Utah Valley University Charges Forward as a Dual-Role Community College and University

February 13th, 2018

Numerous states have begun to allow community colleges to grant four-year degrees. These changes have led to concerns over “credential creep,” where institution leaders push for the increased perception of prestige that advanced postsecondary degree offerings provide them, and neglect their CTE programs. This article from Inside Higher Ed highlights the work being done at Utah Valley University to maintain focus on providing high-quality degree programs, whether they be two- or four-year degrees.

The institution implemented a “structured enrollment” approach to preserve its open-door admissions policy. This approach enrolls underprepared students in one-year certificate programs that include numerous student support services. From there, students can enroll in a two-year degree program and eventually a four-year program, all within the same institution. “The certificates and degrees stack on top of each other, thus all credits move up with the student. For example, all of the certificate classes are required in the associate’s degree, and all of the associate classes are required in the bachelor’s degree,” a university spokesman said via email. “If the student doesn’t do well in the certificate track, university counselors will circle back to try to find a better fit.”

Report Offers Recommendations for Using Data and Evidence to Improve Student Outcomes

Colleges have long been working to use data more effectively to analyze and improve student outcomes. However, these efforts have often been the responsibility of individual institutions or systems, and are dependent on the resources available for data analysis and new technologies. A new report from Results for America offers recommendations for state governments to become more involved in these initiatives. Their recommendations fall into three categories:

  1. Improve measures of student success
    • Improve the accuracy of graduation rates
    • Publish employment outcomes by major
    • Develop measures of learning and civic outcomes
  2. Help colleges act on and analyze data
    • Invest in the data capacities of colleges
    • Generate evidence of what works
    • Kickstart evidence-based improvements
  3. Align resources behind student success
    • Make payoffs clear and certain
    • Prioritize equity
    • Consider post-graduation goals
    • Consider additional strategies to help low-performing colleges

White Paper Examines Overlap between Afterschool Programs and Workforce Development

The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) recently published a new white paper highlighting the shared goals and opportunities for collaboration between afterschool programs and workforce development initiatives. While both youth and workforce development initiatives implement programs and activities to help youth develop skills and competencies for the world of work, they often operate in separate and disconnected silos.

For example, afterschool programs have long focused on building the social and emotional skills of students, skills which also contribute to employability readiness. “Participation in high-quality afterschool programs has a positive impact on problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-control, leadership, and responsible decision-making, all of which are included within the employability and [social emotional learning] frameworks.” If efforts are better aligned and resources more coordinated, more of this training can be implemented.

The white paper examines case studies in Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois and from those extrapolates recommendations for further collaboration between the two types of initiatives.

Odds and Ends

This report from AEI examines common barriers for providing high-quality CTE at community colleges and suggest five strategies for overcoming those barriers, most of which are structural and policy barriers, but also include the perceived stigma of CTE.

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) recently launched this video highlighting the problem of “The Forgotten 500,000” – the 500,000 students who are in the top half of their high school classes but do not go on to complete a postsecondary certificate or credential. Among other recommendations, CEW believes this problem can be solved by tying education more deliberately to career pathways.

The American Institutes for Research released this infographic highlighting the importance of using CTE as a strategy for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who are CTE concentrators are five percent more likely to graduate high school on time and 20 percent more likely to be employed after graduation.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Congress Raises Budget Caps, Recognizes CTE Month

February 9th, 2018

February 1 officially marked the start of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month and Congress has recognized its importance! Read below to find out more about CTE Month resolutions, hearings in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and a status update on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget and appropriations process.

Congress Supports Resolutions to Recognize CTE Month

On February 7, Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, introduced a resolution to recognize national CTE month. The bipartisan resolution was co-sponsored by 38 additional Representatives.

Senators Kaine (D-VA), Baldwin (D-WI), Portman (R-OH) and Young (R-IN), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, are co-sponsoring a CTE Month resolution. Please encourage your Senator to co-sponsor the CTE Month resolution by visiting the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) CTE Action Center here. The deadline for additional co-sponsors is 5pm Eastern Time on Monday, February 12.

Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) Continue

As we reported, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has held a series of hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). On January 30, the hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Accountability and Risk to Taxpayers” featured testimony from Anthony Carnevale (Research Professor And Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce), Jose Luis Cruz (President, Herbert H. Lehman College City University of New York), Jason D. Delisle (Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute), Ben Miller (Senior Director, Postsecondary Education, Center for American Progress) and Mamie Voight (Vice President Of Policy Research, Institute for Higher Education Policy). The hearing focused on a number of topics including how the law’s accountability, data and public reporting provisions can be updated or reformed.

The latest hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Improving College Affordability” was on February 6, and included a broad discussion of federal student aid that touched on expenses associated with postsecondary education, college completion and more.

House Committee Hearing Focuses on Use of Education Data

On January 30, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Policy: Evidence-Based Policymaking and the Future of Education.” The hearing included a discussion of the federal laws that govern the use of student data and data privacy practices. Witnesses also testified about how education data and research can be used to inform policy, drive decisions and evaluate programs.

Congress Raises Budget Caps, Funds Government Through March 23

The last short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution, that Congress passed to keep the government funded at its current levels expired on February 8 at midnight. Early on February 9, Congress passed a measure that will fund the government through March 23 and also raise the current budget caps in place for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 by $296 billion. President Trump signed the measure on February 9. With the new caps in place, Congressional appropriators will likely turn their attention to finalizing an omnibus appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2018 before March 23.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

This Week in CTE: Happy CTE Month!

February 9th, 2018

TWEET OF THE WEEK

RESOURCES OF THE WEEK

Join the CTE: Learning that works for America campaign to get the word out about CTE in your community! Joining the brand gives you access to the national and state logos, in addition to a variety of new tools and resources. Check out our guide for putting the campaign into action, and check out our tips on how to celebrate CTE Month.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Not only is it CTE Month, it’s also School Counselors Week! To better understand the connection between CTE and school counseling, we conducted research and released a report with the American School Counseling Association. The report finds that, across the board, states are not overly confident in the effectiveness of their career advising and development systems. Fifty-eight percent believe they are only somewhat effectively serving K-12 students, and 55 percent believe they are either only somewhat effective or not effective at serving postsecondary CTE students. And while school counselors who connect students with CTE coursework and career pathways find it an effective career advising and development strategy, relatively few are able to make these connections.

How are you celebrating CTE Month? Let us know by sending an email to Katie at kfitzgerald@careertech.org 

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Manager

U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Recognizes Outstanding CTE Students

February 8th, 2018


Every year, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes the top high school seniors across the country through the
U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. This 60-year-old program was expanded in 2015 to include students who excel in Career Technical Education (CTE).

This year, there are 227 candidates for U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE, up from 209 last year. The 2018 candidates hail from 47 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Americans Abroad (U.S. citizens living abroad).

The application and approval process is rigorous, to say the least. A U.S. Presidential Scholar in CTE must be nominated by their Chief State School Officer (CSSO), who can nominate only five students. All candidates then complete an application that includes transcripts, a secondary school report, essays and self-assessments. Candidates are then evaluated for academic achievement, character and leadership by a review committee of secondary and postsecondary education leaders. The review committee selects the semifinalists from this group, and the Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of independent individuals appointed by the President from across the country and spanning a range of professional backgrounds, asses the remaining pool to choose the finalists. The Commission selects only 60 CTE semifinalists and up to 20 CTE finalists.

From the current pool of candidates, the review committee will announce semifinalists in April and the Commission will select finalists in May. The final U.S. Presidential Scholars will be invited to Washington, DC to be honored at the National Recognition Program. During their visit, they will spend one week with scholar alumni while they tour the city, hear from elected officials and view performances. Wondering who from your state is a potential Presidential Scholar? Find out here.

Words Matter: A Response to President Trump’s Recent Remarks on CTE

February 7th, 2018

Twice last week, President Trump praised Career Technical Education (CTE) and called for its expansion – at the State of the Union and during a meeting of Republican leaders in West Virginia.

Unfortunately, his support was muted by the way he described CTE, which was both off-base and off-message. Our friends at ACTE responded from a substantive stand point, laying out the many ways CTE has evolved into high-quality pathways that ALL learners can and should benefit from. We obviously agree – as we articulate in Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education – and remain committed to making this vision a reality through advocacy and policy support for our members and the field.

Given the extensive work we’ve done over the last year to identify the best way to talk about CTE, we wanted to take this opportunity to focus on why it’s so important that we use the right words and messages with respect to CTE.

Last year, we conducted focus groups and a national survey of current and prospective CTE parents and students, and found that, across the board, high school CTE programs are most valued for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system. Prospective parents and students are hungry for these types of opportunities, including gaining real-world skills, engaging employers through internships or networking and earning college credit while in high school.

At the same time, the vast majority of parents and students (85 percent) continue to value college as the post-high school aspiration.

Bringing us to my point: any message about CTE must emphasize that CTE is a pathway to careers AND college.

When parents and students hear descriptions that focus on CTE being for those who aren’t the “greatest” students or not “college material,” it’s immediately positioned as a lesser track rather than a pathway to success (as the data very much supports) – and is in direct conflict with parents’ and students’ aspirations.

Similarly, when CTE is pigeon-holed into a few blue collar fields, it deemphasizes the vast opportunities available in a variety of industries and sectors – from culinology to architecture – and can turn off students who want to explore their options.

Again, we appreciate the President’s interest and excitement over CTE and look forward to more opportunities to work with the Administration and Congress to put in place the right policies that will support our vision for high-quality CTE for all learners across high schools, area technical centers and community colleges. But, if we don’t talk about the policies and pathways in the right way, too many parents and students continue to see it as a great option – for someone else.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

 

Report Describes What Else States Should Do To Support Career Advising and Development

February 6th, 2018

Today, Advance CTE and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) released a report exploring the strategies currently in place across the country to support career advising and development efforts. Too often, career advising and development only occurs at the high school level, even though learners should have access to career awareness, exploration and planning activities from elementary school all the way through postsecondary education. Anecdotally, many state and local leaders assume that this is not happening to the extent that it should be, but there has not yet been an in-depth examination of the data.

This topic has been a key focus of the New Skills for Youth (NSFY) initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. NSFY has provided funding to 10 states to transform their career readiness systems, and all 10 participating states have strategies in place to improve their career advising and development activities.

Advance CTE, as part of NSFY, partnered with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to conduct research with three questionnaires. Advance CTE surveyed State CTE Directors, and ASCA sent separate surveys to a selection of school counselors and to State School Counseling Directors, in states where that role has been specifically identified. Some of the key findings include:

  • Across the board, states are not overly confident in the effectiveness of their career advising and development systems. Fifty-eight percent believe they are only somewhat effectively serving K-12 students, and 55 percent believe they are either only somewhat effective or not effective at serving postsecondary CTE students.
  • States, on average, are supporting a multitude of strategies at the K-12 level for career advising and development (an average of 5.7 strategies), yet they report mixed levels of effectiveness for both the individual strategies and collectively.
  • Similarly, school counselors also employ many strategies (an average of 5.8) in their career advising and development work and generally feel more optimistic about the effectiveness of their strategies than states do about state-level strategies.
  • School counselors who connect students with CTE coursework and career pathways find it an effective career advising and development strategy, but relatively few school counselors are able to make these connections:
    • Only 27 percent of middle school counselors report that they connect students with CTE coursework or career pathways, even though this strategy is rated one of the more effective among those who use it, with 87 percent of the school counselors who use it in middle school labeling it as effective or extremely effective; and
    • Sixty percent of high school counselors use connecting students with CTE coursework and career pathways as a career advising and development strategy, and 91 percent of those find it effective or extremely effective, with a full 50 percent labeling it extremely effective.
  • School counselors struggle with balancing their heavy workloads and other counseling responsibilities, and they want more professional development and community conversations around career readiness to support their students more effectively.

The report examined numerous strategies currently in place to support career advising and development efforts. Wisconsin’s Academic and Career Plan, for example, is an ongoing process for middle and high school students that involves coordinated conversations around career interests and options, and that helps students make informed choices about career pathways. Texas has spent the last few years developing extensive virtual supports for school counselors, available through TXCTE.org and Texas OnCourse. These resources provide school counselors with messaging materials, lesson plans and other information on CTE and career advising. Maryland has leveraged state and organizational partnerships to develop several career advising strategies at the elementary and middle school levels, which incorporate career awareness and exposure with civic engagement and financial literacy.

To hear more about this report, join our webinar on February 20, which will feature presentations from ASCA and Advance CTE, as well as a local CTE practitioner.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Highlights from Advance CTE’s 2017 Annual Report

January 30th, 2018

2017 was an incredible year for Advance CTE! We engaged more members than ever before, launched multiple initiatives and released over resources covering many of the most critical challenges the field is facing.

This year’s annual report is organized around our five strategic priorities: advancing federal and state policy, promoting high-quality CTE, providing professional learning opportunities, leveraging partners and developing healthy organizational processes. We hope you enjoy reading about our accomplishments, which could not have been possible without all of you and your support!

A few key highlights:

  • Advance CTE’s membership grew by nearly 100 new members, largely as a result of expanding our state membership opportunities;
  • We worked directly with leaders from 42 states on Advance CTE projects and initiatives;
  • Our staff engaged nearly 70 Congressional offices around our federal priorities and successfully advocated against a 15 percent cut to Perkins funding;
  • We presented at over 60 live and virtual events, across 25 states and Washington DC;
  • We released about 50 resources, including analyses of promising state policies, communications tools and a new policy benchmark tool – all housed in our Learning that Works Resource Center (which enjoyed over 98,000 visitors in 2017!)

Read more here!

Posted by Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Perkins Briefing, Senate Committee Continues HEA Hearings

January 29th, 2018

Last week Congress passed a short-term funding measure, the Senate held a hearing on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the U.S. Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a briefing. Read below to learn more about these events and upcoming congressional hearings this week.

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund Government Through February 8 

As we reported, Congress needed to come to a spending agreement by January 19 in order to avoid a government shutdown. After a three-day shutdown, Congress passed a continuing resolution on January 22 to keep the government funded until February 8. Due to the budget caps for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), Congress applied a 0.68 percent across-the-board cut. This cut impacts education programs that are advance funded, including the the Perkins Basic State Grant. However, Congress has the opportunity to nullify these cuts when they come to a final agreement for the FY18 spending bills and Advance CTE will advocate for such action as Congress works to finalize these bills.

Congressional Staff and Partners Fill the Room for Perkins Briefing

On January 23, the Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing, Perkins CTE and How Reauthorization Can Improve Programs. During the briefing, Kimberly Green, Advance CTE’s Executive Director and Alisha Hyslop, the Director of Public Policy at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), presented on the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) to over 70 attendees. They provided an overview of the law and shared how the federal investment in Perkins supports CTE systems across the country. In addition, both panelists highlighted state and local examples of implementation and how reauthorization could improve programs.

Senate Continues Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA)

On January 18, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency“, the second in a series of hearings on reauthorizing HEA (the first was held in late November and focused on simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)). Witnesses highlighted how the current federal financial aid system could be streamlined. On January 25, the Senate HELP Committee conducted a hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Access and Innovation,” which focused on innovations in postsecondary education and included discussions of competency-based education, distance education, online learning, accreditation and more. The next Senate HELP Committee hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Accountability and Risk to Taxpayers” is scheduled for January 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time and you can watch it live online here.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Holds Hearing on January 30

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will be holding a hearing, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Policy: Evidence-Based Policymaking and the Future of Education,” on Tuesday, January 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Watch the hearing live online here.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

States Passed 241 Policies to Support CTE in 2017

January 25th, 2018

2017 was a banner year for Career Technical Education (CTE). Overall, 49 states and the District of Columbia passed a total of 241 policies related to CTE and career readiness, a marked increase from 2016. But while it is encouraging to see a groundswell of enthusiasm for CTE at the local, state and national levels, how will states leverage CTE’s momentum and ensure that state action translates to better outcomes for students?

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the fifth edition of the annual State Policies Impacting CTE report, examining activity from 2017. To develop the report, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state actions and coded activity based on the policy area of focus. For 2017, the top five policy areas of focus include:

  • Funding.
  • Data, Reporting and/or Accountability.
  • Industry-recognized Credentials.
  • Dual/Concurrent Enrollment and Articulation/ Early College.
  • Industry Partnerships/ Work-based Learning.

Funding was at the top of the list for the fifth year in a row. Policies in this category include a $16 million one-time appropriation for CTE equipment grants in Tennessee, the development of a productivity-based funding index for Arkansas institutions of higher education and a workforce development scholarship authorized through Maryland’s More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017. With few exceptions, state legislatures renewed or increased appropriations for CTE programs and related activities. 

There was also a lot of activity related to data, reporting and accountability, largely due to state work around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In 2017, 35 states identified measures of career readiness in their federal accountability systems, and many of these measures included industry-recognized credential attainment, dual-credit completion and work-based learning participation.

While 2017 set a new high-water mark for state activity, a look across the past five years of this report illustrates that states are doubling down on a few policy priorities.

With the exception of 2015—when fewer states passed policies related to Industry-recognized Credentials or Data, Reporting and Accountability—these five policy areas have been the top priorities for states every year that this report has been published. This is no surprise, given that much of the conversation in the CTE field over the past five years has centered around accountability, credentials of value, dual enrollment and work-based learning. Even compared to recent years, states were more active in 2017, and there was a spike in the number of states adopting new legislation or rules in these policy areas.

So what lessons can be drawn from this year’s state policy review? For one, the enthusiasm for CTE is real. State legislatures, governors and boards of education are coming to recognize what the CTE community has known for years: that high-quality career preparation helps learners develop academic, technical and professional skills and results in positive rates of graduation, postsecondary enrollment and completion, and ultimately career success. 

But it is also important to make a distinction between the quantity of policies passed and the quality of their implementation. 2017 was a record year for state CTE policy, but now comes the true test. State leaders should follow through on the policy commitments made in 2017 by sustaining funding for critical programs, identifying and adopting policies to ensure CTE quality, and taking time to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of existing policies.

A copy of the report, State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review, is accessible in the Learning that Works Resource Center. Advance CTE and ACTE are also hosting a webinar on January 31, to unpack findings from this year’s review (registration for the webinar is at capacity, but a recording will be available following the webinar at https://careertech.org/webinars).

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Two Webinars Digging into Federal and State Policy: Register Today!

January 18th, 2018

CTE & Federal Policy: Recapping the Highlights of 2017
Date: January 25, 2018
Time: 1 – 2 p.m. ET 

Last year marked a big year for Career Technical Education (CTE) in the federal policy arena. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career Technical Education Act of 2006, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act, an update to the Higher Education Act, and states submitted their plans for implementing The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Amidst all this activity, an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017 passed Congress and a sweeping tax reform bill was signed into law.

Join us on for a webinar to recap the federal policy highlights of 2017 and their impact on CTE. Participants will hear from Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE, Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy at Advance CTE, and Debbie Mills, Director of the National Career Pathways Network.

Register for the webinar here.

State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review
Date: January 31, 2018
Time: 2 – 3 p.m. ET

The national profile of CTE continued to grow in 2017, with nearly every state adopting new policies related to CTE and career readiness. From redesigning accountability systems to expanding apprenticeship opportunities, state leaders are working to connect learners at all levels with seamless pathways to meaningful careers.

This webinar from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education will unpack findings from the State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review report. The webinar will explore recent trends in state CTE policy and examine how the CTE policy landscape has changed over the past few years. Participants will also hear from state leaders and explore policy developments in their states.

Register for the webinar here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

 

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