Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

Resetting Perkins V Performance Levels: A Q&A with the Michigan Department of Education

Friday, February 19th, 2021

In 2020 the Michigan Department of Education began the process of revising its State Determined Performance Levels (SDPLs) for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) as a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. This blog post features a discussion with Dr. Jill Kroll, Supervisor for the Grants, Assessments, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, and Dr. Yincheng Ye, Research Consultant, at the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education.

Michigan is one of the first states to make adjustments to its Perkins V SDPLs as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Can you explain what changes you are proposing and why? 

We are proposing to reduce our SDLP for 3S1—Secondary Post-Program Placement from 95 percent to 75 percent for 2020-2021 and to 80 percent for 2021-2022, returning it to the original SDLP of 95 percent in 2022-2023.

Our reasoning for requesting this change is that we expect that student placement in both employment and continuing education will be adversely affected by the pandemic. This is based on a review of employment projections from the University of Michigan, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, and research reports and other reports indicating a reduction in postsecondary enrollment, especially among first-year college students and low-income students.

We also requested and received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) for reporting the academic indicators 2S1 and 2S2 because our state did not administer the 11th grade tests in Spring 2020, which will affect the data for students graduating in Spring 2021. We are awaiting the decision on the Spring 2021 assessments. If our state receives a waiver for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the waiver will also apply for Perkins (Our state already had a waiver from reporting the Science indicator 2S3 because we have a new assessment).

We did not feel that we needed a waiver for our indicator of program quality, 5S1—Attained Recognized Postsecondary Credential because our SDPL was already set quite low in our state plan due to the fact that we will be phasing in approval of credentials over several years. This info page for our State Board of Education and for public comment summarizes the proposed changes and includes citations for our evidence.

With conditions changing so rapidly under the Coronavirus pandemic, projecting data over the next few years can be like trying to hit a moving target. How were you able to make these projections work?

We were lucky that the University of Michigan produces solid quarterly economic and employment projections. We participated in several webinars beginning in Spring 2020 on the economic impact of the pandemic so we were aware of the resources available. We felt that it was important to follow procedure and propose reduced SDPLs where appropriate, and take the proposed levels for public comment, even if we had to base the proposed levels on estimated impact.

How are you explaining to the public why Michigan’s SDPLs need to be adjusted? 

We cited the available data. We found, during the initial public comment period for our Perkins V state plan, that stakeholders and the public were very receptive as long as we provided our reasoning for our recommendations, so we anticipate the same will be true for our proposed modifications. Here is what we have listed on the info sheet for public comment:

Both employment and postsecondary enrollment have been negatively influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown in 2020. The Post-program Placement indicator needs to be adjusted to reflect these impacts.

States have to go through the same public comment process to adjust their SDPLs as when they first developed their Perkins V plans. How has this process been similar or different to the original public comment period? 

We are following the same process as we did for our Perkins V state plan, presenting the proposal to stakeholder groups, taking the recommendations out for virtual public hearings, and publicizing the public comment opportunity through an online survey on our website. We also had to present to our State Board of Education prior to the public comment period and will have to present to them again after public comment, including the public comments.

What advice would you give states that are considering whether or not to change their Perkins V SDPLs? 

My advice would be to continue to regularly review the data related to each of the indicators. If it appears that the pandemic (or any other unanticipated circumstance) may affect the state’s ability to meet the SDLPs, develop a timeline for revising the SDLPs and then do it. I think it is important that school districts feel that the SDLPs are fair and reasonable and if they are unattainable due to circumstances outside the control of the districts and/or colleges they lose their value as engines of program improvement. I also think it is important for state offices to do our due diligence to maintain the faith and trust of our educators, districts, colleges and the public.

My other recommendation is to plan, plan, plan. A timeline is critical. As soon as we realized we needed to revise our SDLP we did two things. First, we contacted the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) at USED to verify that we could adjust the SDPL and to get the deadline for submitting the adjustment. Contact information for OCTAE Perkins Regional Coordinators is listed here. Second, we immediately worked out a timeline (this was in August) and quickly realized how long the process would take, with two State Board Meetings required as part of the process. It was only because we worked out the timeline so early that we will be able to make the OCTAE deadline for revising state plans and SDPLs on May 21.

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education released Mitigating Unanticipated Circumstances: Resetting Perkins V State Determined Performance Levels During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a guide to help states revise their Perkins V SDPLs. Dr. Kroll served on the workgroup that helped produce the guide.

By Austin Estes in COVID-19 and CTE, Publications, Resources
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This Week in CTE

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

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

CTE PROGRAM OF THE WEEK

Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, a virtual K-12 academy in Michigan, has seen an increase in enrollment for CTE courses. As a result of the pandemic, many students have responded to local labor market needs, and taken an interest in the health science Career Cluster®

One Health Science Instructor at the academy, AJ Krey, mentions, “it’s a program for all students that are interested in anything medicine.” More information can be found in this article published by WBKB-TV 11. 

WEBINAR SERIES OF THE WEEK

The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education announced their upcoming webinar series on CTE in the middle grades. The first of two webinars will be held on January 27, 2021. Click here for more information and to register. 

CTSO OF THE WEEK

SkillsUSA has opened their application window for the National Technical Honor Society/ SkillsUSA Scholarship. Both organizations strive to uphold the other’s mission by providing learners with scholarship opportunities that contribute to their educational experience.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce and that each learner excels. SkillsUSA provides educational programs, events and competitions that support CTE in the nation’s classrooms.

More information on the scholarship and how to apply can be found here

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 

This week, the Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents shared this video to aid in career exploration and the awareness of Ohio‘s 49 career centers.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Last week the omnibus bill that was passed by Congress to provide federal funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21)- which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed)- was signed into law by the president. Importantly, this included an increase of $52.25 million for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing the total to approximately $1.334 billion. Overall, the bill included an increase of approximately $785 million for education programs and an increase of approximately $122 million for labor programs.

View more Legislative Updates from this week here

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE examines the ways in which states can foster and sustain meaningful employer engagement to strengthen their CTE systems for all students. States can use this resource to evaluate best practices and strategies for engaging the employer community.

The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.

View The State of Career Technical Education: Employer Engagement in CTE in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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The State of CTE: Advancing Quality Credentials Through Perkins V

Friday, January 8th, 2021

In October, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their CTE systems. One finding of this report is the emerging state focus on credentials of value.

Perkins V introduces a new secondary program quality indicator as one method available to states to ensure program quality. States can choose from three options — work-based learning, recognized postsecondary credentials (credentials of value), and postsecondary credit attainment (dual enrollment and articulation) — all of which are components of a high-quality CTE program of study, in addition to other critical elements like rigorous standards, quality assessments, and alignment to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand career opportunities. States’ increasing focus on credentials shows up in many aspects of their Perkins V plans, as shown in the chart below. That should come as little surprise. Credentials that are valued in the labor market can serve as an important component of any quality CTE program. They serve as anchors for the exit and re-entry points within CTE programs and career pathways, providing learners with a valuable way to signal their knowledge and skills to prospective employers and other postsecondary educational institutions. 

The commitment to expanding credentials shows up in many aspects of state Perkins V plans, based on Advance CTE’s analysis: 

Which Credentials States Promote Matters

Despite their popularity, credentials are not all created equally. As ExcelinEd found in its research, states are in very different places in terms of the ways that they identify, align, prioritize and measure credentials of value earned by students across secondary and postsecondary systems. Consider that prior to Perkins V state plan approval:

While these findings show that all states can improve their policies related to credentials of value, Perkins V offers states a platform to increase their focus on credentials of value as a critical component of high-quality CTE programs of study that lead to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers. 

State Innovations

The Work Ahead

It is promising that states have included various references to credentials of value in their Perkins V plans. To help ensure they address core issues of quality and alignment, Credentials Matter offers six high-level recommendations for all states to develop statewide systems and processes that prioritize high-value credentials. 

States should be lauded for making plans to include and improve access to industry credentials as part of comprehensive CTE offerings. Their next step is to execute on the implementation strategies that will ensure these offerings pay dividends to students and families, while maintaining a steadfast commitment to quality and equity. 

Resources

Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Melissa Canney, Innovation Policy Director, ExcelinEd

By Christina Koch in Uncategorized
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This Week in CTE

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

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

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

This week, Advance CTE hosted a webinar providing a preview of the 2020 elections at both the national and state level and discussed how the results of the elections may impact policy overall, and specifically CTE-related policy. Panelists also discussed what state CTE leaders can do now to prepare for the elections in November. View the recording of the webinar and register for the next one: CTE’s Role in the Future of Work and our Economic Recovery.

SCHOLARSHIP AWARD OF THE WEEK

GRANT AWARD OF THE WEEK

The Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant will support states’ initiatives in creating innovative ways for learners to continue education in ways that meet their individual needs. States receiving the grant award include: Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. The awards range from $6 million to $20 million. View the press release here.

CTE PROGRAM OF THE WEEK

One local CTE program in Michigan has added a new teacher academy for their learners, which will begin this fall! With the help of a grant award from the Michigan Department of Education, Alpena Public Schools are looking to recruit their own educators for the future of their district. Read more in this article published by The Alpena News.

TOOLKIT OF THE WEEK

To assist state leaders in developing and expanding equitable youth apprenticeship programs, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) and the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) has developed a new toolkit, Equity in Youth Apprenticeship Programs

This toolkit strives to increase access and opportunities for high school students as they begin to transition into the workforce or a postsecondary institution. Read more here

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Advance CTE in partnership with The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has published a new resource as part of the Making Good on the Promise series, which outlines the five steps state CTE leaders can take to ensure secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities have access to and the supports needed to thrive in high-quality CTE programs. 

View the resource in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

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

Friday, June 26th, 2020

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

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE OF THE WEEK

Nebraska Career and Technical Education (CTE) held a Virtual Symposium, which was the first of its kind for the state. There were more than 700 CTE district, state and national level attendees. Among them were Commissioner Matt Blomstedt and Scott Stump, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education.

During the symposium, winners of the annual Nebraska Excellence in Career and Technical Education Awards and Richard Katt Outstanding Nebraska Career and Technical Educators Awards were announced. Read more about the symposium and learn more about the award winners here

STUDENT OF THE WEEK

In Michigan, one student has shown great leadership by joining Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Return to Learn Council. Dominic Gonzalez is one of the district’s dual enrollment learners, which allows him to attend a local community college and earn college credit while still in high school. Dominic will be tasked with providing Governor Whitmer and the council a student perspective of what returning to school should look like in the fall. Read more in the article published by The Detroit News.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Texas CTE students did not let graduation or the pandemic stop them from completing one meaningful project. Engineering and veterinary science students developed a prosthetic paw for a local puppy who suffered complications at birth. View this video for highlights from the project, prototypes of the prosthetic paw and the student’s stories. 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

The U.S. Department of Education approved four more state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V): Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee. 35 state plans are approved in total so far. Check out this chart to see which states have been approved, and links to the state plans.   

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Launched in 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth is a $75 million, five-year global initiative aimed at transforming how cities and states ensure that young people are career ready. The local investments from across the world – Innovation Sites – aim to identify and implement the most promising ideas in career education, with a special focus on communities with the greatest needs. Over the past year, Advance CTE has released a series of snapshots documenting the progress of the local investments. This week, Advance CTE released the final two snapshots featuring investments in the Greater Washington Region and Germany.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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Learning from CTE Research Partnerships: How Michigan Built Trust with Researchers to Better Understand State Data

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

As part of our ongoing blog series aimed at increasing state research on career and technical education (CTE), Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate at Advance CTE, and Corinne Alfeld, Research Analyst at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), are conducting interviews with individuals who are part of successful CTE State Director research partnerships. The first interview was with Jill Kroll of the Michigan Department of Education and Dan Kreisman of Georgia State University (and Director of CTEx). [Note: this interview has been edited for length; you can find the full interview transcript here].

The first question we have is about the projects that you work on together: what were some of the research questions you came up with, and how did you come to settle on those research questions?

Jill – I first connected with Dan and with Brian Jacob at University of Michigan when I saw Brian present to our P-20 council about some research that he was doing connecting the wage record data for five community colleges. I was like “Gee, is there any way you can do something similar with the statewide secondary student data?” And he said it was possible. So I worked within our department procedures to find out how we could go about establishing a relationship that would allow this opportunity.

Dan – That led to a whole bunch of other discussions of things that we thought were interesting. So, to say that there is a set of research questions is not the way I view our relationship. We talk with folks in Jill’s office regularly to hear what questions are pressing for them, and then we try to help facilitate answering those and then see where those lead us. I think one of the important things is we try to think about where there are policy levers, so we want to say “If we answer this question, how can the state or the districts use that information to further their mission of providing CTE programming to students in Michigan?”

Jill – I’ve been really happy with the extent to which Dan and the research team have consistently focused on the “so what?” Rather than focusing on vague research questions of interest only to other researchers, they have emphasized their interest in doing research that has practical application, that can be used by educators in the field.

Could you share an example of how you’ve been able to use some of this evidence and research to change policy, or at least to shape your understanding on some decisions that you’re making at the state level?

Jill – When we were starting to work on our Perkins V [the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act] state plan, we had a short time to determine what we wanted to consider for our secondary indicator of program quality. Because Brian, Dan, and their students had been working with this data for so many years, they had the capacity to very quickly do the matching and come up with an approximation for us about what postsecondary credit attainment would look like, and what strengths and weaknesses they saw in the data. It would have been really difficult for our office, or even multiple state agencies, to have been able to work that quickly and give it the critical analysis that they did.

The other thing they did when we were making the decision for that indicator is look at the data that we had for work-based learning and tell us what could be done with it. What came out of that was that the data was not in any form that could be analyzed (text and PDFs). This was really revealing to our State Director Brian Pyles, and it led him to set a policy that we are going to build a consistent way of collecting data on work-based learning. So that is another piece where it influenced practice and policy. One of the most exciting and valuable things that I find about the partnership is that Dan and the other researchers have a lot more capacity to analyze the data in a way that we just don’t have the time to do. Sometimes we don’t have the expertise, and sometimes we just don’t look at the data in the same way.

Dan –And there’s a flip side that without their input, we often are looking at data and can’t make heads or tails of something. And we can get on the phone or write an email to someone over there and say “Hey we’re seeing this thing. Can you tell me what that means?” And they will come back with “Oh, the system changed” or “There was this one policy,” and “Here’s what you have to do to make it fit everything else.” And this happens all the time. We would be completely lost without this open channel that we have to their office.

I think it’s important not to dismiss the power of good descriptive work. Lots of times, the questions that states are grappling with can often be illuminated with some really careful and good descriptive work. You can say, “This is what we’re seeing, this is the big picture,” if you step back for a minute, and that information lots of times has been as valuable as the stuff we try to do that is more causally oriented in our research.

Jill – I agree, and I want to follow up on the whole issue of how important trust is. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to me that Dan and the other researchers come to us with those questions, that they check in with us. That’s absolutely critical. Anyone who works with any kind of data knows that it’s just so complex. If you link tables wrong, or misunderstand a data field, you can come to a completely wrong decision. So that communication and that interaction and trust are key to accurate outcomes.

As you’re both looking ahead, what’s next on the agenda? What are some of the research questions and priorities you have for this partnership?

Dan – Number one is tracking students into the labor market. That’s our biggest and most outstanding question. And the degree to which CTE programs are preparing students for college and the labor market and careers. In terms of other projects, one of the things we’re interested in is technical assessments. We’re also part of a consortium of several states – that’s the CTEx group. We meet annually together, and that allows us to harmonize things across states to see how trends are similar, how enrollment rates work, all sorts of different questions across multiple states.

Jill – One of the things we’re talking about right now is that we don’t have, in an accessible form, data on access to a particular program. We know that career centers serve certain districts, but if someone asked, “If student A is going to Central High School, what programs do they have access to? we don’t have a good way of answering that at the moment. We’ve had a couple of discussions about how we can work together to build basically a dataset that clarifies that. That would be mutually beneficial and would take resources from both in order to do something like that.

Thinking back on this partnership, is there any advice you would give to other State Directors or CTE researchers?

Dan – Building a strong relationship is the first thing you have to do. And part of that is spending time face to face talking about questions, moving around ideas, looking at data together. We had the benefit of a long windup period. We spent at least a year just talking about questions and putting together data before we even started doing any analyses. We also had buy-in from Jill’s office up and down the line from folks who were doing the research to people who were in policymaking roles. And without all of that, none of this would even have been possible.

And the second part is to not downplay the value of just providing good information. A lot of us on the research side don’t realize how little time folks in the state offices have to take a step back and say, “What’s going on with our data? Let’s look at the big picture.” And one of the things we can provide them is just giving them that big picture and handing it to them in a digestible way. And doing that is the first step, is a really good way to start building that trust. They really see the value of what you can do early on. And then you can start to get into more difficult or longer-term questions.

Jill – The first advice I would give is: Do it! Partner with researchers. I can’t say enough positive about it. The second is: Follow department procedures and be transparent with department leadership. You know that windup might be really, really slow while you jog through the channels that you need to in your department to do things by the book, but I think it pays off in the long run.

My third one is: Be transparent and open with school districts. Share what you’re doing and invite their input. Anybody who works with state data would probably know, you’re always a little hesitant about what the public would think about this use of data. The way that Dan and the postdocs and graduate students have openly shared the work that they’ve done with our CTE administrators has really helped, in that I have not gotten any doubt from districts.

The full transcript can be accessed on Advance CTE’s website. Other blog posts in this series can be viewed here.

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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Tackling Rural CTE Challenges on Capitol Hill

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

What can state leaders do to expand access to high-quality career technical education (CTE) in rural communities? That was the focus of an event held last Thursday by the Congressional CTE Caucus, in coordination with Advance CTE.

The event featured state and local leaders from diverse geographies, who shared their experiences with delivering CTE in rural  communities, highlighting both barriers and best practices. The co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), also stopped by the event to provide remarks about the value of CTE and weigh in on the state of rural CTE.

As Representative Thompson (R-PA), who comes from a largely rural area in Pennsylvania, noted at the beginning of the event, “CTE restores rungs on the ladder of opportunity. We need to make sure that we are dealing with the barriers,” so that CTE can help close opportunity gaps and extend a bridge to lifelong career success. However, rural communities often face obstacles like scarce resources, critical teacher shortages and a limited employer base that make it difficult to deliver high-quality CTE at scale. As Advance CTE found through their interviews with state CTE leaders, these challenges are common across geographies, yet they are often exacerbated in rural communities (find all of the briefs in the CTE on the Frontier series here).

How can state and local leaders tackle these challenges? During the event, Dr. Marcie Mack — state CTE director for Oklahoma, spoke about Oklahoma’s career-tech system and the value of employer partnerships in rural CTE, particularly with Oklahoma’s technology center districts, which deliver CTE programs to high school, postsecondary, adult and justice-involved students.

We were pleased to also feature on the panel a 2018 Excellence in Action award winner, Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center. Stephanie Long, curriculum supervisor for TBAISD, shared about the difficulty of connecting learners from rural districts with the high-quality CTE programming her career-tech center provides. The center serves a region as large as the state of Delaware, with many students traveling hours a day to get to and from classes. The center provides buses during the day and bus passes after school hours to help these learners access high-quality CTE.  

Jan Hanlon, executive director for the Mountain State Education Service Cooperative, discussed how West Virginia is tackling access challenges through Simulated Workplace programs. Through Simulated Workplace, more than 24,000 students annually develop real-world skills by participating in a realistic classroom-based company where they have to meet expectations for attendance, safety, sobriety and professionalism, just as they would need if employed by a local business. Representative Langevin (D-RI) of Rhode Island wrapped up the discussion with an important closing thought: “We can’t expect businesses to grow if we don’t have the workforce available.”

As the event’s panelists underscored, CTE is a critical strategy to help rural America adapt to the 21st century economy. The aftershocks of the Great Recession are still being felt in rural America today, where many learners are disconnected from opportunities to reskill and prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. CTE can help these learners build the skills they need for lifelong success and equip them with the knowledge and abilities to adapt to an ever-changing economy.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Meetings and Events
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In Idaho and Indiana, Governors Celebrate Successes and Make Bold Commitments for CTE in the Year Ahead

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

The 2018 legislative session is heating up and, as is tradition in many states, Governors have kicked off the season by laying out their policy agendas in their annual addressed to their state legislatures. Last year, career readiness emerged as a top priority for most states, with 24 governors elevating Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce training in their speeches. Already, it looks like that trend will continue in 2018.

In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter celebrated the work of his higher education and workforce development task forces, which were both authorized by executive order early last year, and committed to implementing their recommendations. These include hiring an executive officer for higher education, expanding capacity at postsecondary technical schools, incentivizing high school CTE programs, and expanding CTE offerings to 7th and 8th grade.

Meanwhile, Governor Eric Holcomb laid out an agenda for CTE in his address to the Indiana state legislature earlier this week. In December, the State Board of Education adopted new pathways to graduation that elevate the role of work-based learning and CTE in high school pathways. In his address, Gov. Holcomb celebrated this decision and committed to making the high school diploma even more meaningful by developing K-12 computer science standards, investing in professional development for teachers, and establishing a state work-based learning and apprenticeship office with the goal of doubling the number of work-based learning opportunities in the state by 2019.

In other states, governors committed to expanding tuition-free college, investing in work-based learning opportunities, and supporting programs like Jobs for America’s Graduates that connect at-risk youth with education and training opportunities. While only a handful of states have held their 2018 state of state events already, more than half of these speeches are scheduled to take place in January.

New Money for High-demand CTE Programs

After a busy 2017, states are turning to the work of executing new policies and programs. In last year’s session, the Indiana legislature outlined a revised CTE funding formula to better align resources with workforce demand. Under the tiered funding structure, programs receive more money if they are in demand and lead to high wages. The new funding formula will not go into effect until July, but programs are already seeing changes to their designations and are anticipating funding shifts.

In Michigan, new funding for CTE will soon make landfall through a $5 million competitive grant initiative. The initiative was authorized in November by the legislature and is part of a $12.5 million appropriation for CTE equipment upgrades. Grants will be awarded to school districts in partnership with institutions of higher education and are designed to strengthen high-quality career pathways in high-demand, high-wage fields.

Register for Upcoming Advance CTE Webinars

Finally, Advance CTE has a few webinars on the schedule related to state CTE policy:

(January 17, 3:00pm ET) Leveraging ESSA’s Momentum to Advance Career Readiness: This webinar will share the findings from Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group’s full analysis of ESSA state plans and explore trends across all states. Participants will also hear from state leaders in South Dakota and Rhode Island who are using their ESSA plans to build and capitalize on momentum around career readiness. Participants can register here.

(January 31, 2:00pm ET) State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review: Join Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education to unpack findings from the “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2017 Year in Review” report. The webinar will explore recent trends in state CTE policy and examine how the CTE policy landscape has changed over the past few years. Participants can register here.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy, Webinars
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States Pave Way for More Flexible, Integrated Pathways to Graduation

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE reinforces the principle that all learning should be personalized and flexible. Education should meet learners where they’re at, allowing them to pursue pathways and experiences aligned to their career interests. To that end, a number of states this summer have taken steps to expand flexible pathways to graduation by amending graduation requirements and exploring opportunities to enhance career advisement and integrate workforce skills throughout the K-12 curriculum.

In Connecticut, for example, Governor Dannel Malloy signed SB1026, amending graduation requirements set to take effect this year. Those requirements were adopted in 2010 in an effort to raise expectations, but were too prescriptive in terms of which courses learners would need to take to graduate. Specifically, the requirements increased the minimum number of credits needed to graduate from 20 to 25 and specified that students would need to earn eight credits in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), nine credits in humanities, three in career and life skills, and three and a half in other areas, including a senior demonstration project.

The new law makes some changes to the required number of credits but ultimately provides school districts and learners more flexibility on the path to graduation. For one, students will now be required to earn nine, not eight, credits in STEM, but local school boards have the liberty to choose which courses qualify. Additionally, the law gives students the option to receive credit by demonstrating subject matter competency through alternative means, such as work-based learning, Career Technical Education (CTE), virtual learning and more. And instead of the senior demonstration project, learners must complete a mastery-based diploma assessment.

Washington Takes Credit Equivalencies Statewide

Over on the west coast, Washington State’s budget for the 2017-19 biennium includes provisions to accelerate the state’s ongoing credit equivalency work. Under the enacted budget, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is directed to help expand and support the implementation of course equivalency credits statewide. This builds upon an ongoing state effort to streamline graduation pathways and allow students to earn math and science credit by demonstrating competency through technical coursework. Since 2015, the State Board of Education has established course equivalency frameworks for 32 courses, including the Core Plus curriculum, a model developed in partnership with the Boeing company to help students develop knowledge and skills in manufacturing.

Additionally, the budget provides for a competitive grant fund to help school districts implement the course equivalency frameworks, such as by developing rigorous assessments, raising awareness and providing professional development for educators.

Rethinking Education and Workforce Development in Idaho, Michigan and California

Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Idaho, Michigan and California to align K-12 education with workforce development priorities. In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter’s Workforce Development Task Force, launched by executive order in January, released its findings and recommendations from a five-month study into the state’s workforce development needs. Among the task force’s recommendations are strategies to connect K-12 education to career pathways, strengthen career advisement in the state, expand CTE programs and apprenticeships, and incentivize schools to integrate workforce skills into secondary curricula.

In Michigan, the Career Pathways Alliance —  a Governor-led, cross-sector effort — released a series of 16 recommendations to dramatically strengthen career preparation at the secondary level. Proposals range from continuing a statewide communications campaign to enhancing career counseling efforts and introducing more flexibility into the Michigan graduation standards, an effort currently making its way through the state legislature. While many of the Alliance’s recommendations require legislative approval, State Superintendent Brian Whiston issued a directive immediately after the recommendations were released to begin implementing some of the strategies.  

Meanwhile, California is taking steps to develop and integrate computer science standards into K-12 curricula. The state’s budget directs the superintendent to convene a Computer Science Strategic Implementation Advisory Panel to provide recommendations for implementing K-12 computer science standards. Specifically, the panel’s recommendations, which are due to the superintendent by July 2019, will address professional development for teachers, define principles for meeting the needs of K-12 students, and identify strategies to expand access to computer science education.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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And They’re Off! Early ESSA Plans Signal Enthusiasm for Career Readiness

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), reauthorized in 2015 under President Obama, affords states great opportunity to promote career readiness by updating state accountability systems, providing supports for teachers and leaders, and ensuring students can access a “well-rounded education,” including opportunities such as Career Technical Education (CTE). With the first submission window for ESSA plans now officially open, several states have stepped up to the plate, signaling a new era of career readiness.

Amid Transitions in Washington, States Move Forward as Planned

This week’s submission window comes after recent changes to the ESSA plan submission process threatened to derail the timeline. After Congress exercised its rarely-used Congressional Review Act authority earlier this year to revoke certain ESSA regulations, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged states to stay the course and continue their implementation efforts as planned. Earlier in March, Sec. DeVos released an updated template reorganizing the structure of the state plan and eliminating a few requirements from the Obama administration’s version, providing additional flexibility to states. While this reduced the turnaround time for states to prepare their final plans, states are permitted to submit plans as late as May 3 to provide the governor 30 days to review the final version, as required by statute.

States took these changes in stride, though some are reconsidering their approach to public data reporting. The accountability regulations repealed by Congress earlier this year encouraged the use of a “summative rating” to differentiate school performance. Now that the rule no longer applies, many states are rolling back A-F school report cards in favor of multi-measure dashboards. These changes are largely a response to criticism from local superintendents and other stakeholders who claim that summative reporting is overly simplistic and fails to provide a nuanced picture of school quality.

At Least Ten of First Eighteen States to Count Career Readiness in their Accountability Systems

Eighteen states have signaled they will submit ESSA plans during the initial review window, which opened on April 3. Of those, nine have already submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education. While Montana and Ohio originally opted to submit by the April 3 deadline, they have since delayed their plans to allow more time for stakeholder engagement. They, along with the remaining states, will submit in September.

A review of draft public-comment plans reveals some promising strategies to strengthen CTE and career preparation opportunities. Of the 18 states submitting plans this week, at least ten plan to use some form of career readiness indicator in their accountability systems. These include:

Other states such as Colorado plan to adopt additional indicators a later date once better systems have been developed to reliably collect and report data. Colorado plans to convene its accountability workgroup again this spring and will explore possible measures of career readiness, including completion of advanced coursework, students graduating with college credit or an industry credential, and post-graduation employment. 

Additional career readiness strategies are present throughout state draft plans. In North Dakota, state policymakers singled out ESSA’s “well-rounded education” requirements to promote CTE, competency-based learning, personalized learning and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) programs. The state plans to use ESSA’s Student Support and Academic Achievement Grants (authorized under Title IV Part A) to strengthen well-rounded education opportunities and prepare students for postsecondary success.

And in Maine, the Department of Education plans to continue its ongoing Intersections Workshops, which bring together academic and CTE teachers to identify intersections across different content standards. This work was originally started after the state adopted a competency-based education system in 2012.

The first round of state ESSA plans indicates enthusiasm and willingness to leverage federal policy to support career readiness. And even states that do not currently have the technical capacity to do so are taking steps to adopt such measures. With months remaining until the second submission deadline in September, we encourage states to examine ESSA’s increased flexibility and seize the opportunity to strengthen career readiness systems statewide.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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