Posts Tagged ‘Equity and Access’

Getting to Know Advance CTE’s Work on Equity

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Kimberly Green! Kimberly serves as the Executive Director for Advance CTE, where she has been a part of the organization for over 25 years! In the interview below, she shares a little about Advance CTE’s commitment to equity and how her federal advocacy work aligns.

Q. What are a few organizational steps Advance CTE has taken to promote equity?

A. Our organization has not always prioritized equity. It was just a few years ago – in 2018 –  that we began to make the shift to position equity as foundational to our work. We knew we had to approach this work with humility, acknowledging that we had a lot of learning, listening and growing to do. To help with this, we launched an Equity Kitchen Cabinet composed of Advance CTE members and a National Committee on Equity that included representatives of national organizations leading civil rights and equity in education work, to serve as mentors and thought partners. Both groups informed our Board-approved statement on equity

As a leader, I always strive to have our organization model what we hope to see in states. After listening and learning from our partners over the course of the year, I knew we had to turn the equity work inward, examining Advance CTE’s organizational culture and processes. Through a year-long grant from the Associated Black Charities (ABC) our staff participated in three, day-long trainings, our leadership received monthly coaching sessions from an equity expert. We conducted an internal equity audit and chose to focus our efforts this first year to revise our recruitment and hiring practices and evaluation system. This grant gave us the skills and confidence to release this statement in June of this year, which outlines a set of commitments that we are working to live up to. As the ABC grant just ended, we are investing our organizational resources to extend this internal work with our next year’s priorities being: building equity into our onboarding curriculum for all new staff; three more, full-day staff trainings; establishing a set of core values; standing up a diversity, equity and inclusion advisory group and more. 

Q. In your work aligned with federal advocacy, what have you witnessed that you are most proud of related to equity and access for learners?

A. I am proud that we advocated for and were successful in positioning equity at the heart of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).  Our advocacy broadened the historical equity focus beyond gender equity. Through the comprehensive local needs assessment, a new requirement that we and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) authored, ensures that policy and fiscal decisions are driven by data and prioritize closing equity gaps. 

Q. Do you have any recommended resources for states to promote equity in CTE?

A. While we have done a lot of internal work, we have also created a number of assets and tools for the CTE community under the Making Good on the Promise Series. This series examines how states can leverage data to identify and address equity gaps, rebuild trust with historically underserved communities, expand access to high-quality CTE for each and every learner and build systems to ensure learner success. This year, in partners from the National Equity Committee, we added to the series through population-specific resources, including a focus on students with disabilities, homeless youth (forthcoming) and justice-involved youth. We also will be releasing a series of assets to help states build their capacity to conduct opportunity gap analysis, a foundational step to identify where gaps exist. In addition to Advance CTE assets, the U.S. Department of Education has assets states can find here and our partners at the National Alliance for Partnership in Equity have some great resources here.

View past entries and stay up to date with the Getting to Know series here.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Resources
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Improving Equity and Access to Quality CTE Programs for Students with Disabilities

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

In 2017-18, nearly 11.8 million students in the United States participated in Career Technical Education (CTE) — 8.8 million in secondary and 2.9 million in postsecondary. Of those students, 877,938 were secondary learners with disabilities, and 126,110 were postsecondary learners with disabilities.

When students with disabilities have access to and the supports needed to thrive in high-quality CTE programs, the outcomes are promising. In general, participation in CTE courses has been tied to “a positive impact on wages, with an increase of 2 percent for every high-level class” in which a student participates.[1] This effect is reinforced for students with disabilities. Recent research links “concentrated CTE participation to improved graduation and employment for students with [physical and learning] disabilities.”[2]

However, state leaders still face challenges when attempting to equitably serve students with disabilities. Advance CTE’s latest resource, developed in collaboration with the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), outlines five actions state CTE leaders can take to ensure that secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities have access to and the supports needed to thrive in high-quality CTE programs. Specifically, Making Good on the Promise: Improving Equity and Access to Quality CTE Programs for Students with Disabilities examines how state CTE leaders can:

This resource is part of the Making Good on the Promise series, which confronts the negative aspects of CTE’s legacy and defines the key challenges learners face today. The series provides promising solutions to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE to ensure that each learner is able to attain the promise of CTE — a high-skill, high-wage, in-demand career. 

Brianna McCain, former Policy Associate

[1] Kreisman, D., & Stange, K. (2019). Depth over breadth: The value of vocational education in U.S. high schools. Education Next, 19(4), 76-84.

[2] Theobald, R. J., Goldhaber, D. D., Gratz, T. M., & Holden, K. L. (2019). Career and technical education, inclusion, and postsecondary outcomes for students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 52(2), 109–119.

By Brittany Cannady in Resources
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Learning from CTE Research Partnerships: Using Data to Address Access and Equity Barriers in Massachusetts

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

As part of our ongoing blog series aimed at increasing state research on Career Technical Education (CTE), Corinne Alfeld, Research Analyst at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research at Advance CTE, are conducting interviews with individuals who are part of successful CTE State Director research partnerships. The third interview was with Cliff Chuang at the Massachusetts Department of Education and Shaun Dougherty of Vanderbilt University. [Note: this interview, from February 5, 2020, has been edited for length and clarity].

Could you start by talking about the projects that you’ve worked on, your research questions, and how you settled on those research questions?

Shaun – It grew out of my dissertation work that was using some of the school data and then some of the statewide data from Massachusetts. It started pretty narrowly but the director of research was happy enough with what I was able to do that she talked about whether we could address some additional questions, and more data was becoming available. That more or less triggered the expansion, and then with Cliff coming into the role it became a two-way conversation that was more explicitly about what’s of academic interest and what’s of interest or of need on the practice and policy side for CVTE [career/vocational technical education].

Cliff – I would say that the particular catalyst for our most recent partnership is our desire as an agency to understand the waitlist demand issues related to chapter 74 CVTE in Massachusetts. If I recall correctly, we put out an RFR (request for responses)* for a research partner to help us analyze different aspects of who is and is not getting access to CVTE programs in Massachusetts. And Shaun and his partner Isabel at Harvard, a grad student there, their bid was selected. From that project there have been a lot of offshoots through the CTEx exchange collaboration that Shaun and others have established. We’ve been engaged in a lot of informal research inquiry as well as additional formal research that uses that data.

Could you talk a little bit about what the findings were from that project and what have been implications in the academic space but also on the policy front, how are you using those findings to change policy in Massachusetts?

Shaun – The basic findings were that in fact there is much more interest in these high-quality CTE programs, these chapter 74-approved programs in these standalone technical high schools, than can be met by current supply. This was more confirmatory evidence with a little more granularity and maybe confidence in the figures than was possible previously.

Cliff – Shaun’s team also helped us look at just the straight enrollment data comparisons, which is still not as ideal as looking at applicant data. It was helpful to have a more rigorous definition of what data protocols are needed around application and admissions. We have now made the decision to collect waitlist data systematically at the state level to allow researchers like Shaun to more rigorously analyze across the board the attributes of who’s interested in voc tech, who’s getting in, who’s applying, etc.

I think it also stimulated a variety of program initiatives on the part of state government in Massachusetts to increase access to CVTE programs through collaborative partnerships like After Dark, which is an initiative that seeks to utilize shop space in our technical schools after the regular school day paired with academics provided by a partner academic school to get more kids the technical training that we are unable to do in the standard day program structures.

I would also add that Shaun is continuing other aspects of the research now that we’re very excited about, based in part on some of the research they did do to look at longer term trends of students and their outcomes post high school.

Shaun – The first order concern is that lots of people want [access to CVTE programs] and there’s a limited amount of it, so should we have more?

The second order concern – but certainly not secondary question – is one about equity and whether or not the students who were applying and the students who were getting access look like a representative cross-section of the community at large.  We know that students who choose CTE or select a lot of it are maybe different than those who don’t, but we don’t know a ton about whether and how we expect students who are making those investments to look like the overall population or whether or not access concerns lead to equity concerns.

Cliff – We would like to look more closely at whether the gaps are simply due to application gaps – which is still an issue in terms of kids not applying – or whether there are actual gaps related to who is applying and getting in. That was the data gap that we haven’t quite been able to close yet. But Shaun was able to create some comparative data that is just based on enrollment that has allowed us to engage in these conversations. We’re having the conversation about trying to expand the number of seats available so there’s less of a waitlist, but also to ensure that access into the existing seats is equitable and doesn’t disadvantage certain subgroups over others.

Over the course of the partnership, what have been some of the major challenges and hurdles that you’ve faced? What are some of the speedbumps that you’ve hit getting things formalized up at the front?

Shaun – Fortunately, one thing that we didn’t face, although I know it’s an obstacle in many places, is processes related to how one gets permissions and access to the data. In fact, as the process has evolved, having those structures in place has made it really easy, so that if Cliff and I say “hey, we’d like to add this,” it’s a pretty easy amendment of the MOU [memorandum of understanding]. And then the people who deliver the data get approval and then they deliver it through a secure portal.

Cliff – I would also say that researchers left on their own probably would have had much less success in getting district participation in the survey study we did together. I, on the other hand, am someone with positional authority at the state level and established relationships that I can leverage to get that participation. And then I can pass it off to the research team that actually has the expertise and bandwidth to execute on the very labor-intensive data collection, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

It seems like you have a good partnership and a good synergy between the state office and the research team. If you were talking to CTE leaders and other researchers, what are some strategies and practices to make sure that partnership runs effectively and can be as impactful as possible?

Cliff – I think it’s important to have someone in the role of a researcher director type person whose job it is to facilitate these partnerships and to do some of the nitty gritty around data sharing, MOUs, etc. The other thing I would say is to have a commitment to an evidence base in terms of policymaking, and have people in the programmatic leadership who see the value of that and have enough knowledge of how research functions to parlay whatever policy or relational capital they have to support the research agenda.

Shaun – I think sometimes overcoming the incentives related to purely academic publishing restricts some of the willingness of some academic researchers to invest or to think about important questions in practice and policy. It’s being willing to realize that strong partnerships with local and state agencies means that more and better work can be done, and the work can have impact in real time. There is something very fulfilling and useful and practical about taking that approach from a research standpoint and then, if you come from practice like I did, then it helps ground the work.

Other blog posts in this series can be viewed here.

 

*Cliff explained that this is a formal process by which they solicited proposals for pay. “What’s been nice is that because it’s a partnership, Shaun has secured funding from other sources so there’s not an explicit contractual arrangement always. Aspects of the research that are ongoing are follow-ons from the original study. We have an interest in continuing to mine the data long-term to inform practice and policy.”

By Austin Estes in Research
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Three Promising Approaches to Advance Equity in CTE

Monday, June 17th, 2019

State leaders have a critical responsibility to ensure each learner has opportunities for career success and is supported in identifying and realizing his or her goals. To help state leaders identify and dismantle historical barriers and construct systems that support each learner in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully completing a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program of study, Advance CTE launched its Equity in CTE initiative last spring.

As part of this initiative, Advance CTE has committed to developing resources to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE. To provide state leaders with promising practices, Advance CTE added three new equity-focused policy profiles to the Learning that Works Resource Center. These highlight effective practices at the state and institutional levels.

The new Advance CTE profiles explore promising programs in the following states:

To learn more about promising solutions to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE, read Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise series.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Uncategorized
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CTE’s Equity Challenge

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Throughout history, and continuing today, learners of color, low-income learners, female learners and learners with disabilities have been historically tracked into terminal vocational programs leading to jobs with uncertain promise of economic growth and prosperity. While the quality of CTE programs has significantly improved since then, many of these same learners cannot access high-quality CTE programs of study that prepare them for success in postsecondary education and their future careers.

To help state leaders recognize these historical barriers and adopt promising solutions to close equity gaps in CTE, Advance CTE is launching a new series of policy briefs called Making Good on the Promise. The first two briefs are now available in the Learning that Works Resource Center.

The first brief explores CTE’s history, taking a close look at the practice of tracking learners into low-quality vocational programs and examining the different ways that certain learners have faced barriers to accessing high-quality CTE programs of study. The second brief highlights promising practices from states that are using data to identify and address access and achievement gaps by different learner populations.

Ultimately, each learner deserves to access a learning environment in which he or she is supported, feels welcome, and can acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve lifelong career success. But many of the structures and systems in place today enforce historical biases and discrimination that make it challenging for learners to access these opportunities. Reversing historical trends and expanding access and opportunity for each learner will require tough conversations, humility, and a commitment to both quality and equity.

In Delaware, for example, state leaders made a commitment to use state CTE data to expand equitable access to high-quality CTE programs. Through the regular CTE performance management process, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) compares the population of learners in CTE programs to learners in the larger student body to identify enrollment gaps.

If a certain learner population is either underrepresented or overrepresented in the program of study, it triggers a structured protocol. DDOE staff work in partnership with local leaders to conduct interviews with teachers, learners and parents and dig deeper into the root causes. DDOE and district staff debrief about the conversations and collectively develop a report summarizing the findings of the study. Although local sites are not required to act on DDOE’s recommendations, many recognize the need and seize the opportunity for additional state support.

Conversations about equity are often difficult, but they are necessary to secure access and opportunity for each learner. Collaborative, data-driven strategies like Delaware’s CTE performance management protocol allow state leaders to identify and address inequities in an impactful way.

In future briefs, we will explore how state leaders can work to rebuild trust among communities that have been historically under-served, expand opportunity for every learner, and put mechanisms in place to ensure learner success. The Making Good on the Promise series is made possible 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. These briefs and all future resources can be accessed in the Learning that Works Resource Center at careertech.org/resource/series/making-good-promise.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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