Posts Tagged ‘CTE on the Frontier’

Connecting Rural Learners to the World of Work in Livingston, Montana

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Livingston, Montana is a small ranching community of about 7,000, just north of Yellowstone National Park. Most of the town’s economic activity revolves around agriculture and tourism — being so close to Yellowstone brings in lots of travelers. Bozeman, which is about 30 miles away hosts a growing manufacturing and photonics industry. Despite these opportunities, students at nearby Park High School don’t always interact with industry leaders in the area, limiting their ability to explore different career options and weakening the talent pool for local business owners.

Last year Meagan Lannan, then manager at the Livingston, Montana Job Service office, along with several community leaders, decided to step in and ask educators how best to support a new work-based learning program to help close the gap and connect young learners with industry mentors. After studying states like Tennessee, Washington and California for inspiration and strategies, she built a coalition of key partners to launch a work-based learning program and engage more than 260 high school students in their first year.

So how did Lannan mobilize her town to go all in on work-based learning?

She started by securing buy in and support — including funding — from key business and education leaders in Livingston. After getting commitment from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the Montana State University Park County Extension, and Park High School, Lannan established a memorandum of understanding to clarify the roles of each partner. She also secured an agreement from the Arthur Blank Foundation, the charitable organization of Home Depot founder and philanthropist Arthur Blank, for four years of funding for a work-based learning facilitator pilot program.

Leveraging the relationships she cultivated at the job service office, Lannan was able to mobilize a network of Livingston business leaders to drive and provide work-based learning opportunities for high school students. It took a lot of time and effort to build and nurture these relationships, but Lannan’s hard work paid off. Once the community recognized the value and critical role in connecting learning with work, business leaders were on board.

In total, more than 260 work-based learning experiences were brokered through the first year of the pilot program. Experiences ranged from low-touch engagements such as guest speaking to more intensive internships, apprenticeships and more. Some employers even came into the classroom to teach a few classes under the teacher of record before leading students on a tour of their facilities. While several work-based learning experiences were in industries like agriculture or manufacturing that are considered high-demand in the Livingston area, students had the opportunity explore a variety of different careers. One student learned about wolf tracking in Yellowstone National Park. Another partnered with a local business to learn about sound wave engineering.

Providing work-based learning opportunities can be a challenge in rural communities, which often have a small employer base and limited industry presence. But, as Livingston, Montana discovered, a successful work-based learning program hinges on the support and buy-in of the community. Rural business leaders are often ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and, as Lannan puts it, help “raise the barn.” It just takes a thoughtful, coordinated strategy to generate buy in, secure sustainable funding and connect learners with the world of work.

To help state and local leaders develop a comprehensive plan to improve access to high-quality work-based learning and career pathways in rural areas, Advance CTE developed and released a rural strategy guide earlier this year. The guide, part of the CTE on the Frontier series, provides five strategies for rural leaders to replicate Livingston’s approach:

Ensuring access to high-quality career pathways in rural areas is a persistent challenge facing state and local leaders — but communities like Livingston, Montana defy the odds, recognizing the value of work-based learning and committing to expanding opportunities for students.

Thanks to Meagan Lannan, Work-Based Learning Facilitator Lead, for providing input into this story.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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How Leading States are Strengthening the CTE Teacher Pipeline in Rural America

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

In Nebraska, rural districts have been undertaking a wholesale needs assessment of local Career Technical Education (CTE) program offerings under the state’s reVISION initiative. Under reVISION, school and district leaders examine regional labor market data and hear from local employers to determine whether or not the programs available to students are those that are most in-demand.

If programs are out of sync with workforce needs, or deemed to be low-quality, local leaders will phase those programs out and transition resources and staff to higher-need program areas. This includes retraining teachers to teach classes in subject areas with the highest need, such as agriculture, health care and precision manufacturing.

Nebraska is just one of many states working to strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline in rural areas by recruiting qualified instructors, preparing them for success on day one, and providing professional development and re-certification opportunities to help them grow professionally throughout their career.

Today, Advance CTE released the fourth, and final, installment in the CTE on the Frontier series, which examines challenges and strategies for expanding access to high-quality career pathways in rural areas. The series is funded through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Today’s brief explores one of the most pressing challenges rural schools and institutions face: strengthening the pipeline of qualified CTE teachers and faculty. Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers can make or break a CTE program. The following are some approaches leading states are taking to support rural CTE teachers:

CTE teacher recruitment is a challenge that has dogged state leaders for decades. According to a recent survey of State CTE Directors, 98 percent said that increasing access to industry experts is a high priority in their state. And 20.4 percent of rural districts with CTE teacher vacancies report that CTE positions were either very difficult or impossible to fill.

Such teacher shortages are exacerbated in rural areas, where the pool of qualified candidates is often much smaller. This brief aims to elevate promising practices across the states to help state leaders address rural CTE teaching capacity challenges.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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Reaching Economies of Scale in Rural Communities

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Latest Advance CTE resource describes strategies to expand career pathways opportunities to rural learners

Rural communities all too often face scarce funding, instructors and facilities, forcing institutions to choose between offering a variety of introductory courses across a breadth of subjects or providing more narrowly focused, sequenced programs within one or two priority Career Clusters®. Providing learners access to diverse career pathways in rural areas is a persistent challenge for all states.

Today Advance CTE released the latest brief in the CTE on the Frontier series to help states identify promising strategies for expanding the variety of career pathways available in rural areas. The brief profiles how states such as Nebraska, Alaska, North Dakota and Idaho have leveraged strategic partnerships and new technologies to reach economies of scale.

In North Dakota, for example, rural learners are connected remotely to instructors at different campuses by a live broadcast network called Interactive Television, or ITV. Districts and regional technical centers come together to inventory all of the courses available in their region and open up enrollment to remote students. Participating schools receive a 4 percent reimbursement per receiving school to incentivize participation.

Meanwhile, state leaders in Idaho are working to balance virtual instruction through Idaho Digital Learning with work-based learning and Career Technical Student Organization participation to ensure hands-on learning isn’t lost in a virtual classroom. Instead of converting all CTE courses to be offered online, Idaho has adapted a few introductory courses to free up in-school teaching capacity to focus on more advanced coursework. The state is also working to align digital courses with college and career pathways — some Idaho Digital Learning courses are even eligible for dual credit — and requires CTE students taking online classes to engage in hands-on learning.

The latest CTE on the Frontier brief demonstrates how states can leverage partnerships and technology to reach economies of scale and offer a wider breadth of career pathways to rural learners. Earlier briefs in the series examine how states can ensure program quality and connect learners to the world of work.

CTE on the Frontier: Providing Learners Access to Diverse Career Pathways was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Publications, Resources
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Leveraging Federal Policy to Strengthen Rural CTE

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

New Resource from Advance CTE Identifies Key Leverage Points

Today Advance CTE released a new cheat sheet to help state leaders identify and leverage federal policy to strengthen rural CTE. The brief, developed as part of Advance CTE’s CTE on the Frontier initiative, examines policy and funding intersections between the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins), the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The resource is designed as a conversation starter to help state leaders align supports and services in their states.

Rural America is home to 9.1 million K-12 students and more than half of the nation’s school districts. Many of these students do not go on to earn a postsecondary credential or degree. Only 28 percent of rural adults above the age of 25 held at least a 2-year degree in 2015, compared to 41 percent of urban adults.

CTE can help close this gap and prepare rural learners for the world of work. Already, states are adopting creative measures to ensure programs are high quality, connect rural learners with authentic work-based learning experiences, expand the breadth of options available in rural institutions and strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline. Many of these efforts are supported with state and local funds, but states are also leveraging Perkins reserve funds as well. 

The reserve fund is one of many leverage points in federal legislation that states can use to strengthen CTE in rural areas. Under the Perkins Act, states can set aside up to 10 percent of local funds to provide formula or competitive grants to recipients with either rural populations, high numbers of Career Technical Education (CTE) students or high percentages of CTE students. In Montana, state leaders have used the reserve fund to strengthen Big Sky Pathways in rural schools and focus dollars and supports on state priorities such as expanding dual credit opportunities.

According to a recent survey from Advance CTE, 38 state CTE directors reported using the reserve fund option in 2017, and 27 of those said that supporting rural students is one of the focus areas for their reserve funds this year. States can change their reserve fund priorities from year to year, but the fact that more than half are using the fund to augment rural CTE efforts is a testament to the need in rural communities.

Another example of how federal education programs can be leveraged to support rural communities is the Rural Education Achievement Program under ESSA, which provides supplemental funds to rural schools and districts that can be used to support other local activities. With ESSA’s renewed focus on career readiness and well-rounded education, schools and districts can use these funds to design and expand CTE programs of study, provide professional development for CTE and academic teachers, expand dual credit opportunities, and more. By braiding funds, aligning policy priorities, coordinating service delivery and working to remove barriers across programs, state leaders can better meet the needs of rural learners.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Publications, Resources
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New Advance CTE Brief on Rural Access to the World of Work

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

High school students at Tolsia High School in West Virginia have created an industry-validated carpentry business within their classroom.  Students at Haynesville Junior/Senior High School in Louisiana are connected with physical therapists, diesel mechanics, a marriage and family counselor and other industry professionals on a biweekly basis through virtual “micro-industry engagements.” In North Dakota, nursing students can earn their associate’s degree through one of four community colleges, while taking their classes at rural hospitals and health care facilities.  And in Montana, a mobile laboratory is deployed across the state to engage students around various career opportunities.

These are just some of the strategies states are leveraging to ensure all learners – regardless of geography, transportation barriers or the size or diversity of their local industries – are exposed to the world of work.

To help states identify innovative and scalable strategies for ensuring geography doesn’t limit access to real-world experiences, Advance CTE today released the second in a series of briefs titled CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners with the World of Work. (You can read the first brief on program quality here). The brief explores state strategies to expand access to work-based learning, employer engagement and industry-driven pathways for rural learners, drawing on promising practices from the states:

While there is no simple solution or silver bullet, states are making important progress and leveraging innovative ways to bring the world of work to learners and provide the necessary resources, technical assistance and supports to ensure local communities can support and sustain those efforts.

CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners with the World of Work 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.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

By Kate Blosveren Kreamer in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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Latest Advance CTE Brief Examines Rural CTE Program Quality

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

When Todd County School District received a $103,000 grant in 2014 under Governor Dennis Daugaard’s South Dakota Future Fund, the rural South Dakota district put the money to use, administering a survey of local business leaders to identify the career pathways that were most in need in the community. With the information collected through the survey, Todd County School District updated and aligned Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum to better reflect employer needs.

Targeted investments like Gov. Daugaard’s fund, which has since evolved into South Dakota’s Workforce Education Grant program, provide a catalyst for rural districts and institutions to improve CTE program quality and ensure career pathways are aligned with labor market needs and student interest.

Improving CTE quality in rural communities is an imperative for all states, yet rural CTE programs often face unique challenges that are not present in more densely populated areas. For example, decentralization, lack of resources and more limited employer relationships in rural communities can result in the preservation of legacy programs over more industry-relevant career pathways. Decisions about what programs to offer are too often driven by the availability of equipment or facilities, teacher supply and even tradition.

To help states improve the quality of rural CTE, Advance CTE today released the first in a series of briefs titled CTE on the Frontier: Catalyzing Local Efforts to Improve Program Quality. The brief explores state strategies to improve the quality of local CTE programs to ensure they meet industry needs and expand opportunities for rural learners, drawing on promising practices from the states:

These examples demonstrate different approaches state leaders can take to empower local leaders and support program improvement in rural areas. Future briefs in the CTE on the Frontier series will tackle other common challenges, including learner access to the world of work, employing strategic partnerships to increase program offerings and strengthening the rural CTE teacher pipeline.

CTE on the Frontier: Catalyzing Local Efforts to Improve Program Quality was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

By Austin Estes in Publications, Resources
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