Legislative Update: Congress and Administration Respond to COVID-19

March 19th, 2020

In response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Congress and the administration have been taking measures to support the country, including those impacted by the disruption in education. Read below to learn more about what is being done for students and teachers, as well as where to find additional resources. 

U.S. Department of Education Provides Coronavirus Resources 

The U.S. Department of Education added a page to its website with Coronavirus resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. The page will be continuously updated by the Department.     

Congress Moves Forward with Coronavirus Response Bill

On Wednesday, the Senate passed an emergency aid package in response to the Coronavirus crisis. This bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives early on Saturday morning. The multi-billion aid package provides economic relief measures, including:

  • Emergency paid leave and benefits; 
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance; 
  • Coverage of, and expanded access to, Coronavirus testing; and
  • Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for children who would receive free or reduced-price meals if schools were open.

The bill was then sent to the administration and signed into law. The full bill can be found here and a summary can be found here

President Trump Announces Hold on Federal Student Loan Interest

During a press conference about the federal response to Coronavirus on Friday, President Donald Trump announced  that interest on federal student loans would be eliminated “until further notice.” This will affect over 42 million Americans who owe more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding federal student loans.The U.S. Department of Education is currently working to further develop this plan and issue guidance on what this means for loan recipients and servicers.

On Tuesday, the Administration requested an additional $30 million from Congress to help support the Office of Federal Student Aid in response to the growing loan servicer costs as a result of the interest elimination. 

Congress Proposes Bill to Support Students During Coronavirus Crisis

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP)- with support from Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor- proposed the Supporting Students in Response to the Coronavirus Act. This bill is intended to support students, teachers and school staff as school closures continue due to Coronavirus. Early childhood programs, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education are all included in this legislation in a number of ways. Some of the measures in this proposal include: 

  • Resources to support schools in implementing and sustaining plans during school closures;  
  • Emergency financial aid for postsecondary students needing food, housing and child care; and
  • Relief for students from paying back student loans during semesters that have been disrupted.  

The full bill text can be found here and a summary can be found here.

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

States Enact Policies to Support Work-based Learning Opportunities for Students

March 18th, 2020

As the legislative sessions move forward, states have passed laws to examine and increase work-based learning opportunities for learners.

Some states, such as New Jersey, plan to launch pilot programs to expand access to work-based learning opportunities. In New Jersey, the state legislature passed S3065 in January to direct the Commissioner of Education to establish a three-year youth apprenticeship pilot program. The program will allow high school and college students to develop critical employability skills while earning a high school diploma or postsecondary credential. Employers participating in the program must pay the apprentice and offer an industry-recognized credential upon the completion of the program. 

Other states are leveraging graduation requirements to incentivize work-based learning opportunities for students. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam signed HB516 into law in March. The law requires the Virginia Board of Education to include options for students to complete a high-quality work-based learning opportunity or a dual enrollment course in its high school graduation requirements. 

In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee signed HB736 into law in March to examine opportunities available to learners. The law requires the Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) to study and report on whether community schools are providing on-the-job training opportunities to learners by working with community partners or businesses. Specifically, the law directs OREA to examine the number of learners participating in on-the-job training opportunities provided by community schools and whether these opportunities have resulted in students obtaining employment after high school.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Learning from CTE Research Partnerships: Using Data to Address Access and Equity Barriers in Massachusetts

March 17th, 2020

As part of our ongoing blog series aimed at increasing state research on Career Technical Education (CTE), Corinne Alfeld, Research Analyst at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research at Advance CTE, are conducting interviews with individuals who are part of successful CTE State Director research partnerships. The third interview was with Cliff Chuang at the Massachusetts Department of Education and Shaun Dougherty of Vanderbilt University. [Note: this interview, from February 5, 2020, has been edited for length and clarity].

Could you start by talking about the projects that you’ve worked on, your research questions, and how you settled on those research questions?

Shaun – It grew out of my dissertation work that was using some of the school data and then some of the statewide data from Massachusetts. It started pretty narrowly but the director of research was happy enough with what I was able to do that she talked about whether we could address some additional questions, and more data was becoming available. That more or less triggered the expansion, and then with Cliff coming into the role it became a two-way conversation that was more explicitly about what’s of academic interest and what’s of interest or of need on the practice and policy side for CVTE [career/vocational technical education].

Cliff – I would say that the particular catalyst for our most recent partnership is our desire as an agency to understand the waitlist demand issues related to chapter 74 CVTE in Massachusetts. If I recall correctly, we put out an RFR (request for responses)* for a research partner to help us analyze different aspects of who is and is not getting access to CVTE programs in Massachusetts. And Shaun and his partner Isabel at Harvard, a grad student there, their bid was selected. From that project there have been a lot of offshoots through the CTEx exchange collaboration that Shaun and others have established. We’ve been engaged in a lot of informal research inquiry as well as additional formal research that uses that data.

Could you talk a little bit about what the findings were from that project and what have been implications in the academic space but also on the policy front, how are you using those findings to change policy in Massachusetts?

Shaun – The basic findings were that in fact there is much more interest in these high-quality CTE programs, these chapter 74-approved programs in these standalone technical high schools, than can be met by current supply. This was more confirmatory evidence with a little more granularity and maybe confidence in the figures than was possible previously.

Cliff – Shaun’s team also helped us look at just the straight enrollment data comparisons, which is still not as ideal as looking at applicant data. It was helpful to have a more rigorous definition of what data protocols are needed around application and admissions. We have now made the decision to collect waitlist data systematically at the state level to allow researchers like Shaun to more rigorously analyze across the board the attributes of who’s interested in voc tech, who’s getting in, who’s applying, etc.

I think it also stimulated a variety of program initiatives on the part of state government in Massachusetts to increase access to CVTE programs through collaborative partnerships like After Dark, which is an initiative that seeks to utilize shop space in our technical schools after the regular school day paired with academics provided by a partner academic school to get more kids the technical training that we are unable to do in the standard day program structures.

I would also add that Shaun is continuing other aspects of the research now that we’re very excited about, based in part on some of the research they did do to look at longer term trends of students and their outcomes post high school.

Shaun – The first order concern is that lots of people want [access to CVTE programs] and there’s a limited amount of it, so should we have more?

The second order concern – but certainly not secondary question – is one about equity and whether or not the students who were applying and the students who were getting access look like a representative cross-section of the community at large.  We know that students who choose CTE or select a lot of it are maybe different than those who don’t, but we don’t know a ton about whether and how we expect students who are making those investments to look like the overall population or whether or not access concerns lead to equity concerns.

Cliff – We would like to look more closely at whether the gaps are simply due to application gaps – which is still an issue in terms of kids not applying – or whether there are actual gaps related to who is applying and getting in. That was the data gap that we haven’t quite been able to close yet. But Shaun was able to create some comparative data that is just based on enrollment that has allowed us to engage in these conversations. We’re having the conversation about trying to expand the number of seats available so there’s less of a waitlist, but also to ensure that access into the existing seats is equitable and doesn’t disadvantage certain subgroups over others.

Over the course of the partnership, what have been some of the major challenges and hurdles that you’ve faced? What are some of the speedbumps that you’ve hit getting things formalized up at the front?

Shaun – Fortunately, one thing that we didn’t face, although I know it’s an obstacle in many places, is processes related to how one gets permissions and access to the data. In fact, as the process has evolved, having those structures in place has made it really easy, so that if Cliff and I say “hey, we’d like to add this,” it’s a pretty easy amendment of the MOU [memorandum of understanding]. And then the people who deliver the data get approval and then they deliver it through a secure portal.

Cliff – I would also say that researchers left on their own probably would have had much less success in getting district participation in the survey study we did together. I, on the other hand, am someone with positional authority at the state level and established relationships that I can leverage to get that participation. And then I can pass it off to the research team that actually has the expertise and bandwidth to execute on the very labor-intensive data collection, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

It seems like you have a good partnership and a good synergy between the state office and the research team. If you were talking to CTE leaders and other researchers, what are some strategies and practices to make sure that partnership runs effectively and can be as impactful as possible?

Cliff – I think it’s important to have someone in the role of a researcher director type person whose job it is to facilitate these partnerships and to do some of the nitty gritty around data sharing, MOUs, etc. The other thing I would say is to have a commitment to an evidence base in terms of policymaking, and have people in the programmatic leadership who see the value of that and have enough knowledge of how research functions to parlay whatever policy or relational capital they have to support the research agenda.

Shaun – I think sometimes overcoming the incentives related to purely academic publishing restricts some of the willingness of some academic researchers to invest or to think about important questions in practice and policy. It’s being willing to realize that strong partnerships with local and state agencies means that more and better work can be done, and the work can have impact in real time. There is something very fulfilling and useful and practical about taking that approach from a research standpoint and then, if you come from practice like I did, then it helps ground the work.

Other blog posts in this series can be viewed here.


*Cliff explained that this is a formal process by which they solicited proposals for pay. “What’s been nice is that because it’s a partnership, Shaun has secured funding from other sources so there’s not an explicit contractual arrangement always. Aspects of the research that are ongoing are follow-ons from the original study. We have an interest in continuing to mine the data long-term to inform practice and policy.”

This Week in CTE

March 13th, 2020



Highland Dental students celebrate their OSHA safety certifications!


Cosmetology students at Carbon Career & Technical Institute (@CarbonCTI) experience, “feedback that prepares them for the workforce.” Students are thankful to be receiving the education needed to start their careers after high school.



In consideration of #NACAAHillDay (hosted by @NACAC on Twitter), Advance CTE shared our HEA recommendation aligned to Credit for Prior Learning:

Increase Support for Non-traditional Learners to Succeed in Postsecondary Education

Read all of our HEA Recommendations here:


Florida has registered two new apprenticeship programs: Heating and Air Conditioning Installer-Servicer; Plumber and Automotive Sales Representative!



Research for Action (@Research4Action) has released a comprehensive policy scan of all statewide College Promise programs as well as in-depth research of four statewide Promise programs. The document also includes considerations for state policymakers as they design and implement Promise programs that advance equity.

Read more here.


Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate 


Welcoming Henry Mack as Florida’s Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education

March 12th, 2020

Henry Mack started as the Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education in Florida in November 2019 and is approaching his new role with great thought and enthusiasm. Previously, Henry served as Vice President for Workforce Education and Innovation at Broward College in southeast Florida, ensuring alignment between the college’s academic programs and local market demands. Henry also taught undergraduate philosophy and religion at the University of Miami and at Florida International University, having studied philosophy and theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

The Florida Department of Education’s Division of Career and Adult Education is taking on a necessary but difficult task to ensure that learners, businesses, and the economy are benefiting from a robust Career Technical Education (CTE) system. They are in the midst of conducting an audit of its 1,200+ CTE programs to ensure they are aligned with high-growth, in-demand and high-wage employment opportunities. Using his background in liberal arts, however, Henry is looking forward to considering ways to better connect CTE with the traditional aims of a liberal arts education, such as education for democratic citizenship, cultural competence, critical thinking and mental agility. He is also looking forward to leveraging CTE as a means to address issues of access and economic and social inequities.

Looking ahead, Henry has big ideas for CTE in Florida. He’s excited to explore structural innovations in education, for example, considering different ways to integrate technical colleges into an education system, leverage technology to assist parents and learners in navigating potential career pathways, and promote practical and successful entrepreneurship across the state. Advance CTE is thrilled to support Henry in these endeavors! 

When he’s not on the job, Henry spends his time with his four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son and wife.

Dennis Harden “Running” CTE in Iowa

March 11th, 2020

Once the snow melts, Dennis Harden will be running the trails in Des Moines, Iowa. For now, he’ll have to stick to running the state’s Bureau of Career and Technical Education (CTE) as the new CTE Bureau Chief. 

Dennis comes to this role from Missouri, where he served as CTE Coordinator for two decades, working across several realms including guidance and counseling, equity and of course, Perkins planning. Dennis started his CTE career at the Missouri Department of Education, supervising a customized business and industry program. Dennis also spent four years working as the director of skilled technical sciences, health sciences and industrial technology.

In the coming years, Dennis is looking forward to getting the Iowa Perkins V plan across the finish line. He will also lead the team in continuing to work through the Future Ready Iowa initiative, a redesign of the state’s CTE programs that aims to improve access to high-quality CTE throughout the state by promoting regional planning partnerships and aligning CTE programs to in-demand occupations. Dennis and his team will consider how they can best help educators implement changes as part of the initiative. The Iowa bureau of CTE is also working on a statewide communications plan, which they developed as part of their work on the grant, Strategies to Attract Students to High-quality CTE, with the help of Advance CTE staff.

While Dennis is certainly not a new member of Advance CTE, we are so excited to welcome Dennis to this new role leading CTE in Iowa!

New Research Shows Positive Employment Outcomes for CTE Learners

March 10th, 2020

One of the most important considerations for learners choosing to enroll in secondary and postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs is whether that pathway will lead to a successful career and a good salary. The new Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) requires states and local recipients to set goals around post-program outcomes for CTE concentrators. Several recent studies suggest that learners are finding gainful employment and increased salaries after completing CTE programs. 

A study in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice analyzed data from the California Community Colleges CTE Outcomes Survey. Using three years of survey data from over 46,000 former CTE participants, the researchers found that these learners reported positive employment outcomes and obtained greater increases in wages than they were earning before beginning their program.

Another study using administrative data on a cohort of high school CTE concentrators from Washington State found that CTE learners who go on to college, compared to non-CTE learners, are significantly more likely to enroll in and complete vocational programs. They are also more likely to earn postsecondary credentials such as associate degrees and industry certifications, especially in the applied Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and public safety fields. Additionally, secondary CTE learners who do not go on to college are also more likely to obtain full-time employment within the first three years after graduation compared to non-CTE learners. 

Lastly, a study of admissions and learner outcomes within Connecticut’s system of 16 stand-alone CTE high schools found that males who attend a technical high school are 10 percentage points more likely to graduate than comparable males who attend a traditional high school. Male learners attending technical high schools in Connecticut also have approximately 31 percent greater post-graduation quarterly earnings, higher 9th grade attendance rates and higher 10th grade testing scores than comparable males. There was no evidence that female learners had significantly different outcomes based on the type of school attended. 

As CTE month comes to a close and states finalize their Perkins V plans and invest substantial resources in CTE programs, the findings in these three studies highlight the value that CTE programs have in positive academic and employment outcomes for learners. Additionally, these findings reaffirm the value CTE programs have in preparing learners for the real world and the many postsecondary paths they can pursue. The Washington State and Connecticut studies found that CTE concentrators were slightly less likely to go on to college than comparable learners but still more likely to earn vocational credentials, obtain full-time employment with higher earnings, and have better attendance and test scores than comparable learners. State leaders are encouraged to continue investing in these programs proving to work for learners in their states. 

Other Notable Research 

A report on Idaho’s education and earnings gap revealed that those with bachelor’s degrees earn substantially more in income than those with less education. Among its recommendations, the report suggests the state adopt explicit policies encouraging school districts to develop secondary CTE course sequences or certified programs focusing on two to three specific career pathways that play to their local strengths. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Welcome Brittany Cannady to Advance CTE!

March 9th, 2020

I was born and raised in North Carolina. Up until February of 2020, I called Charlotte my home. I recently worked as a Career Technical Education (CTE) educator in a North Carolina school district and advised the DECA CTSO there as well. I am certified in Marketing Education and specifically taught Sports and Entertainment Marketing in secondary education. It was such a great experience leading to the discovery of my passion for education, specifically the transfer of real-world knowledge and skills to the younger generations.

I completed my undergraduate studies, majoring in Advertising and Marketing, at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.-Go Mountaineers! Shortly after beginning to teach, I enrolled in a masters program for curriculum and instruction, which introduced me more to educational philosophy, visions and policies. I’m so honored to be here with Advance CTE on their journey to advancing CTE in our schools. I am receiving the best of both worlds – marketing and education – by fulfilling the role of Digital Media Associate. I will be responsible for Advance CTE’s social media networks, monthly Member Newsletter, operating Advance CTE’s website and marketing for Advance CTE’s reports, papers and resources.

A few of my favorite things include: my lovely son, calligraphy, football, the Fall season and vacationing to the beach!

Tribal Colleges and Universities Take Innovative Approaches to Support Native Populations

March 9th, 2020

In February, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) hosted an event at the Senate Office Building to discuss innovative strategies, programs and ideas to address the key challenges impacting Native higher education. To unpack these challenges and strategies, the event featured panelists from colleges that primarily serve American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian populations. 

Much of the event focused on how Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are able to meet the needs of Native populations. Specifically, the panelists discussed how TCUs address barriers to access for learners. While TCUs are one of the most affordable postsecondary education options with an average annual tuition of $3,592, the cost of attending a TCU can still be a barrier to learners. To address this and transportation issues, Sitting Bull College in North Dakota provides tuition waivers and transportation to and from the college. 

Core to advancing equity in Career Technical Education (CTE) and the broader education field is not only ensuring that students have access to CTE and education programs, but also taking action so that learners feel welcome in and can fully participate in education programs. Panelists emphasized how TCUs are able to create an inclusive environment for Native learners through providing intentional supports and preserving Native populations’ cultures. For instance, Ilisagvik College in Alaska developed a pathway program that places students in cohorts to help learners feel supported and part of the community. 

Many of the panelists discussed the role language plays in creating an environment that students feel welcome in and can succeed in. In Hawai’i, learners can take courses taught in Olelo Hawaii, the Native Hawai’ian language, from infancy through doctoral programs. TCUs take approaches to ensure that Native languages continue to be commonly spoken in the community and the classroom. In Montana, Salish Kootenai College created an apprenticeship program that allows participants to become qualified in both Salish language fluency and effective teaching strategies to meet the demand for Salish language teachers. 

The event ended with a discussion about changes that can be made to the Higher Education Act (HEA) to help support TCUs. Specifically, AIHEC proposes two new programs and modifications to two existing programs during HEA reauthorization:

  • TCU Native American Language Vitalization and Training Program (HEA-Title III): This new program would authorize curriculum development and design; provide professional development for TCU faculty and secondary teachers; authorize Native American language research; and provide $20 million in competitive grant funding per year.
  • Strengthening Graduate Opportunities at TCUs (HEA-Title III): This new program would authorize the development and enhancement of graduate-level professional certifications and degrees at TCUs; mentoring, scholarships and fellowships for students pursuing graduate certification and degrees at TCUs; curriculum development, faculty development and student research; and $5 million in competitive grant funding annually. 
  • TCU Facilities Study and Infrastructure Enhancement Program (Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities Assistance Act [TCU Act]) : This update of the TCU Act would direct the Department of the Interior to report on TCU facilities; help support new libraries, classrooms, student and faculty housing; fund renovation and expansion of existing facilities; support equipment, broadband improvement, library collections; and provide $35 million in competitive grant funding per year.
  • Federal E-Rate Program(Communications Act of 1934): This would designated TCUs as eligible to participate in the E-rate program, which provides discounts to help students and libraries secure affordable telecommunications and internet access. 

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Speech to Members of Congress Recognizes 100 Years of Advance CTE

March 6th, 2020

With the close of CTE Month, a speech was given to members of Congress recognizing Advance CTE’s centenary. Read below to learn about this speech, a hearing on the National Apprenticeship Act, a Senate hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal and an article that brings awareness to the impact of CTE funding.

Representative Thompson Delivers Speech for Advance CTE’s 100th Anniversary

On February 28, Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), delivered a speech to the House of Representatives to celebrate 100 years of Advance CTE. Representative Thompson is one of the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus along with Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI). During his speech to members of Congress, Representative Thompson called for “colleagues to please join me in celebrating 100 years of Advance CTE and everything they do to promote skills-based education and opportunity in life.”

House Holds Hearing on National Apprenticeship Act 

The House Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee hosted a hearing about “Reauthorizing the National Apprenticeship Act: Strengthening and Growing Apprenticeships for the 21st Century” on Wednesday. The hearing accompanied the introduction of a proposed National Apprenticeship Act reform. Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) both emphasized the important role that apprenticeships play in supporting the needs of workers, employers and communities. Both also spoke of the need to align apprenticeship programs with education pathways. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 aims to codify existing standards, as well as create new apprenticeship opportunities. 

Member opening statements as well as witness testimony can be found here and here. You can watch this Wednesday’s hearing here and read the full National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 discussion draft here

Secretary DeVos Testifies to Senate on Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Proposal

On Thursday, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy Devos testified to the Committee on Appropriations’s Subcomittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies about the administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal. During the hearing, Secretary Devos spoke about the necessity of the proposed increase to CTE funding. She noted that this is a crucial time for CTE given the 2018 reauthorization of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), and current work that states are doing on their four-year Perkins V plans. Secretary DeVos shared that “many plans are very ambitious expanding the opportunities for students not just in high school, but in the middle school years, helping students to understand the multitude of options” that CTE programs can offer. Members, such as Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) expressed strong support for the CTE programs in their states.

Senators also expressed serious concern for other components of the President’s budget request, which would slash funding for many programs and include a new block grant program for K-12 education. Other discussions during the hearing involved the Department’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, as well as bipartisan support for rural school funding.

Secretary DeVos’s testimony can be viewed here, and a full video of the hearing can be viewed here.

Article Shares the Impact of Federal CTE Funding 

In recognition of the end of CTE Month, Advance CTE in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) wrote about the impact of CTE funding and put out a call to double the federal investment. You can read the full article here. If you agree with the importance of federal funding for CTE share this article on Twitter, and be sure to tag @CTEWorks and @CTEMedia!

An excerpt from the article can be found below: 

“CTE cuts down on the high school dropout rate, saving our economy $168 billion per year while sending students to postsecondary education just as often as non-CTE students. Since 2011, 80,000 jobs that require a high school diploma or less have been created, while 11.5 million careers for workers with some postsecondary education have been added. CTE fills the skills gap while igniting the passions of the next generation.”

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