Last week, we held the 2016 Advance CTE Spring Meeting which brought over 150 participants from across the country together to dive into all things CTE. From unveiling our new vision to diving into the federal policy landscape, staff takes a look back at what they found most valuable at this year’s meeting in the second part of this two-part series.
Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager: As a new employee at Advance CTE, it was especially relevant that the first day of my first spring meeting was all about the new Shared Vision for CTE. This document describes the five recommendations for effective CTE policies and practices that will drive our work and the work of our members in the coming years. After unveiling the Vision in the morning and hearing from two informative and thought-provoking panels, participants spent the afternoon brainstorming and discussing strategies for succeeding with the five recommendations. State leaders in secondary and postsecondary first discussed what is currently happening in the recommendation areas, and then expanded their conversations to what can and should be done to drive progress. They also discussed the roles to be played by state, local and national leaders, as well as other key partners. It was inspiring to see our members openly share promising practices and lessons learned with each other, and begin new innovations. After the breakouts, it was clear that these were only the start of many conversations to come on how to act on these recommendations, conversations which we are excited to lead and participate in.
Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development: One of the greatest benefits of attending an Advance CTE meeting is the incredible networking opportunity. It was wonderful to watch longtime members catching up with one another, and to see new and prospective members making connections that will likely last long after they’ve been promoted and moved on to new opportunities.
Several first-time attendees told me that though this was their first Advance CTE meeting, it won’t be their last. Discounted rates to these meetings are just one of the many benefits of being an Advance CTE member. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, now is the perfect time to join this community!
Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate: We all know that CTE has a major perception issue and we heard loud and clear from our education reform panel during the meetings first day that the stigma remains around CTE, and that it’s up to our community to tell our story in order to breakdown myths and stereotypes. This call to action came at a perfect time since this year’s keynote, Roxana Moussavian, focused on how we as state and national leaders can shape the perception of CTE by telling the story of the work we do, and the impact it has every single day.
We kicked off the keynote by getting into pairs to share our own CTE stories, which we then discussed as a larger group. Roxana noted how important these stories are in encouraging and shaping policy making at the state and national level, which she experienced firsthand while working at the White House. From there, Roxana debuted her soon-to-be-launched documentary and website where everyone: students, parents, educators, policymakers and employers, can share their CTE story and learn from others from across the nation.
We all know how great CTE is and the impact it has in the lives of millions of students in the US. However, it’s up to us to tell our communities, states and national leaders our CTE story, and Roxana did a great job of demonstrating a few ways in which we can do exactly that.
Austin Estes, Policy Associate: This being my first Spring Meeting (I joined the Advance CTE team in April), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I ultimately decided the best strategy to make the most of the conference would be to keep an open mind, meet as many people as possible, and take detailed notes. While the conference started off with a discussion of Advance CTE’s new vision, the breakout sessions on Tuesday brought these principles home for me with specific examples of effective CTE programs and policies from around the states.
These breakout sessions covered state examples in four relevant topic areas: CTE teacher certification, career counseling, career readiness and accountability, and access to community college. I was lucky enough to attend the last breakout session, which explored Community College Promise programs in both Tennessee and Oregon. The Tennessee program, which supplies last-dollar scholarships and individual mentors to support student access and persistence through college, saw a promising 16,000 participants in its first year. Meanwhile, Oregon has already recruited 7,000 students for its pilot cohort this fall. Each has different requirements for recruiting students, awarding scholarships, and collecting data — though there seems to be a lot of promise for Community College Promise in both states! Overall, the breakout sessions provided helpful examples to anchor the principles outlined in the vision and I’m already looking forward to our next convening this fall!
Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate