Opportunity America Report and Panels: Industry-Driven Apprenticeship

February 26th, 2019

Over the past five years, renewed  attention has been placed on apprenticeships. This began with investment from the Obama administration, and has continued to be a priority for the current administration. A series of panels last week, hosted by Opportunity America, discussed what to consider when developing and expanding registered and unregistered high-quality apprenticeships, and what the future holds for such programs.

The first panel featured: Tamar Jacoby, Opportunity America; Robert Lerman, Urban Institute; and Brent Parton, New America, with Eric Seleznow as the moderator. Panelists discussed the importance of ensuring that apprenticeship programs address equity and access issues to meet the needs of all learners, as well as represent the communities that they are serving. The panel also discussed the role of states in industry recognized apprenticeships. Tamar suggested that it may be the state’s responsibility to determine what high-quality means, assess what programs are high-quality and create incentives for other businesses to follow that mode. Parton also noted that states play a large role in coordinating systems alignment.

The second panel featured: Laura Beeth, Fairview Health Services; Michael Coley, Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation; and Robbie Heinrich, Dana Holding Corporation with Tamar Jacoby as the moderator. This discussion featured the employer perspective. All panelists reiterated the importance of including employers when creating apprenticeship policies. Employers cannot be used just in implementation of policy (as an apprenticeship supplier) but must also be involved in creating the foundation of that policy.  

This event also introduced Opportunity America’s report, Industry-Driven Apprenticeship: What Works, What’s Needed by Jacoby and Lerman. This report explores the results of the U.S. Department of Education’s 2016 Adult Training and Education Survey, as well as reviews four case studies of high-quality unregistered apprenticeships in construction, advanced manufacturing, health care and automotive maintenance and repair. The authors also organized a half-day meeting of about 20 employers and employer association executives to learn about program standards from their perspective.

This report offers five policy principal recommendations:

  1. Create a respected and brand-recognized apprenticeship that is an alternative to traditional academic education;
  2. Develop some form of standardized occupational frameworks;
  3. Utilize public funds currently directed to less impactful types of workforce education and training to finance the off-job part of registered and unregistered apprenticeships;
  4. Provide financial incentives for organizations and industry groups to act as the intermediary; and  
  5. Develop outcome metrics to assess quality.

A recording of the full panels, as well as an introduction of the new report, can be viewed here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

CTE Month: Uplifting the Learner Experience and Voice

February 22nd, 2019

We are already at the end of week three for Career Technical Education (CTE) Month®! This week we are highlighting the learner voice. Did you know last year CTE programs served nearly 8.2 million secondary students and 3.8 million postsecondary and adult students?

Sharing success stories is a great way to promote high-quality programs of study. In these stories, you will see what happens when learners are empowered to choose a meaningful education and career.

Coming Soon: It’s important that learners have access to the resources they need for success. So, the Career Technical Education community is embarking on a campaign to double the federal investment in #CTE. We are asking employers to sign on to support the campaign and hope to get 10,000 signatures by April! Check back next week for details.

Listen to current West Virginia Nicholas County Career Technical Centers (NCCTC) learners who participated in the Exploratory Program last year. Learners discuss how the Exploratory program informed them of the opportunities available in CTE and helped them decide where to focus their future career goals.

Katie Lowe is the only girl in her engineering class at Heritage High School in Maryville, Tenn. In this video, Katie talks about her initial fears in joining the program and how, with the help of instructor Sam Warwick and her classmates, she learned she can do “anything that I want to.”

Hear how participating in a dual enrollment course is helping Abigail Christensen, Century High School student get a leg up on her future as a design drafter. She talks about the importance of having supportive instructors and upon graduation she will have a certificate in mechanical drafting.

Now working at Oracle as a technology account manager and the founder of a non-profit organization helping entrepreneurs. Terrell reflects on his high school experience and lessons learned that he has carried into his career.

Inspired by her own personal experience with a caring doctor, Kayla decided she wanted to help others too. In order to become a doctor who truly cares about patients and makes a difference in their lives. She’s making real progress towards that goal right now through her Internship at Poudre Valley Hospital.

Casey Kraft has been planting seeds for his future for as long as he can remember. All along the way, his teachers have nurtured his passion for farming and helped him take what he learns in the classroom to the fields of his family farm. He participates in FFA and works on the farm before he starts his school day.

Read these student blogs and media stories to learn more about learner experiences:


Hear from Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump as he talks about stats on CTE, youth employment, and encouraging states to be Bold in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans.

Watch the video here.

Check back next week for more highlights! 

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

Explore How AP Seminar Can be Embedded into CTE Programs of Study

February 22nd, 2019

High-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) blends academic and technical skills to provide learners with the real-world skills necessary to succeed in today’s workforce. The integration of Advanced Placement (AP) courses into CTE programs of study promotes career-readiness by encouraging the development of these critical academic and technical skills. Advance CTE has previously partnered with the College Board to explore embedding AP courses into CTE programs of study.

AP Seminar course is a foundational, project-based learning course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics. The AP Seminar course is able to fit within multiple CTE programs of study given the focus on critical thinking, collaboration and presentation skills within a projected-based learning experience.

To help state leaders integrate AP Seminar into CTE programs of study, the College Board recently released a guide, Connecting AP Seminar and CTE Programs of Study, that describes AP Seminar’s course contents and provides state, district and student examples of how AP Seminar could be potentially embedded into a CTE program of study. For example, Indiana’s new graduation pathway options include project-based and work-based learning options, such as completing an AP Capstone course or exam (including AP Seminar).

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

CTE Month: Advocating for CTE to policymakers

February 15th, 2019

Learners across the country are advocating for Career Technical Education (CTE). The SkillsUSA national officers came to Washington, D.C. and met with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE). Learners are also attending CTE Month proclamation signing events.

National Skills USA Officers in Washington, D.C.

IOWA: Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation for CTE month

UTAH: State officers of the seven Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) in the state of Utah were at the Utah State Capitol advocating for CTE.

WYOMING: Gov. Mark Gordon held a proclamation ceremony to declare February as CTE Month in Wyoming. He was joined by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and CTE learners.

Perkins V: How can states plan for genuine stakeholder engagement?

February 14th, 2019

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) provides a powerful opportunity to consult and coordinate with stakeholders throughout the state plan and local application development process and beyond. Importantly, meaningful engagement will not only make these plans better, but also foster partnerships and relationships that, if sustained through implementation, can make a big difference in advancing your state’s vision for CTE. As states look at stakeholder engagement for Perkins V, how can they design stakeholder engagement efforts that are genuine? Check out the resources below to learn more.

TOOL: Planning for Engagement: Identifying Key Stakeholders for Perkins V: This tool outlines the types of engagement required in Perkins V and was designed to help states begin the brainstorming process for their engagement efforts related to Perkins V.

REPORT: The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE: This report from Advance CTE examines the employer engagement landscape with a particular focus on the ways in which states can foster and sustain meaningful employer engagement to strengthen their CTE system for all students through policy and practice.

TOOL: Parent Engagement Tool: This tool is designed to help state and local leaders develop an effective strategy to engage parents and guardians.

More Resources

The next issue of this series will include communications resources and in the meantime, please be sure to check out the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy & Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

The Outlook For Higher Education Reform in the 116th Congress

February 12th, 2019

Last week, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) shared their agendas for higher education reform, providing insight into what may be in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

On Monday, February 4, Senator Alexander spoke about HEA reauthorization at the American Enterprise Institute. He announced three proposals for updating HEA:

1) Simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • The senator offered two ways to do this. First, decreasing the number of questions from 108 to a maximum of two dozen. Second, enabling multiple questions to be answered through information that the IRS already has accessible.

2) Streamline the options to repay student loans

  • The senator proposed cutting the number of options to repay loans from nine to two. One option includes deducting 10 percent of a person’s income not needed for necessities directly out of their  paycheck. If the borrower is unemployed no money would be required to be repaid, and this would not affect their credit score. The other option would be a 10-year monthly payment plan. Senator Alexander voiced support for loan forgiveness after 20 years.

3) Create a new accountability system for colleges to report whether borrowers are able to repay loans

  • Every program at every college would be required to report on whether borrowers are able to pay off their loans. This was described as an expansion and simplification of gainful employment.

Senator Alexander also discussed his support for competency-based education and expanding Pell Grant eligibility to include summer programs, as well as giving currently and previously incarcerated individuals access to Pell.

There have been multiple proposals in the Senate that touch upon these three ideas and Senator Alexander plans to work with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, and the rest of the committee to introduce one inclusive piece of legislation this spring so that the full Senate and House of Representatives are able to pass reauthorization by the new year. You can find the video, transcript and summary of Senator Alexander’s remarks here.

Later in the week, at Inside Higher Ed’s event on Higher Ed in the New Congress on Thursday, February 7, Senator Alexander underscored his three proposals. Representative Scott spoke as well, ensuring that HEA reauthorization will be an opportunity for comprehensive higher education reform. Some of the priorities for Representative Scott include:

  • Simplifying FAFSA;
  • Strengthening the federal oversight;
  • Incentivizing states to invest in public higher education;
  • Developing opportunities for tuition-free community college; and
  • Improving campus safety.

Representative Scott reminded the audience that although increased college enrollment is important, increased completion rates are what demonstrate success. He also discussed how HEA must address the rising cost of college in its measures to make college more affordable.  

Both expressed commitment to reauthorizing HEA in a bipartisan manner.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine Releases Report Focused on Strengthening the STEM Talent Pipeline at MSIs

February 11th, 2019

There are roughly 700 Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) that produce one fifth of the nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bachelor’s degrees. To discuss the importance of these institutions to the nation’s future, on February 6, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine hosted a national convocation. The convocation focused on how to leverage MSIs to strengthen the STEM talent pipeline for nontraditional students and students of color.

The convocation was rooted in the National Academies’ report, Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce, which identifies promising programs and strategies to increase the quantity and quality of MSI STEM graduates and conveys the importance of MSIs to stakeholders. The report was developed with input from a committee with representation from industry, education and workforce institutions and identified seven promising practices to strengthen the quality of STEM education, research and workforce preparation for MSIs learners:

  • Dynamic, multilevel, mission-driven leadership;
  • Institutional responsiveness to meet students where they are;
  • Supportive campus environments;
  • Tailored academic and social supports;
  • Mentorship and sponsorships;
  • Availability of undergraduate research experiences; and
  • Mutually beneficial public-and private-sector partnerships.

Key to the report is the emphasis it places on intentionality. To help illustrate what it would mean to be intentional about strengthening and supporting MSIs, the National Academies hosted panels and facilitated breakout groups at the convocation.The panels featured higher education, civil rights, industry and workforce experts with experience working with or advocating on behalf of learners at MSIs. Panelists discussed the importance of being intentional about establishing partnerships that outlast leadership and fostering an inclusive campus culture, among other topics.

Audience members then participated in solution-oriented breakout groups that focused on reimagining MSI partnerships, building financial capacity for MSIs, and being cognizant of culture and intentionality at MSIs. Participants in these breakout groups suggested establishing partnerships that would prepare MSI learners for the future of work, establishing a coalition of business partners to fund MSIs, and engaging non-minority faculty to mentor MSI students, among other solutions.

As state leaders work on promoting equity in Career Technical Education (CTE), they should consider how they can leverage the seven promising practices identified in the National Academies’ report to intentionally strengthen the STEM and other workforce talent pipelines for students of color. To learn more about how to advance equity in CTE, see Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise Series, which provides promising solutions to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

CTE Month

February 8th, 2019

Happy Career Technical Education Month® ! This month we are celebrating the best of Career Technical Education (CTE). We’ll be taking part in Twitter chats, advocating for CTE on Capitol Hill, exploring model programs, and lifting up fantastic work happening at the national, state and local level throughout the month. If you haven’t already, email Nicole at nhoward@careertech.org to let us know how your community is celebrating CTE in February.

The following are some ideas to consider when planning the month’s activities:

Use the Right Messages

Despite our best efforts, we don’t always speak about CTE in the way that most resonates with students and parents. Be sure that you’re communicating with these two important audiences by checking out our research on the messages that learners and parents want to hear, Dos and Dont’s for using the messages, and a guide on how you can put this research into action. Use graphics in your social media with compelling research data. Use this social media guide to help you.

Recognize CTE at the State Level

Engage policymakers in the conversation by encouraging them to designate February as CTE month. Use a sample proclamation created by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).


Recognize those in your community, whether it’s high-achieving CTE students, exemplary educators, or impactful partners that have a positive influence in CTE by celebrating their accomplishments through awards programs.

Involve Your Partners

The CTE community encompasses all the people that work to make your CTE program great, including education, community, and business partners. Encourage them to advocate for CTE to their own networks, and invite partners to participate in celebratory events or site visits.

Engage Employers

Contact local employers and businesses that aren’t yet familiar with your CTE program and invite them to school visits to showcase high-quality CTE in action or career fairs with already engaged employers. Use Advance CTE fact sheets and talking points designed specifically to address this audience.

Join the Conversation

CTE Month is celebrated nationwide, including on social media. Join in on Twitter chats, upload photos of your events, feature student work, and engage in discussion with CTE advocates from across the country using the #CTEMonth hashtag. Be sure to tag us too, @CTEWorks.  

Get the word out!

Let the local media know what’s happening and invite them to your planned awards ceremonies, career fairs or school visits highlighting innovative CTE. Get some tips on how to engage key audiences here.

Here’s an example: https://educateiowa.gov/article/2019/02/07/celebrating-career-and-technical-education

Our weekly CTE Month blog series will highlight CTE activities happening throughout the country.

Institute for Educational Leadership Plans to Rise Up for Equity

February 7th, 2019

On January 25, 2019 the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) unveiled its 2018-2023 strategic plan, titled Rise Up for Equity. The plan aims to prepare leaders to eliminate systemic barriers in education and workforce development. To illustrate what “rise up for equity” means, IEL featured speakers and hosted two panels focused on preparing and mobilizing leaders and innovation, respectively. The panels featured representation from civil rights, educational and public policy organizations and challenged the audience to think critically about how to create conditions, capacities, cultures and policies that would allow each learner to succeed.

One of the speakers at the event, Dr. Talisa Dixon, Superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, discussed why and how she made equity a priority in her district. When she started her role as a superintendent, she noticed that very few African American students were participating in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, despite making up roughly 80 percent of the district’s student population. When Dr. Dixon reached out to students to learn why they were not taking AP courses, she learned that many African American students did not know that they could take AP courses. After this experience, Dr. Dixon immediately told the district board that equity had to be a priority and that policy reform would be part of the district’s solution.

Dr. Dixon’s experience reveals the urgent need to address equity gaps in the education and workforce system and highlights that equity gaps don’t only exist in the form of outcomes but also in the form of access to information and opportunities. Additionally, representatives from IEL discussed how the root causes of inequities occur on the institutional, system and structural levels and are based in racism, classism, sexism and ableism.

As State CTE Directors leverage their positions to influence the Career Technical Education (CTE) system to promote equity, they must consider the root causes of inequities and commit to only advancing high-quality policies and programs that benefit each learner. To learn more about how to promote equity in CTE, view Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise Series.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Ask Your Representative to Co-Sponsor CTE Month Resolution by 2/8

February 4th, 2019

Career Technical Education (CTE) Month is now underway and there’s lots of attention on CTE in Washington, DC. Read below to learn more about how to contact your Representative to support the resolution recognizing CTE Month, an update on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, how to promote equity in college in high school programs and the Administration’s recent mention of CTE.

Contact your Representative to Co-Sponsor the CTE Month Resolution by 2/8

Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, recently introduced a resolution to recognize CTE month (last year’s resolution had 47 co-sponsors)! Please contact your Representative to encourage them to co-sponsor the CTE Month resolution by visiting the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) CTE Action Center here. You can also find your representative, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to their office and then ask about the Representative’s interest in co-sponsoring the Resolution. Interested Representatives can contact the offices of Representatives Langevin (D-RI) or Thompson (R-PA) to co-sponsor the resolution. The deadline for additional co-sponsors is 5pm Eastern Time on Friday, February 8.

Senator Alexander’s Vision for Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

On Monday, February 4, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), spoke about reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) at the American Enterprise Institute. He announced three key concepts for updating HEA in a way that responds to some of the pressing challenges facing prospective, current and former college students: 1) Simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), 2) Streamline the options to repay student loans and 3) Create a new accountability system for colleges to report whether borrowers are able to repay loans. There have been multiple proposals in the Senate that touch upon these three ideas and Senator Alexander plans to work with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, to introduce one piece of legislation this spring that encompasses each.You can find Senator Alexander’s remarks here and be sure to keep an eye on Advance CTE’s blog for additional updates on HEA reauthorization.

How Can ESSA be Used to Advance Equity in College in High School Programs?

The Education Trust and the College in High School Alliance recently released a fact sheet, Advancing Equity in College in High School Programs: Opportunities Under ESSA, that includes key questions and considerations for those thinking about how to advance equity in college in high school access and success, and how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) can be leveraged to accomplish it. Related videos on dual-enrollment can be found here.

Administration Releases Fact Sheet on Revitalizing American Manufacturing, Includes Perkins Reauthorization

On January 31, the Administration released a fact sheet, President Donald J. Trump is Following Through on His Promise to Revitalize American Manufacturing, which included the passage of the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) as an example of how President Trump is investing in workforce development. Advance CTE will continue to provide updates on the Administration’s coverage of CTE, including if it is mentioned during the State of the Union address on February 5 at 9:00pm Eastern Time.

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