Improving CTE Data Quality: Data Systems, Policies and Practices are Fully Aligned Across Agencies and Learner Levels

March 24th, 2021

In an effective career readiness data ecosystem, silos between and within state-level agencies are broken down to allow for data alignment across agencies and learner levels. This is critical to understanding a learner’s experience along the K-12, postsecondary and workforce continuum.

In 2012, New Jersey was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS) that would create a unified data warehouse between the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (NJOSHE), and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJLWD). This new SLDS would make it easier for the aforementioned agencies to share data amongst each other; link data at the individual learner level; and improve governance, policymaking, and the performance of education and workforce initiatives.

New Jersey used its grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop the New Jersey Education to Earnings Data System (NJEEDS), a SLDS aimed at helping educators, workforce program operators and other stakeholders make data-informed decisions to improve student learning and labor market outcomes. NJEEDS is designed to be a centralized data hub where state secondary, postsecondary and workforce data are securely stored and made available to the associated agencies. NJEEDS is under a multi-state agency governance structure with two governing bodies: 1) the Executive Leadership Council comprised of designees from NJOSHE, NJLWD, NJDOE, and the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority; and 2) the Data Stewards Work Group that is co-chaired by executive level representatives from the three state agencies.

NJEEDS pulls data from various sources including the New Jersey Standards Measurement and Resource Training Data System (NJ SMART), the state’s K-12 data warehouse; Student Unit Record (SURE), the state’s higher education data warehouse; and the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) wage record system. However, New Jersey faced a common challenge for state data systems — linking learner-level data once learners exit the K-12 system. New Jersey found a creative strategy to fill in the gaps and reliably link learner-level data across education levels by using data from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission when a common identifier is not available. NJEEDS uses a complex matching and validation process to ensure that learner records are as complete and accurate as possible. This process has resulted in an 82% match rate.

NJEEDS illustrates what states can do when silos are broken and agencies work together, share data, and find creative solutions to link learner-level records across education and workforce agencies. 

Read the Advance CTE Case Study New Jersey: Education to Earnings Data System to learn more about how New Jersey developed its SLDS to align data across agencies and learner levels. For additional resources on improving the quality and use of career readiness data, check out the Career Readiness Data Quality microsite.  

This is the third edition in a series of Advance CTE data quality blogs to accompany Advance CTE’s latest releases, Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool and Data Quality Case Studies. For more resources on data and accountability in CTE, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

New Resource Strives to Connect Every Learner to Work-Based Learning 

March 23rd, 2021

Work-based learning provides learners an opportunity to reinforce and deepen classroom learning, explore future career fields, and demonstrate their skills in an authentic, real-world setting. Through experiences such as internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing and student-led enterprises, work-based learning connects learners’ classroom experiences to their future careers. Given its vital role in a learner’s career development, leaders in education, workforce and public policy must ensure work-based learning opportunities are equitable. This means that every learner regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, ability or geography can access high-quality work-based learning opportunities and are provided the necessary supports to be successful. 

Work-based learning is a critical strategy to level the playing field for historically marginalized learners who tend to lack social capital, or a network of relationships that can be mobilized to improve an individual’s power, status and authority.  Advance CTE’s latest publication, Connecting Every Learner: A Framework for States to Increase Access to and Success in Work-Based Learning, suggests five strategies states can take to build, implement and scale high-quality work-based learning experiences — with a specific focus on expanding equitable access and supporting success for historically marginalized learners such as learners with disabilities, economically disadvantaged learners, Black, Latinx, Native American and rural learners, and learners pursuing nontraditional career paths. Each section of the report describes what the strategy looks like in practice, offers a rationale for each strategy, and provides state and local examples of best practices across the country. Those strategies include:

Establish a statewide vision for equity in work-based learning by establishing a policy environment that incentivizes high-quality work-based learning experiences, build the infrastructure for stakeholders to realize the vision and set intentional goals. For example, Tennessee has set a goal to double the number of learners participating in work-based learning experiences by 2025, with an emphasis on economically disadvantaged learners. Tennessee is leveraging youth apprenticeships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding, and targeted wraparound supports to realize this goal.

Enable intermediary organizations to equitably expand work-based learning through funding, building formal partnerships or even tasking state-level organizations to serve as intermediaries. For example, the Connecting Activities network in Massachusetts is made up of state workforce boards that connect employers and schools to support work-based learning and career development education opportunities for learners. 

Use data to advance equity and program quality by developing data systems that allow for reliable, valid and complete collection of work-based learning data; require work-based learning providers to collect demographic data on learners and leverage data to track learner participation and success in high-quality work-based learning opportunities; and ensure data is actionable. For example, Washington State requires Registered Apprenticeship sponsors to collect demographic data on apprentices as part of their “equal employment opportunity plan.” 

Engage and support employers to offer high-quality and inclusive work-based learning experiences by supporting and incentivizing employers to provide equitable and inclusive work-based learning opportunities; building the infrastructure for engaging employers at scale and making the case for them to participate in work-based learning; and supporting employers and the education sector in understanding legal liability associated with youth work-based learning experiences. For example, the Denver Public Schools’ Career and College Success – Career Development Programs partner with the business community to provide high school learners with expanded access to relevant learning opportunities in the classroom and in workplace settings. 

Scale successful programs using an equity lens by braiding funding from multiple federal and state sources; enacting policies to create an incentive structure that supports high-quality work-based learning; meaningfully engaging stakeholders across systems and sectors; and building processes for monitoring progress and making changes as needed. For example, West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace program transforms learners’ classrooms and programs into business to create an authentic environment where they can develop and practice both technical and employability skills. 

Work-based learning is an essential component of any high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. As state leaders begin implementing their Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) plans, they have a responsibility to ensure any work-based learning policies and practices are rooted in equity. Specifically, the policies and practices must be rooted in identifying and dismantling barriers to work-based learning  participation by and outcomes of historically marginalized groups. This report, and the strategies included, is one tool designed to support state leaders in this endeavor. 

Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for more resources on work-based learning and access and equity to CTE. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Recap of Without Limits: Reflections on a Shared Vision for the Future of CTE

March 19th, 2021

This week, Advance CTE released its third shared-vision, Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, which calls for a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem that will close equity gaps in educational outcomes and workforce readiness, and leverage CTE as a catalyst for ensuring each learner can reach success in the career of their choice.

This vision is supported by 38 national organizations that represent the full continuum of CTE learners and stakeholders. It lays out five inter-connected and equally critical principles:

  • Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem 
  • Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem
  • Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey
  • Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable
  • Each learner can access CTE without borders

To celebrate the release of this new vision, on Thursday, March 18th, Advance CTE hosted a live virtual event, “Without Limits: Reflections on a Shared Vision for the Future of CTE” featuring leaders across workforce, philanthropy, education administration, and higher education to share their perspectives on vision themes and impact. 

Advance CTE Executive Director, Kimberly Green, kicked the event off with opening remarks, centering the importance of shared-commitment and shared-ownership to realize the possibility and aspiration of a new career preparation ecosystem, “This vision reminds us of our responsibility as leaders to have courageous conversations, challenge tradition and status quo, and to take the risk of trying to do new things. It takes us working together across systems, across states and across sectors to realize the aspiration and the hope of this vision.” 

For the remainder of the event, Sara Allan moderated the panel composed of Dr. Adrienne Battle, Emily Fabiano and Dr. Nicole Smith, focusing on the areas of the vision the speakers were most excited about, work they are doing related to the vision and advice for how to get started. Major themes discussed were the importance of alignment across K-12, postsecondary, workforce and industry sectors, attending to equity, and the need to take an integrated approach to providing opportunities to learners. Emily Fabiano stressed the importance of leadership in driving this vision forward: “We can as leaders bring organizations together – the programs, the data and the priorities – to do the backend work to create those seamless pathways.”  Nicole Smith commended the strong focus on equity, sharing “in many ways the shared vision has redefined equity. It includes all dimensions of equity – educational, racial, socio-economic, gender and geographic.”

The speakers also pointed to our country’s current reality. In the past year, the pandemic and economic recession have highlighted existing disparities between who has and does not have access to opportunities. Now more than ever, learners need practical and efficient educational options to successfully enter the rapidly changing workforce. This vision has the potential to do right by learners and provide the opportunities they need to learn career skills that will launch them into a promising future. As Sara Allan noted, “This blueprint for action couldn’t come at a more important moment.”

In closing, Dr. Battle reminded listeners to, “be courageous, be willing to not have all the answers and to know you will fall down before you walk or run. Despite all of that, we have to stay the course. This work will take time, collaboration and investment of time, talent and resources.”

To get started, visit to read the vision, view the vision supporters and sign on to stay engaged as this ambitious and bold shared-vision is implemented in states, districts and industry sectors across the country.

Special thanks to our 38 national partners for supporting this vision and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Strada Education Network for making this event possible.

Christina Koch, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Bills Reintroduced in Congress and Funding Levels to Reopen Schools

March 19th, 2021

This week, a bill that supports Pell Grant eligibility for high-quality short-term programs was reintroduced in the House and Senate. Read below to learn about this legislation, and why it is more important now than ever, as well as information on state allocations for K-12 school funding, the reintroduction of a bill that would advance postsecondary data and a new apprenticeship grant program.  

Congress Reintroduces the JOBS Act 

On Thursday Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Co-Chairs of the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, as well as Representatives Andy Levin (D-MI) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) reintroduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act in the Senate and House. This bill would expand Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality short-term programs that lead to high skill, high wage or in-demand jobs. Advance CTE joined ten other national organizations in sending a letter to Congressional leadership in support of the JOBS Act. This is also one of Advance CTE’s priorities for HEA reauthorization. 

This legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) to: 

  • Expand Pell Grant eligibility to include high-quality short-term programs that result in industry-based credentials and a job in high-wage, high-skill careers; 
  • Ensure quality of these postsecondary credentials through a number of measures, including alignment with the program of study definition in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V); 
  • Define an eligible job training program as one offered at an institution of higher education and provides at least 150 clock hours of instruction over a period of eight weeks, training that meets the needs of local or regional workforce partners and institutional credit articulation that can be built upon to further education and careers; and
  • Create an inter-agency data sharing agreement between the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor to share Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) performance outcomes data. 

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has put millions of individuals out of work, and disproportionately impacted workers of color, women and those without a college degree. Many of these workers want or need to train for a different career. Making Pell Grants available for short-term programs would allow these individuals to receive the financial support needed to achieve the upskilling or reskilling necessary for their career aspirations. The pandemic has meant structural changes to our economy happened almost overnight. We need a nimble, responsive education system that can respond to structural shifts in the labor market so that people, businesses and economies are more responsive and resilient.  

You can find a summary of the JOBS Act here and the full bill text here

ED Announces State Funding Allocations to Reopen Schools

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the amount of funding that each state, DC and Puerto Rico would receive through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding authorized in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act that was signed into law last week. ED will begin to make this funding available to state eligible agencies (SEAs) as soon as this month. The ESSER funds, totaling approximately $122 billion, can be used to safely reopen K-12 schools and address the learning loss and disruptions to learning and teaching due to  the pandemic. ED Secretary Miguel Cardona has emphasized the need to ensure that those students who have been most impacted by pandemic disruptions are able to receive the resources and supports needed to recover. 

Additional information on the ARP ESSER Fund can be found here

Congress Reintroduces College Transparency Act

This week Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Mikie Sherill (D-NJ), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Bryan Steil (R-WI), along with Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the College Transparency Act in the House and Senate. This legislation would create a student-level data network within the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and promote transparency and accuracy in postsecondary student data. The privacy-protected postsecondary data system would be disaggregated and report out student incomes such as completion and post-college success. NCES would also develop post-college outcomes reports in a user-friendly website format so that learners and their families can make informed decisions.  

Advance CTE supports this legislation, and its goals are aligned with Advance CTE’s priorities for HEA reauthorization. 

DOL Announces Grant for States to Expand and Diversify Registered Apprenticeship Programs

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced approximately $87.5 million for grants to expand Registered Apprenticeships. These State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity and Innovation (SAEEI) Grants will be awarded to states in amounts running from $2 million to $10 million, based on the needs of that state. Of the total grant funding, up to $40 million will be awarded to states that have diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and plan to expand this work.  

The SAEEI grant program aims to achieve the following goals: 

  • Provide states with the flexibility to meet industry needs and demands; 
  • Support the development, modernization and diversification of Registered Apprenticeships; 
  • Improve workforce system integration; 
  • Increase the number of apprentices, including underrepresented populations; and
  • Promote innovation in development and recruitment strategies. 

This grant program builds on President Joe Biden’s previous Executive Order on strengthening registered apprenticeships. You can learn about how to apply for this grant here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Welcome Scott Stump to Advance CTE

March 16th, 2021

It is my honor to join the talented and passionate team at Advance CTE in the role of Senior Advisor. As a former State Director of Career Technical Education (CTE), I am excited to lead and contribute to major initiatives and projects including Advance CTE’s Postsecondary CTE Leaders Fellowship Program and Advancing the Framework, a multi-year project to revise the National Career Clusters® Framework. I will also support Advance CTE’s federal advocacy, state policy and technical assistance efforts.

My journey to Advance CTE started as a CTE student and teacher in northeastern Indiana where I witnessed firsthand the difference we as a CTE community make in the lives of learners of all ages and backgrounds. My early CTE experience led service to the National FFA Organization, the state of Colorado and the Colorado Community College System, Vivayic (a learning solutions provider devoted to helping individuals, organizations and corporations do good in the world) and the United States Department of Education as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). As the assistant secretary for OCTAE, I served as the principal adviser to the Secretary of Education on all matters concerning high school, career, technical and adult education as well as community colleges, the workforce and economic development.

Without question, collaborating with state and national leaders and organizations on the implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was the most meaningful work to me over the past two years. Early in the process we asked states to “Rethink CTE” by questioning everything to ensure that nothing limits a student’s ability to be ready for what’s next in their life and career.

Wherever opportunities and travels have taken our family over the past few years, home is a small ranch in Stoneham, Colorado.  As a parent, I am proud that all of my children are products of CTE.

Scott Stump, Senior Advisor 

Legislative Update: New Stimulus Bill Signed into Law and Update to Appropriations

March 12th, 2021

This week, a new major stimulus package was signed into law. Read below to learn more about what this bill includes, a change to the upcoming appropriations process and new resources on COVID-19 vaccinations for school staff. 

President Signs New Stimulus Bill into Law

On Thursday President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319) into law, following the House passing of this bill on Wednesday and the Senate vote at the end of last week. This $1.9 trillion stimulus bill was passed through a reconciliation process, and allocates $170 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund that includes:

  • $127.775 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
    From this fund, states are required to put 5% to respond to learning loss, 1% must go to evidence-based summer enrichment programs and 1% must go to evidence-based afterschool programs. Local education agencies are required to designate 20% of the funding they receive to respond to learning loss and address student needs. The remaining funding is authorized for various federal education policies including activities under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V);
  • $39.585 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
    This funding is allocated based on a formula that takes Pell Grant- eligible enrolled students into account. $3 billion is designated for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs). All institutions of higher education must put at least 50% of the funds received to financial aid for students. This bill also amends a piece of the Higher Education Act (HEA) commonly referred to as the “90/10 rule.” Under HEA, proprietary institutions can not receive more than 90% of revenue from Title IV of HEA. Through this new bill, the 90% will count all forms of federal financial aid (including veterans’ benefits from the GI Bill). The rulemaking process for this change will begin in October 2021, and the final update will go into effect in January 2023.
  • $2.75 billion for Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools
    Governors will receive this funding and must allocate it to private schools that serve a significant percentage of low-income students. 

The bill also includes $7.27 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund through the E-rate program available through September 2030 for schools and libraries to purchase internet connectivity and technological devices. Another significant investment is $362.05 billion for a Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. 

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) shared estimates of the amount of funding states and institutions of higher education can expect to receive through the Education Stabilization Fund. Additional information on the ARP legislation, including summaries, can be found here

House Appropriations Committee Restores a Version of Earmarks

Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

At the end of February, House Appropriations Chairwoman Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced that the House would restore earmarks, albeit a more transparent and limited version, ending a decade-long prohibition. An earmark is a provision that is inserted into an appropriations bill that gives policymakers the power to direct specific funds to their district to pay for special projects, most typically infrastructure projects.

Under the new proposal, earmarks are capped at 1% of all discretionary spending, which is currently around $1.4 trillion. Aside from the 1% cap, there are other restrictions put in place to increase transparency and oversight. These include:

  • Each House member is limited to a maximum of 10 requests;
  • All requests and explanations will be public;
  • For-profit institutions are ineligible;
  • Members must provide proof that the community supports the project; and 
  • Members have to certify that they nor their family have financial interest in the project.

Although the House Democrats have decided to bring back earmarks, it is not yet a done deal. The Senate, although currently debating the merits of the proposal, has not yet decided how to proceed, if at all. Further complicating the process is the fact that Republicans in both chambers are barred by party rules from participating with earmarks. Although the process remains complicated, there are bipartisan talks currently taking place between congressional leaders, and there seems to be sentiment on both sides of the aisle in deal making.

One thing remains clear: If brought back, education stands to benefit. Infrastructure aside, higher education was historically one of the larger recipients of earmarked funds, having received nearly $2 billion in Fiscal Year 2010 for 875 institutions. These funds have been largely used to support academic research, but could be utilized for other projects and programs, including the start of new programs, acquisition of technology for distance learning, commercialization of intellectual property, or other pursuits. As for K-12, the funding could be used, and has been previously, for various pursuits ranging from after school programs to school construction. Given the demand for resources created by the pandemic, schools could use these funds for things like upgraded HVAC systems, extended learning programs that extend beyond the regular school day, and other needs. 

CDC Shares New Resources on Vaccinations for School Staff

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention published two new resources for schools regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccinations: 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Exploring Area Technical Centers: Elevating ATCs in a National Economic Recovery

March 10th, 2021

The transformative workforce changes resulting from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have made it more urgent than ever for states to have a comprehensive strategy for reskilling and upskilling that unites stakeholders across education, workforce development and economic development. Advance CTE has been vocal that investment in secondary and postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) is critical to a national recovery strategy. 

ATC Positioning in the Workforce Development System 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many things in our way of life, including the education or training path most Americans will pursue to return to work. A typical economic recovery would have millions of Americans flocking to traditional higher education programs but instead, in this post-pandemic economic recovery, the majority of Americans say they will seek non-degree and skill-based education and training programs to reskill or upskill their way back to a good job.

Area technical centers (ATCs) should be part of this solution – helping more Americans secure non-degree credentials of value. Our national analysis found that in the states where ATCs serve an adult population, these institutions provide short-term credentials and programs below the level of an associate’s degree, and  are uniquely positioned to be nimble and responsive to changing workforce needs. Further, these institutions are accessible, by design serving a region, and low-cost, with few or no barriers to admission for adult learners and affordable tuition rates as low as $2.00 per seat hour. ATCs can and should be better leveraged to serve those who have been disproportionately impacted by job losses associated with the pandemic, particularly Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less, and female workers.  

Leveraging Federal Funding 

Funding matters, and in states that have leveraged federal funds, we see ATCs being key players in meeting the state’s short- and long-term workforce priorities.  

For example, all of Ohio’s Ohio technical colleges (OTCs) and selected programs in Delaware’s ATCs are eligible training providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Many ATCs are eligible for federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, including institutions in Florida, Ohio and Utah most commonly accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.

Some states have utilized 2020 federal stimulus funding to reinforce their ATCs as valuable institutions in an economic recovery. Delaware leveraged $10 million of its federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic relief funding to support its Forward Delaware initiative, a set of rapid training and credentialing programs focused on in-demand occupations and skills in the state. Florida’s governor designated Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) funds provided through the CARES Act to award grants to its ATCs, known as technical colleges, to establish or enhance rapid credentialing programs that lead to a short-term certificate or industry-recognized certification as part of its statewide Get There campaign. 

Utilizing ATCs in Statewide Workforce Training Programs 

ATCs have strong connections to their local communities and employers by design and often offer customized training programs to meet those needs. 

  • Oklahoma’s State Training for Industry Growth (TIG) program provides funding to their ATCs, known as technology centers, to administer short term employee training programs for businesses experiencing skill shortages. The state CTE agency also offers a Training for Industry Program (TIP) that utilizes technology centers as business incubators and employee training providers for designated high-demand industries; over 4,000 employees were trained in FY20.                                 
  • Utah’s Custom Fit program allows employers to utilize technical colleges to provide employee training at no cost to the employee.  Each technical college employs a program director which  is partially supported through state funding, and at least 50 percent of the training costs are paid by the employer. Over 19,000 employees participated in this program in FY19.                                            
  • Ohio provides not only an employee training program, but an opportunity for its Ohio technical centers (OTCs) to participate in more strategic workforce initiatives. An OTC can be designated a Center for Training Excellence, making them eligible for up to $500,000 in state funding that is matched by the OTC to offer custom training and consulting to local employers. Ohio’s Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program looks at the bigger picture by providing $8 million in equipment investments to postsecondary institutions to retain, attract, and strengthen industry and support workforce development initiatives. OTCs are able to participate by partnering with a community college. 

To recover from the devastation of the coronavirus will require persistence, creativity and leveraging all public assets to ensure a full and equitable economic recovery. States should be learning from one another – what worked and what didn’t  – and leveraging their public assets, including ATCs to every learner with the opportunity to access a career pathway that leads to sustained, living-wage employment in an in-demand field. 

To find the ATCs in your state and to access the full report and additional resources, please visit . To read other posts in this series, please check out our Medium post that breaks down the major findings, and our blog post on leveraging ATCs to advance state postsecondary attainment goals. 

Improving CTE Data Quality: Processes and Protocols are in Place to Ensure Effective Data Governance

March 8th, 2021

An effective career readiness data ecosystem has a clear governance structure in place that designates roles and responsibilities for collecting, validating and reporting career readiness data as well as for setting a strategic vision for the publication and use of data. The absence of a clear and effective data governance structure can lead to entities collecting data in silos, a lack of coordination in data collection and analysis, inconsistent quality of data analysis, and an overall mistrust in the data being collected and reported. 

One state that has established a strong and sustainable data governance structure is Maryland. Maryland created a statewide longitudinal data system in 2012, which is operated by an independent state agency and overseen by a cross-agency governing board. This governing structure has provided Maryland with trusted, reliable and consistent data, allowing for the effective analysis and reporting of education and workforce data. The Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) is operated by the MLDS Center, an independent state agency that is overseen by a 13-member governing board. The governing board meets quarterly and is responsible for overseeing the operation of the MLDS Center.

Today, the MLDS Center is essential to policymaking and evaluation across the state. The MLDS Center’s longevity has helped it to establish importance and value, thus withstanding personnel and political changes. Researchers, elected officials and state leaders regularly consult the MLDS Center to provide data analysis on a variety of issues, including the impact of poverty on learner outcomes, teacher pipelines and various federal reporting requirements. The MLDS Center also advises the Legislature on the impact of legislation and supports the development of state reports, as required by law.

Read the Advance CTE Case Study Effective Data Governance: Maryland’s Longitudinal Data System Center  to learn more about how Maryland structured its data governance system. For additional resources on improving the quality and use of career readiness data, check out the Career Readiness Data Quality microsite.  

This is the second edition in a series of Advance CTE data quality blogs to accompany Advance CTE’s latest releases, Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool and Data Quality Case Studies. For more resources on data and accountability in CTE, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brian Robinson

Policy Associate

Legislative Update: New U.S. Secretary of Education Confirmed and Reconciliation Moves Forward

March 5th, 2021

This week the Senate confirmed Dr. Miguel Cardona as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. Read below to learn about Secretary Cardona’s biggest priorities in his new position, as well as the latest update in the congressional reconciliation process. 

Senate Confirms New U.S. Secretary of Education

On Monday the Senate voted to confirm Dr. Miguel Cardona as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. The Senate voted in favor of Secretary Cardona 64-33, making this nomination more bipartisan than the past two U.S. Secretary of Education confirmation processes. Advance CTE shared the below statement following the confirmation: 

“Advance CTE supported Dr. Cardona’s nomination for U.S. Secretary of Education and applauds the Senate’s confirmation of his appointment. During his confirmation hearing, Dr. Cardona shared that he is a “proud graduate” of a CTE program. This unique and lived perspective, coupled with his lifetime career as an educator, administrator, and state education leader, positions him to be a powerful advocate for equity and access and a strong steward of quality and accountability. We look forward to working with Dr. Cardona to leverage his personal experience and new position to build visibility and support for CTE. “

Cardona Shares Letter as New ED Secretary

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) shared a letter from Secretary Cardona following his confirmation. In the letter the Secretary names supporting high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) as one of the areas of focus for ED. Secretary Cardona writes that right now the top priority is to bring students back to school for in-person learning. He discusses additional goals, including: 

  • Building better career pathways; 
  • Making college more affordable; 
  • Ensuring all students have access to high-quality schools with balanced coursework; 
  • Supporting teacher quality and improving teacher diversity; 
  • Ensuring teachers receive the support needed; and 
  • Expanding access to high-quality preschool. 

Check out this introduction video from Secretary Cardona for more information. 

Congress Continues Reconciliation Process

This week the Senate released the text of their reconciliation bill (H.R. 1319) following the House passage of their reconciliation bill late last Friday night. The Senate version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is similar in many ways to the legislation passed in the House. The Senate bill includes approximately $170 billion for ED, which would be available through September 2023. That amount includes: 

  • $125.8 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Of those dollars, 20% is required to respond to learning loss. The remaining funding is authorized for various federal education policies including activities under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V);
  • $39.585 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund;
  • $2.75 billion for governors to allocate to private schools that serve a significant percentage of low-income students; 
  • $1.25 billion (1% of each state’s allocated dollars) for evidence-based summer enrichment programs;
  • $850 million for outlying areas; and
  • $190 million for American Indian, Native Hawaiin and Alaska Native Education.

States would be required to put 2.5% (or $3 billion in total) toward costs related to technology. The bill also includes $7.27 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund through the E-rate program available through September 2030 for schools and libraries to purchase internet connectivity and technological devices.

At 12:00pm today the Senate began a vote on amendments to this bill. The vote is expected to go late into the night. It is possible that the full bill could pass the Senate sometime this weekend, followed by a House vote as soon as Monday. Please note that this timeline is an estimate and is subject to change. 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

A Decade of Visions for Career Technical Education and Why it is Time for CTE Without Limits

March 5th, 2021

Advance CTE is looking forward to releasing Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, a new vision supported by 38 national organizations that pushes Career Technical Education (CTE) to its full potential by dismantling systems that silo stakeholders and perpetuate inequalities so that each learner has access to and the means to be successful in the career of their choice. 

This shared vision is the culmination of over a decade of efforts by our organization and our members to better connect systems of learning and work to advance learner success. CTE Without Limits takes that work to the next level by providing a framework for system-wide transformations that have held CTE in providing high-quality and equitable experiences to each learner regardless of their background or where they live.

A Decade of Visions for the Future of CTE

 In 2010, Advance CTE released Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for CTE. This vision emerged from the economic crisis of the late 2000s and strived to place CTE at the forefront of preparing learners and workers with the skills to achieve sustainable careers in a global economy. This vision focused on achieving excellence in program quality through improving program alignment with the National Career Clusters® Framework, increasing industry participation in program development, developing national programs and assessments to increase skill portability and connecting data systems across learning and work to identify and elevate high-quality CTE programs.

Successful initiatives related to this vision include: 

  • Creation of the Common Core Technical Core, a consistent set of CTE program quality standards based on input from 42 states, the District of Columbia and Palau; 
  • Launch of the CTE: Learning that works for America®  campaign to provide states dynamic and uniform branding for CTE that is still widely used today across the country; 
  • Leading federal policy efforts to preserve Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) funding and prioritize individualized learner success plans                                                        

In 2016, Advance CTE and 11 supporting organizations released Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This vision elevated the emphasis on creating learner-centered and learner-supported systems and introduced the need for a shared commitment among CTE stakeholders to advance program quality and system alignment across each learner’s journey. 

This vision also shifted its focus from national initiatives to improving state systems to fully serve learners and position them for potential scaling. Significant new action areas included the development of an integrated career advisement system, expanding work-based learning for all learners, removing barriers to recruitment and retention of quality instructors and enhancing accountability measures in federal and state policy across programs where learning and work intersect. 

One of the most important accomplishments of this vision was the reauthorization of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The updated legislation successfully included elements to build learner-centered systems, including streamlined performance targets and program quality measures to better define and track learner success; an increase in the reserve fund set-aside to encourage innovation and flexibility; and the creation of a new comprehensive local needs assessment that compels state CTE leaders to conduct regular, collaborative evaluation of program and learner needs.

The Need for a New Vision for CTE 

The national crises of the past year has brought to the forefront issues that have held learners and workers back for too long. Our new vision, CTE Without Limits, will be released next week and is inspired by the ideas of more than 200 CTE leaders and partners that participated at our CTE Forward Summit in Fall 2020. 

This vision names solutions that not only bring together actors across K-12 and postsecondary education, workforce development and business and industry, but also lay the groundwork for CTE to lead in addressing the most pressing issues facing learning and work as a whole, including breaking silos among systems; dismantling barriers that perpetuate racism and inequalities that inhibit learner success; and empowering the individual to contribute to and direct their path to career success. We are most proud that this vision takes a much-needed step in prioritizing equity not only as a principle, but also as a theme that unites all five vision principles and action areas. 

Take the first step to bring this new vision to life – register to join us on March 18 at 2:00 pm ET to celebrate CTE Without Limits virtually featuring Sara Allan, Director of Early Learning and Education Pathways at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of the Metro Nashville Public Schools, Emily Fabiano, Director of Strategy and Operations, Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, and Dr. Nicole Smith, Chief Economist, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

We hope to see you there! 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement