Advance CTE Report Describes How State Leaders Can Build Trust with Historically Marginalized Communities

January 15th, 2019

Throughout history, and continuing today, learners of color, low-income learners, female learners and learners with disabilities have been historically tracked into terminal vocational programs leading to jobs with uncertain promise of economic growth and prosperity. To help state leaders recognize these historical barriers and adopt promising solutions to close equity gaps in CTE, Advance CTE launched a series of policy briefs titled Making Good on the Promise. The first briefs in the series explored the history of inequities in CTE and highlighted promising practices from states that are using data to identify and address access and achievement gaps by different learner populations.

Building off these briefs, the third brief in the series, Making Good on the Promise: Building Trust to Promote Equity in CTE, maps out steps state leaders can take to rebuild trust in marginalized communities that CTE historically failed to serve equitably. The brief outlines five steps state leaders can take to build trust in communities that do not view CTE as a viable mechanism to help them achieve their college and career goals:

  • Acknowledge that inequity is a problem;
  • Promote a culture that values equity and diversity within the state agency and instructor workforce;
  • Commit to transparency and advancing only high-quality CTE programs of study;
  • Implement strategies to gain buy-in from communities and stakeholders; and
  • Celebrate, lift up and replicate successful programs of study and practices.

To helps states with these steps, the brief features state examples from Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Idaho and Nebraska and draws on messaging data from Advance CTE’s The Value and Promise of Career Technical Education: Results from a National Survey of Parents and Students:

  • In Oklahoma, the Department of Career and Technology Education created an equity and diversity specialist position in 2016 to provide diversity training to agency staff, teachers and administrators to promote equity through the secondary and postsecondary systems.
  • In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) formed the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work Group to promote equity in WTCS.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

116th Congress Kicks Off, Administration to Begin Negotiated Rulemaking on Higher Ed

January 11th, 2019

With the 116th Congress sworn in on January 3, there is a lot of news coming out of Washington, D.C. this week! Read below to learn more about new reports, Congressional leadership, and updates from the Administration on the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Senate Releases Committee Report on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee recently released the Committee Report on the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The report provides key details on legislative intent, a section-by-section analysis and shows how the new law made changes to Perkins IV.

Committee Assignments and Changes in the 116th Congress

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Shelby (R-AL) and Vice Chairman Leahy (D-VT) announced that Chairman Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) will remain as the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. The House Appropriations Committee leadership has shifted: the new Chairwoman of the Committee is Rep. Lowey (D-NY) and the new Ranking Member is Rep. Granger (R-TX). Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) will serve as the Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

For the Senate HELP Committee, Sen. Alexander (R-TN) will remain the Chairman and Sen. Murray (D-WA) will remain the Ranking Member. The membership for the Committee shifted slightly: Sen. Young (R-IN) and Sen. Bennet (D-CO) will move off the Committee and Sen. Hatch (R-UT) retired in 2018. Sen. Romney (R-UT), Sen. Braun (R-IN) and Sen. Rosen (D-NV) will be joining the Committee. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is now renamed the House Committee on Education and Labor, as has been past practice when Democrats are in the majority in the House. Rep. Scott (D-VA) is serving as the Committee’s Chairman and Rep. Foxx (R-NC) is serving as the Committee’s Ranking Member. Looking to see when the House and Senate are in session this year? Check out the new calendars here.

2019 Negotiated Rulemaking Proposals Released

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education released recommendations to make significant changes to a variety of higher education regulations. The Committee on Accreditation and Innovation, Subcommittee on Distance Learning and Educational Innovation, Subcommittee on TEACH Grants and Subcommittee on Faith-Based Entities, all comprised of stakeholders, will begin negotiating the proposals starting on January 14 and attempt to reach consensus. If the committee and subcommittees do not reach consensus, the Department of Education will determine whether or not to move forward with regulations.

Additional information on committee and subcommittee members, a schedule of hearings and the proposed regulations can be found here. More information on the negotiated rulemaking process can be found here.

Office of the Inspector General to Look Into ESSA Accountability, Oversight of Title IV

The U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) internal watchdog agency, the Office of the Inspector General, released its 2019 agenda. On the list of priorities for investigation, which is influenced by members of Congress and other officials, is whether USED is providing sufficient oversight into how states are operating their statewide accountability systems. According to an Advance CTE and ESG report released last year, more than 30 states are measuring career readiness in their accountability systems. Also on the Inspector General’s list is whether USED is providing sufficient oversight into states’ use of Student Success and Academic Enrichment grants, a $1.1 billion grant program that can be used to support well-rounded educational activities, which includes Career Technical Education (CTE).

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy, Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate and Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

This Week in CTE

January 11th, 2019



New STEM Professional Development Modules and Tools Pilot

The Center for Global Education at Asia Society has partnered with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Advance CTE to create online professional development modules that support educators to teach Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) through global content via active, project-based learning. These 10 new online, 15-minute modules will help educators understand how to make global connections to local STEM issues; create high-quality global STEM projects; assess global workforce readiness skills; connect with classrooms abroad to complete collaborative projects; and teach students to be project managers so they are more successful in completing their projects. The modules, together with sample curriculum and other tools and resources, are currently being piloted and you can participate!

Learn more here


Get an inside look at Career Technical Education (CTE) in action! Little Elm Independent School District is a public school district in Texas that takes you into their Health Science Technology classroom to showcase how hands-on, real-world experiences makes learning relevant for learners. You will hear from participants as they share their career aspirations.

Watch the video here

You can find more Little Elm ISD CTE videos here.


Better Together: How Adult Education/CTE Collaborations Benefit Workers and Business

The National Skills Coalition’s new policy brief, Better Together, explains how collaborations between adult education and CTE benefit both businesses and workers. It includes an example from the Socorro Independent School District (ISD) using opportunities under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to improve alignment between the adult education and CTE systems.

Read the full report here


ACTE Accepting Applications for New Postsecondary Leadership Success Program

ACTE is now accepting applications for their new Postsecondary Leadership Success Program,Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. This is a yearlong professional development experience for postsecondary CTE professionals and includes a variety of opportunities

and benefits, including a $4,000 stipend, access to focused workshops and online seminars, and much more! The deadline to apply is February 3, 2019.

Learn more here.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate 

Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, Veterinary Science Program

January 9th, 2019

For all learners to experience success, the systems and stakeholders that surround them must work together. To accomplish this, there should be alignment across secondary and postsecondary education, workforce, community-based organizations, and business and industry. An example of what can be achieved when this cross-sector collaboration occurs is the 2018 Excellence in Action Award winner in the Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster®, the Veterinary Science Program housed at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, in Spring, Texas.

“The students, school district personnel and business partners have worked tirelessly to make the Veterinary Science Program one that produces students who are educated, informed, prepared, and equipped with the knowledge and skills to begin their career in the field of veterinary medicine and/or agriculture or pursue postsecondary education,” said Jessica Graham, M.Ed., LVT, Veterinary Science Teacher. Recently, she received the Outstanding Early Career Alumni award from Texas A&M University.

This four-year program offers a rigorous sequence of academic and technical courses. The established partnerships create opportunities for learners to graduate with college credits and state-recognized certifications. For example, the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University is one of the postsecondary partners offering a direct pathway from high school into a degree program. Additionally, the Veterinary Science Program offers 17 Advanced Placement courses, which articulate up to 30 dual credits at the Lone Star College System. Learners who are on track to earn an associate degree in veterinary technology can complete nearly half their coursework toward their degree before graduating high school.

To be prepared for this industry, learners need to obtain real-world skills. The Veterinary Science Program also offers numerous work-based learning experiences with industry partners, such as the Northwest Animal Hospital, Spring Independent School District Police Department K9 Units, Critter Fixer, Aldine Animal and My Family Vet. Northwest Animal Hospital in Houston, TX, allows learners to observe and participate in small animal live surgical demonstrations in the veterinary surgical suite at the pet clinic located on the high school campus.

The clinic itself also demonstrates cross-sector collaboration. Community members can see Career Technical Education at work by bringing their own pets in for care, and learners gain real-world skills by providing affordable and quality pet care to the community. Services include basic grooming, vaccinations, monthly and yearly exams and a pet spa. There is also an outdoor area for cattle, horses, pigs and goats. The money earned through the clinic is used for student scholarships to cover the expense of their industry certification examination fees.

Learn more about the Veterinary Science Program at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School and our 2018 award winners.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

HEA in Practice: UVM’s TRIO Upward Bound Program

January 4th, 2019

The Higher Education Act (HEA) authorizes the Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO), with the purpose of supporting learners at the secondary level in achieving a postsecondary education. TRIO encompasses six programs targeted for low-income learners, first generation college students and learners with disabilities to excel from middle school through postsecondary enrollment. One program included in TRIO is Upward Bound, which supports low-income and first generation high school students through high school graduation, college enrollment and college completion. In the fall of 2018, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance published a report that reviewed 200 Upward Bound programs across the country and came to the conclusion that such programs increase the number of colleges students applied to and led students to apply to more selective institutions.

Upward Bound has over 950 programs across the country. In Vermont, the University of Vermont’s (UVM) TRIO Upward Bound program (UVM Upward Bound) has found success. Through UVM Upward Bound, the university coordinates with Burlington High School and Winooski High School to support students in grades nine through twelve in progressing through secondary and postsecondary education. The program includes 63 students and works with the school counselors and teachers of both high schools to provide services such as college and career preparation. Additionally, the six-week summer program (held at the UVM campus) gives high school seniors the chance to plan for the college application process and write their application essays. The summer program also brings students to visit colleges outside of the state.

Recently, UVM Upward Bound was given a supplemental grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) opportunities for applicable students. In the summer of 2017, UVM joined 50 Upward Bound colleges in putting in place a three year STEM program called Teaching through Technology (T3). This new grant will further support STEM for Upward Bound students by allowing new technology to be acquired as well as hiring additional instructors.

Across Vermont, public colleges are coordinating with secondary schools through TRIO to support all learners in a pathway from secondary to postsecondary achievement.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

High School Senior, Brian Elvidge, Shares How CTE and SkillsUSA Helped Him Get Back in the Game

January 3rd, 2019

For any athlete an injury can throw off more than just your season. For Brian Elvidge, a senior at Durango High School in Colorado, injuring his knee as a sophomore brought his athletic season to a halt. He had to have surgery and his vision for the future was dimming daily including his overall interest in school. He did the minimum required to remain eligible to stay on the football team.

Elvidge’s friend and co-president of the Durango High School SkillsUSA chapter suggested he join SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit student organization that serves students enrolled in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) like SkillsUSA provide learners with the ability to hone their knowledge and technical skills and demonstrate them through regional, state and even national competitions. He decided to join.

“SkillsUSA got me out of a rough time and gave me hope,” said Elvidge when asked about his experience after joining his high school chapter. Durango high school is one of 13,000 school chapters in all fifty states and four U.S. territories.

Over the next two years, Elvidge also enrolled in CTE courses starting with welding. He enjoys working with his hands and believes CTE coursework could be used in the future not only as preparation for his future career but in his life.

His junior year, he decided to try another CTE course — carpentry. He was aware that there was a woodshop on campus and thought he should utilize the opportunity to gain hands on learning in carpentry, electric and plumbing right on campus. Before enrolling, he did his own research by asking his peers about the course, and finding that they spoke highly of the instructor, Shaun Smith, who also serves as the SkillsUSA advisor.

Smith has over twenty years of teaching experience and received the additional training necessary to lead a new pre-apprenticeship program. This program incorporates the Home Builders Institute PACT curriculum. One hand on experience includes constructing a life sized and livable “Mini Home.” Throughout the build, learners gain employability and real-world skills, through a meaningful work-based learning opportunity that mirrors what they would be doing in the workplace. Elvidge, along with his classmates, can graduate high school with the Home Builders Institute (HBI) Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate. To date, he has already earned the home builder association basic knowledge and safety certificate.

After his knee healed, he returned to the football field. However, he didn’t stop his participation in SkillsUSA and at his first regional competition; he placed third in a carpentry competition.

Elvidge continued to challenge himself and applied to become the SkillsUSA state officer. “It gave me something to work for and I learned about being a leader,” said Elvidge.

Now in his senior year, he is a leader on and off the football field. “I know what I want to do with my life now and I can prepare for my future,” Elvidge shared. He understands that the skills and certificates he earns now can always be used toward his future in whichever path he decides to follow.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

Incorporating Youth Apprenticeships in Career Technical Education Pathways

December 19th, 2018

This blog was originally published as part of the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship Blog Series

By integrating classroom instruction and hands-on learning, both youth apprenticeships and Career Technical Education (CTE) can enhance a learner’s educational experience and better prepare them for future career success. Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE underscores the significance of coordinating high-quality youth apprenticeships and CTE, empowering learners through work-based learning and strong systems alignment anchored in learner success. Rather than isolating CTE as a separate educational strategy, an integrated approach to education and training can ensure that all learners have opportunities to succeed in a career of their choosing.

Advance CTE recently expanded our commitment to youth apprenticeship programs by joining the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship Initiative (PAYA). CTE can and should have a clear role in helping to achieve all five of the PAYA principles for high quality youth apprenticeships. In particular, the “Career-Oriented” PAYA principle that “learning is structured around knowledge, skills, and competencies that lead to careers with family-supporting wages” is supported by bringing together apprenticeship and CTE programs.

High-quality youth apprenticeships share the same core elements as CTE programs of study. For example, Advance CTE’s Policy Benchmark Tool identifies rigorous course standards and progressive, sequenced courses; secondary and postsecondary alignment and early postsecondary offerings; industry involvement; labor market demand; and high-quality instruction and experiential learning as necessary for a program to be considered high quality – all of which are reflected across the PAYA principles.

What This Looks Like in Practice

The Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) program showcases the opportunities that become available to students when instructional alignment and programmatic articulation are coordinated between CTE and youth apprenticeships. TRACK is a statewide program, overseen by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education, that supports secondary students participating in registered youth apprenticeships. Employers and educators work together through TRACK to create youth pre-apprenticeships that match registered apprenticeships, as well as select a four-course CTE sequence and a coordinated industry certification.

TRACK first launched with a manufacturing pilot in thirteen high schools during the 2013 – 2014 school year. Since then the program has been scaled to include other schools and additional skilled trades. The program utilizes Kentucky’s existing CTE infrastructure to create a pipeline for students that begins in high school and culminates in an industry-recognized credential, paid work experience and, in many cases, advanced standing within a full Registered Apprenticeship.

Another example is the Apprenticeship Maryland Program (AMP), created as a new CTE program of study through a partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education and Department of Labor and Licensing Regulation. AMP students are able to participate in paid work based learning, enroll in applicable academic courses and spend time with a mentor from a relevant industry. One of the intentions of AMP is for students to understand the direct connection between their educational experience and the state’s workforce demands. Participants benefit from the chance to “earn and learn” with local businesses, while also getting credit toward high school graduation and earning a credential- underscoring the importance of combining academics and workforce skills.

Over the past two years, AMP was rolled out on a trial basis in two county public school systems. These pilot programs were so successful that AMP is now scaled in additional districts across the state. To create strong AMP sites, the state works with local businesses in addition to the local school system in order to provide students with a directly applicable learning experience.

For more examples of best practices, as well as common challenges, in linking CTE and apprenticeships, check out a report from Advance CTE in partnership with JFF, Vivayic and RTI International on Opportunities for Connecting Secondary CTE Students and Apprenticeships. This report was developed through a contract with the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, at the U.S. Department of Education.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

December 14th, 2018



Trump Administration Releases Strategy to Bolster STEM Education in the U.S.

On December 4, the Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council released Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education. This report that outlines the Trump administration’s five-year strategy to increase access to high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and to ensure the United States is a global leader in STEM literacy, innovation and employment. Read more legislative updates on our blog here.


What is Dual Enrollment?

Watch this video for a brief overview of what makes a high-quality dual enrollment program. You will learn how participation in these programs has grown over time and the present challenge to close access gaps.

Watch the video here.


What Happens to Students Who Take Community College “Dual Enrollment” Courses in High School?

In the fall of 2010, the 15 percent of learners enrolled in community college were high school dual enrollment learners. In a new report, the Community College Research Center-Teachers College, at Columbia University in New York, examines who enrolls in community college dual enrollment courses and what happens to them after high school. The research findings are based on longitudinal data of more than 200,000 high school learners who first took a community college course in fall 2010 for six years, through to the summer of 2016.


  • Nearly two thirds of community college dual enrollment learners nationally were from low- or middle-income families;
  • Nearly half of former community college dual enrollment learners first attended a community college immediately after high school, and 84 percent of those learners re-enrolled at the college where they had taken dual enrollment courses;  
  • Forty-one percent of former dual enrollment learners went to a four-year college after high school; and  
  • Forty-six percent earned a college credential within five years. Among former dual enrollment learners who started at a four-year college after high school, 64 percent completed a college credential within five years.
    • In terms of equity, there were states with achievement gaps between lower and higher income dual enrollment learners who entered a four-year college after high school. Twenty-three states had gaps of 10 or more percentage points.

Read the full report here:

Administration Focuses on STEM, Apprenticeship

December 12th, 2018

As the 115th Congress wraps up, the Administration has made a few announcements related to Career Technical Education (CTE). Read below to learn more about updates from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), the new strategy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, a recently renewed commitment to apprenticeship and a new resource on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from from the School Superintendents Associations (AASA) and the College in High School Alliance (CHSA).   

New Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education

Dr. Casey Sacks, who previously served as a Vice Chancellor at the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, has been named Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE).

Trump Administration Releases Strategy to Bolster STEM Education in the U.S.

On December 4, the Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council released Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, a report that outlines the Trump administration’s five-year strategy to increase access to high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and to ensure the United States is a global leader in STEM literacy, innovation and employment. Read more about the strategic goals and pathways in Advance CTE’s blog.

U.S. Signs Apprenticeship MOU with Switzerland

The U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Commerce came together with the Swiss government to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that signals continued collaboration on apprenticeships. With this MOU, both governments renewed their commitment to apprenticeships. This includes spreading awareness of the importance of apprenticeship programs to those from the business, academic and policy communities.

New Fact Sheet: Using ESSA to Support and Expand College in High School Programs

Looking for information about how college in high school programs, including dual and concurrent enrollment programs, are covered in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)? Check out a new fact sheet, “Using ESSA to Support and Expand College in High School Programs,” and the blog post “Opportunities In ESSA For College In High School Programs” from the School Superintendents Associations (AASA) and the College in High School Alliance (CHSA).

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy and Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

Trump Administration Releases Strategy to Bolster STEM Education in the US

December 10th, 2018

On December 4, the Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council released Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, a report that outlines the Trump administration’s five-year strategy to increase access to high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and to ensure the United States is a global leader in STEM literacy, innovation and employment. The strategy is rooted in three goals: build strong foundations for STEM literacy; increase diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM; and prepare the STEM workforce for the future.

To achieve these goals, the strategy is broken into four pathways that respectively focus on:

  • Building and strengthening relationships between education institutions, employers and their communities;
  • Making STEM learning more meaningful for students by engaging students in transdisciplinary activities and real-world problems;
  • Advancing computational literacy as a critical skill; and
  • Committing to evidence-based practices and decision-making in STEM programs.

The pathways described in the strategy share common items with STEM4: The Power of Collaboration for Change, a resource by Advance CTE, the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics, the Council of State Science Supervisors, and the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association that outlines principles and corresponding recommendations to drive and implement outstanding STEM education research and practices.

Notably, both resources recognize the importance of increasing access to and equity in STEM preparedness and the importance of real-world scenarios to preparing learners for lifelong career success. Career Technical Education (CTE) can play a pivotal role in promoting strong STEM education programs and workforce by exposing learners of all ages to real-world experiences through work-based and experiential learning and by fostering a STEM talent pipeline. High-quality CTE programs of study are informed by labor market data and developed with industry input to ensure that learners are developing the skills, such as computational literacy, to meet employer needs.

As the United States continues to fall short in preparing learners for education and careers in STEM, state leaders should consider how CTE can serve as mechanism to meet the goals outlined in the Trump administration’s five-year strategy.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate