Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Exploring Area Technical Centers: Elevating ATCs in a National Economic Recovery

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

The transformative workforce changes resulting from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have made it more urgent than ever for states to have a comprehensive strategy for reskilling and upskilling that unites stakeholders across education, workforce development and economic development. Advance CTE has been vocal that investment in secondary and postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) is critical to a national recovery strategy. 

ATC Positioning in the Workforce Development System 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many things in our way of life, including the education or training path most Americans will pursue to return to work. A typical economic recovery would have millions of Americans flocking to traditional higher education programs but instead, in this post-pandemic economic recovery, the majority of Americans say they will seek non-degree and skill-based education and training programs to reskill or upskill their way back to a good job.

Area technical centers (ATCs) should be part of this solution – helping more Americans secure non-degree credentials of value. Our national analysis found that in the states where ATCs serve an adult population, these institutions provide short-term credentials and programs below the level of an associate’s degree, and  are uniquely positioned to be nimble and responsive to changing workforce needs. Further, these institutions are accessible, by design serving a region, and low-cost, with few or no barriers to admission for adult learners and affordable tuition rates as low as $2.00 per seat hour. ATCs can and should be better leveraged to serve those who have been disproportionately impacted by job losses associated with the pandemic, particularly Black and Latinx workers, workers with a high school education or less, and female workers.  

Leveraging Federal Funding 

Funding matters, and in states that have leveraged federal funds, we see ATCs being key players in meeting the state’s short- and long-term workforce priorities.  

For example, all of Ohio’s Ohio technical colleges (OTCs) and selected programs in Delaware’s ATCs are eligible training providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Many ATCs are eligible for federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, including institutions in Florida, Ohio and Utah most commonly accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.

Some states have utilized 2020 federal stimulus funding to reinforce their ATCs as valuable institutions in an economic recovery. Delaware leveraged $10 million of its federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic relief funding to support its Forward Delaware initiative, a set of rapid training and credentialing programs focused on in-demand occupations and skills in the state. Florida’s governor designated Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) funds provided through the CARES Act to award grants to its ATCs, known as technical colleges, to establish or enhance rapid credentialing programs that lead to a short-term certificate or industry-recognized certification as part of its statewide Get There campaign. 

Utilizing ATCs in Statewide Workforce Training Programs 

ATCs have strong connections to their local communities and employers by design and often offer customized training programs to meet those needs. 

To recover from the devastation of the coronavirus will require persistence, creativity and leveraging all public assets to ensure a full and equitable economic recovery. States should be learning from one another – what worked and what didn’t  – and leveraging their public assets, including ATCs to every learner with the opportunity to access a career pathway that leads to sustained, living-wage employment in an in-demand field. 

To find the ATCs in your state and to access the full report and additional resources, please visit www.areatechnicalcenters.org . To read other posts in this series, please check out our Medium post that breaks down the major findings, and our blog post on leveraging ATCs to advance state postsecondary attainment goals. 

By Stacy Whitehouse in COVID-19 and CTE
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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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Getting to Know Advance CTE’s Work in Scaling Work-Based Learning Opportunities

Thursday, December 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 Brian Robinson! Brian is a policy associate for Advance CTE’s state policy team. Brian supports our data and knowledge management work, the Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative (PDI), funded by ECMC Foundation, research and data collection around the nation’s area technical centers and leads communities of practice where we bring together states in the cohort to share best practices and work through data challenges and needs. 

Brian also manages our Learning that Works Resource Center which is a resource repository of all things CTE with over 500 reports, case studies, and more spanning 14 different topic categories.

Q: How would you define work-based learning, and the role it plays in high-quality Career Technical Education?

A: Work-based learning is pretty broad in definition; it is the opportunity for learners to develop awareness and exposure to different careers, explore different career paths, make connections between classroom learning and programs of study, and demonstrate their skills in an authentic real-world setting.

Work-based learning has the power to make the abstract real for learners, providing the opportunity to apply industry skills in the field and learning directly from practitioners. Work-based learning also has the power of building social and cultural capital for learners that we know is important for career advancement. Learners have the opportunity to build professional networks, find mentors, and learn soft skills like how to show up to work on time, how to interact with colleagues and clients, how one dresses for work or an interview, how to develop a resume, etc. All of this matters when we’re thinking about high-quality CTE and equitable career development.

Q: During the pandemic and distance learning, in what innovative ways have states continued to provide work-based learning opportunities for learners? 

A: This has been one of the most challenging aspects of CTE during the pandemic – work-based learning. A lot of businesses were closed, businesses nor schools wanted to take on the liability of having a student working during the pandemic, and of course parents did not want their children being exposed either. Many states turned to virtual experiences for work-based learning opportunities on the lower end of the spectrum because those were easier. Work-based learning coordinators in South Carolina created virtual tour videos for learners in place of “field trips”. Many states and local school districts partnered with for-profit companies to create experiences such as live industry chats with industry professionals. In some limited cases students were able to engage in virtual internships. In Miami-Dade, Florida, they turned their summer youth internship program into a virtual experience. Almost 3,000 learners worked in South Florida this summer in a wide range of industries. However, most programs of study are very difficult to deliver virtually and even when you can, there’s the issue of the digital divide that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19 (coronavirus). 

Q:  What are some ways states can continue to think boldly about scaling their work-based learning opportunities across their CTE programs?

A: Advance CTE is currently rewriting our work-based learning guide with a focus on approaches states can take to ensure equitable access to high-quality work-based learning experiences regardless of race, socioeconomic status, ability, or geography. There are five – that provide the basis for the guide- approaches states can take to boldly scaling work-based learning opportunities:

  1. Establish a clear and ambitious statewide vision for equitable access and create the policy environment and infrastructure to support this vision. 
  2. Create and/or support statewide and local/regional intermediaries who do the on-the-ground work of recruiting learners and employers, helping to facilitate work-based learning experiences, and supporting both learners and employers through the process. 
  3. Use data to advance equity and program quality. It’s not enough to just collect data, but leverage that data to track learner participation and success in high-quality work-based learning opportunities. Use the data to identify opportunity gaps and create a plan to close those gaps. 
  4. Engage with employers to meet the needs of the labor market while expanding opportunities to traditionally underrepresented learner populations and maximizing learning outcomes. 
  5. Lastly, identify successful programs or create pilot programs that can be scaled to create more opportunities for all learners

 

Q: What resources can you share with states on work-based learning?

A: States looking to scale their current work-based learning opportunities can leverage the Work-based Learning tab in the Learning that Works Resource Center where all of our great resources are. Some specific ones are:

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate 

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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This Week in CTE

Friday, August 14th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

STATE CTE DIRECTOR OF THE WEEK

This week Advance CTE welcomes Elizabeth Bennet! Elizabeth has been a part of the CTE community for 20 years in Massachusetts and now serves as the state’s Associate Commissioner for College, Career and Technical Education. Read more about Elizabeth here.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Nebraska CTE has welcomed back their CTE teachers, virtually, with great appreciation and gratitude.

CAREER DEVELOPMENT CONTINUUM OF THE WEEK

Johnson County Public Schools in North Carolina has published and shared their new career development continuum during their recent CTE symposium held for new and returning CTE teachers. This career development continuum highlights career exploration in the early learning years and ensures there are transitions from secondary education to postsecondary attainment to the workforce. 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) are continuing to advocate for direct funding for CTE and workforce programs to be included in the next relief package. This would ensure learners are prepared for labor market needs, particularly as the economy begins to rebuild after the pandemic. We need your help to emphasize this message with Congress. Click here to ask your representatives in Congress to support the inclusion of funding for CTE, as provided in the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, in the next relief package.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Business partnerships are critical to the success of delivering high-quality CTE programs of study, yet building and sustaining meaningful partnerships remains one of the biggest challenges faced by state and local CTE leaders. Advance CTE and Ford Next Generation Learning partnered to host two roundtable discussions (in Nashville, Tennessee and Pinellas County, Florida) with employers, big and small, who are deeply involved in CTE in their communities to learn more about why and how employers can support and strengthen CTE programs. 

In Their Words: Why Business Leaders Support CTE, Career Pathways and Career Academies offers successful strategies and recommendations for other communities as they consider their own employer engagement and recruitment strategies. 

View the resource in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Advance CTE Resources, Resources
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This Week in CTE

Friday, July 24th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

DAY OF ACTION OF THE WEEK

Many took to social media to advocate for the next COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief package to include funding for the E-rate program. You can take action, today, by emailing your members of Congress addressing the need for the inclusion of the Emergency Educational Connections Act (S. 3690/H.R. 6563). 

APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM OF THE WEEK

Earlier this year, one Florida college was awarded the opportunity to expand their current apprenticeship program into new territories. College of the Florida Keys (CFK) will now offer Construction Technologies, Plumbing and Carpentry, Electrical and HVAC and Electrical and Carpentry as new apprenticeship programs at varying locations beginning this fall. Learn more about the opportunity awarded to CFK and the benefits of apprenticeship by reading this article published by Keys Weekly. 

CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK

The U.S. Department of Education invites high schools and local educational agencies to propose technology education programs that use competency-based distance learning. Finalists will be chosen to develop, implement and evaluate their programs. A panelist of judges will convene to select an overall competition winner and award an additional $100,000. Submit your program proposal today! The Rural Tech Project is open to any publicly funded school or local educational agency that delivers education to a rural community and to students in grades 9-12. 

STATE COMPARISON TOOL OF THE WEEK

The Education Commission of the States released a new 50-state comparison tool for states to leverage when considering how state policies approach funding for postsecondary institutions. Alongside the comparison tool are individual state pages where you can find a detailed view of one state’s policy. Click here to view the comparison tool and individual state pages. 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

One of the core components of a high-quality CTE program is that it culminates in a credential of value. But with more than 4,000 credentialing organizations in the United States today, states are grappling with the challenge of narrowing down the field. Credentials of Value: State Strategies for Identifying and Endorsing Industry-Recognized Credentials highlights promising practices from Florida, Kansas and Louisiana, which have each made considerable progress developing a system for students and employers to navigate the tangled universe of credentials. View the policy brief in our Learning that Works Resource Center

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Resources
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Middle Grades CTE: Policy

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

There is widespread agreement that high school is too late to begin to expose learners to careers and the foundational skills needed to access and succeed in careers, but there remains a lack of consensus about what Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness should entail at the middle grades level. 

Advance CTE, with support from ACTE, convened a Shared Solutions Workgroup of national, state and local leaders to identify the core components of a meaningful middle grades CTE experience. This collaboration resulted in Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE and a companion blog series exploring each of the core programmatic elements of middle grades CTE defined in the paper. In this last entry in the blog series, we will examine effective middle grades CTE policy.

Policy actions often play a critical role in expanding access to high-quality middle grades CTE opportunities. Through effective policy actions, state CTE leaders can remove barriers that may prevent learners from accessing middle grades CTE opportunities, ensure there is adequate funding to support middle grades CTE, and create environments to incubate and scale middle grade CTE opportunities.

In 2014, H.B. 487 was enacted into law in Ohio, requiring schools to provide CTE courses in seventh and eighth grades by the 2015-16 school year. As a result, Ohio became one of the only states that requires the availability of CTE courses to middle school students at scale. Districts that do not want to offer middle school CTE must submit a public waiver to the Ohio Department of Education. Since the passage of the law, Ohio has seen a dramatic increase in access to CTE programs, with 21,551 students participating in middle grades CTE in 2015 and more than 73,728 students participating in middle grades CTE in 2017.

Similarly, In 2017, the Maine Legislature passed L.D. 1576, which updated the state’s definition of CTE to include language about middle school, effectively allowing middle school students in grades six through eight to participate in CTE. To expand access to middle grades CTE, the Maine Department of Education developed a Middle School CTE Pilot program, which allows institutions to apply for grants to pilot CTE opportunities that provide hands-on and interactive activities to middle grades students, as further described in an earlier entry in this blog series. 

Numerous states plan to leverage the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which allows states to use Perkins funding to support CTE as early as the fifth grade, to expand access to CTE opportunities for middle grades students. For instance, Massachusetts is awarding Perkins V reserve funds to eligible agencies to better integrate career planning from the middle school through the high school levels. In its Perkins V state plan, Florida provides guidance to include aligned middle grades CTE programs within programs of study and allow middle grades students to take high school-level CTE courses early. 

As state leaders reflect on effective middle grades CTE policy, they may consider the following questions:

For additional resources relevant to CTE educators in the middle grades, check out the Middle Grades CTE Repository, another deliverable of this Shared Solutions Workgroup. To learn more about policy actions state leaders can take to advance middle grades CTE, read Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learner Success

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Middle Grades CTE, Uncategorized
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This Week in CTE

Friday, June 19th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE hosted a webinar with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and industry leaders who have built long-lasting and meaningful two-way partnerships to improve both learner outcomes and industry’s talent needs. New resources from The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, developed with support from Advance CTE, were shared and discussed to strengthen employer-CTE relationships using the Talent Pipeline Management(R) process.

View the recording here, and sign up for our next webinar, CTE Forward: How to Attract and Recruit Diverse Students at the Postsecondary Level: Lessons from Aspen Institute on July 9! 

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Many school districts have developed innovative ways to honor graduating seniors in ceremonies in light of social distancing orders. Take a look at how seniors from one high school in the state of Virginia raced to the finish line. Read more here

PRIZE COMPETITION OF THE WEEK

The Evergreen National Education Prize identifies and scales programs that best help low-income youth access and complete college or CTE degrees. Learn more about what the prize consists of, past prize winners, eligibility criteria and more. Applications are now being accepted and must be completed in full by 5 p.m. ET on July 3, 2020.  Email info@evergreenprize.org with any questions.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

The U.S. Department of Education approved six more state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The newly approved plans are from Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, New York, South Carolina and Utah. As of now, 31 state plans have been approved in total. You can check out which states’ plans are approved, as well as the final materials on our website

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK 

Advance CTE examined research and best practices in Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner. This report features data on the benefits of Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) for learners, as well as best practices in Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee and Virginia across topics such as CPL for military service members, portability of credits and how to communicate about CPL opportunities. View the report here.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in COVID-19 and CTE
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Navigating CTE During COVID-19: How Are States Addressing Industry-recognized Credential Attainment?

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Industry-recognized credentials are an essential component of any high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. They indicate the entry-level competencies learners need in a given career field and signal to employers that an individual is prepared for work. But in the midst of a global pandemic, with nearly every state issuing, to varying degrees, stay at home orders that have resulted in school closures and limited access to testing facilities, how can learners continue to earn industry-recognized credentials? 

Over the last decade, there has been a groundswell around industry-recognized credentials. Driven by the Lumina Foundation’s campaign to ensure that 60 percent of U.S. adults hold a credential beyond high school by 2025, nearly every state has set its own postsecondary credential attainment goal. What’s more, many states are also counting industry-recognized credential attainment in their high school accountability systems or are promoting credential attainment through programs such as Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program. 

Challenges for Industry-recognized Credential Attainment

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) threatens to stall many of these policies and initiatives. The requirements for earning an industry-recognized credential vary by type and by provider, but are hard to deliver remotely. Industry-recognized credentials commonly require one or a combination of the following:  

As states have shut down one by one, credentialing opportunities have slowed to a trickle. School districts, institutions of higher education and training providers have been challenged to offer the learning and practical experiences learners need to be eligible for credential exams. Further, testing providers have had to shut their doors or limit access in order to comply with stay at home orders. 

The State Policy Response

The implications of this credentialing slowdown are myriad. For one, many states have baked credential attainment into high school graduation requirements, accountability systems and postsecondary performance-based funding structures. These requirements will need to be waived or loosened in a way that limits harm to learners. In Ohio, the Department of Education has already amended high school graduation requirements for learners pursuing industry-recognized credentials and is allowing learners to earn credentials as soon as it is safe to do so – even if they already have been awarded a diploma. 

Other states are exploring remote proctoring so learners can sit for an industry-recognized credential exam at home. Florida issued guidance for at-home testing for industry certifications, which will allow learners to access exams for credentials on the state-approved Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE) list as long as the credential providers meet certain conditions. However, while a number of credential providers are now offering online proctoring opportunities that are secure and monitored, the technology is expensive to scale and requires the learner to have access to a computer and reliable internet at home. 

The second implication is that credentialing is slowing down at a time when states hit hardest by the coronavirus are experiencing a critical shortage of licensed healthcare workers. In response, governors are issuing emergency licensing waivers in order to permit nursing and medical students as well as retired professionals or those with expired licenses to support the relief effort. In California, for example, the state Board of Registered Nursing has developed guidance on different roles nursing students can play in the field based on competencies developed through prior course taking. 

Finally, with economists already predicting a severe economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus, states will need to accelerate credentialing opportunities for learners transitioning back to work. Even as schools and testing facilities remain closed, states can start thinking now about their economic recovery plan and how to bolster industry-recognized credential attainment in the months and years ahead. 

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research

By Austin Estes in COVID-19 and CTE
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Advance CTE Releases Report on Postsecondary CTE Program Quality

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

With the majority of “good jobs” that pay a family-sustaining wage requiring at least some college education — such as a technical certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or another credential of value — ensuring the existence of high-quality postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and pathways is more important than ever before in preparing learners for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers.  

Although postsecondary programs are typically considered to be the purview of individual institutions, supported by academic freedom and local control, states have an important role to play in ensuring that each learner has access to only high-quality and relevant programs, notably by leveraging program approval and program evaluation policies and processes. Today, Advance CTE released Driving Quality in Postsecondary CTE: Approval and Evaluation Policies, a report that explores how states are leveraging this role to ensure quality.

Without question, states and postsecondary systems and institutions face unique challenges and opportunities in the quest to ensure program quality and relevance. These challenges include a variety of governance and delivery models, state and federal requirements, and multiple layers of program approval through regional and occupation-specific accreditors. At the same time, states, systems and institutions have meaningful opportunities to support and fund those programs that are best serving learners and their communities’ workforce needs.

Advance CTE’s report also explores a few specific state examples:

Check out Advance CTE’s report to learn more about ensuring quality in postsecondary CTE programs.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Publications, Research, Resources
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Guided Pathways Initiatives Require Major Overhaul of How Things are Done at Community Colleges

Friday, January 5th, 2018

A recent article from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) highlights efforts from CCRC and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to implement guided pathways reforms at community colleges. The goal of guided pathways reforms is to create college environments that learners can easily and confidently navigate to completion and successful employment upon completion, and includes four main practice areas:

Reforms in all four of these areas require major changes to program structure, advising, administrative policies and classroom practice, and therefore require buy-in across the institution and a several-year commitment to the reform process. CCRC and AACC have been working with 30 colleges to implement guided pathways through the Pathways Project, and shared some of their lessons learned from the project’s first year.

For example, Jackson College in Michigan quickly realized that its four advisors for more than 5,000 students were not adequate for helping all students learn about and choose program pathways. The college has now hired “student success navigators,” who call every single student before orientation and work with each student in person multiple times in their first semester to design a pathway that works for them. San Jacinto College in Texas reorganized its 144 degree and certificate programs into eight meta majors, allowing a student to choose one of the eight early on and begin introductory courses without being locked into a specific degree or certificate program. The college also worked on transfer-oriented programs by creating maps for the college’s five most common transfer destinations to help students choose the courses that will allow them to transfer non-elective college credit to the new institutions.

For Effective CTE, States Should Adopt Eight Non-Negotiables

ExcelinEd recently released a new playbook for state policymakers related to effective CTE. The report argues that while the importance of CTE has been recognized at the federal, state and local levels, not enough has been done to ensure that CTE programs are meeting workforce needs effectively. This is largely attributed to common challenges of the broad spectrum of programs available, the disconnect between K-12 and industry, and the negative legacy of “vocational education.” To address these challenges, the report recommends that states adopt eight “non-negotiables” related to their CTE policies:

  1. All promoted programs of study align with state and/or regional industry and labor market data;
  2. Programs of study incorporate experiential learning and capstone experiences valued by industry;
  3. Secondary programs of study vertically align with postsecondary programs;
  4. Courses are sequential and progressive in a given program of study;
  5. Secondary programs of study incorporate courses and exams eligible for postsecondary credit or hours where appropriate;
  6. Course standards are robust and accurately represent the academic, technical and employability skills learners must master;
  7. Educators receive ongoing, progressive training and professional development to ensure their instruction is reflective of course standards and current industry work environments; and
  8. Federal, state and local funding are utilized to leverage and drive programmatic changes leading to the implementation of vertically aligned education-to-career learning pathways.

 

The authors propose that these eight non-negotiables be implemented in a four-phase plan, to ensure thoughtful and sustainable changes are occurring. They provide examples of successful implementation of each of the eight non-negotiables in Delaware, Florida and Tennessee.

Odds and Ends

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a new report on the integration of education and workforce data. The report focuses on states who have created publicly available data tools in five areas:

Education Commission of the States recently released a 50-state comparison of policies related to Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs). PLAs allow learners and institutions to determine the level of previous of knowledge and experience before entering a postsecondary program, and can be used to incentivize re-entry for older learners.

A new report from the American Enterprise Institute examines the barriers community colleges face in providing high-quality CTE, including funding allocations, accreditation requirements and credit-transfer policies, among others. The report also makes recommendations for community colleges to make the most of their CTE offerings and reduce the proliferation of general studies programs at community colleges.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Research
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