college and career readiness (CCR) indicator. Combined CCR indicators are simple (in theory) but often contain a variety of very different data points (such as CTE certifications earned, dual enrollment, and AP course completion rates) and that summary indicator is rarely broken out to give readers a clear picture of the outcomes for each of the included, and very different, measures.

Two states, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, stood out for the variety of data each include about students’ pathways, which DQC highlighted as bright spots. South Carolina reports detailed CTE data, including course enrollment and completion, credential attainment, and the types of industry credentials earned by Career Cluster® (e.g., Business Management & Administration, Finance, etc.). Pennsylvania includes data about postsecondary pathways more broadly, such as military enlistment and postsecondary enrollment rates disaggregated by student group, as well as the percentage of students who have completed a work-based learning experience.

It’s certainly a positive step forward to see almost half of states beginning to include CTE data on their report cards, but more state leaders need to follow suit. By including CTE and career readiness data side-by-side with college-going rates, state leaders can help students and families see the value of CTE pathways. As states invest significant resources into further developing CTE programming, it is critical that they be transparent about program participation and student outcomes. In order for students to utilize these programs as paths to better outcomes, they must be equipped with the data needed to guide them there.

This is a guest blog post from Elizabeth Dabney, Director of Research and Policy Analysis at the Data Quality Campaign. The post was originally published here

Updated Advance CTE Recommendations for HEA Reauthorization

May 21st, 2019

As Congress consider reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), Advance CTE reviewed our HEA recommendations. Last month, we added a recommendation to lift the ban on Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals.

From 1972 to 1994, all those incarcerated in state or federal prisons were eligible to receive Pell Grants. However, in 1994 President Bill Clinton’s Violent Crime Control Act banned access to Pell Grants for all incarcerated individuals. In 2015, President Barack Obama announced the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative– which allowed for those incarcerated to access Pell at experimental sites for the first time since 1994. In February the U.S. Department of Education approved renewal of this pilot program. There are now 67 participating colleges and universities and over 100 federal and state prisons included in this program- leading 12,000 incarcerated individuals to utilize Pell funding. While this has been positive progress, there are over 1.5 million people incarcerated- and only a small portion of those who are otherwise eligible for Pell are able to access it.

A recent report by the Vera Institute of Justice and Georgetown Law School’s Center on Poverty and Inequality found that in state prisons- which hold the majority of prisoners in this country- about 463,000 people are eligible for Pell Grants. Currently, only 50 percent of those previously incarcerated find formal work in their first year after release from prison. The report found that if 50 percent of state prisoners who are Pell eligible are able to enroll in a postsecondary program, the rate of employment for formerly incarcerated individuals in their first year after release from prison would increase by 2.1 percent.

Support for expanding Pell access has been voiced across both parties. For example, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Committee on Education & Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) have all stated support. U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has also mentioned an interest in lifting this ban.

Eliminating the ban on Pell in all prisons would give hundreds of thousands access to postsecondary education, and allow these learners to pursue meaningful employment after incarceration. Advance CTE recommends reinstating Pell Grants in prisons to allow all learners the opportunity for postsecondary attainment, and set them up for career success.

Advance CTE’s full recommendations for HEA reauthorization can be found here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Tennessee, New Jersey Focus on Expanding Access to CTE Opportunities; Montana Expands Funding to CTSOs

May 20th, 2019

As the legislative session moves forward, states have passed laws to increase awareness of and expand access to Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities for each learner.

With the reauthorization of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which allows states to use Perkins funding as early as the fifth grade, many states are expanding CTE opportunities to the middle grades, including Tennessee. On May 5, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed SB0063 into law to expand CTE programs in the state to middle grades. Under the law, CTE programs must be accessible to all middle school learners in grades six through eight and serve at least 50 percent of this population. Additionally, the law requires the Board of Career and Technical Education to plan facilities for CTE training for middle school learners.

In New Jersey the legislature passed S372, which was signed into law on May 10, to help expand access to apprenticeships for learners in the state. The law requires the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commision of Labor and Workforce Development, to develop publicly available guidelines for high school counselors to use to coordinate services with the New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council with the intent of encouraging student participation in and awareness of apprenticeship opportunities.

Meanwhile, in Montana, on May 8 Governor Steve Bullock signed HB0662 into law. The law permits the Superintendent of Public Instruction to distribute secondary CTE funds to Career Technical Education Student Organizations (CTSOs) for grants.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate


May 17th, 2019


To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that affects CTE, sign up for our Legislative Updates!


In 2014, the first year of the Excellence in Action Awards, the Innovation Academy for Engineering, Environmental, and Marine Science at Foy H. Moody High School in Corpus Christi, Texas won in the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Career Cluster®.  

The program serves a diverse student body with learners being selected for the program after expressing their interest and being chosen based on a lottery system that isn’t tied to academic achievement. Once enrolled, learners have opportunities to participate in hands-on learning, advanced placement, and dual enrollment courses.

Hear from learners and the principal of Moody High School in this recent news segment celebrating their high enrollment numbers with nearly 300 learners accepted into their academy programs.

Watch the video here.

Learn more about the Innovation Academy for Engineering, Environmental, and Marine Science here.


Career Technical Education (CTE) was once known as vocational education and viewed as an alternative educational option for learners who were considered non-college bound. Now, there are high-quality CTE programs available to educate learners. A new report, The Evolution of Career and Technical Education: 1982–2013 from the American Enterprise Institute shares how courses and learners enrolled in CTE programs of study have changed over the past few decades. Included in the research is a look at the success outcomes according to the concentrator. The terms used in this report to categorize concentrators were “new-era” and “traditional vocational”.

The report recommends that policymakers take a closer look at the data to ensure programs are being promoted to the learners who need these opportunities the most. Key findings include the following:

  • Over the past several decades, CTE has progressed away from the stigma and stereotype of “voc-ed” as an academic dead end. However, the transformation from vocational education to CTE may have hidden, rather than solved, the durable challenges of vocational education.
  • Over 30 years, the percentage of graduates concentrating in “Traditional Vocational” occupational areas—such as manufacturing or agriculture—has fallen, while the percentage concentrating in “New Era” areas—such as computer science and health care—has grown dramatically.
  • Across many measures, including school engagement, academic performance, and college attendance, New Era CTE concentrators consistently show no measurable differences from average graduates, while Traditional Vocational CTE concentrators consistently fall below average.
  • New Era concentrators’ growth and relatively higher outcomes have had an outsized influence on CTE concentrators’ average outcomes, suggesting average improvements may be driven by compositional rather than programmatic effects.
  • For CTE to be successful, leaders (especially those currently developing state plans) must ask themselves not just whether CTE programs are producing adequate outcomes, but also whether CTE systems target the students who need them the most.

For a quick overview check out this video: https://youtu.be/gpWIRfN25hM

Read the full report here.

You can also read our full blog on this report here.