Top 10 Advance CTE Spring Meeting Tweets

May 12th, 2017

Last week, over 200 leaders in Career Technical Education came together in Washington, D.C. for the annual Spring Meeting to collaborate, learn, and honor our Excellence in Action and Star of Education award recipients. Attendees and speakers took to Twitter to keep the conversation going. Below are the top 10 tweets from the meeting.



States Enhancing Career Preparation through Work-based Learning, Accountability and Graduation Pathways

May 11th, 2017

It is possible that 2017 will be a pivotal year for Career Technical Education (CTE). With planning underway to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 recently introduced in the House, states are taking advantage of a policy window to advance new legislation and enhance CTE quality. 

At the moment, Advance CTE is tracking more than 200 bills, regulations and actions across the states that are relevant to the CTE community. Although it is too early to identify major trends — or even know for certain if the proposals we are tracking will ever cross the finish line — what is clear is that there is an evident and growing interest in strengthening CTE at the state level. Recently, new laws in Maryland, Indiana and Arizona aim to strengthen apprenticeships, accountability and alternative pathways to graduation.

Maryland Aims to Expand Apprenticeships and Measure Completion through Accountability System

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan approved the More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017. A jobs Act, the legislation aims to strengthen the state workforce by

  • issuing up to $2,000 each for eligible students enrolled in workforce development sequence programs, and
  • allowing eligible employers to claim up to $1,000 in tax credits for each approved apprentice they employ.

Additionally, the law requires the state board of education to establish career readiness performance goals for CTE program completion, industry-recognized credential attainment and completion of a registered or youth apprenticeship. The state board must also work on a method to value apprenticeship completion in the state accountability system. Under the legislature’s recommendations, completion of a state-approved apprenticeship would be valued the same as earning a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam.

The More Jobs for Marylanders Act is part of Gov. Hogan’s Maryland Jobs Initiative, which aims to strengthen Maryland’s workforce and create new jobs. Under the initiative, Gov. Hogan also plans to expand Maryland’s Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) program, which was launched last year with the opening of two locations in Baltimore. Another bill passed by the legislature this year specifies requirements for the program and establishes a planning grant to help districts design and launch P-TECH programs.

Arizona State Board Approves Seventeen Measures of College and Career Readiness

Over in the Grand Canyon State, the Arizona State Board of Education approved a comprehensive (albeit somewhat confusing) college and career readiness indicator to include in the state’s accountability system. The indicator (details start on p. 75 of the state board’s meeting minutes) will make up 20 percent of the overall accountability score and will include no less than seventeen separate measures of college and career readiness. Measures will include (but are not limited to)

  • industry-recognized credential attainment,
  • work-based learning completion,
  • completion of a CTE sequence, and
  • aligned technical skills assessment.

The indicator will also include college readiness measures such as earning a passing score on the SAT or earning dual credit. The total college and career readiness score for a school will be calculated across the entire graduating student cohort, with schools able to earn additional points for students who complete both college and career readiness activities.

Indiana Students Will Have More Graduation Options Starting in 2018

Meanwhile, Indiana’s newly-elected Governor Eric Holcomb ushered in a few CTE reforms during his inaugural legislative session. SB198 restructures the state’s CTE funding schedule using a three-tiered classification system that recognizes wages and industry demand for the specified pathway. The law requires the Department of Workforce Development to set the wage threshold and classify the types of CTE programs eligible to receive funding at each level.

Furthermore, the bill creates a pilot program to integrate career exploration activities into the eighth grade curriculum using the state’s Career Explorer system. The program will be piloted in 15 schools, with the aim of expanding statewide beginning in the 2018-19 school year.  

Gov. Holcomb also signed HB1003, which, in addition to replacing the state’s ISTEP test with a new program (ILEARN will be implemented in the 2018-19 school year), establishes alternative pathways to graduation. Starting June 30, 2018, students that meet the Indiana Core 40 requirements and demonstrate college and career readiness — to be determined by the state board of education — will be eligible to receive a high school diploma. Previously, students were required to complete a graduation examination. Former State Superintendent Glenda Ritz praised the measure, saying it would give “students many options to achieve an Indiana diploma tailored to their graduation goals.”

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Staff Reflects on the 2017 Spring Meeting Part 2

May 10th, 2017

Last week, we held the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, which brought over 200 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From digging into new research to updates on federal policy, hear what our staff had to say as they reflected on this year’s meeting in this three-part series. 

As the topic of career readiness continues to gain prominence in state policy conversations, state and local CTE leaders have been increasingly interested in career advising and counseling as strategies for improving career readiness. In response to that interest, Advance CTE had two sessions at our Spring Meeting on counseling.

The first was our keynote speaker on the second day of the meeting, 2017 School Counselor of the Year, Terri Tchorzynski. Terri, a school counselor at the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Michigan, spoke about how she uses data to plan interventions that support students’ needs not just emotionally, but academically as well. For me, it was informative to hear her discussions on the stigmas and perceptions facing both CTE and counseling, and her superhero examples led to an unofficial theme for the day – describing the people who do this work on the ground in schools as true superheroes.

The second session that day on counseling was a breakout led by Jill Cook, Assistant Director of the American School Counselor Association. In her session, Jill led a discussion with our members on the role counselors can and should play in schools, and how they can support CTE. This information seemed particularly relevant given the report just released on the attitudes of students and parents when it comes to CTE. I’m excited to continue this conversation and find ways for counselors and CTE leaders to work together and help learners.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager


At last year’s spring meeting we debuted new candies printed with the brand-new Advance CTE logo. We jokingly referred to these as “Advance-mints” in recognition of the new name.

Candy-related puns aside, advancement was a clear and unspoken theme at the 2017 spring meeting. This year’s conference explored thorny issues, celebrated exemplar programs and continued to advance an ambitious agenda centered around the organization’s Putting Learner Success First vision for the future of CTE.

On Tuesday afternoon, Advance CTE coordinated five concurrent workshop sessions, building on a new idea introduced at the October convening. These sessions were designed to help participants go deep on a particular issue and work through challenges with experts in the field. Each session took a different approach — some included panel discussions, while others required participants to roll up their sleeves and work on material they could take back to their states. But the aim of each session was the same: to inspire deep thinking and idea sharing and advance the caliber of the field.

The topics for the five sessions included:

  • Determining Quality Industry-Recognized Credentials
  • Driving Continuous Improvement through Meaningful Local Program Evaluation
  • Finding the Right Message for Students and Parents
  • Input Session: CTE Program Approval Policy Framework
  • Using Career Readiness Data to Drive Student Success

I attended “Driving Continuous Improvement,” which was developed and run by Sandra Staklis and Laura Rasmussen Foster at RTI International. Through a technical assistance contract with the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), RTI has been working with different states to identify relevant metrics and design rubrics to support monitoring and accountability at the local level. In North Carolina, RTI helped design a CTE program evaluation instrument that local districts have since been using to evaluate the quality and health of their programs. In Wyoming, a similar rubric is being used to facilitate regional conversations, using data to explore continuous improvement opportunities.

In the session, we unpacked trends RTI uncovered in their work, and helped participants explore potential metrics to use in their own states. At my table, we decided to prioritize student success outcomes, pulling out metrics such as the “percentage of CTE students enrolling in postsecondary without requiring remediation” and “percentage of CTE students employed in high wage, high demand fields after graduation.” Although these indicators are often the hardest to measure, they are no less important in determining program success.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Staff Reflects on the 2017 Spring Meeting Part 1

May 9th, 2017

Last week, we held the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, which brought over 200 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From digging into new research to updates on federal policy, hear what our staff had to say as they reflected on this year’s meeting in this three-part series. 

Everyone working in the CTE field knows that we regularly face major communications challenges, often needing to combat negative misconceptions many still hold when it comes to our programs and pathways. Given the urgency and importance of these challenges, we dedicated much of Tuesday to digging into polling data and effective messaging around CTE for all students.

Tim Hodges kicked off Tuesday with a keynote exploring a wide array of Gallup’s data that made the case for high-quality CTE. For example, students and parents are increasingly unengaged in their schools, with only 50% of students strongly agreeing that they get to do what they do best every day.  What most stood out to me were the experiences of college graduates who were the most likely to be successful upon graduation (and engaged in their work) – having mentors, participating in internships where they applied their learning and long-term projects – are all hallmarks of high-quality CTE programs. The challenge is that too few students – in K-12 or in postsecondary – have access to these opportunities or even know about them.

Tim’s presentation perfectly set the stage for leaders from Edge Research to then share Advance CTE’s new communications research (released last month) on how to best engage parents and students around the value and promise of CTE.  The Edge team shared some of the most inspiring findings from the focus groups and national survey – like the fact that parents and students engaged in CTE are twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with their education compared to those not involved in CTE – and unpacked some lessons learned around messaging.

Later in the afternoon, I had the opportunity to jointly lead workshops for over 50 meeting participants with Katie Fitzgerald, where we dug into the big takeaways from the research, including “do’s and don’ts,” such as DO use consistent messages, DO leverage the student voice and story and DON’T market CTE as the “non-college” option given parents and students need to know CTE can be a path to postsecondary options, as well as careers.

These are big, thorny challenges that will not be solved over night or by any single person – and it will take a significant shift in how we all talk about CTE and its many benefits to learners.  But we are just getting started and Advance CTE is 100% committed to helping our members and partners strengthen their recruitment strategies and overall messaging around CTE to parents and students.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director, Advance CTE

The Spring Meeting was an amazing opportunity for me to meet Advance CTE’s members! While I couldn’t meet everyone, the members I met were smart, insightful, and passionate about their work. I was continuously impressed by their desire to both dive into complex issues and discuss potential solutions regardless of topic area during informal conversations and breakout sessions alike. Whether members were looking at including work-based learning in their accountability systems, better understanding the role of school counselors in career guidance, or determining how to best meet the needs of rural students, they weren’t afraid to dig into the challenges and share successes. It was truly inspiring to see their commitment to continuous improvement and their dedication to student success. I’m excited to be joining the CTE community and look forward to engaging with more of our members virtually and in upcoming conferences and meetings!

Another highlight of the Spring Meeting was the vibrant discussion around CTE policy! Sessions throughout the meeting touched on the major pieces of federal legislation that intersect with CTE. On Tuesday, leaders from states that are building career readiness into their accountability systems under ESSA shared their stories and examples, which are particularly relevant as states finalize their ESSA plans. In a panel discussion on Thursday, national experts on higher education shared what they see as the opportunities in the Higher Education Act (HEA) to strengthen connections to CTE. The entire panel provided unique insights on the biggest debates ahead and also touched on the areas in which the law could better serve the needs of today’s post-secondary students, something that is at the forefront of my mind as we approach discussions around HEA reauthorization in the coming months. In a particularly timely session, Congressional staff participated in a panel about the new Perkins reauthorization bill and our members had the opportunity to get their questions answered! Each session provided me with a better understanding of the particular policy ideas and issues that are most pressing and important to our members. All in all, it was a tremendous learning experience and I can’t wait for the Fall Meeting!

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy


Perkins Reauthorization Bill Introduced

May 5th, 2017

Congress was busy this week with the introduction of two Career Technical Education (CTE) bills and the 2017 Fiscal Year (FY17) Omnibus Budget Bill. More on each is below.

Perkins Reauthorization Bill Introduced

As we announced yesterday, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act was introduced by Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). The bipartisan bill builds on last year’s effort to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act (H.R. 5587), which passed the House by a 405-5 margin in September 2016. Since that time, Advance CTE has been advocating for our members’ interests, which are reflected in Advance CTE’s Perkins Reauthorization Recommendations, in our meetings with Congress, coalition groups, and other partners. Advance CTE will provide additional information about how the new bill compares to H.R. 5587 as soon as possible.

Additionally, Advance CTE is excited to support the CTE Excellence and Equity Act (S. 1004), which was introduced on Tuesday by Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Todd Young (R-IN) as well as Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The bill “would provide federal funding through a competitive grant program to support innovative approaches to redesigning the high school experience for students as schools develop curriculum, assess student performance and teach workplace skills through job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships” according to a press release from Senator Kaine’s office. Find a factsheet for the bill here.

FY17 Omnibus Bill Heads to President’s Desk

The FY17 Omnibus Measure, which included level-funding ($1,117,598,000) for Perkins Basic State Grants and provided allocations for many other programs, passed both chambers with bipartisan support this week. The House voted 309-118 to pass the bill and the Senate approved it on Thursday in a 79-18 vote. The President is expected to sign it today (his failure to do so would result in a government shutdown). Appropriators are now considering the FY18 budget and the President is expected to release a full budget later this month.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

11 Programs of Study Receive National Excellence in Action Award

May 5th, 2017

Earlier this week, 11 Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study received the Excellence in Action award from Advance CTE. Hailing from 10 states, these programs represent the best of CTE, with each providing clear pathways into college and careers, rigorous academic and technical coursework, strong partnerships with industry leaders, and impactful work-based learning experiences that offer opportunities for career exploration and subject-matter mastery.

Award-winning programs provide learners from diverse communities with the supports to succeed in the education pathway and career of their choice. Advance CTE is pleased to recognize the following award winners in Career Cluster areas:

  • Culinology, Bergen County Technical Schools, NJ (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources)
  • Graphic Arts, Passaic County Technical Institute, NJ (Arts, A/V Technology & Communications)
  • Education Career Academy, Millard Public Schools, NE (Education & Training)
  • Shea Government and Public Administration Academy, Pawtucket School Department, RI (Government and Public Administration)
  • Emergency Medical Technology, Jones County Junior College, MS (Health Science)
  • Culinary and Hospitality Services, Jack E. Singley Academy, TX (Hospitality & Tourism)
  • Networking Engineering, Summit Technology Academy, MO (Information Technology)
  • Law, Public Safety and Security, Milton Hershey School, PA (Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security)
  • Mechatronics, Oakland High School, TN (Manufacturing)
  • Engineering, Harmony Magnet Academy, CA (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)
  • Automotive Technology, Warren County Area Technology Center, KY (Transportation, Distribution & Logistics)

“I am so proud of these exemplary programs and all they offer learners across the country,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE. “Boasting impressive graduation and completion rates, credential attainment, and hands-on learning experiences, these programs demonstrate what high-quality CTE has to offer, and its ability to set students up for success across the spectrum of careers.”

Award recipients were honored at the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting at a luncheon where 30 administrators, educators and students traveled across the country to be recognized.

Find profiles of each winner here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Perkins Level-Funded in FY17 Omnibus Measure

May 3rd, 2017

Late Sunday night, Congressional appropriators released a Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Omnibus package (which comprises the 11 outstanding bills that need to pass to fund the government through FY17). Congress must vote on the measure by Friday, May 5 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

The Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill includes the following allocations:

  • Perkins Basic State Grants remain level-funded at $1,117,598,000. This amount has remained constant since FY14 and is a restoration of cuts that were part of the continuing resolution. We know you are anxious to find out your final Perkins allocation. Once the omnibus is finalized, the U.S. Department of Education budget services will need to run the federal to state formula to determine the state-by-state allocations. So, look for those soon.
  • Student Support and Academic Achievement state grants, new grants under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), receive $400 million. These block grants have a variety of allowable uses, one of which includes CTE programs and activities that meet the requirements of ESSA’s definition for a “well-rounded education.”
  • Pell grants remain funded at their FY16 level and year-round Pell grants are reinstated. However, the bill includes a $1.3 billion rescission that would lower the reserve amount available in the future.
  • State formula grants provided through Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) remain level-funded at $2,709,832,000.
  • Apprenticeship programs funded through the Department of Labor see an increase from the FY16 allocation of $90 million to $95 million in FY17, with a direction to “build on the success of the ApprenticeshipUSA program” and “prioritize grant applications that engage, recruit, and serve women and other under-represented populations.”

You can find a helpful table with these numbers and more from the National Skills Coalition here.

Once Congress approves the FY17 Omnibus bill, it is likely that appropriators will turn their attention to the FY18 budget.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

Welcome to Arizona’s New State CTE Director, Cathie Raymond

May 1st, 2017

Cathie Raymond had her mind made up at 14 years old while sitting in her home economics class – she was going to teach Career Technical Education (CTE) when she grew up. And for 43 years, she did exactly that, first in Missouri and then in Arizona.

Now she’s ready for a new challenge. In April, she became the State CTE Director for Arizona, and said she’s excited to leverage her years of experience in the field to help more teachers.

“My whole goal is make everyone’s job easier,” Raymond said. “Just because it’s always been done that way – is it the best way? [I want to do] anything I can to help the local directors to make sure they aren’t so overwhelmed and they don’t have to put things on their teachers, who are overwhelmed. I want to help them free up more time for teachers to teach and focus on their students.”

Raymond said she hopes to find more ways to tell the story of CTE in Arizona by better leveraging the data of student’s successes including and beyond graduation rates.

For the past decade, Raymond has served as the CTE director for Marana Unified School District, which is located near Tucson, Arizona. The district has the largest land mass of any in the state – 550 square miles.

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development

This Week in CTE

April 28th, 2017


Advance CTE released a new report, Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High Quality Career Pathways, examining the role state leaders can play in promoting quality by leveraging policy, programs and resources to ensure all career pathways meet minimum standards. Take a look and how Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware took on this important work.

Idaho Career & Technical Education released a video highlighting CTE students career aspirations and prospects.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate, Communications 

College and Career Indicators: How Do You Define CTE Completion?

April 27th, 2017

This post is written by Harris School Solutions, a Diamond Level sponsor of the 2017 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

As we draw near to the end of another school year, we should be asking ourselves, “Have we prepared this year’s graduates to really be ‘college and career ready?’” To answer that question, we first must decide what, exactly, that phrase really means.

Nearly every state in the nation is on a fast and furious quest to answer this question. College and Career Indicators (CCI) have emerged, as each state is defining various criteria that can be measured to validate “college and career readiness.” In today’s world of data crunching, this phrase should not be just a subjective evaluation; it must be quantifiable, based on specific and measurable student outcomes.

Some examples of CCI are more easily measured. Business internships give students real-world work experience. Practical-skill attainment based on robust CTE Programs of Study can lead to increased student engagement. Industry credentials can be earned before a student graduates from high school.

However, one of the most highly sought after CCIs remains elusive and difficult to define: CTE completion. While everyone wants to claim their students have “completed” a career pathway or program of study, what exactly does this mean? Some states define it by the number of hours a student is enrolled in a given pathway. Others base it on the amount of curriculum completed, where 70 percent is often a universally accepted threshold of proficiency.

CTE completion rates are complicated by the fact that different states offer CTE programs during different intervals of secondary education. High schools that specialize in CTE often provide three- or four-year programs of study, where students can accumulate 360-400 hours of concentrated CTE study per year. In traditional high schools, students may take a CTE course for only two or three hours per week in a given semester, accumulating, on average, 180 hours of study. Some practitioners feel it’s important to distinguish between enrollment duration and attendance hours. If a student is absent for two weeks, she potentially could lose 30 or more hours of seat time, thus affecting her ability to “complete.”

Regardless, if our quest is to measure whether a student is truly “college and career ready,” then expressing these various metrics in a universal dashboard is critical. Though the goal of consensus may be ambitious, aggregating data to share CTE outcomes is nonetheless a necessity for objective comparison and subsequent improvement. Furthermore, interpreting the data to help key stakeholders – students and parents – understand the value of a CTE education will help students to realize the opportunity for high-skill, high-wage, high-demand careers.

California has taken the lead in creating a CTE College and Career Indicator Dashboard. The Association of Career and College Readiness Organizations (CAROCP) is trailblazing an initiative to define what deems a student to be “college and career ready.” What makes the California initiative impressive is that it is a grassroots movement; a group of 11 pilot sites have published the first edition of a California CCI Dashboard. They started with simple metrics, but have gained the attention of the California Department of Education. In fact, superintendents from across California recently marched into the State Capitol, armed with mobile devices, sharing evidence of CTE student success using the CCI Dashboard. The Senators loved it – and asked for more.

We know all students must be “college and career ready” by the time they graduate. By striving to utilize our CTE data in meaningful and productive ways, we can help others to realize the benefits that a CTE education has to offer today’s students in accomplishing that goal. But that only happens if we, as CTE educators, commit our time, resources, and energy to ensuring “college and career ready” stands for something more than just words – we must translate it into numbers.

To learn more about how your state can collect and measure College and Career Indicators, please contact Kathy Ritch, Harris School Solutions, at