State CTE Policy Update: Meeting Healthcare Workforce Demands through Career and Technical Education

May 30th, 2024

As states grapple with ongoing healthcare workforce shortages, Career and Technical Education (CTE) has proven to be a viable means of equipping future healthcare professionals to meet labor demands while ensuring that communities have access to high-quality care. In this blog, Policy Associate Velie Sando highlights state policies that invest in healthcare CTE programs to resolve labor shortages.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, the strains on the healthcare system continue to be felt, with labor shortages persisting across the nation. To address this pressing challenge, states are increasingly turning to Career Technical Education (CTE) as a vital means of preparing learners for the demands of the healthcare workforce. By investing in CTE programs, states can ensure a steady supply of qualified healthcare professionals to meet the evolving needs of their communities. Investment in healthcare CTE programs as a solution to medical staffing shortages aligns with Advance CTE’s Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), which emphasizes CTE’s central role in facilitating learner access to education and training opportunities that meet industry demands. 

Enacted this year, the following policies reflect initiatives that invest in healthcare CTE to meet workforce demands– 

Florida: Empowering Future Healthcare Practitioners

Florida Senate Bill 7016 required lab schools to develop programs to accelerate learner entry  into health care programs at their affiliated universities or public/private postsecondary institutions. This bill also created the Teach, Education, and Clinicals in Health (TEACH) Funding Program which supports federally qualified health centers in offsetting the costs of training learners to become licensed healthcare practitioners. By investing in training programs and incentivizing partnerships with healthcare facilities, Florida is not only preparing learners for careers in healthcare but also addressing the immediate needs of the workforce. 

Washington: Expanding Career Pathways through Allied Health Program

In Washington, House Bill 2236 tasked the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) (in collaboration with health and CTE institutions) with developing an Allied Health Professions Career and Technical Education Program. This program is designed to matriculate a continuous pipeline of healthcare professionals into allied health positions through partnerships with secondary institutions where learners are equipped through career exploration and professional development. This program expands upon Washington’s Core Plus program, which provides two-year CTE instruction programs to prepare learners for employment in various fields. By including healthcare as part of this program, Washington is creating structured pathways for learners to enter the healthcare workforce, thus bridging the gap between education and employment. 

Wisconsin: Streamlining Pathways to Employment in Healthcare

Wisconsin Senate Bill 671 amends current legislation that addresses healthcare workforce shortages by allowing healthcare providers to hire learners enrolled in approved nurse aide training programs as full-time nurse aides after completing 16 hours of classroom training. The amendment allows healthcare providers to hire learners who complete the same training as part-time nurse aides provided that such learners obtain their certifications within 120 calendar days. This streamlines the pathway to employment for aspiring nurse aides, ensuring a steady influx of qualified professionals into the workforce. By incentivizing learners to enter the workforce, Wisconsin is bolstering access to healthcare while also addressing workforce shortages. 

To see more policy trends and access our policy tracker, check out our  State Policy Resources page.

Velie Sando, Policy Associate

CTE as a Protective Factor for Mental Health Part 4: Incorporating CTE’s role as a protective factor for mental health into program and recruitment communications

May 29th, 2024

The protective factors for mental health inherent to Career Technical Education (CTE) may offer opportunities to improve mental health and overall outcomes for learners, solidifying CTE’s role in not only preparing learners for the workforce but also for life. In the final installment of this four-part blog series, Senior Communications Associate and Mental Health Educator Jodi Langellotti uses research on hope and messaging to provide examples and tips for CTE leaders to incorporate CTE’s role in protecting youth mental health into recruitment and program communications.

In the previous blogs in this series, we discussed how 80% of our most common health, social, and behavioral challenges are a direct result of trauma experienced in childhood which causes developmental changes in the brain that can result in challenges with focus, attention, emotional regulation, executive functioning skills, and more. Positive childhood experiences (PCEs) or protective factors such as having two caring adults outside of the home and experiencing a sense of belonging in school and the community can buffer the negative effects of childhood trauma. The activities within CTE foster hope, support, and developmental relationships and therefore serve as a protective factor for mental health. CTE is preparing learners for their future outside of the classroom, in the workforce, and for life.

Messaging the Role of CTE as a Protective Factor

Messaging CTE is marketing CTE to current and prospective learners and families to increase enrollment, retention, and completion. One of the foundational principles of marketing strategy includes creating messages that resonate with the audience by connecting to their values, and needs, and through their preferred channels of communication. It is important for state and local CTE leaders to directly engage with the intended audience (learners and families) in order to learn about their values, needs, and communication preferences. The following research and examples for messaging CTE as a protective factor for mental health should be considered a starting point and should be tailored to best meet the needs of the intended, specific audience.

Hope

Research has shown that hope and engagement have a positive relation to student achievement and their likelihood to graduate.1 Additional research has shown that hope has a significantly positive impact on anxiety, depression, and academic performance.2

Charles R. Snyder, PhD, a former psychologist at the University of Kansas and a pioneer of hope research created a model of hope with three components: goals, agency, and pathways. Agency is the belief that one can shape their own life, “make things happen” and access the motivation to reach their goals. Pathways are the routes and plans that allow one to achieve an established goal.3

To help connect hope to CTE recruitment and program messaging, state and local leaders can lean into the components of their programs that help to nurture the three tenets of hope Snyder outlined – goals, agency, and pathways.

In the examples above emphasis is placed on “you” and “your” to help connect to the idea that it is the learner who is building their future and creating their path (agency). Words like “create”, “design”, and “build” connect to both the concept of agency and pathways (how they will get there). In all three examples the word “future” is used to help connect to the individual goals that a learner may have.

Making Connections

Messaging research conducted by Advance CTE with the support of Siemens Foundation shows that “making connections” is a strong retention message and is desired among prospective learners, especially Black, Latinx, and learners experiencing low income.  Additionally, there is a correlation between poor social connections, poor mental health, and substance abuse.4 Addiction specialists cite a lack of social connection as a primary risk factor for substance use disorders.5

CTE provides numerous opportunities for learners to connect to their peers, educators, and industry professionals. Recruitment and program messaging can lean into the idea of “making connections” to help learners and families become more aware of this aspect of CTE.

In the examples above emphasis has been placed on the idea of connection through the professional networking, people, skills, and community that learners are exposed to in CTE.

Feeling Prepared for the Future

According to ECMC Group’s “?uestion the Quo” research, only 13% of Gen Z teens surveyed feel fully prepared to choose their path after high school, “The areas where they seek additional information include finances (such as guidance on future debt and managing unexpected costs), education and career pathways, health (such as guidance on mental and physical health support) and logistics (such as housing).”6

In both 2017 and 2020, Advance CTE found that 60% of prospective and current CTE families chose “Preparing for the real world” as the most important aspect of CTE. The 2024 CTE perception survey conducted by Advance CTE and Edge Research showed that the statement “Be prepared for the real world” still resonates as motivating and extremely motivating with learners and families. Interestingly, however, the statement “Gain skills and experience that lead to financial security and independence” ranked the highest among all respondents. 

While the perceptions survey research has just two years for comparison, Advance CTE’s previous messaging research and additional research such as ?uestion the Quo clearly show that families and learners are thinking about the skills and experiences they need to be prepared for the future.

In the examples above, emphasis has been placed on the ability of CTE to help learners feel prepared for their future and achieve financial security.

Next Steps and Recommendations

This blog series has served as a starting point for the conversation around how the inherent aspects of CTE serve as a protective factor for youth mental health and as a contributor to positive learner outcomes. To move this conversation forward and into state and local systems, the following actions are recommended for state and local CTE leaders:

  • Engage with learners and families to determine how current recruitment and program messaging, or the provided examples, connect to their values, needs, and preferences. To learn more about engaging learner voice, check out With Learners, Not For Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE
  • Consider who in the state, district, institution, or team is already thinking about learner mental health and the connection to positive outcomes. These may be school counselors and psychologists, community leaders, and partner organizations. Engage these collaborators in conversations about CTE’s role as a protective factor for youth mental health.
  • Collect stories and data from learners and families on the positive impact of CTE on their hope for their future, their engagement in school, and their academic performance. Consider how to add questions to existing data tools and collection methods and partner with school counselors, community leaders, and partner organizations to collect this information.

Additional Resources

Much of the information in this blog is from the author’s training as an Adverse Childhood Experiences Master Trainer through ACE Interface with Dr. Robert Anda and Laura Porter and through her volunteer work within the community mental health space.

Jodi Langellotti, senior communications associate

 

 

House Lays Out Next Steps for FY25 | Legislative Update

May 24th, 2024

Over the last two weeks, lawmakers in the House laid out next steps for the the federal appropriations process while Congressional leaders elsewhere made announcements related to artificial intelligence (AI) and workforce development. Elsewhere, lawmakers are considering a new Farm Bill proposal while a new cohort of Presidential Scholars was recently announced. 

House Lays Out Roadmap for FY25 Appropriations

House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) announced in recent weeks preliminary allocation totals for each of the 12 individual appropriations bills that compose the federal budget for the upcoming 2025 federal fiscal year (FY25). Known as 302(b) allocations, these topline funding totals are used by appropriations leaders on the committee to craft FY25 funding legislation later this year. This includes the Labor-HHS-ED funding bill which provides support for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) among other education and workforce development programs. The proposed 302(b) allocation for the Labor-HHS-ED funding bill is significantly lower than the total provided for this component of the federal budget in FY24. This means that the House Appropriations Committee is likely to propose significant cuts to domestic programs falling under this legislation as the Committee put forward last year.

In addition, Chair Cole released a tentative schedule to consider each of the dozen appropriations bills. The Labor-HHS-ED measure is expected to be considered at the subcommittee level on June 27 and by the full Appropriations Committee on July 10. This week the full House Appropriations Committee approved these 302(b) allocations on a party line vote 32-21. Similar announcements are still forthcoming in the Senate. As these efforts take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for the significant funding needs of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community and other key education and workforce priorities this year.  

Senate Releases New AI Roadmap

A bipartisan group of Senators led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Senator Todd Young (R-IN), released a long-anticipated report regarding AI. The report or “roadmap” lays out a vision for future federal policymaking efforts, including a set of recommendations for Congress and the Biden administration to consider as AI technologies continue to mature and expand in their use. The report covers several policy areas including workforce development, encouraging the development of career pathways that lead to opportunities in AI. The roadmap also recommends that policymakers consider new regulatory frameworks to mitigate the potential negative impacts AI technologies may have on incumbent workers and ways to promote worker skills training opportunities in this area. Broadly, the report calls on the federal government to invest at least $32 billion on an annual basis to support the further development of AI technologies, promote wider innovation, and ensure wider equitable adoption and use of these emerging technologies.

View the AI Roadmap

Department of Commerce Unveils Workforce Policy Agenda

Recently the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced a Department Administrative Order (DAO) that establishes a workforce policy agenda for the agency. The agenda is intended to assist DOC in the ongoing implementation of several broad federal investments including the CHIPS and Science Act which contains several workforce development components to support the legislation’s broader aims of developing a more robust advanced manufacturing and semiconductor capacity here in the United States. The DAO lays out a set of principles to guide workforce development investments as well as wider Biden administration goals of developing quality employment opportunities for a broader cross-section of Americans.

Read the DAO

House Examines HHS FY25 Budget

Last week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing to examine the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The hearing featured testimony from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra who spoke to the Biden administration’s recent federal fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget request. Secretary Becerra responded to a wide range of questions including the importance of policies and investments supporting access to quality childcare as well as wider healthcare workforce needs.

View an archived webcast of the hearing, including the Secretary’s written testimony and related opening statements from lawmakers

CTE Presidential Scholars Announced

This week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars announced the 60th cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars—an initiative that annually recognizes 161 high school seniors for academic, career and technical and artistic achievements. The selection process takes into consideration a number of criteria including transcripts and test scores. Each year, this program features 20 CTE scholars for their outstanding achievements and recognizes related accomplishments.

View the full list of scholars 

House Agriculture Committee Plans Vote on Federal Nutrition Programs

The House Agriculture Committee considered the 2024 Farm Bill this week, a $1.5 trillion legislative package that includes significant changes to federal agriculture and school nutrition programs. The legislation, unveiled by Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) earlier this week, includes major components of the Creating Access to Rural Employment and Education for Resilience and Success (CAREERS) Act (H.R. 7015)—legislation that Advance CTE supported and endorsed earlier this year. Advance CTE has expressed support for the inclusion of the CAREERS Act among other aspects of the proposal. The committee considered the legislation yesterday and approved measure by a margin of 33-21. 

DOL Unveils New AI and Worker Well-Being Principles

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a set of principles on AI and worker well-being. The principles were developed in response to an earlier Executive Order (EO) from President Biden on AI last year and are intended to support workforce development professionals and employers in the deployment, development, and subsequent use of AI and related technologies. The principles focus particularly on mitigating potential negative impacts on workers of AI while balancing the need for innovation and economic growth.

Read the principles 

Steve Voytek, policy advisor

Centering CTE in the Time of Disruption: A Conversation with SHRM’s Dr. Alex Alonso

May 17th, 2024

Advance CTE held a ‘fireside chat’ with Dr. Alex Alonso, Chief Knowledge Officer of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), and Advance CTE Executive Director Kate Kreamer at our 2024 Spring Meeting that saw over 200 state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders in attendance last month.

The two tackled this burning question of the future of work: How will Career Technical Education (CTE) continue to be the solution to ensuring success and security for all learners, especially amidst the imminent impacts of AI, the green economy, and evolving workplace trends?

Key Trends for the Future of Work

Dr. Alonso first presented newly released research conducted by SHRM drawing from data collected from a vast network of 2000 HR professionals, which, with the help of LLM (Large Language Models), aggregates major trends in the future of work and identifies the challenges facing employers today. Dr. Alonso unpacked several of these major trends, including:

Balancing Operational Efficiencies and Talent Needs

The challenges and problems companies face continue to become increasingly complex. That means that as the skills gap grows, the depth of that gap, or the “skills crater,” also grows, necessitating an even greater urgency for faster and more effective skills development. At the same time, amidst current inflationary pressures, there is a growing imperative to strike a balance between ensuring fair compensation for this high-demand talent and maintaining operational efficiency.

Training an Evolving Workforce

Because employers have a renewed focus on upskilling and reskilling, steps must be taken need to ensure alignment between training programs and the evolving needs of industries. This is a critical opportunity for CTE to be a leader and to meaningfully partner with industry.

Later on, during the fireside chat, Dr. Alonso elevated that the delivery of CTE programs might need to evolve to meet these trends and demands, not just in terms of content but also in how it’s delivered. Kate noted the shifting perspective on digital apprenticeships and virtual work-based learning– what was once seen as a compromise for accessibility is now being reconsidered as a viable content delivery option, especially as more jobs transition to partial or fully virtual settings. 

Realizing the Full Potential of AI

AI has changed and reshaped the way that work is happening. Because it’s evolving right before our eyes, the challenge for employers and educators is to keep pace, all the while ensuring responsible integration into the workforce, particularly given the high potential for its misuse. 

These challenges all point to one major takeaway, in Dr. Alonso’s words: 

The 5th Industrial Age is here, where all facets of work, the workers, and the workplace are re-imaginable.

 

Embracing Change through AI

A significant portion of the fireside chat focused on the specific challenge of realizing the full potential of AI, and the broader theme of embracing change. 

It’s a common worry: the idea that AI could eliminate job opportunities. Kate raised a crucial point: How do we leverage AI to create more opportunities rather than take opportunities away?

Dr. Alonso highlighted that while many job roles may diminish due to technological advancements, even more new jobs will emerge in the economy in the coming years. His argument: AI complements human intelligence rather than replacing it. AI should be viewed as a tool to aid in the creation of these new roles in tandem with human intelligence— “AI plus HI

This dynamic shift isn’t about a loss of jobs, instead, it’s an evolution of industries and professions. Dr. Alonso also noted the attitude toward AI is changing as well; there’s a noticeable transition from apprehension to curiosity. People are increasingly inclined to engage in dialogues about AI, recognizing its potential to enhance both their industry and personal lives.

As we embrace these challenges and opportunities, CTE has a unique opportunity and advantage to equipping the future workforce. Explore further insights on SHRM’s research in their 2023-24 State of the Workplace Report.


Preparations are underway for Advance CTE’s 2024 Fall Meeting in Phoenix, AZ, October 21-23! Visit the event page to save the date and learn more.

Layla Alagic, digital communications associate

CTE as a Protective Factor for Mental Health Part 3: Establishing CTE as a protective factor for mental health through developmental relationships

May 15th, 2024

The protective factors for mental health inherent to Career Technical Education (CTE) may offer opportunities to improve mental health and overall outcomes for learners, solidifying CTE’s role in not only preparing learners for the workforce but also for life. In part three of this four-part blog series, Senior Communications Associate and Mental Health Educator Jodi Langellotti uses the power of developmental relationships to establish CTE as a protective factor for mental health.

In the second blog in this series, we discussed how Dr. Christina Bethell and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins University conducted research that found that the more positive childhood experiences someone has, the greater the positive impact on their mental health as an adult regardless of how much adversity they may have faced in childhood. Additionally, positive childhood experiences were shown to help buffer the negative neurodevelopmental changes caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and other childhood trauma. Through this study, seven positive childhood experiences, or protective factors, were identified with three of them taking place within the home and the remaining four, within the community. For the purposes of connecting CTE to protective factors, we will focus on the four identified as taking place within the community as listed below.

  • Had at least two non-parent adults who took genuine interest
  • Felt supported by friends
  • Felt a sense of belonging in school
  • Enjoyed participating in community traditions

It is possible to further categorize these four community-based protective factors in a way that brings more concreteness to the idea of belonging and participating in community traditions as follows:

  • Emotional Support:  Feeling social/emotional support and hope
  • Multiple Sources of Help:  Two or more people who give concrete help when needed
  • Reciprocity:  Watching out for each other and doing favors for one another
  • Social Bridging:  Reaching outside the social circle to connect to help

The four community factors of support will serve as the foundation for grounding CTE’s role as a protective factor for mental health. Additionally, research coming out of the Search Institute provides additional evidence of CTE’s role in supporting mental health and positive learner outcomes.

Developmental Relationships Framework – Search Institute

The Search Institute has conducted a significant amount of research on how relationships can positively impact youth development, mental health, performance, and overall well-being. The Search Institute defines developmental relationships as “Close connections through which young people discover who they are, gain abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to interact with and contribute to the world around them.”1

The Developmental Relationships Framework is broken down into five key elements, with 20 specific actions, that are proven to have positive impacts on youth sense of self, resiliency, mental health, and more. The five key elements are:

  • Express Care: Show me that I matter to you.
  • Challenge Growth: Push me to keep getting better.
  • Provide Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals.
  • Share Power: Treat me with respect and give me a say.
  • Expand Possibilities: Connect me with people and places to broaden my world.

In 2023 the Search Institute released Developmental Relationships: The Roots of Positive Youth Development 10 Years of Youth Voice, Practitioner Wisdom, and Research Insights which provides insights into the positive impacts of developmental relationships.2

Here are just a few highlights of the identified positive outcomes of developmental relationships:

  • Academic Outcomes: increased motivation to learn, level of interest in classroom content, grade point average (GPA), and critical thinking skills.
  • Social-Emotional Competencies: increased social responsibility, teamwork, communication, and empathy and improved listening and conversation skills and emotional regulation.
  • Other Thriving Indicators: improved goal setting, stretching to reach goals, self-efficacy, and identifying deep interests and increased sense of purpose.

CTE as a Protective Factor for Mental Health

The activities within CTE foster hope, support, and developmental relationships and therefore serve as a protective factor for youth mental health. To illustrate this concept clearly, the five key elements of the Developmental Relationships Framework will be connected to the four community factors of support as these are more concise while still being effective in connecting to the activities within CTE. 

Developmental Relationships Framework image from Search Institute

In the image above, the five key elements of developmental relationships, represented in color within the pentagon, apply to one or more of the four community factors of support, listed in black text around the outside of the pentagon. Below are some examples of activities within CTE that fall under the four community factors of support.

Image created by the author

Emotional Support

  • The multi-year connections between teachers, peers, and industry professionals provide a variety of opportunities for a learner to feel supported both in and out of the classroom.
  • The tangible nature of hands-on learning can make it easier for a learner to recognize their growth and progress and therefore increase their confidence and sense of self.

Multiple Sources of Help

  • Through CTE learners increase their potential sources of help through participation in CTSOs, mentors, and connections to industry professionals.
  • When learners feel they have a mentor that cares about them their sense of hope for graduating high school doubles.3

CTE especially shines in the categories of reciprocity (being able to receive and give) and social bridging (connecting with people and places to broaden their world). 

Reciprocity

  • Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) provide opportunities for student leadership and student voice.
  • Learners play an active role in their CTE journey, increasing their sense of self-efficacy.
  • CTE provides significant opportunities for peer mentoring. Being a mentor can provide learners with a sense of purpose, self-confidence, and an increased sense of self-efficacy.
  • Being able to contribute financially through paid work-based learning or summer youth employment opportunities and via skills learned in CTE programs can provide learners with an increased sense of purpose and self.

Social bridging

  • Career exploration allows learners to see what is possible for their future and how work can connect to their passions and interests. Career exploration can also contribute to a learner’s sense of belonging as they connect their interests and skills to a class, program, or pathway.
  • The social networking created through CTSOs, apprenticeships, and other work-based learning broadens a learner’s world, can increase their sense of belonging, and can help them to further develop their soft skills, increasing their chances for success outside of the classroom.

The above are provided as just an example of how the activities inherent to CTE support the aspects of developmental relationships and the four community factors of support. Connecting CTE to protective factors does not necessarily require us to do anything new. Rather, it requires increased intentionality and a better understanding of and messaging about how CTE can play an integral role in preparing learners for the workforce and life.

Questions for consideration

  • What are the specific aspects of the CTE program within your state, institution, or district that serve as protective factors?
  • What are some standout programs (or individuals) that could serve as model examples of the aspects you’ve identified above?
  • What areas could use improvement or more intentional focus from the aspects you’ve identified above?

Looking Ahead

In the next blog in this series (part 4), we will discuss how to incorporate CTE’s role as a protective factor for mental health into program and recruitment messaging and communications and suggestions for next steps to continue the conversation with key collaborators and policymakers.

Additional Resources

Much of the information in this blog is from the author’s training as an Adverse Childhood Experiences Master Trainer through ACE Interface with Dr. Robert Anda and Laura Porter and through her volunteer work within the community mental health space.

Jodi Langellotti, senior policy associate

House Examines ED’s Policies and Priorities | Legislative Update

May 10th, 2024

This week the lawmakers in the House hosted the U.S. Secretary of Education (ED) to testify regarding the agency’s policies and priorities for the coming year. In addition, the Senate examined the U.S. Department of Labor’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year while ED issues new guidance regarding school and institution’s civil rights obligations. 

Cardona Questioned on Perkins Regulations

On Tuesday, May 7, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing focused on oversight of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and its wider policies and priorities. The more than four hour hearing featured testimony from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona who responded to a wide range of questions and topics from lawmakers on the panel. These included a particular focus on ED’s ongoing challenges in implementing a newly revamped Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and newly finalized Title IX regulations which are set to go into effect later this summer.

In addition, Rep. “GT” Thompson (R-PA) questioned Cardona regarding ED’s plans to issue new regulations for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and highlighted the significant negative disruption this would have on states and Perkins recipients nearly six years after the law’s passage as communities collectively begin a new four-year planning cycle for the legislation. Thompson questioned Cardona as to whether programs funded by Perkins V are actively responding to the needs of the labor market and whether the law’s implementation, more broadly, has been successful. Significantly, Cardona responded yes to both of these questions and went on to say that he believes, “…that the evolution of Perkins to include CTE is where we need to go and it has been successful to get states to look at it differently.” 

When questioned further regarding the need for additional regulations for Perkins V, Cardona indicated that the planned proposed rules would be intended to broaden opportunities for learners to engage in “earn to learn” programs but did not specify a clear rationale for issuing new rules on the topic at this time nor did he provide further detail regarding what these regulations are likely to entail. Advance CTE has continued to raise significant concerns regarding these forthcoming regulations and has questioned why they are specifically necessary at this point in the law’s implementation. 

View an archived webcast of the hearing, including Cardona’s written testimony and related opening statements from lawmakers

Senate Examines DOL’s FY25 Budget Request

Yesterday, May 9, the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) Subcommittee held a hearing to examine and consider President Biden’s budget request for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for the upcoming 2025 federal fiscal year (FY25). The hearing featured testimony and perspectives from Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su regarding aspects of the agency’s FY25 budget request. The hearing examined a broad range of issues, including recent regulatory changes proposed or otherwise finalized by DOL, and highlighted the importance of workforce development investments.

View a full recording of the hearing including Su’s testimony

ED Issues New Guidance on Civil Rights Obligations

On Tuesday, May 7, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued a new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) outlining school leaders’ responsibilities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The DCL provides detailed scenarios and guidelines for identifying acts that could be considered discriminatory, including vandalism, protests, and verbal harassment. The guidance letter clarifies the legal requirements schools and institutions must adhere to in order to remain compliant with federal laws and emphasizes that non-compliance could lead ED to withhold federal funding. The guidance comes amid reported increases in antisemitic and other identity-based incidents on college campuses and within K-12 schools over the past several months.

View more information from ED on the guidance

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

CTE as a Protective Factor for Mental Health Part 2: The role of hope and positive childhood experiences to buffer the impacts of childhood trauma

May 8th, 2024

The protective factors for mental health inherent to Career Technical Education (CTE) may offer opportunities to improve mental health and overall outcomes for learners, solidifying CTE’s role in not only preparing learners for the workforce but also for life. In part two of this four-part blog series, Senior Communications Associate and Mental Health Educator Jodi Langellotti shares research on the power of hope and positive childhood experiences (PCEs) to buffer the negative effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

In the first blog in this series, we discussed how 80% of our most common health, social, and behavioral challenges are a direct result of trauma experienced in childhood. This trauma,  also referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), results in changes in the developing brain that can result in challenges with focus, attention, emotional regulation, executive functioning skills, and more. The original ACEs study from the mid-1990s showed that ACEs are common, they are interrelated, and that those who experience more trauma in childhood, as evidenced by a higher ACE score, are at greater risk for negative life outcomes including disease, mental health challenges, incarceration, substance use challenges, and more.

The Life Progression of Adversity

Recreated by the author based materials from the ACE Interface Master Trainer Training

When we look at the life progression of those who are affected by ACEs and the resulting disrupted brain development, traits, and behaviors, we see a significant increase in the risk of early substance use as a coping mechanism (see chart above). For example, nicotine found in cigarettes and vape products can reduce anxiety and help to increase focus and attention. For someone challenged with attention problems and/or anxiety, smoking or vaping may improve those conditions and be an attractive coping mechanism despite the known associated health risks. This increases the person’s risk for chronic smoking-related health problems later in life, like cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema.

Even if a young person does not turn to substance use as a coping mechanism, there is still a significant risk of negative outcomes as a result of the changes in brain development as depicted in the image below. When those with ACEs have children, the risk of transmitting that adversity to their children is significantly higher when they continue to suffer from the impact of the adversities they have faced.

The Role of Hope and Support

When people feel that they have hope and support, the negative effects of adversity are significantly reduced. In the chart below, you can see that the percentage of respondents who experienced poor mental health for half of the last 30 days drops drastically when they felt they had hope and were supported, regardless of how much adversity they have experienced. This important factor, the role of hope, is often left out of ACE conversations and presentations though it is the primary reason that a person’s individual ACE score is not predictive of their individual life outcomes. Both ACEs and the role of hope and support have a dose-response relationship, the greater the dose, whether it be toxic stress or hope and support, the greater the impact. 

Recreated by the author based on materials from the ACE Interface Master Trainer Training

In 2019, new research on resilience and positive childhood experiences (PCEs) through Johns Hopkins University lead by principal researcher Dr. Christina Bethell provided statistical evidence that hope and support can buffer the negative effects of adverse childhood experiences.

The study, conducted with over 7,000 participants aged 18+, involved asking participants a variety of questions about childhood trauma, their mental health, and the health of their relationships. It is important to note, that the questions regarding trauma were not limited to the 10 ACE categories and therefore were more reflective of additional modern-day forms of trauma one may experience. 

The findings of the PCEs study identified seven positive childhood experiences or protective factors that have a lifelong beneficial, ripple effect on mental health and overall life outcomes.

These PCEs can be categorized as taking place within the home and within the community, to include the school community:

Within the home

  • Able to talk to family about feelings
  • Felt family stood up for them in difficult times
  • Felt safe and protected by an adult in your home

Within the community

  • Had at least two non-parent adults who took genuine interest
  • Felt supported by friends
  • Felt a sense of belonging in school
  • Enjoyed participating in community traditions

The PCEs study showed that positive experiences have a similar dose-response relationship as adverse experiences – the more positive experiences, the better the chance for positive mental and relationship health despite the level of adversity or trauma experienced. The PCEs study confirmed that positive childhood experiences can buffer adverse childhood experiences thereby reducing the neurological, emotional, and behavioral impact of ACEs.

Source: Pinetree Institute

The Role of Career-connected Learning on Learner Hope and Engagement

In a report released in September 2023, Gallup reported that there is a direct connection in the number of career-connected learning (CCL) opportunities experienced and a learner’s engagement and hope. This study, performed in the spring of 2023 by Gallup and New Hampshire Learning Initiative (NHLI), surveyed more than 9,600 students in fifth through 12th grades across 28 schools in 13 districts throughout New Hampshire. Significant findings include:

  • Mentors matter for hope. Those who agree they have a mentor who supports their development are more likely to be hopeful about the future than their peers who do not have such a mentor (40% vs. 25%). 
  • Engagement matters. Even students with lower academic performance who were more engaged through CCL reported having a higher sense of hope that they will graduate high school.
  • There is a dose-response relationship between the number of CCL opportunities and the rate of engagement and hope. The more CCL opportunities, the higher the student’s engagement and sense of hope.

Looking Ahead

In the next blog in this series, we will discuss the importance of relationships in buffering the effects and intergenerational transmission of adversity and the inherent aspects of CTE that serve as protective factors for mental health.

Future blogs in this series will discuss:

  • Communicating CTE as a protective factor and continuing the conversation

Resources

Much of the information in this blog is from the author’s training as an Adverse Childhood Experiences Master Trainer through ACE Interface with Dr. Robert Anda and Laura Porter and through her volunteer work within the community mental health space.

Jodi Langellotti, senior policy associate

Congress Returns to a Busy Work Period | Legislative Update

May 3rd, 2024

Over the last few weeks lawmakers reconvened following a short recess period to address a number of critical issues, including the ongoing budget and appropriations process. Lawmakers have also held hearings with the leaders of federal agencies regarding the Biden administration’s recent budget requests and other policies and priorities. In addition, the Biden administration has made new regulatory announcements on a few issues of importance to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community.

House Holds DOL Oversight Hearing

On Wednesday, May 1, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing to examine the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Acting Assistant Secretary Julie Su testified on behalf of the agency and the discussion focused heavily on a multitude of new regulations the Department has proposed or implemented recently. Lawmakers appeared to be particularly skeptical of DOL’s recently proposed apprenticeship regulations which, among other proposed changes, would create a new programmatic structure for apprenticeship programs in K-12 and postsecondary education settings known as Career and Technical Education Apprenticeships (CTEAs). 

Long-time CTE Caucus co-chair Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) questioned Su extensively on this topic and raised significant concerns regarding the Department’s proposal, the impact it could potential have on learners and CTE programs, and questioned the broader reasoning for this proposed programmatic structure. As a reminder, Advance CTE recently submitted substantial comments in response to this regulatory proposal and have been continuing to monitor and engage with stakeholders on this issue. A full recording of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here

Senate Examines ED’s FY25 Budget Request

Earlier this week, April 30, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before the Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) Subcommittee regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s federal fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget request. In both of their opening remarks, Chair Baldwin (D-WI) and Ranking Member Capito (R-WV) highlighted the importance of CTE and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), including the need to strengthen investments in these efforts and noting the need to expand access to CTE opportunities for more learners. In addition, the hearing focused heavily on ED’s ongoing challenges in implementing a newly revamped Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and lawmakers questioned Caronda on a number of other topics including the importance of student mental health and newly finalized Title IX regulations. An archived webcast of the hearing, including Cardona’s written testimony, can be found here.

Title IX Rule Finalized

In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published revised Title IX regulations intended to provide new protections against sex discrimination. “These final regulations clarify Title IX’s requirement that schools promptly and effectively address all forms of sex discrimination,” said ED’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon as part of the announcement. The new rules are scheduled to come into effect August 1, 2024 and codify new protections for LGBTQ students, staff, and others against discrimination, including on the basis of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, the regulations will allow school districts to use a more uniform grievance process to address all forms of reported discrimination. More information regarding these new rules and implications for the CTE community can be accessed here

DOL Unveils New Rules on Overtime Pay

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a new regulation related to worker eligibility criteria for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The long-anticipated rules will have significant implications for employers across the country, including for schools, districts, and institutions. These new requirements are set to go into effect January 1, 2025. The regulations will increase current salary thresholds, currently set at $35,568, for workers entitled to time-and-a-half pay when working more than 40 hours in a week, to $43,888. By July 1, 2025, this threshold is set to increase to $58,656. DOL estimates that this will benefit approximately four million workers nationwide. More information on this announcement can be accessed here

Antisemitism Bill Advanced in the House

Lawmakers in the House considered and advanced the Antisemitism Awareness Act (H.R. 6900)—legislation that would codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism within existing civil rights legislation. This legislative proposal would also encourage the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to use this definition when conducting civil rights investigations when seeking to determine whether a complaint was motivated by antisemitism. The legislation was cleared by lawmakers in the House on a wide bipartisan margin of 320-91 late yesterday. Next week, the House Education and Workforce Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on antisemitism in K-12 schools.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

CTE as a Protective Factor for Mental Health Part 1: The role of childhood adversity on mental health and development

May 1st, 2024

The protective factors for mental health inherent to Career Technical Education (CTE) may offer opportunities to improve mental health and overall outcomes for learners, solidifying CTE’s role in not only preparing learners for the workforce but also for life. In part one of this four-part blog series, Senior Communications Associate and mental health educator Jodi Langellotti will outline the research around adverse childhood experiences and the resulting changes in brain growth and development that can have lifelong consequences.

The State of Youth Mental Health

In 2023 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Trends 2011-2021 Report showing the ten-year trend in responses to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered every two years to high school students across the nation on a variety of health and behavior topics including safety, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, and mental health and suicidality.

Over the course of the last ten years, the percentage of high school students who have experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness and who have either seriously considered suicide, made a suicide plan or attempted suicide has continued to increase. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15-19,1 and in 2020, emergency room visits for suicide attempts increased 31% for youth ages 12 to 17.2

 

As school districts work to reduce their student-to-counselor ratio and increase their mental health services and programming, the conversation often drifts to the new and additional things schools must do to combat the student mental health crisis. In reality, there are certain aspects of school and work-based programs and relationships, like those found within Career Technical Education (CTE), that are already having a positive impact on student mental health.3 With some increased understanding and intentionality, CTE can serve as a protective factor for students with life-long positive benefits on their mental health.

The Original ACE Study

A major risk factor for life-long mental illness and mental health challenges is trauma experienced during childhood, more commonly referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).4 A growing body of research starting with the original ACEs study in the mid-1990s now shows that 80% of our most common health, social, and behavioral problems, including mental illness and suicidality, are caused by ACEs.5

The ACEs study remains the largest study of its kind, having surveyed over 17,000 participants aged 19-94 on trauma experienced in childhood, health behaviors, disease and disease risk, mental health, substance use, and other health and social problems. ACE study participants were mostly middle-class, White individuals who were generally well-educated (the majority of participants having completed high school with some having completed at least some postsecondary coursework). Participants also had access to some of the best healthcare in the country at the time through Kaiser Permanente. 

Completed in partnership with the Department of Preventative Medicine in San Diego, Kaiser Permanente, and the CDC of Georgia with co-principal investigators Dr. Robert Anda and Dr. Vicent Felitti, the ACEs study looked at 10 categories of trauma experienced in childhood organized into three groups:

  • Abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual
  • Neglect: physical  and emotional
  • Household Dysfunction: caregiver with alcohol/substance use, parental separation or divorce, domestic violence, caregiver with mental health challenges, and incarceration of a caregiver.

For part of the study, participants completed a questionnaire, indicating if they had experienced any of the 10 categories of adversity at least once during their childhood. For each positive answer, regardless of the frequency or duration they experienced the trauma associated with the category, they received one point for a total possible ACE score of 10. 

The Findings of the ACE Study

The findings of the original ACE study paired with subsequent research found that:

  • ACEs are common and interrelated: ACEs happen across all socioeconomic levels and racial identities. Sixty-seven percent of ACE study participants reported experiencing at least one category of trauma in childhood (an ACE score of 1 or more). Eighty-seven percent of ACEs happen together e.g. a child with a caregiver who struggles with substance abuse may also experience physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse.
  • ACEs negatively impact neurodevelopment: the high levels of cortisol released during the stress experienced during traumatic events create a toxic environment within the brain that can hinder the development of neural pathways and neural connections. Those who have experienced ACEs are more likely to struggle with emotional regulation, executive functioning skills, impulse control, focus and attention, building healthy relationships, and more. When the brain develops in a stressful environment, it is wired to survive, not thrive which often results in behaviors that don’t fit societal expectations and can lead to negative life outcomes like school dropout, housing instability, chronic disease, or incarceration, and coping mechanisms like substance use, gambling, and more. 
  • ACEs have a dose-response relationship: While ACEs are not predictive on an individual level, when we look at the relationship between toxic stress and life outcomes on the population as a whole, we see that the more toxic stress experienced, represented by a higher ACE score, the higher the risk for any number of health, social, and behavioral problems. 

Population Attributable Risk

Since the ACE study, epidemiologists have calculated the percentage of the national population who is struggling with a variety of health and social problems directly caused by the adversities they experienced in childhood. The diagram below shows some various health and social problems represented as pie pieces in the chart. In the center, the gray oil slick shows the percentage of the population who are experiencing the given challenge as a direct result of ACEs. Epidemiologists call this the population-attributable risk.

If we look at the pie piece for recent depression in the lower right of the pie chart, we see that for 40% of the people struggling with recent depression, their depression is a direct result of the adversities they faced in their childhood.

Historical Approaches 

Historically, we often try to reduce the number of people suffering with any of the health, social, and behavioral problems represented in the pie pieces in two primary ways:

  • Top-down mandates: laws or policies may be enacted to make it harder for people to access substances or easier to access top-tier support from counselors, therapists, or other licensed professionals.
  • Siloed approach: programs, services, and curriculum are created to address a challenge within its pie piece, focused on increasing professional support and programs that focus primarily on mitigating the challenge without addressing the root cause.

While these approaches may help reduce the percentage of the population challenged by a specific issue, without addressing the root cause, we are often just shifting the challenge that people are facing, moving the oil around the slide, versus reducing the percentage of the population who are suffering.

In order to reduce the size of the oil slick, i.e. the percentage of the population who are experiencing negative outcomes from the adversities they have faced in childhood, we must drill a hole in the center of the pie chart, where it says “ACEs”, by buffering the impact of ACEs and eventually reducing the intergenerational transmission of ACEs. If we address the root cause, then our historical approaches will be more impactful in reducing the percentage of the population who is suffering with any number of health, social, and behavioral issues because of ACEs.

Looking Ahead

In the next blog in this series, we will discuss research on positive childhood experiences (PCEs) and how they can buffer the negative impact of ACEs and reduce the intergenerational transmission of adversity. 

Future blogs in this series will discuss:

  • The power of relationships in buffering adversity
  • How CTE serves as a protective factor for mental health
  • Communicating CTE as a protective factor and continuing the conversation

For additional information on ACEs check out Adverse Childhood Experiences: Prevention for Action, Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ACEs-Prevention-Resource_508.pdf 

Much of the information in this blog is from the author’s training as an Adverse Childhood Experiences Master Trainer through ACE Interface with Dr. Robert Anda and Laura Porter and through her volunteer work within the community mental health space.

Jodi Langellotti, senior communications associate

State CTE Policy Update: Expanding CTE Access in Washington

April 30th, 2024

In this blog, Policy Associate Velie Sando highlights policies enacted by Washington state in 2024 that facilitate access to Career Technical Education (CTE) for learners within special populations as identified by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). 

As outlined in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career and Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), CTE plays a central role in fostering an inclusive and equitable future for all learners, supporting them in their pursuit of high-demand, high-wage careers while meeting industry demands for talent. Variables such as program expenses, transportation issues, and eligibility criteria create access and equity hurdles encountered by special populations and other impacted learners when pursuing CTE programs.  

In recognizing the diverse challenges individuals may encounter in accessing CTE, states like Washington have taken proactive measures to break down barriers and promote inclusivity. In 2024, Washington enacted policies prioritizing equity and opportunity for special populations in their state. 

Washington’s commitment to inclusivity is evident through H.B. 1889, which removes the citizenship status barrier for individuals seeking professional licenses or certifications. This bill ensures that all individuals, regardless of their legal status, have equal access to opportunities in the workforce as allowed under federal guidelines. By mandating that an individual’s status does not impede their ability to obtain a license, Washington fosters an environment where talent and skill are most valued in the workforce.

Given their historical background and landscape, Washington enacted HB 2019 which establishes the Native American Apprentice Assistance program to address the specific challenges faced by Native American communities. This bill acknowledges Native learners’ aspirations to pursue higher education and supports this endeavor by addressing prevalent systemic barriers that they face, such as poverty and limited access to postsecondary institutions near reservations. Washington aims to uplift Native American learners and empower them to thrive in CTE fields by prioritizing funding to cover tuition costs and adopting population-specific guidelines that may facilitate learner success in the program through consultations with Indigenous nations and apprenticeship programs.

Washington’s commitment to inclusivity extends beyond removing immigration barriers and recognizing cultural assets to encompass educational prerequisites. By adopting HB 2216, the state revolutionizes its hiring efforts by removing barriers to employment qualifications for certain state positions to exclude a four-year college degree requirement. This bill opens doors for individuals who may have previously been excluded from state employment by recognizing that diverse avenues of skill acquisition exist, paving the way for a more inclusive workforce in Washington.

Fostering inclusivity in CTE is imperative to ensure all learners have access to and can succeed in high-quality CTE programs; inclusivity also positively impacts a state’s economy. By dismantling barriers and prioritizing equity, Washington is enriching its workforce and nurturing vibrant and resilient communities. 

For more strategies to expand access to CTE for special populations, check out the “Maximizing Access & Success for Special Populations” briefs prepared by Advance CTE and ACTE for supporting special populations and other learners groups in need of additional support.

  • Foster Youth
  • Non-traditional Learners
  • Out-of-Workforce Individuals
  • Economically Disadvantaged Learners
  • English Learners
  • Individuals with Disabilities
  • Learners Experiencing Homelessness
  • Military Connected Learners
  • Single Parents
  • Migrant and Undocumented Learners 
  • LGBTQ+ Learners 
  • Justice-Involved Learners 
  • Tribal Learners 

Velie Sando, policy associate

 

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