National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

State Policy Update: Valuing Career Readiness and Strengthening Sector Partnerships

November 10th, 2015

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the National Skills Coalition (NSC), two co-conveners of the Future of CTE Summit, recently released two new reports of interest to the CTE community.

nasbeThe first, “Toward a Better Balance: Bolstering the Second ‘C’ in College and Career Readiness” from NASBE is the result of the organization’s yearlong study group comprised of state education board members. The group examined the policies and programs that prepare students for both college and career. Nebraska State CTE Director Rich Katt and NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green were among the experts who presented to the group.

The study group recognized that career readiness has been largely forgotten within the college and career readiness (CCR) agenda, and called for state boards of education to leverage their unique and important role to reexamine their states’ CCR infrastructure that supports and values college and career readiness equally.

The group’s recommendations include:

  • Building knowledge and understanding of postsecondary, business and workforce initiatives: Understand how your education and workforce systems are governed, funded and operate, and further, how and whether they are connected or operate in silos.
  • Engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to define career readiness: The confusion around what it means to be career ready has muddled the state policies and programs that are intended to advance the full CCR agenda. Defining these terms clearly, and with a broad array of stakeholders, is the first step to ensuring rigor, equity and alignment.
  • Ensure state board policies value career readiness: State boards should reexamine its host of policies and programs that are the “bread and butter” of state boards’ work, and determine whether they truly value career readiness including standards, assessments, accountability, and teacher preparation and professional development.

Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit

NSC has released a toolkit for state policymakers to use when considering how to support local sector partnerships through funding, technical assistance and/or program initiatives. Earlier this year, NSC released a 50-state scan of sector partnership policies and found that 21 states have such policies through at least one of those three key areas. Only 10 states have policies with all three components.

The toolkit is designed to help states establish, strengthen, or scale-up their existing policies. The toolkit includes:

  • Guidance on key elements of a robust state sector partnership policy;
  • Case studies of Massachusetts, Colorado and Maryland with policies and examples of the local partnerships they support; and
  • A legislative template, which can also be used for an executive order.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

New State Policy Resources: Work-based Learning, State Snapshots

October 27th, 2015

Setting a Statewide Vision for Work-based Learning WBLthumbnail

In recent years, work-based learning has been garnering much attention at the national, state and local levels as an effective strategy for connecting students’ classroom learning to their career interests.

In a new series, “Connecting the Classroom to Careers: The State’s Role in Expanding Work-based Learning,” NASDCTEc explores the important role for states in expanding high-quality work-based learning opportunities for all students, with a particular focus on untangling the major barriers at the K-12 level.

Today, we are releasing our first installment in this series, “Setting a Statewide Vision for Work-based Learning,” with key questions and resources for policymakers and a closer look at how one state used a progressive, skills-based vision to overhaul work-based learning.

NASDCTEc State Policy Tools Updated

On, we offer state policy resources that help demonstrate what CTE looks like across the country. We have recently updated some of these resources, including our state-specific snapshots and state web profiles.

State Snapshots
Our newly revamped State Snapshots are great resources to help illustrate what CTE looks like in your state, and are designed to be great printable “leave-behind” documents when making the case for CTE. The snapshots use state and national data to show how CTE works for students, the economy and the nation.

You can find your state’s snapshots here. While you’re there, be sure to check out NASDCTEc’s entire suite of fact sheets and case-making materials designed to help explain CTE’s most important issues including student achievement, programs of study and the skills gap.

State Web Profiles
We have also provided some new updates to the CTE in Your State tool, which provides data and information about CTE in each state. Our newest round of updates includes the most recent secondary and postsecondary enrollment, institutional and performance data from the U.S. Department of Education. We’ve also added a section to explain how CTE is delivered in each state. As a special feature of NASDCTEc members, you can compare multiple states to see trends.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review: Leveraging CTE within Competency-Based Education

August 20th, 2015

CBPA new brief from Achieve and NASDCTEc argues that states can and should leverage CTE when considering how to move K-12 education toward a system marked by mastery, not time. The paper, “Building a Strong Relationship between Competency-Based Pathways and Career Technical Education,” identifies the opportunities for collaboration and strengthened relationships as well the challenges of creating an integrated system.

Competency-based pathways (CBP) have the potential to open new opportunities for students to learn and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways. To do this, students should be able to access engaging learning opportunities that are grounded in application and relevant to their career goals – a central focus of CTE. This is why state leaders should consider how to ensure that CBP and CTE systems are aligned and mutually reinforcing.

In fact, states that intentionally include CTE in their vision for CBP can use its inherently competency-based elements to help break down the classroom walls that separate academics from CTE, and by doing so, can value learning where it happens and create opportunities for teachers to collaborate and innovate.

Leverage points can include:

  • Contextualized learning environments for all students
  • Self-directed pathways anchored in students’ career interests and inclusive of the full breadth of college- and career-ready knowledge and skills
  • High quality experiential learning opportunities
  • Project-based learning as a platform for instruction
  • CTE as a component of assessments to authentically measure student learning

The brief also offers key points of consideration for states moving toward an integrated CBP system:

  • Incorporating CTE at the outset helps break down the historical silos that still exist within the education system
  • Ensuring equitable student access to high quality CBP across CTE areas
  • Building capacity for districts, schools and educators to transition to an integrated CBP system
  • Overcoming data and reporting challenges to capture student proficiency where it happens, especially when it happens beyond the traditional school walls
  • Recognizing that some elements of CTE programs are still beholden to time
  • Crafting a thorough, well-executed communications plan to build buy-in and understanding

The brief includes state examples from Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Read more about how states are implementing CBP here.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

State Policy Update: Workforce Development, Job-driven Training and More

July 30th, 2015

This week, the National Skills Coalition released its roundup of this year’s major state legislative actions aiming to close the middle-skills gap across the country. Be sure to check out the full paper and related webinar, which includes deep dives on new workforce development efforts in Virginia and Minnesota, to learn more.

Here are some of the workforce-related highlights from this year’s legislative sessions:

  • Implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): Sector partnerships, career pathways and job-driven training are among the key strategies that WIOA requires states to use. Some states – including California, Florida and Virginia – enacted legislation to help implement the new federal workforce law.
  • Career Pathways: Along with Colorado’s new career pathways legislation, which we talked about earlier this year, Minnesota also expanded its adult career pathways efforts and FastTRAC up-skilling program with a combined $11.2 million appropriation for the 2016-17 biennium budget.
  • Tuition Assistance: We already know that in July, Oregon became the second state to offer free community college. Nebraska has also approved a tuition gap assistance program to help residents enrolled in certain associate degree and certificate programs as well as non-credit, job-driven training programs. Recipients can use the funds to cover the costs of tuition, direct training, fees, required books and equipment.
  • Work-based Learning and Job-driven Training: Washington, Colorado and California all expanded work-based learning opportunities, in particular apprenticeships. In California, lawmakers allocated $29.1 million to grow new and existing apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries. Arkansas and Maine also established new employer-driven training programs.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

State Policy Update: New CTE Briefs Feature Ohio and Massachusetts; Legislatures Send New Money to CTE

July 9th, 2015

Today, Achieve released two new briefs highlighting academic and CTE integration in Ohio and Massachusetts. Achieve also released a helpful compendium of its CTE resources, many of which NASDCTEc helped produce. Download the PDF compendium here.

In “Seizing the Future: How Ohio’s Career-Technical Education Programs Fuse Academic Rigor and Real-world Experiences to Prepare Students for College and Careers,” we learn about the changing face of Ohio CTE, which now focuses on integrating academics in a rigorous and relevant curriculum in high-skill, high-demand Career Clusters® and pathways and includes strong connections to postsecondary education and employers.

“Career-tech now integrates rigorous academic preparation with career education,” says Steve Gratz, senior executive director at the Ohio Department of Education and NASDCTEc member. “We are ‘mashing up’ college and career. This is a shift from the past and one that we are serious about.”

In “Best of Both Worlds: How Massachusetts Vocational Schools are Preparing Students for College and Careers,” we learn more about state policies that promote strong programming, including the state’s college- and career-ready course of study, incentives for rigorous academic standards in its accountability system, and capacity-building support for locals. The brief also highlights some of the state’s vocational-technical schools for their impressive student outcomes.

Finally, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has also released a new brief that examines the efforts of six states — Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, New Jersey, and West Virginia – to modify their existing science standards or adopt new benchmarks such as the Next Generation Science Standards. It also explores each state’s unique path to adoption and implementation as well as the common strategies and activities used to engage stakeholders.


State Legislative Update

With more than two thirds of state legislatures adjourned for the year, CTE has had some big wins in statehouses across the country. You can catch up with our last legislative update here. In the last few weeks, there have been a few more notable developments.

  • Earlier this week, Oregon lawmakers approved free tuition to its 17 community colleges through a $10 million last-dollar scholarship program similar to Tennessee’s popular initiative.
  • Additionally, lawmakers appropriated $35 million for STEM and CTE-related activities, including a pilot program to increase student exposure to CTE.
  • In late June, the California legislature agreed to a $115 billion budget deal – effective July 1 – that sends more than $400 million in new money to the state’s CTE programs next year. Specifically, lawmakers approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed CTE Incentive Grant program to the tune of $900 million over the next three years (with $400 million for Fiscal Year 2015-16), though the state’s budget adviser cited concerns about the program back in March. This additional CTE funding follows two years and a $500 million investment in the California Career Pathways Trust, which has already awarded two rounds of competitive grant funding to partnerships among schools, community colleges, and employers to create career pathways aligned to high-need and high-growth sectors. One more CTE-related proposal, The Career and Job Skills Education Fund, is still working its way through the legislature, and is focused on results-driven CTE programs. If passed, it remains unclear how this will be funded given that, as currently proposed, it is contingent upon funds appropriated in the recently passed budget.
  • Finally, Nevada and Michigan also saw significant funding bumps for CTE, middle college programs and dual enrollment.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Early, Strong Showing for CTE, Workforce Bills in State Legislatures

May 14th, 2015

With nearly half of the state legislative sessions adjourned for the year, it’s time to take a look at how CTE is faring in statehouses across the country.

Starting in January, there were early indications that CTE would have a strong presence in the 2015 legislative sessions given its prominence in many gubernatorial budgets and State of the State addresses. In fact, by the time 46 governors had declared their legislative priorities for the year, CTE had appeared in some capacity in nearly half of these speeches and budgets with some devoting significant time to CTE and workforce development.

Then it was the lawmakers’ turn to get down to businesses. In some states, CTE champions emerged from bipartisan legislative coalitions and business groups to help bolster funding and support. (Note: These are just some of the highlights of state CTE activity so far in 2015, and are by no means all encompassing.)

  • Colorado’s 10-bill “Ready to Work” package was part of a bipartisan pledge from more than two dozen lawmakers to help those being left behind in the state’s fast-growing economy connect to training and education that can lead them to better jobs. In the end, the legislature sent eight bills to Gov. John Hickenlooper for signature. The bills establish incentives for advanced industry companies to create work-based learning opportunities, authorize a P-TECH school to be created, funds mobile learning labs that create training areas on-site for colleges and companies, and increase the number of career pathways in in-demand industries such as construction and health care.
  • State funding for K-12 CTE in Montana doubled to $2 million annually, thanks to the efforts of a group of legislators and local education leaders. The original bill proposed raising state funding to $10 million to make Montana’s CTE funding in line with nearby states.

There were also some major governance changes that would alter the way CTE and workforce development programs are delivered.

  • South Dakota lawmakers also passed a bill that would dramatically change the governance of the state’s four technical institutes – such as the one President Barack Obama visited last week. The current governing system, described as a turf war, has the technical institutes controlled by K-12 districts but funded by the state and competing with the Board of Regents, which governs the university system for students and course offerings. The new law will allow the institutes to establish their own governing body. A separate joint resolution, which will require an amendment to the state’s constitution and go before the voters in July, clarifies the roles of the institutes and the Board of Regents.
  • In Arkansas, new Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a series of three bills that made sweeping changes to career education and workforce training. The bills did the following: created the Career Education and Workforce Development Board to establish and administer a comprehensive statewide workforce education program as well as the Office of Skills Development to award $15 million in grants for workforce training programs; started a $2 million program to provide workforce training planning grants at community colleges; and established the Arkansas Workforce Development Board, which will be comprised of industry representatives.

Despite some notable CTE funding boosts, 22 states are reportedly facing budget deficits, according to a recent analysis from the Associated Press and the effects of tight budgets are being felt.

  • In Arizona, new Gov. Doug Ducey signed a “historically lean” state budget that cut universities dramatically, eliminated state aid for Pima and Maricopa Community Colleges and cut $30 million from the state’s Joint Technical Education Districts, which is the primary delivery system for Arizona secondary CTE programs.
  • Florida lawmakers wrapped up their session in early May without passing a budget – a first for the state – and thus leaving school districts in limbo. Gov. Rick Scott in March called for historic levels of K-12 funding, but as lawmakers reconvene in June to tackle the budget, it remains to be seen where it will land.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements

April 22nd, 2015

With Career Technical Education (CTE) in the spotlight and a priority among state leaders across the country, high school graduation requirements are a common leverage point for policies that aim to increase assess to, incentivize participation and recognize success in CTE programs of study.

In 2013 and 2014 alone, 23 different states made adjustments to their high school graduation requirements with some direct impact on Career Technical Education (CTE) course taking or credentials. It should come as no surprise that the requirements look very different from state to state.

NASDCTEc’s newest policy brief, Endorsements, Electives & More: CTE & State Graduation Requirements, explores common approaches to offering or requiring CTE courses and assessments within a statewide set of graduation requirements, offers illustrative examples of state-level policies and elevates implementation issues for consideration.

So what did we find?

  • Eleven states offer separate diplomas or endorsements on existing diplomas that either serve to recognize successful completion of CTE programs and earning of credentials and/or to incentivize more CTE participation, including Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • A number of states, such as Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky and West Virginia, require a certain number of electives, which are directed to be “career focused” or “aligned with students’ post-high school plans.”
  • A growing group of states are creating ways for CTE assessments, typically industry-recognized credentials, to meet certain exit exam requirements, such as New York, Ohio and Virginia.

Regardless of the approach, some common implementation considerations emerged, such as having processes in place for ensuring equality of rigor and quality across pathways and assessments; providing flexibility to allow students to engage in CTE programs of study without having to give up other areas of interests, such as the arts, foreign languages or other academic courses; ensuring students have the opportunity to take the full range of courses that will prepare them for college and careers; and publicly reporting the percentage of students earning the various endorsements to understand their value.

Read the full report to learn more about state graduation requirements and see how your requirements compare.

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Associate Executive Director


New Teaching Standards for CTE Released

March 4th, 2015

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards released revised standards for teachers in Career and Technical Education (CTE). The standards were developed by educators, board-certified teachers and researchers organized around eight pathways including:

  • Business, Marketing and Financial Services
  • Community Services
  • Decorative Arts and Design
  • Engineering, Design and Fabrication
  • Information Systems and Technology, Communications and the Arts
  • Leisure and Recreation Services
  • Natural Resources
  • Transportation Systems and Services

The new standards are up-to-date with evolving content in each of the pathways, as well as encourage teachers to adapt their teaching according to the needs and abilities of their students. Additionally, they also allow teachers without a bachelor’s degree obtain CTE certification unless their state requirements state otherwise. Learn more about the new standards here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Interest in State CTE Policy Growing Across the Country

February 5th, 2015

spr1For the second consecutive year, a significant number of states have developed and implemented new policies and programs to advance Career Technical Education (CTE) at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

In a new publication, “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2014 Year in Review,” legislative and regulatory bodies in 46 states and the District of Columbia approved roughly 150 policies relevant to CTE. The paper was jointly authored by NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education.

This continued interest shows a growing awareness in using CTE as a means to increase postsecondary credential attainment, provide students with real-world experience and prepare a workforce with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain the nation’s competitive edge, the paper argues.

The paper is the second installment in the “Year in Review” series. The inaugural paper from 2013 can be viewed here. The legislation and policies collected in these papers does not imply an endorsement by NADSCTEc, ACTE or state CTE leaders. Rather, the hope is that by collecting these policies into one document, NASDCTEc and ACTE can continue to inform the community and in turn lead to the adoption of positive CTE policies across the 50 states.

While funding activity grabbed the top spot for the second year in a row, industry partnerships and work-based learning emerged as a newly popular category, with 28 states passing legislation or approving policies designed to accelerate employer engagement with CTE and offer real-work experiences for students.

Policymakers maintained their interest related to high school students earning college credit as well as how credit transfers across institutions. States such as Nevada approved a new policy in 2014 to develop statewide articulation agreements for all CTE programs of study to ensure that earned credit in an approved program has total transferability.

While several of the policy areas that were active in 2013 were also prominent in 2014, there were a few exceptions, notably governance. Fewer states made changes to CTE governance structures or clarified regulatory authority in 2014 than in the year prior.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Register Today for Upcoming Webinars

February 2nd, 2015

There’s still time to register for NASDCTEc’s upcoming webinars!

2014 State CTE Policy Reviewspr
February 5, 2015, 3 – 4 p.m. ET
States are increasingly looking to CTE as a means to help close the skills gap and boost the number of people with a postsecondary credential. Join us as we step through the major state policy trends affecting CTE from 2014 including new laws, executive actions and regulatory activity. This webinar will coincide with the release of the second annual “2014 State CTE Policy Review,” a joint publication from ACTE and NASDCTEc.


  • Catherine Imperatore, Research Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education
  • Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

Register Today

Employer Engagement: State PerspectivesUntitled
February 10, 2015, 2 – 3 p.m. ET
Join us for an in-depth discussion as we take a closer look at how Alabama and Kansas, in concert with their employer partners, work together to inform, align and enhance their CTE systems at the secondary and postsecondary levels. This webinar is the second in a series on employer engagement. To learn more about employer engagement in CTE, check out our newest report!


  • Dr. Philip C. Cleveland, Alabama State Director of CTE and Workforce Development
  • George Clark, President, Manufacture Alabama and Chair of the Alabama Workforce Investment Board
  • Dr. Blake Flanders, Vice President of Workforce Development, Kansas Board of Regents
  • Keven Ward, Public Sector Consultant, Trane

Register Today