Last week, Advance CTE held its 2016 Fall Meeting bringing together attendees from across the country to take a deep dive into all things Career Technical Education (CTE). Advance CTE staff reflects on the Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland in this two-part series.
Breakout Sessions Create Space for Shared Learning
Each year, Advance CTE’s convenings bring together experts, administrators and researchers from around the country to learn from one another and share ideas about how to improve the quality of CTE programs in their respective states. This is why the concurrent breakout sessions, which each cover a relevant and challenging topic in CTE, are so valuable – because they create an opportunity for attendees to learn from and engage with leaders in this work.
The breakout sessions at the Fall Meeting were oriented around different components of a high-quality CTE system, highlighting specific strategies that have been successful in other states. Topics included:
- College-and career-ready accountability frameworks;
- Understanding what your data is telling you to drive change;
- Mapping Upward: Stackable credentials that lead to careers; and
- Building and scaling effective work-based learning programs.
I had the pleasure of organizing and attending the last session on work-based learning, which was led by Heather Justice, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education at the Tennessee Department of Education. Tennessee has covered significant ground in recent years towards a new, collective vision for work-based learning. Heather shared a little bit about the state’s vision – a student-centered approach that aims to equip students with relevant skills along a continuum of exploratory and immersive experiences – and explained how her state plans to track student progress and ensure program quality. She also addressed some common myths about work-based learning, such as the belief that employers can’t work with minors (in Tennessee, students as young as 16 can participate, and the state’s workers’ compensation policy protects students, regardless of age).
All in all, the sessions provided ample opportunity for attendees to connect with counterparts in other states and learn about strategies to address common challenges.
Austin Estes, Policy Associate
Collaboration Roundtables Explore Opportunities to Lead through Change
All of our members are facing uncertainty and potentially big changes in their states over the next year. Whether or not Perkins is reauthorized this year, states are still facing policy shifts as CTE and career readiness continue to gain more attention from the public. For this reason, in addition to sessions that discussed specific policies, we designed a few sessions about how to manage these changes as a system.
First, Ellyn Artis, Strategic Consulting Program Manager at Hobson’s, kicked off the first full day of the meeting with a session on leading through change. She reminded us all that we can either resist change, be acted upon by change, or lead change – but no matter what, the change will happen. She then introduced several tools to help with this work, all of which can be found in her slides here. The tools and framework introduced help to ground her discussion of change management in a way that would allow any education leader to understand and discuss it with others.
This theme of change management was followed up later in the day with our collaboration roundtables. For this meeting, we designed each interactive roundtable to focus on a theme around implementation. Topics included setting a statewide vision, secondary and postsecondary alignment, state and local alignment, quality and access in rural regions, targeted stakeholder messaging and telling your story with data. Participants in these sessions heard examples from states on how they tackle these issues, and then joined in facilitated activities and discussions on various topics. Each roundtable finished with staff asking participants how Advance CTE can help in this area, and we received a lot of great ideas and requests, which we will take with us into our planning for 2017.
As Advance CTE Board President Jo Anne Honeycutt stated when introducing Ellyn Artis, state efforts do not need to be driven by Perkins or other federal legislation. Rather, states can develop and implement their own visions for change and reform, and leverage federal and other initiatives to support that vision.
Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager
Transition: An Underlying Theme at the Fall Meeting
Fall is a time of transition. The beauty of the season belies its reality, which requires us to let go of some things we have grown to have comfort with and to prepare for an unknown and unpredictable future.
I felt it was fitting that transition ended up being an underlying theme at the Advance CTE fall meeting. Looming before us is a new federal CTE law and a new administration. This set on the backdrop of ever-changing expectations of the workplace and economy. And yet, to me this transition is not daunting. Why? Our shared vision for the future of CTE ensures we have aligned goals and collective focus. And at the meeting, I observed a steadfast commitment to equity, access and quality and the willingness to effort the leadership necessary to thrive in this time of change. I am optimistic for the future. Together, we are advancing CTE.
Kim Green, Executive Director
A Topical Wrap-Up: Industry Experts and Credentials of Value
Our annual meetings are often the perfect opportunity to dig into many of the most pressing issues our members and the broader CTE community are facing. This past fall meeting was no different, with sessions on critical topics like work-based learning, career-ready accountability indicators and stackable credentials.
On the last day of our meeting in particular, we had the chance to focus on two particularly acute challenges faced by states – how to recruit qualified industry experts into the classroom and how to identify quality industry-recognized credentials. Offering a preview of research to be released later this year, Advance CTE’s state policy manager, Ashleigh McFadden, and Catherine Jacques from AIR’s Center for Great Teachers and Leaders shared some early insights into potential strategies and barriers to recruiting industry experts into secondary classrooms. Based on a survey of 45 State CTE Directors and almost 300 local CTE leaders and partners, they identified a few early trends, including the pervasive use of alternative certification, which, on its own, is proving to be insufficient to address the CTE teacher shortage. A major takeaway is that states and locals can and should be creative and think outside the box and consider bringing experts into high schools in less formal roles like mentors, advisors or part-time instructors.
In addition, a panel featuring a number of national initiatives to make sense of the “wild world” of industry-recognized credentials raised a number of important questions like: what makes up a quality credential, what are processes that can be put in place for evaluating credentials, and how can we build out data systems and supports to actually measure credentials’ impact on students? Led by Workcred’s Roy Swift and ACTE’s Catherine Imperatore, participants got an update on key efforts like the Credential Transparency Initiative and the Certification Data Exchange Project. The session was moderated by Rod Duckworth of Florida, a state leading the nation in industry credential validation, recently featured in Advance CTE’s brief “Credentials of Value: State Strategies for Identifying and Endorsing Industry-Recognized Credentials.”
While both sessions only scratched the surface on these critical but incredibly complicated issues, they generated important questions and lessons from the audience and will continue to be priority for Advance CTE’s research, resources and events moving forward.
Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director