Advance CTE Explores the Critical State of CTE Research at the 2018 Spring Meeting

April 19th, 2018

At Advance CTE’s 2018 Spring Meeting, the organization hosted the “Critical State of CTE Research” session in response to the need for more robust CTE research.

The session began with a panel of Career Technical Education (CTE) research experts, which included Corinne Alfeld from the Institute of Education Sciences, Tom Bailey from the Community College Research Center, Shaun Dougherty from the University of Connecticut, and Andy Smarick from the American Enterprise Institute. The panel highlighted current CTE research and explored barriers and opportunities to expanding CTE research.

The panelists discussed how CTE practice is far ahead of CTE research, in large part because of the lack of capacity and data access to actually do meaningful research. The panel emphasized the importance of increasing the pipeline of CTE researchers and developing partnerships between states and researchers to actively plan out research questions. The panelists expressed a desire for access to cross-state level data to enable them to make accurate generalizations about CTE and its impact.

Some specific research issues that the panelist were interested in included the noncognitive abilities of CTE students, the earning potential associated with short-term credentials, the specific elements in high school CTE programs that make them effective and Work Colleges, which are liberal art schools that evaluate people on their work in addition to their academics.

Following the panelist discussion, an input session was held where participants broke into small groups and identified priority topics for future research efforts. From these identified topics, the following research themes emerged:

  • Student outcomes, such as graduation rates, employment rates and the relationship between CTE participation and college debt;
  • Evaluating the elements of a high-quality program of study;
  • How to improve the quality of CTE data;
  • Teacher professional development;
  • Updated definitions or descriptive statistics on CTE learners; and,
  • CTE’s short- and long-term return on investment.

Within these themes, a number of interesting research questions emerged. In regards to student outcomes, for example, multiple groups inquired about CTE’s impact on student debt and whether it is actually accurate to make the claim that CTE program completion is associated with less student debt. While certain programs, such as the Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) apprenticeship program, can boast that its participants transitioned into apprenticeships or employment with no student debt, it is unclear whether there is enough data to make the sweeping generalization that CTE program completion at the secondary or postsecondary level is associated with less student debt..

Participants mirrored the panelists and expressed a desire to know what distinct elements of a CTE program have the greatest impact- good or bad- on outcomes. While the defining features of a high-quality CTE program have been identified, it is unclear what elements within those features lead to positive outcomes for learners. Parsing out those elements will allow institutions to improve the quality of their CTE programs and consequently lead to better learner outcomes.

Additionally, in regards to professional development, multiple groups inquired about the best way to prepare CTE instructors to facilitate learning for students with special needs. These questions showcase the desire for CTE to be leveraged to produce positive outcomes for each learner and a recognition that targeted professional development for teachers is critical to achieving equitable outcomes.

The research themes gathered from this 2018 Spring Meeting session will be utilized to help inform future Advance CTE resources as well as potential partnerships with research organizations.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Staff Reflections of the 2018 Spring Meeting: Part 2

April 18th, 2018

Starting with the first day of the meeting, there was a sense of excitement about federal policy – our meeting began within two weeks of Congress’ passage of an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. With the first significant increase to the federal investment in the Perkins Basic State Grant in years (read more about this in Advance CTE’s statement), state leaders were eager to discuss how we could build on this momentum and move toward doubling the investment in Career Technical Education (CTE). Meeting attendees channeled this enthusiasm into thinking about how to leverage not only the federal investment, but also the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) itself to advance a statewide vision for CTE.

The Maximizing Perkins to Advance Your State’s Vision for CTE panel featured state leaders who did just that – maximized Perkins to continuously improve CTE and move toward their statewide vision. In the workshops that followed, there was much discussion about how a statewide vision for CTE can kickstart important discussions with partners and stakeholders interested in CTE about student outcomes data, the quality of CTE programs and the degree to which learners have access to such programs. These themes came up often in policy conversations during the Spring Meeting – from the panel that focused on the Higher Education Act reauthorization to the session that featured Kara McKee, the Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Policy. Meeting participants also had the chance to bring up these ideas and more during the View from the Hill Panel, which focused on Perkins reauthorization. This was my favorite part of the Spring Meeting – seeing Advance CTE’s members share their stories and engage with staff for members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee about their ideas and priorities for Perkins reauthorization!  

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy

I joined the Advance CTE team two years ago, in April 2016. Since then, Perkins reauthorization has been JUST around the corner. But state leaders don’t need to wait for a new bill to pass to re-envision how CTE can be delivered in their states. Imagine, Perkins was last authorized 12 years ago — predating Tesla, the iPhone and the Great Recession. State plans are long overdue for a refresh.

This year at the Spring Meeting, states began discussions to set and execute new visions for CTE. In partnership with RTI International, our team organized a series of workshops to help states plan around a five-step continuous loop: Vision, Analyze, Plan, Execute and Measure. Action steps include identifying and articulating a clear vision, defining and prioritizing equity, and aligning the state vision for CTE with other statewide priorities. As Congress works to approve a new Perkins bill, there is much work state leaders can do now to set in motion new plans for CTE.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

As usual, the Spring Meeting featured sessions highlighting Advance CTE research, and it was fantastic this year to see such a variety of topics and projects throughout the meeting. During a series of breakouts after lunch on Wednesday, April 4, participants could hear about research related to career advising, teacher recruitment in rural areas, messaging for CTE and work-based learning. Advance CTE has released resources related to all of these topics in the last year and a half, and we continue to learn about and share new state examples and promising practices.

Other Advance CTE research was highlighted throughout the meeting, particularly in Friday’s “Problems of Practice” session, where states presented on specific challenges and participated in facilitated discussions around those challenges. States talked about rural employer engagement, CTE teacher certification and postsecondary readiness indicators, all areas where Advance CTE was able to provide specific insights and practices.

I was especially excited to utilize the Spring Meeting to begin the research for our equity initiative, gathering input from a panel presentation and five breakout sessions focused on specific learner populations. In this way, the role of Advance CTE conferences in our research agenda continues to evolve as we use them to share findings but also gather promising practices.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

CTE advocacy and implementation spans across the federal, state and local levels. The Spring Meeting provided a platform to hear from individuals across the entire spectrum. From Friday’s panel with Congressional staffers and an administration representative, to conversations with local practitioners, I found a common message resonated with all: the desire to create quality and accessible CTE programs.

The Spring Meeting also opened the floor to discussions about the range in progress of implementation of these high-quality CTE programs. The Excellence in Action keynote and award series gave insight into examples of leading CTE programs of study throughout the country, and I enjoyed speaking to the program leaders during the session about their unique local stories. Workshops held on Thursday and Friday opened the floor to discussions on challenges faced at the state level. Attendees were able to share common barriers and offer guidance moving forward.

It was a unique experience to hear from a variety of advocates across different stages of CTE program implementation, and I learned something different from each.

Meredith Hills, Graduate Fellow, Federal Policy

DC, Texas Improve Data Systems; Colorado, Ohio’s Community Colleges Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

April 17th, 2018

As the legislative session moves forward, many states have passed bills that will help to improve data systems and expand opportunities for learners.

Data System Improvements

Recently, data system improvements have been a focus of policy efforts in order to better support and hold accountable districts, institutions and programs, as well as allow learners, employers and policymakers to stay informed.

In the District of Columbia, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the Workforce Development Systems Transparency Act, which requires the District’s Workforce Investment Council to detail the District’s spending on adult education programs and workforce development education programs, as well as the performance outcomes of those programs, in a public report. The performance outcomes information will include employment rates, median earnings, credential attainment, and completion rates. The first version of the report will include information about programs managed by seven DC entities, such as the Department of Employment Resources, and by 2020 programs administered by an additional 14 entities will be included in the report.

In Texas, the University of Texas System launched an updated version of the database Seek UT to include University of Texas graduates’ earnings in the hopes of showing the benefits of higher education. The database utilizes Census Bureau data and provides information on student’s median incomes for every program offered after one, five, and ten years after graduating, the percentage of students who went on to continue their education and the median loan debt for different programs. The database is viewed as a “work-around” of the current ban on a federal database that would link student-level education data to national employment data.

Community Colleges Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

Elsewhere, states are passing laws to expand community college offerings and to address the shortage of skilled employees.

In Colorado, a bill that allows Colorado’s community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing recently became law. The bill was passed without the governor’s signature or veto. In a letter explaining this decision, Governor Hickenlooper cited concerns over limited stakeholder engagement by the bill’s proponents and potential conflicts between the various agencies that oversee higher education in the state.

In response to these concerns, the letter directs the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) to convene stakeholders to determine how to best align programs with industry trends. This law was allowed to pass in response to a severe shortage of nurses in Colorado and after reports that more nursing disciplines require a masters or doctoral degree than in previous years.

Similarly, in Ohio, three community colleges received state approval to offer bachelor’s degrees in microelectronic manufacturing, aviation, unmanned aerial systems, land surveying and culinary and food science. These programs still need to receive accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission before the community colleges can offer the degrees.

Once accredited, these programs will help to achieve Ohio Governor Kasich’s goal to have 65 percent of the state’s workforce earn an industry recognized credential or degree by 2025. Governor Kasich has already showcased his support for community colleges to offer baccalaureates through the introduction and passage of legislation that supports this.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Congress Back in Session, New Advance CTE Resources, Perkins Reauthorization Update

April 13th, 2018

With Congress back in session this week (after a two-week recess), there’s news to share from Washington, D.C.! Read below to learn more about President Trump’s intent to nominate a key official for a post at the U.S. Department of Labor, an important announcement about the current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, new resources from Advance CTE and an update on reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

President Trump to Nominate John P. Pallasch for Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training

On April 11, President Trump announced his intent to nominate John P. Pallasch for the position of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. Pallasch previously served in the Kentucky Department of Labor as the Executive Director of the Office of Employment and Training.

Speaker of the House, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) Will Not Seek Re-Election 

On April 11, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is the current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives announced that he will not seek re-election in November. The next House Speaker will be selected after the November elections and will take on the role in January 2019, when the next Congress is sworn into office.

Advance CTE Releases CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide

This week, Advance CTE released CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide, a tool that includes a series of questions for state leaders to use as they reflect on current efforts to expand access to high-quality CTE and career-focused pathways and experiences in rural communities and to identify future opportunities and actions. The guide, along with Advance CTE’s earlier CTE on the Frontier briefs are accessible in the Learning that Works Resource Center and examine state strategies to improve program quality, connect rural learners to the world of work, diversify program offerings and strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline. In all, this package of resources can help state leaders identify and execute a plan to improve rural access to high-quality career pathways.

Status Update on Perkins Reauthorization

Since House passage of H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 2st Century Act, the bill that would reauthorize Perkins, there has been little discussion about the Senate taking up reauthorization. Recently, Senate staff for members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee have been engaged in internal discussions on Perkins reauthorization. Committee staff are exchanging ideas and language in an effort to spark discussion and move the reauthorization process forward. These initial ideas are not the foundation of a legislative proposal, but rather just one part of the negotiations. While some of the ideas we have heard are not aligned with Advance CTE’s Perkins Reauthorization Recommendations and would present significant concerns, we remain engaged in the process and are working closely with Hill staff to address these issues.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

New Fact Sheet Encourages Integration between CTE and Postsecondary Student Success Efforts

April 12th, 2018

The typical college experience has been described by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) as having the structure of a cafeteria – though there are many programs, services and activities available, it is often left to the learner to make the choices that will lead them to successful program completion and entry into the workforce. This structure has led to an environment where, even with increased access to postsecondary education, learners, particularly those considered “non-traditional,” are not set up for success. Graduation rates for four-year universities are currently at 59 percent, and for community colleges at a dismal 28 percent. 

In response to these results, many community colleges have worked with national organizations like CCRC and the American Association of Community Colleges, among others, to develop student success initiatives, focused on increasing equity and degree completion. These initiatives include numerous reforms of college advising and student support services to ensure that postsecondary learners undergo a seamless journey throughout their experience and complete college with a meaningful degree.

Unfortunately, too often these initiatives happen in silos, separate from postsecondary CTE initiatives. Today, Advance CTE released a new fact sheet describing how CTE and student success efforts can support each other. For example, a big part of student success initiatives focuses on helping students choose pathways and meta majors – the National Career Clusters Framework has for many years served as a way to group similar pathways together and help students narrow their choices. Additionally, the role of strategies like career advising and employer mentorship have long been crucial parts of CTE programs of study.

For more information on how these initiatives can help each other, read the fact sheet today.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Putting CTE on the Frontier into Action

April 11th, 2018

Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE lays out a reality where all learners have access to a high-quality education that leads to rewarding career opportunities and can gain the skills they need, when they them, without the limitations of place or time.  Yet in too many states, learners in rural communities are less likely to have access to Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways, experiences and supports than their peers in suburban or urban areas.

Given the unique challenges to expanding CTE on the “frontier,” Advance CTE launched a year-long initiative to unpack the biggest barriers and identify promising practices from across the country. Based on interviews with over a dozen state secondary and postsecondary leaders – in addition to local practitioners and national experts – Advance CTE released a series of four briefs with short case studies on states’ approaches to addressing the most pressing challenges to expanding access to high-quality CTE pathways in rural communities.

While this research and the embedded case studies can serve as a critical resource for states as they advance their own priorities and policies to address gaps in rural CTE pathways and experiences, it also shined a light on how interwoven each of these challenges are and the need for states to address all of them comprehensively and collaboratively.

To support such efforts, Advance CTE has released its CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide. This tool offers series of questions for state leaders to use as they reflect on current efforts to expand access to high-quality CTE and career-focused pathways and experiences in rural communities and to identify future opportunities and actions. While many of the questions may be difficult to answer at this time, those unanswerable questions can provide a lot of direction for a state’s next steps, including data to gather and partners to engage.

Advance CTE has also released a companion facilitation guide to help state leaders make the most of this resource and to support states’ efforts to address the five cross-cutting elements of a rural CTE strategy.

Want to learn more? Join us for a webinar on the CTE on the Frontier research and lessons learned on May 17. Register today!

CTE on the Frontier briefs: 

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

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

Staff Reflections of the 2018 Spring Meeting: Part 1

April 10th, 2018

Advance CTE’s 2018 Spring Meeting opened with a focus on some of the most critical external factors impacting CTE – in particular labor market demand and the upcoming 2018 elections.

The meeting kicked off with a keynote from Nicole Smith of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce who discussed what “good jobs” are available – specifically those that pay a sustaining wage, offer pathways to advancement and are accessible to individuals with some college but less than a four-year degree – and who currently has access those good jobs. Through a moderated discussion with Chauncy Lennon of JPMorgan Chase & Co., who funded the “Good Jobs Project,” Smith shared some of Georgetown’s major findings, including the rise of health care careers and the fact that women disproportionately “own” about two-thirds of all student loan debt, to the tune of $1 trillion, despite only holding one-third of all good jobs.

The morning then shifted to the first full panel of the meeting, featuring some of Advance CTE’s strongest partners: Steve Bowen on the Council of Chief State School Officers, Anna Davis of National Governors Association and Kermit Kaleba of the National Skills Coalition. With 36 gubernatorial elections happening in 2018, along with a potentially major mid-term election impacting both chambers of the U.S. Congress, all three of the panelists urged Advance CTE and its members to keep up on the positive communications about CTE given its popularity and bi-partisanship. The speakers also encouraged the CTE community to do more to educate policymakers and partners on what CTE, and Perkins, is all about to ensure their support going forward.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director, Advance CTE

This year’s 2018 Spring Meeting was the most highly attended in Advance CTE history. We thank each and every attendee and sponsor for bringing their wonderful energy and insight to make this year’s meeting one of the most memorable I’ve had in my time with Advance CTE.

Nearly 250 national, state and local CTE leaders joined us April 4-6 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. Our attendees represented 27 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands and came from every corner of CTE including secondary, postsecondary, workforce development, adult education and even the philanthropic community and other key partners.  

I also want to thank and recognize our sponsors, whose partnership and support helped make our meeting a success:

Diamond Level

  • CompTIA
  • Certiport
  • Lincoln Electric
  • Microsoft Imagine Academy
  • Oracle Academy

Platinum Level

  • Manufacturing Skills Standards Council
  • Simulaids

Gold Level

  • NC3T
  • Siemens

Bronze Level

  • CareerSafe
  • Career Solutions Publishing
  • CORD
  • Fleck Education
  • KnowledgeMatters
  • MBA Research
  • Precision Exams
  • RealityWorks
  • Vivayic

Not yet a member? Today is the perfect day to join us! Member benefits include discounted meeting registration, which you can use at our next in-person meeting.

We hope to see all of you October 22-24 at our Fall Meeting at the BWI Marriott just outside Baltimore, Maryland!

Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate, Member Engagement and Leadership Development

Top 10 Advance CTE 2018 Spring Meeting Tweets

April 9th, 2018

Last week, over 200 leaders in Career Technical Education came together in Washington, D.C. for the annual Spring Meeting to collaborate, learn, and honor our 11 Excellence in Action award recipients. Attendees and speakers took to Twitter to keep the conversation going. Below are the top 10 tweets from the meeting.


Congratulations to the 2018 Excellence in Action Award Recipients!

April 9th, 2018

On Friday, we announced the 11 2018 Excellence in Action award recipients that represent some of the best Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the country.  The awardees were chosen by a selection committee based on their proven ability to exemplify excellence in the implementation of the Career Clusters®, show a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education, provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and have a substantial and evidence-based impact on student achievement and success.

Award Winners included:

  • A&M Consolidated High School, TX (Information Technology)
  • Anderson 1 and 2 Career and Technology Center, SC (Transportation, Distribution & Logistics)
  • Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, TX (Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources)
  • Dauphin County Technical School, PA (Architecture & Construction)
  • Granite Technical Institute/Granite School District, UT (Manufacturing)
  • Indian Capital Technology Center, OK (Health Sciences)
  • Nashua Technology Center at Nashua High School South, NH (Arts, A/V Technology & Communications)
  • Saginaw Career Complex, MI (Hospitality & Tourism)
  • Sunrise Mountain High School, AZ (Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security)
  • Traverse Bay Area ISD Career Tech Center, MI (Education & Training)
  • William J. Pete Knight High School, CA (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)

“The programs of study that we are honoring today all share a steadfast commitment to the highest expectations for CTE,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director of Advance CTE. “This dedication to quality and excellence leads to strong learner outcomes, creating opportunities for a lifetime of career and education success. Today’s honorees serve as national models of what high-quality CTE looks like and can achieve.”

Award recipients were honored at the 2018 Advance CTE Spring Meeting, where nearly 30 administrators, educators and students traveled across the country to be recognized in front of state and national leaders.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Sandra Clement, principal of Foy H. Moody High School, a recipient of a 2014 Excellence in Action award, created an inspiring energy in the room as she spoke about the successful CTE programming, and it’s positive impact on the learners at the school..

“I wanted to make sure the change I was making was not only at the school but to our community,” said Dr. Sandra Clement.

She continued, “CTE is not an elective, it is a pathway.” Dr. Sandra Clement also emphasized the importance of recognizing and celebrating the instructors and administrators that contribute to these award-winning programs. “Our classrooms are powered by the hearts of our educators,” she exclaimed.

This was clearly event throughout the ceremony as instructors representing the winning programs shared the success of their programs and their passion for seeing students excel.

“Those who can do, but those who inspire teach!” said Bart Taylor, Information Technology teacher at A&M Consolidated High School.


Learn more about the 2018 Excellence in Action awards here.

Advance CTE Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog: New MSSC High School Pre-apprenticeship

April 3rd, 2018

High-quality Feeder System for Manufacturing Registered Apprenticeships

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council is proud to announce a new High School Pre-Apprenticeship Program for manufacturing, which includes 560 hours of “Earn and Learn” On-the-Job Learning over summer semesters during junior and senior year. It is an excellent preparation for the 3,000-hour Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Registered Apprenticeship Program that embeds the MSSC Certified Production Technician (CPT).


The U.S. Department of Labor recently approved this program as a nationwide quality pre-apprenticeship. An earn-and-learn competency-based program, that takes place over 2 years. It consists of:

  • Related Training: 80 hours junior year and 80 hours senior year
  • On the Job Learning (OJL): 280 hours (8 weeks) in the summer of junior year and 280 hours (8 weeks) in the summer of senior year, for which the student will receive a stipend.

During Related Training, candidate earns the industry-recognized, nationally portable MSSC Certified Production Technician (CPT) or the hands-on CPT+ based upon the new and highly innovative Amatrol “Skill Boss” training device (see brochure). CPT+ is an additional option under the CPT program.

MSSC suggests that the participating employer pay $2800 per year per candidate for this program: $1000 goes to the high school (or partnering community college) for the Related Training and $1800 goes towards the student summer stipend (about $6.50 per hour). This covers the student’s 80 hours per summer semester of OJL. The 2-year total employer contribution is $5600 per student.

Relationship to Manufacturing Registered Apprenticeships, especially IMT

MSSC CPT is a Related Instruction provider for more than sixty 3,000-hour registered apprenticeship programs in the U.S. for the occupation of Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT). While partnered with IMT, the MSSC Pre-Apprenticeship can serve as a high-quality feeder system for most 3,000 hour+ Registered Apprenticeships in manufacturing.

Traditionally focused on two-year colleges, MSSC is becoming increasingly active in high school settings with currently 230 actively participating high schools in the MSSC Certified Production Technician (CPT) and Certified Logistics Technician (CLT) programs. MSSC delivers its training and certification services through 2200 MSSC-authorized Instructors and 1150 MSSC Authorized Assessment Centers, mostly at community colleges and secondary schools, in 49 states.

If you are interested in potentially participating in either the new MSSC High School Pre-Apprenticeship or the IMT U.S. DOL Registered Apprenticeship Program, please e-mail or call Catherine Feeney, MSSC Marketing Manager, 703-739-9000, ext. 2222
The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), a 501(c)3 non-profit, is an industry-led, training, assessment and certification system focused on the core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s front-line production and material handling workers. For details, see