Setting Students on the Path for Professional Development with Certifications

April 1st, 2019

This post is written by Certiport, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM occupations grew twice as fast as others between 2009 and 2014.  STEM jobs are also expected to grow faster than any other job category through 2024 with a projected growth rate of 28.2 percent, compared with the average projected growth for all occupations of just 6.5 percent.  

In order to meet this need in the future, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently pointed out the need for U.S. education institutions to “create opportunities for people to develop 21st-century skills and level the playing field for all demographics.”

Duncan continues, “If we expect to compete in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills, we need to concentrate on closing the digital divide. The reversal must begin in K-12, where currently only one in four schools teach computer programming.”

High school graduates will typically need a lot of additional training to fill the high-tech jobs of the future, but starting in K12 sets students on a path for continued learning – it opens the door and helps them to realize an interest in and an aptitude for a career in computer science.

Certifications Validate those Entry Level Technology Skills

Industry-recognized certifications are one way to get K12 students started on a path to a career in technology.  CTE programs around the country are adopting certification programs to set students on a path to professional development, and one fantastic example is Sun Valley High School in Monroe, North Carolina.

When teacher Eddie Mull arrived at Sun Valley High School three years ago with a 35-year background in the drafting industry, he aimed to rejuvenate the drafting program to make sure students learned work-ready skills.  Over his career, he earned several Autodesk Certified Professional certifications and has seen their value in the workforce.

“I knew I wanted to get Autodesk certifications going at Sun Valley,” said Mull. “The professional-level certifications are valuable in the workforce and if I could get my students earning the user-level certifications they would be on the path for career success.”

As a result of Mull’s efforts and the support of the CTE department, Sun Valley students quickly caught the fire of earning Autodesk Certified User certifications. Each semester approximately 40 to 50 students take Drafting 1 and most earn Autodesk Certified User AutoCAD certification, and another 15 or so take Drafting 2 and most of them earn the Autodesk Certified User Revit certification.

“They want that bullet point on their resume, they want the certificate,” said Mull. “They want to get good at something so they can get a head start and differentiate themselves in a career.”

A new statewide initiative directs Drafting 3 students to earn a professional level certification – which is very difficult.

“It is hard but doable, I have had two students earn the Autodesk Certified Professional certification so far with about a dozen more preparing,” said Mull. “The program will be formally implemented next year.” Mull works with students to make sure their Autodesk Certified User level and Autodesk Certified Professional level certifications stand out on their resumes and even provides a resume template.

Some of his recent graduates with Autodesk certifications have interviewed at as many as five places and have been offered jobs by all five. Whether his students plan to go to college or enter the workforce, Autodesk certification helps with admissions and job interviews.

“The certification indicates that students have the skills and are able to perform the tasks necessary to utilize the Autodesk applications,” said Robert Filter, Union County Public Schools Director of Career Readiness. “It provides the students an opportunity to spotlight their skills and knowledge over other potential candidates when applying for a job.

Recent Sun Valley graduate Gabriel Blount said earning an Autodesk Certified User certification has already helped him as he builds a career in drafting.

“Adding Autodesk certification to my resume has been extremely beneficial since it shows my ability to learn and be flexible in a professional setting. Autodesk certification has helped in my future career – the principles I learned are now a part of my new job and I would have never guessed how helpful it would be when I was taking the drafting courses.”

Learn More

We invite you to learn more about how to implement certification in your CTE program to prepare students for college and career.  Certiport offers learning curriculum, practice tests, and performance-based IT certification exams to open up academic and career opportunities for learners.  Our offerings include:

  • Microsoft Office Specialist
  • Microsoft Technology Associate
  • Adobe Certified Associate
  • App Development with Swift Certification
  • Autodesk Certified User
  • EC-Council Associate
  • QuickBooks Certified User
  • IC3 Digital Literacy Certification
  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Please join us the evening of Tuesday, April 9th from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at our Hospitality Suite at the Advance CTE Spring Meeting to learn more.

How States Are Leveraging ESSA to Advance Career Readiness

April 1st, 2019

By now the consensus in the education community is clear: in addition to a strong academic foundation, students should be able to access other experiences in high school — physical education, the arts, Career Technical Education (CTE) — that provide added value to their education and increase the likelihood of postsecondary success.

The notion that high schools should provide a “well-rounded education” was codified in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. The law, which Congress passed with bipartisan support, provides several opportunities for integrating CTE and other well-rounded learning opportunities into the traditional high school experience, which Advance CTE has covered extensively on this blog and in our publications. More than four years after the law was passed, some states have begun to leverage these opportunities to advance career readiness  in high school.

Expanding Opportunities for Each Child in Ohio

One often overlooked opportunity in ESSA is the Direct Student Services (DSS) provision. DSS allows states to set aside up to 3 percent of their basic Title I grants to help local education agencies expand access to advanced coursework and CTE. Only two states — Louisiana and New Mexico — opted to use the allowance in their submitted ESSA plans. But they were soon joined by Ohio, which decided in 2018 to leverage the DSS allowance to launch a new grant program called Expanding Opportunities for Each Child.

The program has two primary objectives: developing and expanding access to career pathways that culminate in high-value credentials and promoting access and success in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB). These objectives are aligned with Ohio’s strategic priorities for secondary education, which emphasize postsecondary readiness and preparation for college and career. Ohio’s decision to use the DSS allowance was based on the idea that freeing up additional resources would help local education agencies better support student achievement and transitions to post-high school pathways.

In July 2018, Ohio awarded more than $7.2 million in three-year grants to 17 recipients. Fourteen will be conducting career pathways development and three will be expanding access to AP and IB courses. A second round of applications is expected to be issued later in the 2018-19 school year.  

Building Capacity for STEM Learning in Georgia

Though the Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program, Congress authorized funding to the tune of $1.6 billion to enhance well-rounded education, school safety and the effective use of technology in schools. While the program has not been fully funded by Congress, it still provides significant resources to help schools deliver a well-rounded education, including CTE and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

While most states have left the determination of how to spend Title IV funds up to local leaders, some have issued guidance or put together trainings to help schools leverage their resources in service of statewide priorities for career readiness.

Georgia is one such example. In its ESSA plan, the state committed to using Title IV funds to strengthen school counseling, computer science and STEM. Since then, Georgia has used Title IV funds to hire two full-time STEM coordinators, one in the southwest region and one in the southeast region. The coordinators are working to build STEM learning opportunities for schools and strengthen STEM pipelines in their areas. Additionally, Georgia has allocated Title IV funds to develop an online STEM incubator learning pathway to help district and school leaders navigate the process for certifying STEM schools.

Curating CTE Open Educational Resources in Nebraska

Another state that is using Title IV funds to boost career readiness is Nebraska. Leaders in the state are using Title IV funds to recruit CTE teachers to curate and develop educational resources aligned with college and career content area standards. This is a key feature of the state’s new Open Educational Resources (OER) Hub, which was launched in February 2019 and provides open access resources aligned with Nebraska’s college and career ready standards.

The work is still in the early stages, but Nebraska hopes to build out the CTE resources in the OER Hub later this summer by engaging CTE teachers to share, curate and develop rigorous digital resources that can be adopted and modified in the classroom. The state will provide stipends and cover travel expenses for participating CTE teachers. While this work is starting with three career areas — business, marketing, and management; communication and information systems; and human sciences and education — Nebraska plans to expand the resources to the remaining three state-identified career areas soon.

States made bold commitments in their ESSA plans to expand access to advanced coursework and career pathways. This is best demonstrated by the fact that 40 states are now measuring career readiness in their state and federal accountability systems. But few states are going the extra mile to align ESSA implementation with their plans for career readiness. Ohio, Georgia and Nebraska demonstrate three different approaches states can take to advance career readiness through ESSA.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

155 Representatives Sign CTE Funding Letter, President Signs Executive Order on Higher Ed

March 28th, 2019

With two hearings this week on the President’s budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020), appropriations season is in full swing! Read below to learn more about the hearings, the Representatives who signed a letter to support funding for CTE, and updates on both higher education and K-12 education.

155 Representatives Sign CTE Funding Letter

Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, were joined by 153 additional Representatives from both parties who signed on to a “Dear Colleague” letter that encouraged strong funding for Perkins. The letter was sent to the Chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member, Tom Cole (R-OK) of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies as they begin the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020). The widespread support for the letter is a testament to your advocacy efforts! You can check this spreadsheet to see if your Representative signed on to the letter – please don’t forget to send a thank you note to those who signed!

Looking to continue to support efforts to increase the federal investment in CTE? Check out, the website for the campaign to double the investment in CTE. In February, the CTE community launched this shared campaign and we invite everyone to join us in asking employers to sign onto a statement that supports doubling the investment in CTE. The signatures collected from employers will be a critical component to building visibility and support for CTE with members of Congress.

Secretary DeVos Testifies at House and Senate FY2020 Education Budget Hearings

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held hearings on the President’s FY2020 budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education on March 26 and March 28, respectively. Secretary DeVos testified before both committees and both hearings covered a wide variety of topics, from student loan debt to school discipline to school safety and more. In addition, there was much discussion around issues affecting CTE, such as teacher shortages, expanding Pell grant eligibility to high-quality, short-term programs, apprenticeship, and the proposed elimination of two programs that can support CTE and other efforts: the Supporting Effective Instruction grants authorized under Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants authorized under Title IV-A of ESSA. While the President’s budget proposed level-funding for CTE State Grants, multiple members of Congress expressed support for CTE and the need to change the perception of CTE.

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Higher Education

On March 21, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities. The executive order provides direction across three categories: Promoting First Amendment Rights, Improving Transparency and Addressing Student Loan Debt. First, the executive order reinforces existing requirements for colleges receiving federal funding for research to support free speech. Significantly, the order directs the U.S. Department of Education to add program level data on student outcomes for the first time 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. The executive order also calls for the U.S. Secretary of Education to lead the research and reporting of policy options for risk sharing with student loan debt so that the federal government, institutions and other entities- not only the student- have a financial stake in students’ ability to repay loans. The research must address: state and institution transfer policies, how states and institutions can increase dual enrollment opportunities, and other ways to increase student success, particular in completing postsecondary programs of study. Secretary DeVos’s statement on the executive order can be found here and Senator Alexander’s (R-TN), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, statement can be found here.

More than Twice As Many States Counting Career Readiness than in 2014

A new report from Advance CTE, Achieve, Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers through the New Skills for Youth initiative examines state and federal accountability systems to see how states are measuring college and career readiness. The report, called Making Career Readiness Count 3.0, finds that the number of states with career readiness metrics in their systems has more than doubled from 17 in 2014 to 40 in 2019. The report breaks down common approaches to measuring college and career readiness and offers critical questions for states to consider as they implement new measures.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy, Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate & Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

Focusing on Career

March 27th, 2019

This post is written by eScholar, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

Students want careers they are excited about. Once they know the careers that excite them, they want the most effective pathways to succeed in those careers. CTE pathways start earlier and lead to many rewarding careers. The challenge is to show a wide variety of students that CTE programs can launch them directly toward numerous careers and provide a running start toward an infinite number of others.  We know that with successful CTE programs students have lower dropout rates, higher test scores, higher graduation rates, higher postsecondary enrollment rates, and higher earnings than students who do not enroll in CTE offerings. The key is to show students the short- and long-term benefits and provide constant feedback and guidance about where their pathway can take them.

The goal of CTE in your state is to enable the delivery of achievement in not only academics but also in career-readiness through connected systems within the state. That means strengthening pathways based on actual education and workforce experience data. Some of the most economically successful states are making strides in these areas today. The data is clear.   

What are some of the leading states doing to deliver these benefits?

  • States, including Texas and Pennsylvania, are leveraging their longitudinal data systems to link anonymized data across the entire pathway, including K12, postsecondary, and workforce data.
  • They are analyzing how to show students the path toward their goals. Pathway analytics can show students real paths towards their goals and how to meet their individual circumstances.
  • In Texas, they are managing one of the country’s most comprehensive longitudinal data system, which includes CTE experiences, postsecondary and workforce goals. This enables analysis of pathways, comparing desired and actual outcomes.
  • They are developing strong employer partnerships, to ensure students are attaining educations that make them ready for the workforce.
  • States like New Mexico are providing real career exposure to students and showing them many opportunities in different fields through New Mexico Career Pathways.  

When a state is able to execute on all of these best practices, they deliver evidence-based CTE programs that ensure workforce-ready graduates.

At eScholar, we have long been focused on providing data-driven pathways that provide a clear scope and sequence for students to achieve their goals in any career cluster. It’s a unique approach. The eScholar Pathways Project analyzes the educational and career pathways of millions of individuals to evaluate the effectiveness of individual pathways to educational and career goals.  This project has also analyzed billions of educational and career experiences for millions of anonymized individuals to identify effective pathways to degrees and careers. The experiences analyzed include course taking, extracurriculars, interventions and employment and wage data.

By taking this approach, a state can provide strategic and tactical insight for both organizations and individuals. If a school district is interested in expanding its CTE program, it can use pathway analyses to determine how to design its curriculum. An individual can review a pathway report to select the best courses that are most highly associated with goal success. A guidance counselor can use a pathway report to provide more precise advice on when a student should take a certain course.

We are not the first ones to examine course-taking patterns and goal attainment. Clifford Adelman’s book Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and

Bachelor’s Degree Attainment found that academic intensity and the quality of one’s high school curriculum are the most significant factors in bachelor’s degree attainment. However, taking an expanded approach with the eScholar Pathways Project, we can analyze not just courses, but experiences. We can also analyze pathways for outcomes beyond bachelor’s degrees, including associate degrees, advanced degrees, and career outcomes.  

We are still conducting research and development on our pathways design, but so far, it has shown a striking amount of promise and the ability to take state and local CTE programs to the next level.

What are your thoughts on this? What initiatives is your state taking to elevate its CTE program?

Follow us on Twitter @eScholar or visit us to learn more at

Why #ISupportCTE

March 27th, 2019

This post is written by Oracle Academy, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

As the North America Oracle Academy Regional Director, I have the opportunity to talk with education leaders at the national, state, K12 district, school site, and post-secondary level―learning, sharing ideas, celebrating successes, and understanding the challenges these leaders face each day. In February, a campaign initiative to support Career Technical Education asked individuals from all over the nation to take and post a selfie with a sign saying  “#ISupportCTE because,” on it. While I personally try to avoid selfies at all costs, I never miss an opportunity to highlight why believing in CTE is so important! For instance:

#ISupportCTE because: CTE ignites the imagination of learners through learning pathways. CTE Learning Pathways have the opportunity to lead our students to college and then on to career success. Many of these pathways include applicable industry certifications and apprenticeship/internships, but all of them start with helping the student understand the career opportunities available within that pathway. Students have the opportunity to think about whether a pathway is of interest, essentially igniting their imagination about the future. Oracle Academy partners with secondary and post-secondary schools to create computing education pathways, train teachers, cultivate critical thinking and bring creative, academic computing technology curriculum into classrooms. Oracle’s leadership in emerging technologies and next-generation cloud developments spur Oracle Academy’s innovation-focused curriculum, resources, and events so that students have a holistic view of careers associated with computing technology pathways.

#ISupportCTE because: CTE is for ALL learners, not just a select few. As we all know, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act is critical to ensuring that sustainable, high-quality CTE programs meet the changing needs of learners and employers. This act works to improve the academic and technical achievement of ALL students who wish to engage in career technical education pathways, while strengthening the bridge between secondary and post-secondary, and balancing student needs with that of a new economy.  As parents, educators, and leaders, it’s our duty to encourage ALL students to engage in CTE as a unique opportunity for career discovery and skill development aligned to an industry-relevant learning pathway. Oracle Academy supports diversity in technology and actively works to increase the participation of all students in computing, including girls, women and other under-represented groups, by creating materials and programs that make computing accessible and engaging for everyone. With Oracle Academy, students receive hands-on experience with the latest technologies, helping make them college and career ready in the era of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, the Internet of Things, and beyond.

Oracle Academy is Oracle’s global, philanthropic, award-winning educational program, with the goal of advancing computing education around the world to increase knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. Oracle Academy offers educators and their students FREE resources to teach and learn computing technology. This includes student-facing curriculum, learning and certification resources.

Oracle Academy understands and values educators as partners who are empowered to facilitate innovative student learning in and out of the classroom.

Checking in on New Skills for Youth States: How States Have Set their Sights on Access and Equity

March 26th, 2019

The Met, a work-based learning focused technical center in Providence, Rhode Island, serves about 800 students across the state. It is also one of eight recipients of Rhode Island’s new Innovation and Equity grant program, a $1.2 million program to help local districts identify and support populations that are underrepresented in high-skill, in-demand career pathways. Using funding from the Innovation and Equity grant program, the Met is working to recruit low-income learners into the Finance program and help them earn high-value credentials that have immediate value in the labor market.

Access and equity is a priority for Rhode Island and its nine peer states in the New Skills for Youth initiative, a focus that is highlighted in a new series of state snapshots released today. In 2017, each New Skills for Youth state was awarded $2 million to help transform career readiness opportunities for learners in their states. After spending the early part of the initiative establishing partnerships and laying the policy groundwork for success, states turned to implementation, with a focus on equity, in 2018.

Some states are focusing on including learners with disabilities in high-quality career pathways. For example, Delaware piloted a new program in 2018 called PIPELine to Career Success to remove barriers for learners with disabilities to access work-based learning experiences. The program is a two-year process in which school districts identify barriers to access, examine their root causes, and then implement strategies to close access gaps. The Delaware Department of Education has made grants available to three pilot districts and hopes to scale the approach across the state in the future.

Other states are working to expand access to advanced coursework for underserved populations. Rhode Island Innovation and Equity program is one such initiative. Another is Ohio’s Expanding Opportunities for Each Child grant. The state leveraged a rarely used allowance in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which lets states set aside up to 3 percent of their Title I funds for Direct Student Services grants, to award more than $7 million to 17 sites in economically disadvantaged communities. The grants are designed to either develop and expand career pathways or improve access to advanced coursework (including AP, IB and CTE).

Additionally, New Skills for Youth states are embedding equity as a core principle in both policy and practice. Several states are implementing statewide initiatives in support of academic and career planning, and they have focused their training, guidance and supports to emphasize the importance of equity. Others have built considerations about equity into their criteria for designating – and funding – high-quality career pathways. These steps ensure that questions of equity and access are addressed at every stage, from design to implementation.

The 2019 calendar year is the final year of this stage of the New Skills for Youth initiative. As states look beyond the end of the initiative, one question that is front and center in the year ahead is how they will secure commitment and funding to keep the focus on career readiness. States have made a lot of progress, and the efforts they have taken to embed equity in policy and practice will have a lasting impact for years to come. But state leaders understand they must continue to elevate this work as a priority to ensure their efforts in New Skills for Youth can be sustained and scaled in the future.

The state snapshots were developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Perkins V: How can the comprehensive local needs assessment drive improvement?

March 25th, 2019

One of the most significant changes introduced in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is the new comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA). This new process involves a wide group of stakeholders reviewing a number of elements, including student performance data, progress toward implementation of CTE programs and programs of study and more. It must be completed by local recipients of Perkins funds at the beginning of the grant period and then updated at least once every two years. Importantly, the CLNA brings an incredible opportunity to:

  • Make certain that programs and programs of study are aligned to and validated by local workforce needs and economic priorities;
  • Ensure that local Perkins eligible recipients are serving each learner equitably;
  • Enable eligible recipients to better direct resources towards programs and programs of study that lead to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand occupations and activities that address equity and opportunity gaps;
  • Create a platform for coordinating and streamlining existing program review and school improvement processes to bring focus to strategic decisions; and
  • Provide a structured way to engage key stakeholders regularly around the quality and impact of local CTE programs and systems.

How can state and local CTE leaders ensure that the comprehensive local needs assessment drives improvement? Check out the guides below to learn more.

GUIDE: A Guide for State Leaders: Maximizing Perkins V’s Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment & Local Application to Drive Quality and Equity in CTE (Word and PDF): This guide from Advance CTE provides a summary, analysis and guidance for each major component of the comprehensive local needs assessment and the decisions states can be making now to support a robust CLNA process that aligns with the state’s overall vision for CTE.

GUIDE: A Guide for Local Leaders: Maximizing Perkins V’s Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment & Local Application to Drive Equality in CTE (PDF): This guide from ACTE provides an overview and and guidance for the comprehensive local needs assessment so that local leaders can utilize it as a tool for program improvement.


Advance CTE just launched a Shared Solutions Workgroup focused on the new CLNA. This workgroup will bring together state and national leaders to develop thoughtful and forward-looking resources (to be shared this summer/fall) that respond to the challenges and opportunities of CLNA in Perkins V.

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

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

PAYA National Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina

March 25th, 2019

Earlier this month, the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeships (PAYA), of which Advance CTE is one of the partners, held a national meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. This convening included educators, employers, policymakers, community leaders and PAYA partners. Over the course of two days, PAYA featured sessions such as: panels on the perspectives from school districts, employers, students and national leaders; a keynote presentation from Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA and Chair of the Siemens Foundation; a discussion with Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Alabama and a tour of the youth apprenticeship labs at Trident Technical College. Advance CTE also led a session, Seeing Connections in PAYA & Perkins, which walked through the major components of Perkins V and how Perkins V and PAYA’s principles align.

The conference began by highlighting the success of youth apprenticeships through personal examples of new opportunities and achievements.  Data demonstrating the impact of youth apprenticeships was also shared, for example for $1 the government puts into apprenticeships, there is a $23 return on investment.

A favorite part of the conference for attendees was the panel of five youth apprentices:

  • Joshua Carpenter, First Year Youth Apprentice, Boeing;  
  • Constance Johnson, First Year Youth Apprentice, Trident Medical Center;  
  • Jordan Fancy, Second Year Youth Apprentice, Cummins Turbo Technologies;  
  • Byrone Porcher, Line Chef and Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships Alumnus, Wild Dunes Resort; and
  • Stephanie Walters, Adult Apprentice and Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships, Robert Bosch LLC.

The impressive group spoke about what led them to their apprenticeships, what they are getting out of their programs and their plans for continuing education and employment. Most were prompted to explore apprenticeships by parents, school counselors or teachers who believed in the potential of these programs. All on the panel shared that it was difficult to make the decision to enroll in a youth apprenticeship program instead of the traditional educational path that their peers were on, and that they themselves had always planned on doing. However, there was unanimous agreement that the program is well worth it,  and that the ability to follow their passions by combining work and academic skills has been incredibly positive. To learn more about how youth apprenticeships work for students, check out this infographic from PAYA.

Attendees had the opportunity to tour the meeting location’s, Trident Technical College, culinary, nursing and industrial mechanics lab spaces where youth apprentices’ technical coursework is held. Each space was designed to provide students with the best and most realistic learning experience. For example, the nursing lab space includes replicas of hospital rooms, so that students can gain hands-on experiences in a setting that mirrors the workplace.The lab experience  includes high fidelity mannequins that can mock different scenarios that a participant can expect to encounter in a patient. The mannequins are able to make noise, change color and even produce fluids. Students are able to apply the knowledge and skills they learn on the mannequins, setting them up for success in the workplace.

For more information on the intersection of Career Technical Education (CTE) and youth apprenticeships read Advance CTE’s blog, Incorporating Youth Apprenticeships in CTE Pathways. To learn about best practices, as well as common challenges  linking CTE and apprenticeships, check out a report from Advance CTE in partnership with JFF, Vivayic and RTI International, Opportunities for Connecting Secondary CTE Students and Apprenticeships. This report was developed through a contract with the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, at the U.S. Department of Education.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Virgina, New Mexico Take Steps to Expand CTE Opportunities for Learners; Colorado Expands CTE Funding Options

March 25th, 2019

In Virginia and New Mexico, the state legislatures have taken action to expand opportunities for CTE learners. In Virginia, on March 5, SB1434 was signed into law. The law directs the Virginia Board of Education to revise its Career and Technical Education Work-based Learning Guide to expand opportunities for learners to earn credit for graduation through high-quality work-based learning experiences. The law directs the Board of Education to consult business and diverse stakeholders to inform its revision of the guide.

In New Mexico, on March 9, HB91 was signed into law. The law establishes a seven-year pilot project to fund CTE programs and monitor their effects on student outcomes, including graduation rates and achievement scores, among other outcomes. The law allows the New Mexico Department of Education to provide grants to school districts to establish CTE programs as part of the pilot project and professional development to CTE teachers in the pilot project. The law outlines the requirements CTE programs funded through the pilot must meet, such as that the programs must lead to an industry-recognized credential at the postsecondary level and require training in soft and social skills.

The Colorado legislature passed a bill that opens a previously restricted funding stream to CTE. On March 7, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed HB1008 into law, which amends the “Building Excellent Schools Today Act” to allow the public school capital construction board to provide grants to support CTE capital construction, which includes construction of public school facilities and equipment for CTE programs.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Newly Developed Certifications and Industry Value

March 25th, 2019

This post is written by iCEV, a Platinum Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

As we all know, industry sectors are unique. All have their own established history of hiring practices and methods for producing future workers. However, sectors are evolving and picking up on best practices learned from other industries. Industry certifications serve as one great example. 

Several industries not traditionally driven by certifications have noticed how well the certification model is working in other sectors. They recognize certifications provide value to employers by assisting in recruiting qualified candidates who are able to hit the ground running in new positions and know that students are taking coursework at both the secondary and postsecondary levels preparing them for these careers. Additionally, certifications at these levels can encourage a student to pursue a career in the field.

For these reasons, industry has taken the initiative on building certifications to improve the recruitment and hiring process.  However, not all certifications are equal in their value to the industry, employers and career seekers. Certifications offering the most value to all three stakeholders have three components in common:

1. Standards

As with all valuable certifications, it is important standards are created by an entity so respected and recognized that they can speak for the industry.  The standards are the fundamental foundation certifications are built on and establish the measurables of the certification.  This allows the certification to be portable to all employers in the industry.  For example, Express Employment Professionals is a leading staff provider who works with thousands of businesses to place 556,000 career seekers annually. They know what businesses are looking for in employees and have the credibility to create comprehensive industry standards for several career fields.

2. Certification Administration

As industry leaders start the process of creating certifications, they often lack the foundation level knowledge of how to develop and administer a proper certification program. For a certification to be successful, it is important for it to be administered by an entity experienced with the tasks of certification exam creation and testing procedures. In addition, it is important for both employers and certification achievers that results are easily verified by qualified parties. Southwest Airlines, recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies for 22 consecutive years, has highly coveted standards for communication and customer service. When faced with the challenge of finding candidates who met their company’s soft-skills standards, Southwest realized this was a growing challenge for all companies. The idea of certifying students based on their skills and how it relates to the “Southwest way” was appealing to the company, but the logistics of managing a certification program was out of their scope of knowledge. Southwest then partnered with CEV Multimedia to administer the program due to CEV’s expertise in managing certification programs.

3. Promotion Through Education

A certification can be in the marketplace for years or even decades before employers immediately recognize its name or value.  Even some of the most established certifications lack consistent recognition. The time span to gain universal recognition can be expedited by industry leaders promoting the certification WHILE certification achievers are proving the value of the certification on the job. For example, for Elanco, an industry leader in animal health, creating certifications results in a “value-beyond-product” to their customers, from veterinarian offices to pet stores to production facilities. Elanco makes it part of their mission to educate customers on the value of the certifications and how the certifications can assist in hiring qualified candidates. By helping their customers create a pipeline of qualified employees, Elanco demonstrates their investment in not only seeing the whole industry succeed but in seeing a local veterinarian and business owner succeed, as well. Promotion through education is an ongoing process, and the work is never done. As more certification earners enter the workforce with certifications and prove value to an employer, certifications gain recognition.

There is no doubt that certifications if created in an exemplary manner, create value for job seekers, employers and entire industry segments immediately upon inception.

iCEV currently tests for 14 industry-recognized certifications, and over 16,000 individuals have earned certification. To learn more, please visit