How Leading States are Strengthening the CTE Teacher Pipeline in Rural America

March 22nd, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

  • Recruiting within the community by expanding grow-your-own teacher academy pathways or reducing barriers to entry for industry professionals;
  • Innovating to compete with industry by valuing work experience in teacher and faculty salary schedules;
  • Restructuring new teacher induction programs to extend supports and mentorship opportunities throughout the first year, and providing a continuum of supports for veteran teachers;
  • Strengthening relationships with traditional teacher preparation pipelines; and
  • Adopting a diversified approach to recruiting and training new instructors, establishing multiple pathways into CTE classrooms.

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

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

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Happy National Ag Day!

March 20th, 2018

Happy National Ag Day! Ag Day is about recognizing, and celebrating, the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. When honoring agriculture and it’s contributions – from the clothes we wear to the food we eat – it is important to understand how Career Technical Education (CTE) prepares learners for careers in this vital industry.

Programs of study across the nation in urban, suburban and rural areas are providing learners with rigorous academic coursework, technical skills and hands-on experiences in all aspects of agriculture – from food science to horticulture. An exemplary agriculture program that deserves recognition as we celebrate National Ag Day is  Advance CTE’s 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster®, the Culinology® program at Bergen County Technical Schools’ Teterboro High School in Paramus, New Jersey.

Remaining flexible to evolving profiles of students and reinventing traditional CTE programs of study in innovative ways to also meet industry needs is the cornerstone of the Culinology program of study. While Teterboro High School has had a Culinary Arts program for well over twenty years, in the past decade faculty started to see a slight change in their student profile. Increasingly, students were not only interested in culinary arts and the food industry, but were also drawn by a strong intrinsic interest in science. More and more, students demonstrated an interest in obtaining a four-year degree.

Recognizing a need to modify the program to better match their students’ needs, Bergen County partnered with the Rutgers University Departments of Biological Sciences and Food Sciences as well as the the Research Chefs Association to develop a first-of-its-kind high school program blending agriculture, food science, culinary arts and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics – Culinology®. All academic courses are delivered at the honors or AP level and students from the program now go on to some of the most prestigious four-year institutions in the nation.

The program now delivers a curriculum that includes college-credit courses (beyond the AP courses referred to above); rigorous academic and occupational skill requirements in agriculture, mathematics, humanities, culinary arts, and sciences; and an emphasis on critical analysis, problem-solving and employability skills. The program also includes a focus on key industry certifications needed to support success in the workplace. The class of 2016 boasted 100 percent high school completion, 100 percent of students having earned postsecondary credit, and 100 percent of students enrolled in postsecondary education. We should be able to hold all CTE programs to this standard of excellence.

Learn more about the Culinology® program of study at Bergen County Technical Schools’ Teterboro High School and our 2017 award winners.

New Fact Sheet Highlights How CTE Teacher Shortages Align with Labor Market Demands

March 20th, 2018

In August 2017, Advance CTE conducted a survey of State CTE Directors to gather information about how states are implementing provisions in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). Responses to this survey demonstrated the consistent challenge of Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher and faculty shortages, with the highest shortages typically occurring in the Career Clusters® that feed into the industries with the highest labor market demand.

Some of the takeaways include:

  • Reported teacher and faculty shortage trends have remained largely consistent since 2008, with Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, Health Science, and Manufacturing among the Career Clusters with the highest shortages;
  • The Career Clusters with the largest teacher and faculty shortages align with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted to be the fasted growing careers in CTE fields; and 
  • Of all required or permissible uses of state leadership funds, 31 states dedicate the majority to professional development for new and current teachers.

Check out the full fact sheet to learn more! We also encourage you to read our report, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR, on increasing access to industry experts in high schools.

Secretary DeVos Scheduled to Testify on FY19 Department of Education Budget

March 16th, 2018

Congress is continuing to finalize the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations bills, with an omnibus package expected before next Friday, March 23 in order to avoid a government shutdown. At the same time, Congress is looking to begin the FY19 appropriations process, with Secretary DeVos scheduled to testify on the FY19 Department of Education Budget next week. Read below to learn more about the upcoming hearing, a new brief from the National Skills Coalition and bills related to Career Technical Education (CTE) that were introduced recently.

Secretary DeVos to Testify on FY19 Department of Education Budget 

On Tuesday, March 20, the U.S. House of Representatives Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on the President’s FY19 Budget for the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is scheduled to testify during the hearing, which will be webcast on the subcommittee’s website.

New Brief: Putting Pell Grants to Work for Working Students

The National Skills Coalition recently released a new brief, Putting Pell Grants to Work for Working Students. The brief discusses how Pell Grant eligibility could be expanded to include high-quality, short-term programs and “calls for the modernization of our federal financial aid system so that it can truly meet the needs of today’s students and employers. The paper makes the case for this policy change by laying out the evolution of the postsecondary landscape, highlighting favorable outcomes of short-term programs, underscoring the role of sector partnerships in bridging the existing financial aid gap and highlighting the efforts of two states-Iowa and Virginia-to enroll students in programs that will lead to jobs in in-demand industries.”

In Case You Missed It: Gateway to Careers, GIRLS-STEM Act Introduced 

On February 8, Senator Hassan (D-NH), along with three co-sponsors introduced the “Gateway to Careers Act.” The bill’s press release highlights that it will, “provide grants to support partnerships between community or technical colleges and workforce development partners such as state workforce boards, industry associations, and community-based organizations.” A one-page summary of the bill can be found here.

On March 6, Representative McNerney (D-CA) introduced the “Getting into Researching, Learning & Studying of STEM (GIRLS-STEM) Act of 2018.” The bill would “provide grants to local educational agencies to develop plans that would encourage young women to study STEM, educate students’ parents about STEM opportunities for their children, provide training and mentoring opportunities for students and prepare secondary students for college STEM programs.” Advance CTE is proud to support both of these bills.
Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Iowa, Oregon, North Carolina Expand Career Readiness, CTE Efforts

March 15th, 2018

At the beginning of this year, governors delivered their State of the State addresses and highlighted the 2018 policy priorities for their states. Many of this year’s State of the State addresses underscored the importance of workforce development and Career Technical Education (CTE). According to the Education Commission of the States (ECS), 23 governors encouraged expanding workforce development efforts, 19 governors mentioned the need to improve postsecondary affordability, and 16 governors identified modernizing CTE as a priority. Unsurprisingly, as the 2018 legislative session moves forward, governors have recognized and announced new initiatives that highlight the importance of job readiness and CTE.

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds recognized the recent launch of the Work-based Opportunity Regional Referral Consortium (WORRC), a partnership with the Iowa Community Colleges and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) to expand and improve work-based learning in the state. The 15 Iowa Community Colleges and more than 1,500 member companies represented by the ABI will partner together to increase the number of work-related learning opportunities, such as internships and apprenticeships, available to learners. According to ABI, the partnership aims to:

  • Introduce work-based learning opportunities to students and future employees to careers in high-demand areas;
  • Reduce student debt;
  • Accelerate learning; and
  • Reinforce the pipeline of talent for Iowa’s employers.

In addition to addressing the demand for highly skilled workers, the WORRC will collaborate with Gov. Reynold’s Future Ready Iowa initiative, which focuses on building Iowa’s talent pipeline, to implement workforce recommendations from the governor’s initiative.

Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown launched the Future Ready Oregon initiative, which aims to address the “skills gap” in Oregon and provide jobs and skills training to adults and students. Currently, middle skill jobs, which require some post-secondary education and training, account for 50 percent of Oregon’s job market, but only 45 percent of workers in Oregon are qualified for those jobs. This governor’s initiative recognizes that CTE can address this “skills gap,” and involves dedicating $300 million to CTE classes in the 2019-2021 state budgets, expanding existing apprenticeship opportunities, and introducing legislation that will help mid-career construction professionals start their own business. The initiative also places a significant emphasis on equity and access, calling for an investment in rural areas, communities of color, and Oregon’s nine Native American tribes, an increase in affordable housing supply in rural Oregon, and for hands-on learning to be available in every school district in Oregon.

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced NC Job Ready, a job readiness initiative that aims to equip North Carolinians with the skills, employer guidance, and economic opportunities necessary to secure high wage, high demand careers. This governor’s initiative consists of three core elements: skills and education attainment, employer leadership, and local innovation. Governor Cooper’s calls for improved skills and education attainment in North Carolina comes after a recent report ranked the state’s public schools 40th in the nation, a worse ranking than the year before. NC Job Ready aims to make North Carolina a top ten educated state and focuses on increasing public awareness about job growth in local areas and training programs that can provide North Carolinians with the skills for high-demand jobs. The initiative draws on North Carolina’s already existing 27 Certified Career Pathways to increase the accessibility of job training.

NC Job Ready recognizes that obtaining a quality education is just one part of the equation to ensuring success for North Carolinians. The initiative focuses on the importance of employer-led job training programs and utilizing the partnerships among workforce and economic development agencies to advance career-readiness. The initiative also will support innovation and replication funds so that local leaders may pilot new ideas for local workforce development, which if successful can be replicated in other parts of the state.

These recent governors’ actions are just some examples of governors’ plans to leverage existing and new programs and partnerships in their states to promote CTE and workforce development.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Advance CTE Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog: Oracle Academy Reflects on CTE

March 14th, 2018

This post is written by the Oracle Academy, a Diamon Level sponsor of the 2018 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.

One of the many advantages of being the North America Oracle Academy Regional Director, is the opportunity to spend time talking with education leaders at the State, K12 District, school site, and post-secondary level from all over the nation. I spend time learning, sharing ideas, celebrating successes, and understanding challenges that these leaders face each day. These conversations and experiences are often the most exciting yet humbling part of my job. February is celebrated as CTE Month and this year, I found myself reflecting on the impact that Career Technical Education (CTE) has on our students both now and in the future. A few thoughts to share are:

Reflection #1: CTE continues to evolve to meet changing needs. State and District leadership continue to strive to build sustainable and real-world CTE Pathways that lead our students to college and career success.  It’s the CTE leadership that can both anticipate and leverage, through research and relationships, the corporate workforce need and then translate that need into CTE pathways for students to pursue. Many of these pathways include applicable industry certifications, apprenticeship/internships, and defined articulation programs with feeder post-secondary institutions. At Oracle Academy, we work to ensure our resources continue to support the needs of CTE leadership through curriculum and certification opportunities that reflect industry needs.

Reflection #2: Collaboration between local industry and education leadership continue to drive CTE student success. This isn’t a new concept but what I’ve noticed is an uptick in our education and industry leadership working together to create applicable internships, apprenticeships, and mentorships to support the interest of our students. I’ve heard over and over again the importance that these roles play in supporting and creating sustainable CTE programs.  At Oracle Academy, our role revolves around building the best classroom resources for the student and teacher so that their content knowledge and often times, confidence, is foundationally strong so that attainment of first time internships and/or apprenticeships are successful.

Reflection #3: A focused effort and persistence will prevail!  As we all know, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act is critical to ensuring that quality and sustainable CTE programs meet the changing needs of learners and employers. This act works to improve the academic and technical achievement of CTE students, helps to strengthen the bridge between secondary and post-secondary, and balances the student need with that of a new economy.  As parents, educators, and leaders, it’s our duty to encourage organizations, like CareerTech, that advocate on behalf of CTE programs as well as the teachers and students dedicated to CTE success. Oracle Academy supports this mission by continuing to provide our world-class student-facing curriculum and educator professional development – aligned to the IT Career Cluster Pathway – for FREE.

For those of you not familiar, Oracle Academy is Oracle’s flagship program in education philanthropy, currently supporting more than 3.5 million students annually in 120 countries. We advance computing technology education to increase knowledge, skills development, innovation and diversity in computing fields by providing:

Two years ago, we introduced Oracle Certified Junior Associate certifications in database and Java; these certification exams align to our Java Foundations and Database Foundations courses and are specifically designed with students in mind to help support internship, summer job, and first job applications.

Oracle Academy exists to improve the computing technology skills of young people, globally! If we strengthen the computing technology pathway between secondary, post-secondary, and career, we are essentially strengthening the future for our children!

Career Technical Education holds a very special place in my heart and I hope this blog reflects both the love and respect that I have for CTE programs and its significant impact on student achievement!

Hello from Advance CTE’s Newest Staff Member

March 13th, 2018

I’m Brianna McCain and I’m so excited to join Advance CTE as the new Policy Associate! I’ll be helping to advance and support Advance CTE’s state policy and implementation strategy through developing resources, maintaining the Learning that Works Resource Center, and tracking state and federal legislation.

My interest in education and workforce development began after interning at Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) in New York City, where I assisted with efforts to develop a job readiness program for commercially sexually exploited youth. My experience there taught me about how education intersects with other social issues and the role that education plays in promoting economic mobility. I then went on to get my Masters of Social Work (MSW) at the Brown School at Washington University in Saint Louis to learn more about social and economic development. While at the Brown School, I specialized in policy and helped to develop a strategic policy plan for a nonprofit. Before coming to Advance CTE, I worked at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM), where I supported low-income clients and engaged in policy work related to access and equity.

I became interested in Career Technical Education (CTE) after learning about the critical role that it plays in promoting economic mobility. As I began to learn more about CTE and the role it can play in promoting equitable outcomes, I saw the potential for how high-quality CTE could be leveraged to address inequities and prepare all learners for a successful future. I am excited to advocate for CTE because I view it as a key component to promoting economic mobility and ensuring that all learners have the skills and experience they need to obtain a meaningful career in the future.  

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate 

Contact Your Representative About Signing Perkins Funding Letter

March 9th, 2018

As Congress continues its work on the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations process, efforts to encourage support for programs for FY19 are underway. Read below to find out how you can support a strong federal investment in Perkins and to learn about new updates from the U.S. Department of Education.

Contact Your Representative About Signing the FY19 Perkins Funding Letter

The two co-chairs of the House CTE Caucus (Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA)) will be sending a letter to the Chairman, Tom Cole (R-OK) and Ranking Member, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies encouraging that they consider strong support for Perkins. Right now, Reps. Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson are asking for their colleagues in the House to join them in signing this letter (their request is formally called a “Dear Colleague” letter). Please consider contacting your Representative by March 14 to encourage him/her to sign on to the letter by using the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Action Center or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking your Representative to sign onto the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Perkins appropriations letter. Looking for resources on Perkins funding or how it’s used? Check out the new Perkins page on Advance CTE’s website.

New Resource: the Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice

The Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice is now live on the U.S. Department of Education’s Literacy Information and Communication Systems (LINCS) site. This moderated community offers CTE educators a forum to engage in thoughtful discussions and share tools and resources to increase equity in CTE programming. You can pose questions and help answer those of colleagues. In addition to facilitated discussions, other equity-focused professional learning opportunities will include webinars, interactive resource reviews, blog posts, and important event announcements.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Final Supplemental Priorities for Competitive Grants 

On March 2, the U.S. Department of Education released the final supplemental prioritiesfor discretionary grant programs, which can be used to award competitive grants beginning April 2. The priorities were initially released in October 2017 for public comment and the final priorities include some additional details. The final priorities are as follows: “1) Empowering Families and Individuals to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Unique Needs, 2) Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education with an Increased Focus on Improving Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers, 3) Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills, 4) Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens, 5) Meeting the Unique Needs of Students and Children with Disabilities and/or Those with Unique Gifts and Talents, 6) Promoting STEM Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science, 7) Promoting Literacy, 8) Promoting Effective Instruction in Classrooms and Schools, 9) Promoting Economic Opportunity, 10) Protecting Freedom of Speech and Encouraging Respectful Interactions in a Safe Educational Environment and 11) Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational Options.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

Getting to Know… California

March 8th, 2018

Note: This is part of Advance CTE’s blog series, “Getting to Know…” We are using this series to help our readers learn more about specific states, State CTE Directors, partners and more.

State Name: California

State CTE Director: Donna Wyatt, Director, Career and College Transition Division, California Department of Education

About California: California is a state that doesn’t just give lip service to career readiness; it fully commits to preparing learners for meaningful careers. Last summer, the Career and College Transition Division underwent a significant reorganization that elevated the role of career readiness within the Department of Education. The state legislature has also appropriated more than $1.4 billion in the past few years to support Career Technical Education (CTE) and career pathways across the state through various initiatives and grants.

In California, CTE is delivered through comprehensive high schools, career academies, community colleges and 74 Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs). California recognizes 15 industry sectors loosely organized around the National Career Clusters framework, including state-specific sectors such as fashion and interior design. While programs are developed and administered locally, there are seven technical assistance centers across the state that support local districts to evaluate and improve their program offerings. These efforts are guided by a framework of 11 elements of a high-quality CTE system that are outlined in the state’s Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) state plan.

Notable in California – College and Career Indicator: In 2016, the California Department of Education unveiled a new school dashboard with various measures of school performance to provide transparency for students, families and communities. The dashboard is designed to satisfy school accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Included in the dashboard is a College and Career Indicator to rate schools on their success in preparing learners for post-high school transitions. Currently, schools are evaluated on only three levels — prepared, approaching prepared and not prepared — that include measures such as CTE pathway completion and dual enrollment.

While the dashboard was implemented with only three levels for this indicator, efforts are underway to define what it takes for students to be “well prepared” for college and careers. State leaders in California are working to define this level and are exploring options such as work-based learning participation and industry-recognized credential attainment.

Notable in California – California Career Pathways Trust: The California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) is a multi-million dollar grant program authorized in the 2013-14 state budget to accelerate the development of regional 9-14 career pathways. Between 2014 and 2015, grants of up to $15 million were awarded to 87 sites, which include partnerships between high schools, colleges and businesses.

According to a 2017 evaluation of CCPT, more than 800 discrete school-level pathways were developed or strengthened in the first year of the initiative, including in both community colleges and high schools. Many of these included CTE course sequences, work-based learning and student support services. Further, many sites reported that the partnerships established through their CCPT work led to lasting relationships and collaboration with key industry leaders.

While selected sites are continuing to receive funding through CCPT, the program was designed as a one-time investment to accelerate regional career pathways work. Day-to-day CTE programs and career readiness activities are supported through the CTE Incentive Grant program and the Local Control Funding Formula.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Senate CTE Caucus Holds HEA Briefing, Advance CTE Launches Updated Federal Policy Webpage

March 5th, 2018

Career Technical Education (CTE) Month wrapped up this week, but there was no shortage of exciting CTE activity to round out the month. In February, the U.S. Department of Education released a new strategic plan, the U.S. Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing and Advance CTE launched a redesigned federal policy webpage. Read below to learn more about each of these updates!

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Briefing on HEA and CTE 

On February 28, the U.S. Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing, “How Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) Can Better Reflect Today’s CTE Landscape.” Advance CTE’s Executive Director, Kimberly Green, moderated the panel discussion between James Brown (Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition), Steven Partridge (Vice President of Workforce Development, Northern Virginia Community College) and Mitch Coppes (Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education). The briefing touched on how a reauthorized HEA could help address the nation’s shortage of CTE educators, how community and technical colleges and other two-year programs are preparing learners for today’s in-demand jobs and other intersections between HEA and CTE. Senator Kaine (D-VA) also provided remarks about the power of CTE and the importance of sharing best practices in the field going into HEA reauthorization.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022

On February 12, the U.S. Department of Education released a Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) is identified on page 18 of the plan as one of the implementation strategies associated with the Strategic Objective 2.3 to “Support agencies and educational institutions as they create or expand innovative and affordable paths to relevant careers by providing postsecondary credentials or job-ready skills.” This objective is part of the plan’s second strategic goal (of four total), which is to “Expand postsecondary educational opportunities, improve outcomes to foster economic opportunity and promote an informed, thoughtful and productive citizenry.”

Advance CTE Launches Redesigned Federal Policy Webpage, New Resources

To find all of the latest resources related to Advance CTE’s federal policy agenda, check out our redesigned Federal Policy webpage on Advance CTE’s website! The webpage features a new “become a CTE advocate” section. Additionally, check out our new and updated fact sheets, Understanding the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and Funding CTE: An American Imperative on the Perkins page. Advance CTE members can also access additional federal policy resources on the members-only webpage.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy