Posts Tagged ‘Articulation and Transfer’

Exploring Area Technical Centers: Best Practices for Aligning ATCs to Advance Postsecondary Attainment Goals

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Advance CTE’s recent report on area technical centers (ATCs), Building Better Futures for Learners: A 50-State Analysis of Area Technical Centers, revealed that ATCs have a notable footprint in credential and non-degree programs for postsecondary learners and an active role in contributing to state postsecondary attainment goals. However, the extent of their impact varies across states and territories and is strongly influenced by policymaker awareness and systems alignment.  

At the time of our report, forty-five states had set a goal to increase postsecondary attainment. This trend is largely inspired by the work of Lumina Foundation, a national leader in advancing access and outcomes in postsecondary education that set a national goal of equipping at least 60 percent of the working age population with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. Expanding access to and providing seamless transitions for learners in their journey to postsecondary attainment is critical to an equitable national economic recovery. 

This post will focus on highlighting several states that offer best practices to elevate the role of ATCs in postsecondary attainment through state oversight, the role of ATCS in statewide postsecondary attainment plans, and statewide systems alignment.

For a broader breakdown of topline messages from this report and implications for states, please read our most recent post on Medium

State Oversight 

One of the report’s key policy recommendations is for states to improve the awareness, accountability, and alignment of ATCs through the restoration or enhancement of state oversight of these institutions. 

Utah and Oklahoma provide strong examples of the benefits of robust state oversight and positioning of ATCs. Utah’s area technical centers, known as technical colleges, were recently elevated and designated as eight of the state’s 16 postsecondary institutions under the Utah System of Higher Education. This positioning was a solution to years of legislative changes that had created two systems of higher education, leading to legal and learner navigation difficulties that limited the potential of ATCs. This new position for ATCs enhances learner equity by providing well-aligned pathways from ATCs to four-year postsecondary institutions and uniform credit transfer policies. 

Oklahoma has a separate state agency, known as CareerTech, that oversees all aspects of their CTE delivery system, including 29 ATCs known as technology centers. In addition to serving as the fiscal agent for the state’s robust allotment of CTE funding, the agency also provides oversight of program quality. CareerTech partners with other state agencies to ensure that the needs of underserved populations, including the Indian Education Board and Tribal Reintegration Program and the Department of Veteran Affairs are met. 

The Role of ATCs in State Postsecondary Attainment Plans

While most states reported that ATCs were not specifically mentioned in postsecondary attainment plans, the vast majority strongly agreed or agreed that their ATCs were active contributors to postsecondary attainment goals. 

Delaware’s ATCs have a significant role in supporting the state’s postsecondary attainment goal through the administration of the state Registered Apprenticeship program. This program constitutes almost 70 percent of the state’s vocational/technical school district postsecondary and adult population and allows ATCs to be strongly connected and responsive to state workforce needs despite predominantly local oversight. 

Florida’s ATCs, known as technical colleges, are strongly tied to the state’s attainment goals. Because Florida’s ATCs are accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, they must maintain a 60 percent learner completion rate and 70 percent licensure exam pass rate, effectively exceeding the state’s postsecondary attainment goal. Technical colleges are the focal point of a statewide Get There campaign that combines program grants colleges with a public relations campaign to promote postsecondary attainment through a short-term credential of value. 

High-quality and timely state-level data collection is key to accurate measurement and evaluation of the impact of ATCs on postsecondary attainment. In Oklahoma, the state’s technology centers contributed over 19,000 industry-recognized credentials with an 88 percent adult learner program completion rate in FY2018. Florida reported over 9,000 earned industry certifications and over 14,400 full program completers through its technical colleges for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Statewide Systems Alignment

While 27 states reported providing some level of programming at ATCs to postsecondary learners, their responses also indicated that ATCs are often disconnected from the larger postsecondary system. A few states stand out as exemplars in intentional alignment between ATCs and higher education systems. 

Ohio includes its ATCs, known as Ohio technical centers (OTCs), in a statewide articulation and transfer agreement established in 2007 known as Career-Technical Credit Transfer. When combined with Career-Technical Assurance Guides that advise learners through the transfer process, these tools give learners and their credits seamless and equitable pathways from OTCs to other postsecondary institutions. Numerous OTCs have also partnered with regional community colleges to design coursework sequences that span both institutions for improved program quality and alignment. 

Florida’s technical colleges are required to achieve seamless articulation and transfer agreements under state law. Technical and state colleges must create regional career pathway articulation agreements that align a technical college program with a degree program at a state college. Clock hours must also be transferable to the aligned state college degree program. 

Effective alignment practices also extend to the relationship between ATCs and workforce development systems. In Delaware, ATCs are members of a statewide CTE alliance that includes representatives from vocational/technical school districts, the technical and community college system, and other state agencies and workforce partners. Collaborative efforts from this alliance expanded the state’s Registered Apprenticeship programs to include pre-apprenticeship and secondary learners, and more career pathways that span multiple institutions. 

We hope these examples provide valuable insight on potential reforms for states to leverage and elevate ATCs. Visit our microsite to access full state profiles for the five states mentioned in this post. A future post will explore the potential use of ATC in economic recovery plans and highlight innovative partnerships in states. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Resources, Publications
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Explore How AP Seminar Can be Embedded into CTE Programs of Study

Friday, 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

By Brianna McCain in Uncategorized
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HEA in Practice: Title III HSI STEM Articulation Grant

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Title III of the Higher Education Act (HEA) is the main source of institutional level funding in HEA, primarily supporting minority-serving colleges. Title III authorizes the Hispanic Serving Institutions Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics and Articulation Program (HSI STEM). An institution is categorized as an HSI if at least 25 percent of the full time undergraduate students are Latino. As of the 2016-2017 school year, HSIs include 65 percent of Latino undergraduate students and 15 percent of colleges and universities across the country, and these number will continue to increase.

This piece of HEA has two goals: the first is to increase attainment of STEM degrees and the second is to create a model transfer and articulation agreement for STEM degrees between two- and four-year institutions. Appropriations for this program are mandatory through FY2019. Funding can be utilized for purposes such as:

A great example of how this has been implemented is the Laredo Community College in Texas, which developed its STEM Articulation and Summer Bridge program through the HSI STEM grant. The STEM articulation program supports learners interested in STEM in both the college enrollment process, as well as successfully navigating the two to four year transfer. This program includes a Summer Bridge component, which provides incoming college students with advisement on everything from what to expect academically to the interpersonal skills that will be required. Learners in this program graduated at twice the rate of the college’s overall graduation rate.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

By Meredith Hills in Uncategorized
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State Policy Update: How States Are Working to Increase Credential Attainment

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Strategies Include Promise Programs, Reverse Transfer and Postsecondary Credential Attainment Goals

The demand for Bachelor’s degrees may be overinflated in the labor market, but the number of jobs requiring at least some postsecondary education or training is growing. According to the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, nearly all of the jobs created since the recession have gone to workers with more than a high school education. As such, many states have adopted programs and policies since the recovery to help learners obtain the knowledge, skills and credentials necessary to succeed in today’s workforce.

This month, California joined the ranks of Tennessee, Oregon, Rhode Island and New York after Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation into law establishing a California Promise program. The program is designed to reduce barriers to entry for California college-goers by providing tuition-free community college to first-time students who enroll full time and complete a FAFSA form. Under the legislation, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office would be responsible for administering the program and developing a funding formula to support the program’s objectives.

Although the California Promise program has been signed into law, the program is still subject to state appropriations. The California General Assembly estimates that the program would serve 19,000 students at a total cost of $31.1 million.

Meanwhile, Mississippi is the latest state to help Bachelor’s degree candidates obtain associate’s degrees. The program, called Complete 2 Compete, aims to increase the number of Mississippians with postsecondary credentials by identifying students who either have completed enough credits to qualify for an associate’s degree or are on the cusp of completing a degree. Many postsecondary and adult learners with their sights set on a four-year degree don’t realize that they’ve already earned enough credits for another award. Under the program, some 28,000 students already qualify to receive an associate’s degree without any further education or training.

Increasingly, states are looking to reverse transfer programs like Mississippi’s to help postsecondary and adult learners get recognition for the education they have completed. According to research from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), these programs help struggling students who would not otherwise complete a four-year degree earn a postsecondary credential.

States Set Ambitious Postsecondary Attainment Goals

Separately, the number of states with ambitious goals for postsecondary credential attainment is growing. In September, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education released an update to the 2012 Master Plan, setting a postsecondary credential attainment goal of 66 percent of adults by 2025. The goal is accompanied by four strategies to increase learner success in Colorado colleges and universities:

  1. Increase credential completion
  2. Erase equity gaps
  3. Improve student success
  4. Invest in affordability and innovation

 

New Jersey and Vermont also released goals to increase postsecondary credential attainment to 65 percent and 70 percent respectively by 2025. In New Jersey, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Education jointly launched a new campaign to help increase the credentialed population. The campaign, titled “65 by ’25: Many Paths, One Future,” will seek to engage colleges, universities, businesses and state officials through regional summits to devise strategic plans to achieve the goal.

In Vermont, Governor Phil Scott announced the launch of a new initiative called 70x2025vt. With guidance and support from a 25-member council of employers, educators and state officials, the initiative aims to create a college-going culture, remove barriers to access for underrepresented populations, increase college preparedness, and ensure high school students enroll in and succeed in postsecondary education. To monitor progress along the way, Vermont has identified six indicators of progress, including college aspiration and postsecondary/career integration experiences (including work-based learning).

The need for skilled workers has grown in the wake of the Great Recession. Now, more than ever, postsecondary education and training is a prerequisite for a family-sustaining job. With the recovery of the national economy, these states are working overtime to help their residents gain the skills they need for career success.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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