Approaches and Considerations for Measuring Secondary CTE Program Quality in Perkins V

July 24th, 2019

It is common practice in the private sector to use big data to improve efficiency, strengthen product quality and better target services to customers. Can data also be used to improve the quality of public education, specifically Career Technical Education (CTE)?

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) gives states the opportunity to use data more strategically to improve quality and equity in CTE. While states have been collecting data for years on student performance in CTE programs, Perkins V pushes them to make more informed decisions about program approval and alignment, equity and access, and program improvement. In particular, states can drive program improvement through the new secondary CTE program quality indicator, a state-selected measure that will be included in each state’s accountability system starting in the 2020-21 program year.

To help states select and define a robust measure of secondary CTE program quality, Advance CTE – in partnership with the Data Quality Campaign; the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of the National Skills Coalition; Education Strategy Group; and the Council of Chief State School Officers – developed a series of short briefs highlighting each of the three indicator options:

  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having attained a recognized postsecondary credential.
  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having attained postsecondary credits in the relevant CTE program or program of study earned through a dual or concurrent enrollment program or another credit transfer agreement.
  • The percentage of CTE concentrators graduating from high school having participated in work-based learning.

Each brief examines the pros and cons of each indicator, describes different state approaches, and offers meaningful considerations for implementation. The reports also draw on survey data from one of Advance CTE’s latest report, The State of Career Technical Education: Improving Data Quality and Effectiveness to describe common approaches to collecting and validating program quality data.

Choosing a secondary CTE program quality indicator is a decision state leaders should not take lightly. This choice will send a clear signal to the field about state priorities for CTE and create an incentive structure that will be in place for years to come. To make an informed and thoughtful decision, state leaders should consider:

  • What is the statewide vision for CTE and career readiness?
  • What do stakeholders identify as priorities?
  • Which experiences are equitably available to learners across the state?
  • Is there any evidence to demonstrate which experiences are more highly correlated with positive post-program outcomes?
  • What information is currently available at the state level?
  • Are the data reliable, accurate and well defined?
  • How can the program quality indicator align with other metrics the state is collecting?

The Measuring Secondary CTE Program Quality briefs are available in the Learning that Works Resource Center at this link. Advance CTE is also available to provide input and expertise to states as they select and define their Perkins V accountability measures.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

July 19th, 2019



CEF Visits 41 Congressional Offices to Advocate for Education Funding 

CEF, of which Advance CTE is on the Board of Directors, held its annual Hill Day on July 17. CEF members spanning the education continuum met with a collective 41 congressional offices of both parties in the House and the Senate. In these meetings, CEF representatives advocated for an increase in education funding, which currently makes up less than 2 percent of the federal budget. Check out #CEFHillDay on Twitter to see some of the offices that were visited.

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!

Advance CTE has a New Website

We’ve made resources and information easier for you to find! In the Learning that Works Resource Center, there is new slider showcasing the latest resources, new topic areas to help you find Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) and communications resources and an improved search function.

Check it out here!


Brownsville ISD CTE Success Story

Want to hear a CTE success story? Watch this video about a former Brownsville Independent School District’s Firefighter-EMT Certification program student who is now a Firefighter/EMT for the South Padre Island Fire Department. As a child, a career as a firefighter was a distant dream now it’s a reality. 

Watch the video here:


CTE Data Puts Meaningful Information about Student Pathways in the Hands of Policymakers

The Data Quality Campaign released a new fact sheet which includes guidance for state CTE leaders in creating the linkages necessary to collect CTE data and publicly reporting this information in actionable ways. It also offers recommendations for publicly reporting information on workforce outcomes in ways that are actionable to families and students.

Learn more here

CEF Hill Day, House Hearing on Apprenticeship Models

July 19th, 2019

This week, Advance CTE joined the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) to advocate for an increased federal investment in education. Read below to learn more about CEF Hill Day, a hearing on apprenticeship models and  the new postsecondary post filled in the U.S. Department of Education.

CEF Visits 41 Congressional Offices to Advocate for Education Funding 

CEF, of which Advance CTE is on the Board of Directors, held its annual Hill Day on July 17. CEF members spanning the education continuum met with a collective 41 congressional offices of both parties in the House and the Senate. In these meetings CEF representatives advocated for an increase in education funding, which currently makes up less than 2 percent of the federal budget. Check out #CEFHillDay on Twitter to see some of the offices that were visited.

House Holds Hearing on International Apprenticeship Models

On July 16, the House Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee held a hearing on “Scaling Up Apprenticeships: Building on the Success of International Apprenticeship Models.”

In their opening remarks, both Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) discussed the need for innovative apprenticeship models that provide students with academic skills and work-based learning experience. 

Witnesses shared apprenticeship models in Australia, Germany and Switzerland, and included:

  • Tim Bradley, Minister Counsellor for Industry, Science and Education, Embassy of Australia;
  • Silvia Annen, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training; and  
  • Simon Marti, Ph.D., Head of Office, SwissCore.

Though the apprenticeship model for each country is different, all reiterated common themes for success, such as: employer engagement throughout the entire process; public-private partnerships; affordability of programs by  shared investment across partners; and high standards for quality. The group also agreed that the apprentices are not expected to remain in one life-long occupation, but should be able to find career success in different jobs and industries.

The opening statement from Chairwoman Davis and the testimony from each witness can be found here

Senate Confirms Higher Education Post

On July 11, the Senate confirmed Robert L. King as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. King’s nomination passed on a 56-37 vote. Previously, King was the president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. He has also served as president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation and chancellor of the State University of New York system. 

The announcement and statement from the Department can be found here

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

Perkins V: How can states create meaningful pathways to graduation?

July 11th, 2019

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) gives states an opportunity to look at how Career Technical Education (CTE) intersects with other statewide policies related to graduation requirements. The new law maintains a focus on flexibility that allows states to determine how CTE works together with their strategies for competency-based education and policies for graduation. How can states create meaningful pathways to graduation? Check out the resources and policy profiles below to learn about the relationship between CTE and competency-based pathways, graduation requirements, and state approaches to these policies.

REPORT: Building a Strong Relationship Between Competency-Based Pathways and Career Technical Education: This report by Achieve and Advance CTE lays out the leverage points between Career Technical Education (CTE) and Competency-Based Pathways (CBP) and provides guiding questions to help state and local leaders consider how CTE is, can and should be a part of their CBP strategies.

BRIEF: Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements: This Advance CTE brief explores common approaches to offering or requiring CTE courses and assessments within a statewide set of graduation requirements, offers illustrative examples of state-level policies and elevates implementation issues for consideration.


  • Vermont: Flexible Pathways Initiative: Vermont’s Flexible Pathways Initiative provides flexibility for school districts and enables learners to pursue personalized pathways to college and career readiness that include dual enrollment and work-based learning opportunities.
  • New Hampshire: Statewide Competency-Based Education: New Hampshire has a statewide competency-based education and assessment system, requiring all students to complete competency-based pathways to graduate and demonstrate their mastery of knowledge and skills, rather than just accumulate credits based on seat time.

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

New Survey on ESSA Title IV-A Funds, Perkins Implementation Begins

July 11th, 2019

On July 1, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) (which reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act) went into effect.  As such, each state’s Perkins V one-year transition plan went into effect. Read below to learn more about Perkins V implementation, new survey data on how schools are using ESSA Title IV-A funding, what the repeal of the gainful employment rule means and how afterschool programs can reduce equity gaps in Career Technical Education (CTE).

New Survey Illuminates How Schools are Using ESSA Funds

For the first time, policymakers have a glimpse at how schools are using their grant funding under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant, a program established in 2015 through Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). SSAE consolidated several existing categorical funding streams to provide local leaders more flexibility to support student learning. The program has three focus areas: well-rounded education (which includes CTE as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)), the effective use of technology, and safe and healthy schools. 

Thanks to a survey conducted by the School Superintendents Association, the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), the Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA), and the National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators (NAFEPA), we now have a glimpse at how schools are using these funds. According to their findings, 83 percent of survey respondents said that the investment in a well-rounded education is very or extremely important. 

Many schools and school districts are already using these funds to strengthen career readiness. Forty-nine percent of survey respondents said they are using SSAE funds to support STEM education, 16 percent for college and career counseling, and 15 percent for CTE. 

Perkins V Implementation Begins

The U.S. Department of Education announced that each state’s one-year transition plan had been approved to be implemented beginning July 1 when Perkins V went into effect. 

Secretary Betsy DeVos shared the following statement : 

“Our team is so encouraged by the way states have embraced the spirit of this new law and are rethinking career and technical education on behalf of their students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “The work is just beginning though. As states begin to think about their long-term career and technical education strategies, I would encourage them to continue to act boldly and break down the silos that exist between education and industry so that all students are prepared for the in-demand, high-paying jobs of today’s economy and tomorrow’s.”

Now, states are developing their full four-year Perkins V state plans that must be submitted to the Department in the spring of 2020. You can learn more about the Perkins V state plan process and content here

DeVos Repeals Gainful Employment Rule

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released its final regulation that rescinds the 2014 Gainful Employment Rule. The Obama-era rule stated that an educational program must prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” to be eligible for funding from Title IV of the Higher Education Act, measured by data such as debt-to-earnings rates. This rule mainly impacts for-profit institutions, as well as non-credit programs at non-profit institutions. 

This repeal will be effective beginning July 1, 2020, but the administration announced that an early implementation option is available to institutions. If institutions are accepted for early implementation they will not have to submit 2018-2019 data. 

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education & Labor, Virginia Foxx (R-NC) opposed the gainful employment rule largely on the basis that it is biased against for-profit programs. Their committee counterparts took the opposing stance. House Committee on Education & Labor Chairman Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) statement opposing this repeal can be found here, and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray’s (D-WA) press release can be found here

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Event on Middle School Career Exploration

Earlier this summer, the Senate CTE Caucus held an event in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance that discussed how to make the most of middle school career exploration. In particular, the featured panel looked at the role of afterschool programs in showing students different career pathways. Check out this blog to learn more about topics covered during this event, and how afterschool programs can help address inequities in CTE. 

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

Can Afterschool Programs Help Address CTE’s Equity Challenges?

July 9th, 2019

Afterschool programs can give students access to enriching career exploration opportunities outside of the school day, but many of these programs are not accessible to all middle schoolers. Last month, the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, organized a panel on making the most of middle school career exploration. This panel’s particular focus was the important role that afterschool programs can play in exposing students to career pathways. 

The panel included:

  • Regina Sidney Brown, Director of the Delaware Afterschool Network
  • Luke Rhine, Director of CTE and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Initiatives for the Delaware Department of Education
  • Daniela Grigioni, Executive Director of After-School All-Stars for Washington, D.C.
  • Andrew Coy, Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore
  • Student panelist Jacob, participant in a Digital Harbor program

Afterschool programs encompass a wide range of activities that keep students engaged in their own learning outside of the regular school day. When students participate in an afterschool program in middle school, they are more likely to graduate high school. These programs offer opportunities for students to improve their skills in subjects ranging from computer science to agriculture. Learning these skills and interacting with professionals in a variety of fields allows students to explore and pursue different career paths of interest.

Expanding Access to High-quality Career Exploration After School

Despite all these programs have to offer, there are still major barriers to creating and expanding access to high-quality, career-focused afterschool programming in middle school. When panelists were asked about the largest barriers facing afterschool programming, their responses ranged from the difficulties of creating community partnerships to the lack of funding. Andrew Coy—whose organization, Digital Harbor, focuses on developing technology skills like computer programming, video game design and 3-D printing— summed up these issues as the need to have “formal support for informal learning.” This problem remains largely in communities of lower socioeconomic status, limiting access to enriching learning opportunities for students who could benefit the most.

The impacts that these programs have on middle schoolers make them worth the investment. Student panelist Jacob excitedly talked about the experiences he had with Digital Harbor—such as going to museums, participating in the White House science fair and learning to 3-D print—showing how important it is to give students a place to be creative. Jacob even earned certifications in Information Technology through the program. Having such a space outside of the classroom to encourage hands-on learning and career exploration allows students like Jacob to develop real world skills and get a leg up on both college and their careers. 

Afterschool programs can also help close equity gaps by equipping learners with skills that may not be offered in the regular classroom but are highly valued in the job market. Exposing learners to new and different career pathways allows for diversity in these fields as more students can see themselves inhabiting those roles. Panelist Daniela Grigioni discussed how her organization, After-School All-Stars, engages middle schoolers, predominantly students of color, to help them build skills through programs in business and STEM. Early introduction to career exploration can help promote more equity within these fields.

By expanding career exploration in and out of the classroom, state leaders can foster creativity and passion among middle school students. This opens a pathway for students to imagine careers for themselves by giving them a sense of their options and what they do and do not want to do at an earlier age. 

To read more about middle school CTE, check out Advance CTE’s report, Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learning Success

Jordan Dreisbach, Policy Intern

This Week in CTE

July 3rd, 2019

Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is now in effect! 



Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is in effect

On July 1, Perkins V officially went into effect and states will begin implementation. The U.S. Department of Education announced that they have approved every state’s Perkins V one-year transition plan. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos encouraged states to act boldly in their strategies, by removing silos between education and industry to ensure learners are prepared for high-wage, high-skill employment opportunities. 

Read the press release to learn more.

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!

Scholarship Opportunity for CTE High School Graduates 

The Horatio Alger National Career and Technical Scholarship Program provides up to $2,500 for students to pursue CTE in two-year or less degree/credential programs. The deadline to apply is June 15. The association will award more than 1,000 new CTE learners! Funds may be used for tuition, fees, books and supplies. All scholarship funds are paid directly to the institution on behalf of the recipient.

Learn more here.


Connect Learners to High-wage, High-skill and High-demand Occupations

Watch learners and staff at Essex North Shore high school in Hathonre, Massachusetts share why CTE is important and how it’s providing opportunities to gain real-world skills while in high school. 


With the implementation of Perkins V underway here is a list of resources to help states through the process. It includes new resources to help states develop a meaningful Perkins V Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment. 

Access the resources here.


New Research Lay Roadmap for Future of the Workforce

July 1st, 2019

Reports and discussions concerning the future of work in the global economy often result in increased apprehension from the public, particularly among those most vulnerable to job displacement. While the tune of a dystopian future in which workers are replaced by automation have waned, evidence pointing to the potential impact of technology on the workforce have largely been inconclusive. Recent studies continue to stress that automation has worsened inequality and stagnated worker’s wages, and that this pattern will persist more drastically in the years to come.  

Image result for workforce of the future

Photo by Graeme Worsfold on Unsplash

Given the realm of possible outcomes, one thing is for certain: policymakers and representatives of the education and labor markets need to consider clear strategies to prepare the workforce for the future of work. Researchers at the Urban Institute are optimistic in this regard. In a study that looked at what it would take to achieve quality careers for all workers, the Institute proposed five strategies for making sure more workers in the 21st-century have access to quality careers, including: 

  • Increasing effective wages. Since wages have stagnated over the last 30 years for low and middle-skilled employees, policymakers should consider approaches for boosting wages (such as raising the hourly minimum, like in Los AngelesMinneapolisSeattle, and Washington, DC). 
  • Improving access to benefits. As the nature of work and traditional employment relationships change, a growing number of people work but don’t receive benefits, such as health insurance. Businesses and industry leaders can play a vital role at this junction by voluntarily giving more workers access to benefits. Examples of this practice include Vermont’s Multiple Employer Plans, where different employers pay into retirement benefits for people with several jobs or part-time jobs. Another example is Starbucks’ free college tuition program. 
  • Strengthening worker protections and standards. State and local governments should continue exploring strategies to improve labor standards and protections as the nature of work evolves. Take New York City for example, which passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act in 2017, the only law of its kind to protect the city’s independent workers from wage violations and retaliation. 

Researchers are also optimistic about the role postsecondary institutions, particularly community colleges, can play in preparing the workforce for the future economy. Given the role community colleges play in expanding opportunities and mobility for low and mid-income students, these institutions are in the greatest position to respond to the evolving workforce. A recent paper published by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University highlighted this role and identified prevailing trends that will inform the future of workforce development in the U.S. economy. According to the paper, community colleges in the next few years will need to respond to a number of key issues and developments by:

  • Supporting students who enroll in noncredit programs and training dislocated workers. Since these programs are more flexible than credit programs and are more attractive to adult learners, they serve as opportunities for at-risk workers to further train and adapt to evolving workforce needs. More colleges should consider how to bridge noncredit programs with credited ones to allow students a way to continue their education and training.
  • Fostering entrepreneurial and innovative activities. Colleges will benefit from responding to the overall economic development needs of communities and the nation than simply to the demand by the local private sector. LaGuardia Community College in New York and Lorain County Community College in Ohio, for example, developed business incubators to help start-up local enterprises. Rather than just serving as buildings to house new businesses, these incubators provided technical equipment to aid in product design and development.

Because postsecondary institutions will inevitably play a central role in preparing learners for future careers, researchers at the Aspen Institute’s College of Excellence program published The Workforce Playbook. This guide highlights a set of standards to distinguish colleges that are effective at ensuring that a diverse student body succeed in the labor market post-graduation. 

The playbook lays out the essential practices of a high quality community college, such as advancing a vision for talent development and economic mobility, and taking intentional action to support students’ career goals from pre-matriculation through post-graduation. 

Jade Richards, Policy Fellow 

This Week in CTE

June 28th, 2019



Secretary DeVos Delivers Remarks at Second Chance Pell Commencement

On June 25, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered commencement remarks to students in the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy, Oklahoma who completed Tulsa Community College’s Second Chance Pell pilot. In her speech, Secretary DeVos shared her intent for the Second Chance Pell experimental site pilot to become a permanent program. 

Advance CTE supports expanding Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals, and lifting this ban is one of the organization’s priorities in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. 

Read the full blog to learn more.

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!


The Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board located in the state of Washington developed a video contest to encourage Washington CTE learners to shoot their own videos to promote CTE. Watch the video from Eatonville High School sophomore Alexia Price who won the first place award! The video focused on what a world without CTE would look like for learners. Watch it here.

Want to learn more about creating video content to promote high-quality CTE? Read the Washington Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board’s video toolkit to help local schools, instructors, and students develop their own videos promoting CTE in their communities. The guide provides technical tips for setting up shots, capturing sound, and conducting interviews. The toolkit also links to the sample videos so students can learn, step by step. 

Advance CTE, with support from the Siemens Foundation, worked with the state of Washington to promote high-quality Career and Technical Education to learners and their parents. They received a grant to help fund the video project, create videos and the toolkit.


Building Credential Currency: Resources to Drive Attainment across K-12, Higher Education, and Workforce Development

Employers need workers for high-skill jobs. Workers need training beyond a high school diploma to access those jobs. And state governments need a certifiably skilled workforce to meet their education goals, attract industry, and contribute to their economies. Floating amid this triangle are thousands of credentials that claim to meet everyone’s needs—the worker, the employer, the community. Which ones lead to jobs that can sustain a family, grow a business, and fuel an economy—and which do not provide meaningful value? 

A new toolkit from the Education Strategy Group aims to support this essential analysis within states. Building Credential Currency: Resources to Drive Attainment across K-12, Higher Education, and Workforce Development takes state and local policymakers through a step-by-step process for collaboratively accomplishing four objectives key to meeting their educational attainment goals:

  • Identifying in-demand, high-skill, high-wage occupations  and associated non-degree credentials;
  • Validating those findings with employers and finalizing a statewide list of “priority” non-degree credentials;
  • Incentivizing priority non-degree credential attainment through funding strategies for schools and colleges, articulated postsecondary credit for high school earners, and rigorous accountability systems; and
  • Reporting and monitoring priority non-degree credential attainment with reliable, verified data.

Download the toolkit here.

Perkins V: How can states promote quality postsecondary CTE?

June 27th, 2019

While many may think of Career Technical Education (CTE) as operating only at the K-12 level, postsecondary-level CTE programs and pathways are serving millions of learners at institutions across the nation. With most jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage requiring at least some college education — such as a technical certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or another credential of value — postsecondary CTE is more important than ever before in preparing learners for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) continues to emphasize the importance of postsecondary CTE and the need for alignment across the secondary and postsecondary levels. The new law has a formal definition of program of study (which includes academic and technical content across secondary and postsecondary levels), maintains the requirement that every state and local recipient of funds implement at least one program of study, and calls for each state’s Perkins V plan to include a description of how the split of funds across the secondary and postsecondary levels is determined. As implementation of Perkins V begins, how can states promote quality postsecondary CTE? Check out the resources below to learn more about how states can promote postsecondary attainment, quality and alignment with secondary CTE.

REPORT: Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner: This report by Advance CTE explores the benefits of credit for prior learning (CPL) policies, best practices in CPL across states and what states can do to advance CPL opportunities for learners.

REPORT: Driving Quality in Postsecondary CTE: Approval and Evaluation Policies: This report from Advance CTE explores how states can leverage program approval and program evaluation policies and processes to ensure postsecondary CTE program quality. The report examines state examples from California, Florida and Wisconsin.

GUIDE: College-Level Examination Program and Career and Technical Education: This guide from Advance CTE and the College Board examines how specific CLEP exams can be embedded into or used to augment programs of study by Career Cluster.


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