Posts Tagged ‘communications’

Beyond the Numbers: Tools and Strategies for Effective CTE Data Reporting 

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes once famously said “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” Without access to reliable, high-quality and timely data, it is impossible for learners, families, industry representatives, practitioners and policymakers to make informed decisions about CTE program development, improvement or participation. 

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) pushes states to improve the public accessibility of Career Technical Education (CTE) data. According to the law, state agencies, as well as local recipients, must share data on the performance of all CTE students, and subgroups of learners, and make this information available widely and through a variety of user-friendly formats.

But judging by the current state of CTE reporting, states have a lot of work to do to make CTE data accessible and actionable to a broad audience. Some of the challenges of state CTE reporting include: 

Many of the current CTE reporting challenges result from a lack of time and intentionality, but the good news is that Perkins V gives states an opportunity to hit restart and reimagine their approach to public reporting and communication with a focus on accessibility and understanding. In March, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup of state and national experts to explore strategies for effective CTE data reporting and communication. Over a series of meetings, the workgroup co-designed a set of tools and resources to help states improve their CTE data reporting. 

CTE Reporting Tools Should Draw From Best Practices for Design and Usability

State leaders can look to best practices in data visualization and accessibility to ensure their CTE reporting tools are widely accessible and equip users to make the most of the data. 

The report Beyond the Numbers: Design Principles for CTE Data Reporting provides nine principles for developing effective and accessible CTE data reporting tools: 

  1. Clarify the purposes for sharing data
  2. Make data easy to find
  3. Make data visually appealing
  4. Clearly and consistently label and describe data
  5. Make data accessible
  6. Disaggregate data to highlight equity
  7. Provide context to add meaning
  8. Enable interactivity and customization for key audiences
  9. Help users interpret data and take action

State and local leaders can use these design principles as a blueprint to inform the early design and development of CTE data reporting tools or as a checklist to ensure their final reports align with best practices for access and usability. 

States Should Develop a Plan to Communicate CTE Data

Effective data reporting, however, requires not just well-designed and accessible reports but also a strategy to build understanding among the general public and key stakeholders. What good is data if it isn’t used? Yet state CTE offices are asked to attend to multiple priorities — from program review to professional development to equity monitoring — and communicating CTE data all too often is moved to the backburner. 

Beyond the Numbers: A Toolkit for Communicating CTE Data is designed to build state capacity for communicating CTE data and integrating compelling CTE statistics into a broader CTE communications plan. The toolkit breaks down six steps for communicating CTE data, from identifying a strategic goal and audience, to creating materials, to building an action plan. The toolkit also includes models and templates states can use to build engaging infographics, presentations and other materials to communicate their data. 

Effective Data Reporting Takes Time — States Should Plan Ahead 

States have a long runway to prepare for Perkins V reporting. They are not required to submit data on CTE performance to the U.S. Department of Education until next year, and many states will not publicly report Perkins V data to stakeholders until after that time. 

Still, it takes time to design, develop and invest in high-quality and effective CTE data reports and tools. State leaders should be thinking about their approach to CTE data reporting now so they have the tools and resources ready to share with key stakeholders when the time comes. Until then, states can refer to the design principles and communications toolkit to draw on best practices for their CTE reporting and communications strategies. 

Advance CTE would like to acknowledge the support of ACTE, Next Chapter Communications and the CTE Data Reporting and Visualization Shared Solutions Workgroup in the development of these materials. These resources were produced with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research, Advance CTE

By Austin Estes in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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Analysis of Labor Market Information is Incomplete without Effective Dissemination of Results

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Many states, school districts and postsecondary institutions use labor market information (LMI) to justify the creation of new Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and to inform program design. This information, which includes data on the current and projected number of openings in specific industry sectors, as well as data on salary and any technological or policy advancements that may affect the Career Clusters®, can also be used at the state, regional, local and even student levels for career awareness and exploration in priority sectors.

However, the dissemination of LMI has often been carried out in an ad hoc and not a strategic way, hurting the effectiveness of the data itself. Today, Advance CTE released a guide about the effective dissemination of LMI, which will help states think through this process more strategically. The guide highlights work done in Nevada, Kentucky and Washington and their dissemination of LMI to employers, districts and learners, respectively, and poses guiding questions for states to consider for each of those audiences.

This guide was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In Nevada, the state leveraged newly restructured Industry Sector Councils to create the 2017 In-Demand Occupations and Insights Report, which lists industries’ job growth and salary information for identified priority sectors along with a crosswalk for employers and CTE practitioners that identifies which occupation titles fall into which career pathways. This allows industry partners and CTE practitioners to communicate about LMI with a common language.

Kentucky similarly worked with industry partners to create a common language and used various data visualizations to share that information with school districts. When sharing LMI with district superintendents and CTE coordinators, the state was deliberate in how it presented the information so the LMI would have the most impact on policy with the least amount of confusion or varying interpretations.

Washington takes the state’s LMI straight to individual learners with Career Bridge, an online portal that allows students to explore career pathways and how they tie directly with job projections within the state. Additionally, the portal lists educational providers for specific career pathways and details student outcomes and other relevant data so that students have as much information as possible about their desired pathway.

All three of these state approaches disseminate LMI in various ways, but each is deliberate and thoughtful in both audience and messaging so that LMI can have the greatest positive effect for CTE programs. Read more about these strategies and examine your state’s approach by accessing the guide here.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Advance CTE Resources, Research
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Effective Stakeholder Engagement Requires More Than a Broad Communications Plan

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

March 30, 2017

Sustainable and successful transformation of state career readiness systems, including but not limited to Career Technical Education (CTE), requires engagement with a variety of stakeholders who are deliberately working to share ownership. Lead agencies must engage those from industry, who may be new to policy-making, not only to generate buy-in but also to reach state goals for transformation.

To help with this work, Advance CTE created a tool based off of two tools created by CCSSO in June and November 2016. This tool, developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative and generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., guides users through nine steps in planning effective interactions with specific stakeholders:

Each of these steps is designed to guide users through the entire process of building interactions with stakeholders that will explain their efforts thoroughly and present requests for stakeholder assistance clearly and convincingly.

While this tool should not replace broader communications and stakeholder engagement plans, it enhances their effectiveness by allowing for coordination in focusing and formalizing messages and interactions. The tool also helps with prioritization of stakeholder engagement efforts through the use of a stakeholder map that measures the level of support and the level of influence of each stakeholder. By completing this worksheet and keeping all information on stakeholder engagement in this one place, users will be better prepared to implement communications related to CTE and career readiness reforms.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Publications, Resources
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