Getting to Know Advance CTE and Federal Policy

July 28th, 2021

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

Meet Meredith Hills! Meredith serves as Advance CTE’s Senior Associate for Federal Policy, and runs the organization’s federal strategy from research to analysis to advocacy- and everything in between! Meredith’s work is focused on ensuring that federal legislation and guidance supports the state CTE leaders in implementing programs that are high-quality, equitable and forward-thinking. Meredith works on all CTE, or CTE adjacent, education and workforce development policies, whether a bill is up for reauthorization or is a standalone piece. This includes but is not limited to, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), Higher Education Act (HEA), Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

At the moment, Advance CTE is largely focused on advocating for increased CTE funding for Fiscal Year 2022, as well as monitoring guidance for how American Rescue Plan funds can be used for CTE needs. WIOA is up for reauthorization and Congress has named this bill as a priority, check out Advance CTE’s WIOA recommendations! Meredith is also excited about the federal interest in apprenticeships and reauthorization of the National Apprenticeship Act. 

Q: How does Advance CTE’s federal policy agenda align with the new shared vision for CTE, CTE Without Limits? 

A: There is an opportunity for federal policy to be a driving force behind all principles of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Some of the foundations of the organization’s federal policy agenda are connecting education and the workforce and being responsive to the current needs of learners, employers and communities. By addressing these topics within federal policy, each state, DC and the U.S. territories will have federal support in implementing high-quality programs. Each principle of the vision aligns with federal policy- whether through actions from Congress, the U.S. Department of Education or the White House. 

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to stakeholder engagement from policymakers in CTE? 

A: Fortunately, CTE is a bipartisan and largely supported issue area. However, this does not mean that “buy-in” from policymakers is easy. Two of the main challenges with engagement are: 

  1. A misunderstanding of what CTE is and the full impact of CTE programs for learners of all ages. Despite the significant strides that have been made in the CTE community toward high-quality programs, there is still a lack of knowledge from many policymakers of what it looks like to be a CTE student in the 21st century. These programs are bold and responsive to high-wage, high-skill and in-demand career pathways for those in the middle grades, high school and postsecondary levels, as well as adults looking to continue their education. When a policymaker understands the significant benefits CTE has for learners, employers and communities they are more likely to be engaged. 
  2. A shifted focus to more urgent topics, and the misconception that CTE policies can come later. Especially since March 2020, policymakers have had their attention pulled to pandemic response bills and policies- but CTE has largely been left out of these conversations. There is an inaccurate understanding that CTE comes into play later, during recovery and not in response. But the CTE community needs support from the federal level now in order to sustain and improve programs. In fact, many CTE programs have seen increased enrollment during the pandemic! 

Q: What are some steps for CTE leaders to follow in building and maintaining relationships with policymakers?

A: As a state CTE leader, you can contact their representatives with information about what CTE implementation looks like in your state and/or district. Share stories from the perspective of a CTE leader as well as from students so that your representatives understand the significant role CTE plays on academic and career success. Constituents are always going to be the most compelling advocates to a policymaker, so reach out to start a dialogue and then continue to reach out when to affirm a positive action from the policymaker or to request support for a new action. 

Q: When should advocacy for CTE take place? Nationally, state, locally? 

A: Always and all three! Advocacy for CTE doesn’t need to happen only when there’s a specific policy in question. As a CTE leader you are witnessing successes and barriers in your daily work- share these updates at the local, state and national levels! Your voice will keep CTE at the forefront of policymakers’ minds.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

Communicating CTE: Recruitment Through Social Media

July 27th, 2021

In April 2021, Advance CTE released Communicating Career Technical Education: Learner-centered Messages for Effective Program Recruitment and updated resources on messages that resonate with families about the value and benefits of Career Technical Education (CTE) and how they should be communicated to each learner to achieve effective and equitable recruitment into secondary CTE programs.

Among the updated resources for states to leverage is Promoting Career Technical Education: Social Media Guide. Social media is an important communications tool that can be used by states and local CTE intermediaries to effectively recruit learners into high-quality CTE programs, build and strengthen relationships with industry, extend advocacy to reach policymakers and build a network with other audiences about the value and promise of CTE. 

Below are some of the key findings from Advance CTE’s recent research, as well as examples of how states used social media in response.

Participation in CTE increases satisfaction for families across all aspects of their education, but equity gaps exist in the levels of satisfaction reached in some aspects of CTE by historically marginalized groups.  

With a focus on recruitment and retention, it is important for learners and families of CTE to see success stories of individuals who look like them and share similar educational, racial, socio-economic, gender and geographic backgrounds.

Make an effort to provide an equitable lens across your content when sharing over social networks. Including learner photos that represent a variety of ethnic backgrounds, learner ages and learner needs is a great place to start. For example, the National Technical Student Association (TSA) used images of historically marginalized communities by race to recruit for the Technology Honor Society. 

The vast majority of parents and learners (78 percent of prospective families and 85 percent of current families) continue to value college as the post-high school aspiration, but are more open to paths other than a four-year degree.

Families and learners both participating in and considering CTE highly value an education experience that allows learners to explore opportunities after high school that lead to college and career success. In this example, Utah used graphics of learners engaging in real-world skills training to promote its Auto Mechanics and Repairs career pathway. This is a way of demonstrating the connection from CTE courses, work-based learning settings and youth apprenticeship programs to career success.

Tag industry and workforce partners in your social media posts. They are more likely to share social content that directly includes them, increasing your post engagement. 

Across the board, CTE programs are most valued and attractive for their ability to provide real-world skills within the education system, offering concrete and tangible benefits that lead to college and career success. 

Using local examples can help explain the nuts and bolts of how CTE delivers success by making the connection between CTE and a specific career or industry, as well as highlighting partnerships with local colleges and employers that are recognizable to parents/guardians and learners.

For example, Jordan CTE localized its tweet by tagging the medical facility where learners were able to receive on-the-job training through their CTE experience and connect their passion to a career right in their community. 

While teachers, school counselors and CTE learners and alumni continue to be the sources most utilized by parents/guardians and learners for information about CTE, online sources also emerged as an important access point.

Wisconsin CTE showcased CTE to parents/guardians and learners by lifting up student success stories. One avenue to find compelling learner examples is to coordinate with statewide or local Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) and gather testimonials, photos and stories to share on social media. This tweet focused on a local learner success story to create human interest in CTE. To help expand the reach of this tweet, Wisconsin CTE used relevant hashtags and tagged the state CTSO and the university the learner was attending. This type of post is a great way to highlight CTE and the many ways CTE benefits learners. 

To understand more about the major social channels, how to create a compelling post, when to engage key audiences and how to build your CTE network, read the full social media guide here.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate for Digital Media 

Legislative Update: House, Senate and Administration Support for $100 Billion in Workforce Investment

July 23rd, 2021

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee held a press conference calling for a $100 billion federal investment in workforce programs. Read below to learn more about the outlook for this investment, as well as a House letter in support of workforce funding, a bicameral bill to close the homework gap, the newest approved stimulus funding plans and Senate letter in support of educator investments. 

House Education and Labor Committee Holds Press Conference on Workforce Investments

Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Associate for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here

On July 22, the House Education and Labor Committee held a press conference featuring Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), manufacturing business owner Traci Tapani of Wyoming Machine and National Skills Coalition Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen to express the urgent need to include the $100 billion investment in workforce development laid out in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposal as a part of the upcoming reconciliation package.

Chairman Scott noted that workforce development programs have not been properly funded, particularly in any of the pandemic-related stimulus packages, and workers are seeking the skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce. Adding to Chairman Scott’s observations, Secretary Walsh expressed that Career Technical Education (CTE) is an area of priority – 22 million jobs have been lost to the pandemic, and the country is falling behind the pace of change in the workforce. 

Education Deputy Secretary Marten identified CTE as providing critically important opportunities for students and noted that the $10 billion in CTE investments proposed by the Biden Administration will help scale best practices, provide an evidence base for successful CTE programs and support middle and high school career pathways. Marten also cited statistics showing CTE enrollment leads to higher high school graduation rates, increased college enrollment and higher earnings gains. 

Secretary Walsh, Deputy Secretary Marten, Senator Klobuchar and Representative Bonamici each emphasized the importance of apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and work-based learning. Bonamici highlighted the need to invest in traditionally underinvested workers; Klobuchar drew attention to the fact that every dollar spent on apprenticeships in Minnesota will increase the state’s GDP by $20. 

Bringing the business-owner perspective, Traci Tapani of Minnesota-based Wyoming Machine celebrated the skilled workers who helped the country during the pandemic, but cautioned that the country cannot forget their efforts, and labor shortages have gotten progressively worse for the last decade. Equity efforts are also an area of need, according to Tapani. 

Van Kleunen called on Congress not to negotiate away the $100 billion investment in workforce training originally included in the Administration’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) to help provide those most impacted by the pandemic a chance at a fulfilling career. Citing a figure that 89% of voting Americans think that Congress needs to invest substantially in workforce training, Van Kleunen concluded that investments in workforce development are vital to economic recovery. 

In response to press questions, Chairman Scott expressed his belief that new workforce spending would be included in the final passage of the bill, but he is not approaching negotiations with any deal breaker in mind. Sen. Klobuchar continued that the Senate’s focus is on a bipartisan infrastructure package, in addition to focusing on the budget reconciliation process. 

You can watch the full press conference at the House Education and Labor Committee’s YouTube channel

House Sends Letter Calling for $100 Billion for Workforce Development in Reconciliation Bill

On Thursday, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Steven Horsford (D-NV) sent a letter signed by 101 members of the House to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The letter requests that at least $100 billion in new spending for workforce development be included in the upcoming reconciliation package. The letter shares data on unemployment trends, worker upskilling and reskilling needs and economic recovery. In light of the changing  21st century economic landscape, the letter also states that federal spending on workforce programs and employment services is at its lowest levels in 50 years and funding for community college CTE programs has decreased by 38% over the last 20 years.  

The letter calls for a minimum of $100 billion in new investments for workforce development programs, including: 

  • CTE; 
  • Registered apprenticeships; 
  • Adult workforce training and dislocated worker programs; 
  • Youth career pipeline programs and re-entry employment opportunities; and
  • The full spectrum of training and career pathway supportive services, including income support, counseling and case management. 

The press release can be viewed here and the full letter here

Congress Introduces Bicameral Legislation to Close the Homework Gap

This week Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chriss Van Hollen (D-MD), as well as Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity Fund to Ensure Students Success (SUCCESS) Act. These members of Congress were joined by 15 other Senators and 25 House members to introduce the bill. The SUCCESS Act would build on the Emergency Connectivity Fund that was established under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion per year over five years to ensure Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and internet-enabled devices are available to students, staff and library patrons. This bill continues congressional efforts to close the homework gap seen by 12 to 17 million students who do not have internet access at home. 

The SUCCESS Act would provide the necessary continued funding once the one-time investment provided by the ARP expires. Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. 

ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans 

ED announced the approval of additional ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The seven approved states and funding levels include:

Kaine Leads Letter Urging Investment in Educator Workforce 

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a Co-Chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, led a letter signed by 13 other Senators to Senate leadership urging them to invest in a well-prepared, diverse, supported and stable educator workforce in upcoming infrastructure legislation. The letter is aligned with the proposed educator investments from the American Families Plan (AFP). Senator Kaine consistently supports workforce development in education. He recently reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Educational Professionals (PREP) Act, with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), to address teacher and principal shortages. 

The press release can be found here and the full letter here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

New Skills ready network Site Highlight Series: Indianapolis Pathways Evaluation Framework

July 21st, 2021

In 2020, JPMorgan Chase & Co. launched the New Skills ready network across six domestic sites to improve student completion of high-quality career pathways with a focus on collaboration and equity. As a national partner in the New Skills ready network, Advance CTE strives to elevate the role of state capacity and resources in advancing project priorities and gain a unique perspective on promising practices to strengthen state-local partnerships across the country.

Our newest blog series will highlight innovative tools and initiatives produced across the six sites that advance the initiative’s four key priorities and serve as a guide for state leaders in their work to create cohesive, flexible and responsive career pathways. 

For this post, Policy Associate Dan Hinderliter interviewed Jennifer O’Shea, Postsecondary Readiness Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to learn more about their career pathway evaluation framework used to measure the quality of their 42 pathway programs. 











O’Shea shared that developing a pathway quality framework rubric had several purposes: 

  • To develop consistent criteria to evaluate secondary and postsecondary pathway quality and means to conduct program change or termination as needed 
  • To identify a cohort of pathways to pilot improvements that result in substantial increases in student outcomes over five years and promising practices to apply to all 42 pathways 
  • To utilize data-driven means to intervene proactively when enrollment disparities occur in pathways for historically marginalized populations to enhance supports and improve learner outcomes 

Ultimately, the project team is aiming for all IPS students to be “future-ready” graduates with a significant portion completing and earning credit for early postsecondary credit through CTE, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Early College programs. 

Framework Composition 

The framework was created by a consulting firm using the foundations of the Association of Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) Quality CTE Program of Study Framework and Naviance’s college, career and life readiness framework to create program quality criteria.  

Both qualitative and quantitative feedback was incorporated into this framework. In addition to considering existing CTE programs of study requirements, feedback regarding program quality was collected from families, school counselors, administrators, instructors and industry partners. In addition to the rubric, evaluators will also examine enrollment and completion data disaggregated by race to identify enrollment disparities as a quality indicator. 

Framework Use 

After the evaluation was completed for all 42 pathways, each pathway component each was coded red, yellow or green. The coding was then used to decide to sunset, merge or enhance each pathway. Five pathways had a substantial number of green components and identified as already achieving substantial alignment with the quality criteria.

Five pathways were chosen as an initial focus group for enhancement as part of Indianapolis’ New Skills ready network priorities in consultation with local two and four year institutions that will partner with IPS to create more seamless postsecondary transitions and early postsecondary opportunities. The five career pathways chosen were Business Administration, Construction Trades, Digital Manufacturing, Engineering, and IT Tech Support & Services.

Benefits of New Skills ready network Partnership 

While the district’s work to evaluate and improve pathway program quality began prior to joining the New Skills ready network, O’Shea shared that participating in the initiative has made the process more impactful and collaborative. She cited the initiative’s focus on collaboration as a means to utilize lessons learned from other sites as well as create a more comprehensive framework based on input from K-12, postsecondary, industry and workforce leaders rather than operating in a silo. The initiative’s funding also allowed for long-term investments to evaluate and maintain program quality through the addition of a data analyst, employer engagement manager, and a new college and career exploration course for middle grades.  

For more information about the early accomplishments of Indianapolis and the five other sites that are part of the New Skills ready network, view Advance CTE’s Year One snapshots. For more resources on strengthening career pathways, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center


Strategies to Re-Engage and Support Learners in Postsecondary Education after the Pandemic

July 15th, 2021

February’s Advance CTE Research Review shared how the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic impacted the postsecondary education plans of more than 19 million Americans, with learners from low-income households being most impacted. As the United States begins to turn from the pandemic, state and postsecondary leaders will begin to develop and implement plans to reconnect learners with postsecondary college and career programs. Two new reports identify strategies states can take to effectively reengage learners with the postsecondary system. First, new data from the Strada Network illustrates how the postsecondary plans of high school learners who graduated in 2020 and 2021 were affected and what it will take to reconnect these learners with college and career pathways. Also, a series of research studies from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) identifies successful approaches by community colleges to support adult learners of color to postsecondary program completion and into high-wage, in-demand careers.

Disruption to High School Post-Graduation Plans

According to Strada Network’s survey of more than 1,000 high school graduates in the class of 2020 and 2021, many learners had started the process of planning for their postsecondary futures before disconnecting. About three-fourths of learners had at least spoken to a school counselor or other adult about their postsecondary options. Many had applied and even received acceptance letters into a college or other postsecondary education program, although the data show the class of 2021 disconnected earlier at this stage of the process than the class of 2020. Furthermore, Black and Latinx learners were more likely to report having applied and received acceptance into a postsecondary program than White learners before deciding to change their education plans.


Despite being further along in the postsecondary planning process than their White peers, Black and Latinx learners were more likely to report having their plans disrupted. Overall, the primary reasons given for disruption of postsecondary plans were stress and anxiety and financial pressures. This is unsurprising given that learners were dealing with the challenges of remote instruction for much of 2020 and 2021 in addition to the stressors brought on by the pandemic and its impact on the economy, which disproportionately impacted people of color. Latinx learners were more likely than any other racial/ethnic group to indicate that financial pressures disrupted their postsecondary plans while Black learners were more likely to cite health concerns.

Re-Engaging and Supporting Learners

Learners understand the importance of postsecondary education to their future career and life success; however, they will need support in order to get back on track. The survey data revealed the most important supports learners will need:

  • Advising – Learners need someone who can help them navigate the financial aid process and determine the best career path.
  • Ability to Earn and Learn – Learners need opportunities to get an education while earning money. Flexible scheduling and opportunities such as Registered Apprenticeship programs can support them in this regard.
  • Easier Process for Financial Aid – Sixty-one percent of learners with low income say it has become more difficult to find information about how to pay for postsecondary education. Learners need better information on how to apply for financial aid that is easy to understand and not burdensome.
  • Labor Market Information and its Alignment to Postsecondary Credentials – Learners want clear information on the jobs available to them and the postsecondary credentials necessary to obtain them.

Supporting Postsecondary and Adult Learners at Community Colleges

While high school graduates struggle to navigate their postsecondary plans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of adults over 25 years of age who are enrolling at a community college to continue their postsecondary education or pursue a postsecondary credential for the first time has declined by 11 percent according to a new series of studies by CCRC. This is most concerning for Black, Latinx and Native American learners who are less likely than White and Asian learners to have obtained a credential beyond a high school diploma. A September 2020 Advance CTE Research Review illustrated the importance of postsecondary CTE and the role of community colleges in an equitable coronavirus economic recovery. The studies presented by CCRC address key challenges facing adult learners of color including career development, job placement, and articulation and transfer policies; support to learners who are part-time students and balancing family, work and other responsibilities; and, efforts to ensure that learners of color feel fully welcomed, recognized and included in all campus-based services and programs. 

Study 1, Aligning Short-Term Credentials with Community College Degree Programs, suggests that state and institutional leaders should ensure short-term credential and certificate programs are stackable and can articulate to a degreed program. For example, the Wisconsin Technical College System leveraged the 2009 federal Trade Adjustment Act Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program to build career pathways into existing associate degree programs, developing and expanding new and modified pathways that begin with learners earning short-term certificates upon completion of coursework that is connected to a longer-term “parent” program leading to an associate or even a bachelor’s degree.  

Study 2, Bundling and Sequencing Student Support Services, encourages institutions to integrate the delivery of academic and non-academic supports (bundle) and align support with student needs through each stage of their postsecondary journey (sequence).The table below (from the study) illustrates what this would look like in practice:

Lastly, study 3, Culturally Sustaining Supports and Instruction, encourages institutions to use a Culturally Engaging College Environments framework to shift responsibility for integration into the postsecondary institution’s culture away from learners and on to the institution itself, thus building and maintaining an environment that intentionally rectifies historical and current discrimination and neglect experienced by historically marginalized learner groups so that each learner feels welcomed, prepared and supported to achieve their college and career goals. For example, at Salish Kootenai College, a private tribal land-grant community college in Montana, leaders have integrated Native American and Salish/Kootenai culture into the school’s curriculum by designing courses to meet the unique needs of the community including teaching learners in the forestry program how to address water resource challenges on tribal lands or teaching learners in the education program how to prepare for the specific education needs of Native elementary and middle school learners using traditional Native American teaching methods.


As state CTE and postsecondary education leaders address the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it is critically important to re-engage and support learners, particularly learners of color, who have been most impacted. This research offers strategies to support learner access to and success in postsecondary college and career pathways. Incorporating one or more of these strategies can help ensure an equitable economic recovery leveraging the power of CTE. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

For more information on access and equity in Career Technical Education, and other great topics, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center!

Legislative Update: House Appropriations Bill and Announcements from ED

July 14th, 2021

This week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies released its Fiscal Year 22 (FY22) funding bill. Read below to learn more about the proposed increase for Career Technical Education (CTE) and other implications for the CTE community, as well as new information from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) about stimulus funding, federal aid and department appointees. 

House Appropriations Subcommittee Releases FY22 Bill

Written by Alisha Hyslop, Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here.

On July 11, the House Appropriations Committee released the first draft of its FY22 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which funds education and workforce development programs including Perkins. In the bill, the Perkins Basic State Grant received a $50 million increase over the FY21 level, and $30 million above what the President recommended in his budget proposal in May, for a total funding level of $1.38 billion. While this is still not enough to meet the critical needs in CTE as the economy and educational system recover from the pandemic, it is a step in the right direction.

The bill also matched the President’s request for a $100 million competitive grant program to carry out evidence-based middle and high school career and technical education innovation programs, although few details are included about what this program would entail. Few details are also included about a piece of legislative language that is dropped into the bill to more closely tie apprenticeship programs to Perkins, but more information on that provision will be available as the Committee releases more supporting documents.

Overall, the bill provides $14.7 billion for the Department of Labor, an increase of $2.2 billion above the FY21 level, and a total of $102.8 billion for the Department of Education, an increase of $29.3 billion above the FY21 level. Most of the increases, particularly at the Department of Education, are concentrated on a few large programs that were campaign priorities of the Biden Administration, including Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which received a $19.5 billion increase (more than doubling its current funding), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which received a $3.1 billion increase, and Pell Grants, where the maximum annual award for each student was increased by $400 to a total of $6,895. Additional funding levels of interest to the CTE community include:

  • Federal Work Study – $43 billion, a $244 million (21%) increase over FY 2021
  • ESEA Title II – Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants – $2.3 billion, a $150 million increase over FY 2021
  • ESEA Title IV-A – Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – $1.3 billion, an $85 million increase over FY 2021
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants – $3.1 billion, an increase of $250 million above the FY 2021 level
  • Registered Apprenticeships – $285 million, an increase of $100 million above the FY 2021 level
  • Strengthening Community College Training Grants – $100 million, an increase of $55 million over the FY 2021 level
  • Adult education – $738.7 million, a $50 million increase over FY 2021

The bill was considered briefly by the Subcommittee on July 12 and approved by voice vote. A report on the draft bill was released on July 14. Additional discussion and amendments are expected in the full Appropriations Committee markup, scheduled for Thursday, July 15, then the bill will need to be approved by the full House, and a similar process will begin in the Senate. There is a long way to go in this year’s appropriations process, so stay tuned for additional information and opportunities to take action!

ED Approves First State K-12 Stimulus Plans 

ED announced the approval of the first seven American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The seven approved states and funding levels include:

  • Arkansas: $418,634,738
  • Massachusetts: $611,331,608 
  • Rhode Island: $138,468,766 
  • South Dakota: $127,339,745 
  • Texas: $4,148,464,081 
  • Utah: $205,578,303 
  • Washington, D.C.: $128,932,230 

The state plans share how each state will use the ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the operation of schools, as well as address the needs of students, including by equitably expanding opportunities for students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 40 states have submitted plans, and you can view submitted and approved plans here. ED is also working with states that were unable to submit plans by the June 7 deadline. 

ED Announces Temporary Changes to the Federal Aid Verification Process

On Tuesday, ED announced temporary changes to the federal student aid verification process for the 2021-2022 academic year with the intention of providing relief to millions of students and colleges impacted by the pandemic. Verification is an administrative process by which ED requires a subset of federal aid applicants who are eligible for Pell Grants to submit additional documentation to verify the information in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Because non-Pell-eligible applicants are not included in income verification, the process can be disproportionately burdensome for students from low-income households and students of color. The temporary changes to the verification process will focus on identity theft and fraud, and will be coupled with tools ED already uses to monitor suspicious activity. 

ED Announces More Biden-Harris Appointees

More political appointees to ED were announced to lead various parts of the agency, including: 

  • Katy Neas, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
  • Toby Merrill, Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Hayley Matz Meadvin, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
  • Chris Soto, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
  • Antoinette Flores, Senior Advisor for ARP Implementation, Office of Postsecondary Education
  • Deven Comen, Chief of Staff, Office of Communications and Outreach
  • Abel McDaniels, Special Assistant, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Vision Commitments ‘Vlog’ Episode 2: Challenging our Limits to Quality CTE 

July 13th, 2021

This summer, Advance CTE is pleased to partner with experts from supporting organizations of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) to conduct video panels to delve into four of the five foundational commitments that connect the vision principles. 

Our second panel featuring the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE), Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) discussed the quality commitment across multiple dimensions, including program design, evaluation, instructors, work-based learning and credentials. Each panelist shared their insights on current progress and barriers to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE), as well as short and long-term policy priorities to achieve consistent quality across all aspects of CTE. 

There was widespread agreement on key action areas to create a culture of sustainable quality, including expanding data infrastructure to “rigorously evaluate” program quality in addition to widespread focus on learner outcomes; the use of Perkins V as a key state tool to scale effective practices and leverage data to identify priority investments in quality; and the importance of active industry support through professional development opportunities, equipment investments and more to ensure programs remain responsive and fully prepare learners for career success. 

“The bottom line is CTE programs have to be valued by policymakers and resourced in order to be high-quality and aligned with business and industry needs.”  – Alisha Hyslop, Senior Director Public Policy, Association for Career Technical Education 

“The renewed spotlight on CTE is extremely encouraging, but has also led to sometimes difficult [and necessary] conversations about the legacy of CTE, particularly for low-income students and students of color, and brought emphasis on unpacking what quality means for each key pillar of CTE programs.”  – Dr. Emily Passias, Director of Career Readiness, Education Strategy Group 

“Perkins V and initiatives like this vision make it really clear what the vision for collaboration and quality in CTE looks like and should look like. So, the best solution at the federal level is to address the intense need for increased funding.”  – Amy Williams, National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships 

Thank you to Advance CTE’s Dan Hinderliter for serving as a facilitator and to our panelists for your expertise and insights. 

Watch the previous episode that discusses steps CTE leaders can take to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion in realizing CTE Without Limits. Future episodes will explore meaningful public-private partnerships and actionable data. 

Visit our vision page to read the full vision, access vision communication and implementation resources, and view recordings of our summer Lunch and Learn webinar series focused on the five vision principles. Vision the Learning that Works Resource Center for tools to evaluate and advance equity in CTE systems and programs.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

This Week in CTE

July 10th, 2021

Developed with input from nearly 200 national, state and local education and workforce development leaders and supported by over 40 national organizations, Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education lays out five inter-connected and equally critical principles.

Only through shared commitment and shared ownership among leaders and practitioners at all levels can we realize the possibility and aspiration of a new career preparation ecosystem that provides each learner with limitless opportunity. The This Week in CTE blog series will highlight state and local examples where CTE Without Limits has been made actionable. If you would like to share how your CTE program creates limitless opportunities for each learner in this blog series, please email Brittany Cannady,


This Week in CTE: July 5-9, 2021

Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystem

Virginia CTE recently started a video campaign titled, Career Success Stars. This video campaign highlights the shared ownership of the career preparation ecosystem in Virginia among learners and families, educators, and business and industry partners. Each video showcases learner success in careers of their choice and is proof of high-quality career pathways that lead to in-demand careers as a result of stakeholder engagement across the state.

The full lineup of videos can be viewed on Virginia CTE’s webpage

Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem

A recent Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Central webinar explored current research and district-level strategies to address equitable access, participation and success in CTE programs. Guest speakers on the webinar represented two school districts in South Dakota: Rapid City Area Schools and Huron School District. The third guest speaker represented Portland Public Schools in Oregon. Each speaker shared insights into strategies they’ve been using to enhance and improve CTE programs in their districts. The recording can be viewed here

Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey

CTE Without Limits supporter Data Quality Campaign published a blog this week aligned to principle 3 and the data learners need to successfully navigate their career journey. 

One former school counselor shares their perspective on the scope of data that should be shared with each learner in order for them to make informed college and career decisions.

Read the full blog here.

More resources on CTE data quality can be found in the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable

A local partnership is bringing new skills training opportunities to Tennessee. McNairy County Schools and GE Appliances (GEA) have joined together to launch the Skills Training Alliance for Youth (STAY) initiative that will provide new work-based learning opportunities for learners. GEA will hire for part-time work, train and coach ten learners per year. Through the STAY initiative, GEA also commits to an investment in industry credentials. Learn more here.

More resources on systems alignment can be found in the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Each learner can access CTE without borders

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE): Interstate Passport® is the only nationwide network of institutionally accredited, nonprofit, public and private two- and four-year institutions dedicated to the block transfer of lower-division general education attainment based on multi-state faculty-developed learning outcomes and proficiency criteria instead of on specific courses and credits. Students of member institutions experience a seamless, efficient and economical transfer process.

Learn more in the new CTE Without Limits partner initiative repository. The repository can be found here under implementation resources.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

New Vision Resource Elevates Existing Initiatives Aligned with CTE Without Limits

July 8th, 2021

Today, Advance CTE released a repository of partner initiatives related to Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). The intent of this resource is to elevate existing national investments in the CTE, education and workforce fields related to the principles of this shared vision and to highlight current gaps to determine where future investments need to be made to accomplish the vision. 

Repository initiatives were shared with Advance CTE by national partners that have signed on to CTE Without Limits. The initiatives submitted by partners serve as concrete examples from the field to help conceptualize how the principles and action areas from CTE Without Limits can be realized with shared commitment and shared ownership among leaders and practitioners at all levels.

CTE leaders will be able to access the learning and resources from the examples in this repository as a starting point for building on existing work related to the vision and laying new building blocks for transformational systems change that allows each learner to achieve success in the career of their choice without limits.

The repository currently has over 50 initiatives submitted by over 20 vision partners and will serve as a living resource that will be periodically updated. Below are a few of the examples organized by principle:

Principle 1: Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem

  • Southern Regional Education Board (SREB): Known as Making Schools Work and spanning grades 3-14, SREB’s continuous improvement process is grounded in the belief that increased achievement starts with motivating students to make the effort to succeed. With designs for elementary grades, middle grades, high schools and technology centers, Makings Schools Work shows school teams how to create improvement plans that address five focus areas: quality instruction; aligned curriculum; career exploration and pathways; student supports; and cultures of continuous improvement.

Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem

  • Achieving the Dream: Eight community colleges were selected in June, 2020, to participate in College Success for Single Mothers, a project led by Word Education’s National College Transition Network in partnership with Achieving the Dream and PERG Learning, with funding from ECMC Foundation. The goal of the project is to identify the needs of single mother students on campus and develop an action plan to address their needs and expand key practices and services to enhance their success in college and careers.

Principle 3: Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey

  • Education Strategy Group (ESG): Making the Connection: Aligning Advising to Improve Postsecondary Access and Success makes the case for prioritizing alignment of advising across K-12 and higher education, offers a vision for achieving that alignment, and lays out concrete action steps and resources for the many stakeholders who have a role to play. This new resource was developed with input from an Expert Workgroup, comprised of national, state and local leaders, and will serve as the foundation for ESG’s efforts to ensure that high-quality, aligned advising is an expectation for every student, not enrichment for some.  The microsite was developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Level Up.

Principle 4: Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: A new open-data tool, the Job Data Exchange (JDX) is the vehicle employers need to move in a scalable, sustainable way towards competency-based hiring. The JDX, and the data standard it employs, will help employers and their HR partners break down a job description into specific skill and hiring requirements. Open-source, non-proprietary, and free to use, the JDX collects that hiring data in a structured, machine-readable way and then makes that data available to the education and workforce partners that are helping students and job seekers prepare for the workforce.

Principle 5: Each learner can access CTE without borders

  • Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE): Interstate Passport® is the only nationwide network of institutionally accredited, nonprofit, public and private two- and four-year institutions dedicated to the block transfer of lower-division general education attainment based on multi-state faculty-developed learning outcomes and proficiency criteria instead of on specific courses and credits. Students of member institutions experience a seamless, efficient and economical transfer process.

To access the repository and more implementation resources related to CTE Without Limits, visit:

Christina Koch, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund and Apprenticeship Grants

July 2nd, 2021

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened applications for the Emergency Connectivity Fund. Read below to learn more about what this funding covers, as well as grant awards for apprenticeship programs, progress in the postsecondary negotiated rulemaking process and a notice for public comment. 

FCC Opens Application for Emergency Connectivity Fund
On Tuesday FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that schools and libraries can now apply for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund. The Emergency Connectivity Fund was established through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and provides financial support for laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connections. Eligible schools and libraries can submit applications through August 13 for funding to purchase equipment and services for the 2021-22 school year.

A fact sheet about the program can be found here and frequently asked questions can be found here

DOL Awards Grants to Support Registered Apprenticeships

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced over $130 million awarded in grants to develop, modernize and diversify Registered Apprenticeship Programs in 15 states and establish Registered Technical Assistance Centers of Excellence in three states and Washington, DC. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh shared the following statement about the grants: “Today’s announcement reflects the Department of Labor’s renewed commitment to expanding Registered Apprenticeship to train U.S. workers and ensure that diversity and inclusion are core elements of our nation’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Using Registered Apprenticeships to expand career opportunities for all workers, especially those in under-represented populations, is a priority for the department and a critical component of the Biden-Harris administration’s American Jobs Plan.”

DOL awarded close to $31 million through cooperative agreements to create four Registered Apprenticeship Technical Assistance Centers of Excellence to provide technical support to programs. These centers will support successful and inclusive pipelines, provide technical assistance to employers and industry and work across public and private sector partners to expand apprenticeship opportunities for women, youth, people of color, rural communities, justice-involved individuals and people with disabilities. 

The full list of states and organizations that are recipients of this grant can be found here

ED Begins Postsecondary Negotiated Rulemaking Process

Over the course of three days (June 21-24), the U.S. Department of Education (ED) held virtual public hearings for stakeholder input on proposed federal student aid policies. This started the negotiated rulemaking process. Following these three hearings, ED will look for nominations of non-federal negotiators to serve on negotiated rulemaking committees that will review regulatory issues to improve outcomes for students- likely to convene later this summer. 

ED Invites Public Comment for Future Discretionary Grants

Secretary Cardona proposed, and opened for public comment, six priorities and related definitions for use in future discretionary grant programs. These are aligned with evidence-based and capacity-building strategies to address interconnected policy issues within the country’s education system with a focus on creating conditions to provide equitable access to educational opportunities. Career Technical Education (CTE) that is equitable and high-quality comes up throughout the priorities. Comments can be submitted through July 30, 20201. Additional information about the notice and comment submission can be found here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy