House Passes WIOA Bill as ED Promotes FY25 Budget | Legislative Update

April 12th, 2024

This week lawmakers reconvened following a spring recess period to address a number of pressing issues. In addition, lawmakers in the House advanced legislation to reauthorize federal workforce development legislation while the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before lawmakers regarding the Biden administration’s most recent budget request for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Secretary Cardona Testifies on FY25 Budget Request

This week the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-ED)—the entity responsible for determining funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and other critical education and workforce development legislation—held a hearing to examine the Biden administration’s federal fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget request for the U.S. Department of Education (ED). 

The hearing featured testimony from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona who focused his remarks on the broad aims of ED’s FY25 budget request. Lawmakers discussed a broad array of topics at the hearing, including forthcoming Title IX regulations that are expected to be released by ED later this year and ongoing efforts to enforce civil rights protections for students. Lawmakers discussed other elements of the FY25 ED budget, including proposed increases in funding for newly proposed programs contained in the budget request. An archived webcast of the hearing, including testimony, can be accessed here

House Republicans Elect Rep. Cole to Lead Appropriations Committee

Current House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) announced last month that she planned to step down from this leadership role. Since then, longtime House Appropriations leader Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) was heavily favored to succeed Granger in this critical post. This week, the House Republican Steering Committee met and recommended Cole for this role and the full House Republican conference voted to ratify him as chairman. The move is expected to likely shift additional appropriations leaders on the committee in the future. In addition, Cole has stepped down as Chair of the House Rules Committee, with Rep. Burgess (R-TX) set to succeed him on this important committee. 

House Passes WIOA Reauthorization Proposal

Earlier this week lawmakers in the House formally considered H.R. 6655—legislation that would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Advance CTE and partners provided feedback on this proposal but did not endorse the legislation when it was passed by the House Education and Workforce Committee late last year. Lawmakers considered the legislation under suspension of the rules, meaning there was limited time for debate or wider efforts to dramatically change the legislation following its advancement last December. House lawmakers ultimately passed the legislation on a wide bipartisan margin, 378-26 

Despite the passage of this legislation, the future for H.R. 6655 remains uncertain. Senate leaders on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, including Chair Sanders (D-VT) and Ranking Member Cassidy (R-LA), are currently working to negotiate a separate legislative proposal to reauthorize WIOA potentially later this spring. As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for the organization’s WIOA recommendations to improve future federal workforce development legislation as it continues through the wider legislative process. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog – Gold Sponsor American Student Alliance | Using CTE to Create Innovative Career Exploration Programs That Prepare All Learners for Their Futures

April 11th, 2024

The views, opinions, services and products shared in this post are solely for educational purposes and do not imply agreement or endorsement by Advance CTE, nor discrimination against similar brands, products or services not mentioned.

In recent years, middle school career exploration has gained traction as a foundational element of Career Technical Education (CTE). As many State CTE Directors and leaders know, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), signed into law in July 2018, for the first time permitted Perkins funding to be used on career exploration programming as early as fifth grade. Here are four strategic actions that states can take to expand and enhance career exploration programs that prepare learners for postsecondary education and career success, based on a recent nationwide study of middle school career exploration programs, commissioned by American Student Assistance® (ASA).

Clearly define middle school career exploration and ensure a unified definition is adopted across relevant agencies and partners, including K-12, postsecondary, workforce, and relevant community-based organizations. A quality definition clearly defines middle school career exploration as a strategy that will help learners build their understanding of career interests and expand awareness and understanding of career opportunities, including through hands-on, applied experiences. 

Once a clear definition is established, coordinate related and supporting efforts across state leadership, including departments driving academics and instruction, school counseling, CTE, and workforce training. Establish routines for collaboration between programmatic leaders who should be working together to support an overall vision for learner success with elements from each of their programs.

Integrate career exploration into your accountability and data collection systems. The last two years of high school are insufficient for dramatically increasing learners’ readiness for postsecondary and career opportunities. States can leverage program quality indicators in Perkins V and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plans to formally set measurable goals for middle school career exploration, integrating them into existing college and career readiness (CCR) targets. States can also utilize their data collection systems to not only identify middle school career exploration participants and determine their positive placement within high school CTE programs, but also to ensure the quality of programming through evaluations or learner-based software platforms.

The report also highlights seven states that have distinguished themselves by instituting formal accountability mechanisms to influence district and school focus on meaningful career exploration. Although federal changes made through the reauthorization of ESSA allowed states to exercise flexibility in the indicators used to assess districts and schools, only two states—Pennsylvania and Georgia—have used this flexibility to include career exploration as a component in their federal accountability systems. Five additional states—Missouri, Kansas, Utah, South Carolina, and Michigan—have incorporated middle school career exploration into their state accountability mechanisms to assess the quality of delivery of career advisement services or activities.

Assess and address state policies that have the potential to limit learners’ ability to access different career exploration opportunities, including restricting CTE course enrollment by grade level or grade point average minimums. 

It’s important to provide innovative and comprehensive career exploration that includes CTE. Only 33 states facilitate exploration via a course or set of courses that can serve as an on-ramp to a CTE pathway, according to ASA’s report. In contrast, the study highlights Utah’s College & Career Awareness Program, which requires a course that enables learners in grades 7-8 to explore high school, college, and career options based on individual interests, abilities, and skills. A team of CTE teachers, school counselors, and work-based learning coordinators teach the course and provide instruction in career development. 

This well-rounded, effective approach equips all learners with the information they’ll need to understand their options and make informed, confident decisions about their futures.

Julie Lammers is Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Corporate Social Responsibility at American Student Assistance® (ASA), a national nonprofit changing the way kids learn about careers and prepare for their futures. Julie leads ASA’s philanthropic strategy as well as ASA’s advocacy efforts on both the federal and state level. Julie has been at ASA since March 2010.

Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog – Gold Sponsor Alliance for FCS | At the Forefront for Equipping Learners: Supporting CTE Performance Objectives Through Family and Consumer Sciences

April 10th, 2024

The views, opinions, services and products shared in this post are solely for educational purposes and do not imply agreement or endorsement by Advance CTE, nor discrimination against similar brands, products or services not mentioned.

Today states are working to address teacher shortages1, milling and baker shortages2, hospitality labor shortages3 and more. In the baking field alone, the industry is expected to have approximately 53,000 unfilled jobs by 2030. Since 2006, the Alliance for Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) has collaborated to provide career exploration resources, professional development opportunities, and industry-recognized credentials to equip Career Technical Education (CTE) learners to lead better lives, be work- and career-ready, and make meaningful contributions in their communities.   

State CTE Directors and their staff play an important role in helping to fill these shortages through the programs and pathways offered in their state. Family and Consumer Sciences programs ensure learners are prepared with the necessary academic, technical, and employability skills to be successful in any workplace and provide them with training in over eight content specialty areas, amplifying the effectiveness of FCS programs in putting learners into career paths directly from graduation. To review the range of specialties supported by Family and Consumer Sciences, visit the Alliance website.

The Alliance for Family & Consumer Sciences is a coalition of organizations representing academia, business and industry, professional associations, and honor societies leading family and consumer sciences efforts around the globe. Today, AAFCS serves as the managing partner of the Alliance.

The Alliance for FCS members are ideal partners for states seeking to set up programs and connect with business and industry and content experts to grow Family and Consumer Sciences education throughout the U.S. 

The Alliance for FCS provides research and resources in Family and Consumer Sciences content areas. One specific example is the resource page on Nutrition and Wellness which supports states seeking to prepare learners to enter industries suffering worker shortages such as culinary arts, milling and baking, food science and nutrition, and food-supporting industries. Lesson plans, safety tips, webinars, certification programs, and other programs offered by Alliance for FCS members are available to CTE directors and staff to enhance state educational programs, making them ideal sources of future employees for these industries. Visit the Alliance for FCS, Nutrition, and Wellness Resources today at https://www.aafcs.org/allianceforfcs/initiatives/nutrition-wellness 

To inquire about resources in the other Family and Consumer Sciences content areas or to join the Alliance, reach out to alliance@aafcs.org for more information. 

About the Alliance for FCS

The mission of the Alliance for Family & Consumer Sciences is to unify diverse organizations with a common purpose by advancing the value of family and consumer sciences globally. These efforts will enhance the visibility and viability of family and consumer sciences to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities in a diverse and global society.

Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog – Gold Sponsor NOCTI | Why CTE Leaders Should Care About Assessment: Three Compelling Benefits to Learners and State Teams

April 9th, 2024

The views, opinions, services and products shared in this post are solely for educational purposes and do not imply agreement or endorsement by Advance CTE, nor discrimination against similar brands, products or services not mentioned.

In the ever-evolving landscape of workforce education and the development of tomorrow’s workforce, high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and prepared graduates remain indispensable. Positioned to enrich the nation’s workforce pipeline with highly skilled individuals, CTE systems are essential contributors to economic growth.

State CTE leaders set direction, make decisions aligned to their mission, and create value for learners and employers.  There is a unique opportunity to establish benchmarks for defining high-quality CTE systems and that involves a continuous commitment to assessing inputs and outputs, recognizing assessment’s role in ensuring quality outcomes.

For over 55 years, NOCTI/Nocti Business Solutions (NBS) has been dedicated to CTE by developing reliable processes, resources, and research support to strengthen the role of assessments in CTE programs. This commitment highlights the significance of third-party skills verification as a fundamental practice in high-quality CTE systems. Utilizing data-driven quality assessment promotes continuous improvement and boosts leaders’ confidence.

Here are three benefits of implementing quality assessment practices to propel CTE programs forward and assist CTE leaders in contributing economic value across their states.

Benefit #1: Gain confidence in preparing learners for workplace readiness.

State CTE leaders utilize data as feedback to continuously improve systems, celebrate high-quality programs, and target areas for improvement. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) utilizes NOCTI/NBS assessments and data for various purposes, including program evaluation, curriculum alignment, instructional improvement, professional development, and accountability. Learners meeting state-established benchmarks are eligible for the Pennsylvania Skills Certificate (PSC), recognizing individual advanced technical skill achievement.

Benefit #2: Engage industry partners through authentic approaches.

High-quality CTE systems involve business/industry partners in verifying skills, ensuring learner assessments accurately reflect expertise. This practice not only benefits learners but also provides industry employees with an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to CTE schools and programs. As one evaluator recently summarized, “I am always willing to set time aside to work with these learners and programs, as this is the future of my industry–one that I care about and want to impact.”

Benefit #3: Recognize CTE learners in ways that honor skill development.

Recognition of learning progress motivates learners, contributing to their confidence and expertise. NOCTI/NBS certifications offer third-party validated credentials aligned with industry standards. CTE teachers receive affirmation of their instructional impact on learners, validating program quality across various learning contexts. Continuous improvement and collaboration with industry partners enable CTE leaders to create meaningful opportunities for learners to thrive in their chosen fields.

CTE programs shape the future workforce, providing essential skills for success. Implementing NOCTI/NBS assessments ensures learners are prepared for workforce demands and their accomplishments are recognized. Contact NOCTI/NBS to learn more about national certifications and options to integrate NOCTI/NBS products and services into CTE state assessment systems. Join our Subject Matter Expert network! 

Kathleen McNally, NOCTI/NBS CEO

kathleen.mcnally@nocti.org

www.nocti.org

Congress Remains on Recess After Finalizing FY24 | Legislative Update

April 5th, 2024

This week lawmakers remained on spring recess and are expected to return next week for a busy two-week work period. Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a delay in anticipated postsecondary regulations impacting career education programs. 

Lawmakers Include Focus on Appropriations and WIOA in Next Work Period 

Congress is on recess this week, but legislators are scheduled to return to Washington, D.C. for a two-week work period on April 8. Broadly, Advance CTE expects Congress to focus its efforts this month on the recent bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland and an international aid package. In addition, lawmakers in the House are expected to consider H.R. 6655—legislation that would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As a reminder, leaders on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee are continuing to separately negotiate their own version of WIOA reauthorization with a current target date for action around Memorial Day later this year. 

As wider Senate and House floor discussions evolve, the Appropriations committees are beginning to formally start the federal fiscal year 2025 (FY25) appropriations process. This normally entails bringing the leaders of federal agencies to Capitol Hill to testify regarding their Department’s annual budget requests. Advance CTE expects an initial appropriations hearing in the House to take place sometime next week and will be monitoring these efforts closely as the organization works to strengthen the federal investment in Career Technical Education (CTE) via the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant program. 

However, these efforts may be delayed somewhat as the Republican Steering Committee is expected to meet early next week to discuss who will lead the House Appropriations Committee, following an announcement late last month from current Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) that she would step down from this role. At present, longtime appropriations leader Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) appears to be heavily favored to be recommended for this leadership position following public support from several other House Republican appropriations leaders. However, Rep. Aderholt (R-AL), currently the chair of the appropriations subcommittee responsible for workforce funding, has circulated a Dear Colleague letter indicating that he is seeking broader changes to the appropriations process. “Instead of hastily selecting a new Appropriations chair, I believe that now is the time to focus on correcting the process and developing our theory of government on how we will manage our responsibilities,” he wrote in part.

As these efforts continue to take shape, Advance CTE will be engaging with both the WIOA reauthorization and appropriations processes closely during this upcoming work period. 

Gainful Employment Regulations Delayed

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter delaying the implementation of reporting requirements for forthcoming Gainful Employment (GE) and Financial Value Transparency (FVT) regulations. While most of the new rules for GE and FVT will go into effect July 1 of this year, postsecondary institutions and covered programs will now have until October 1 of this year to begin reporting the necessary data to ED to begin implementation of these new regulatory frameworks. As a reminder, GE rules apply to certain postsecondary career education programs and determine their eligibility for federal student financial aid from Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) based on programs’ ability to meet certain performance standards related to graduates’ earnings and ability to pay back student loans.

While GE rules apply to only a subset of postsecondary institutions and programs and include related sanctions in the form of losing Title IV eligibility, new FVT rules will apply to a much broader segment of the higher education sector without related penalties for low-performance. Advance CTE examined these rules in more detail last year when a final rule was published by ED. 

This delay comes after a bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to ED encouraging a delay of these new rules as ED continues to struggle with the implementation of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. In addition to the delay in reporting requirements, ED has also indicated that it will be issuing additional guidance for GE and FVT implementation sometime this month. More information on these announcements can be found here and here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Learning From New Skills for Youth to Move Career Pathways Forward

April 2nd, 2024

Advance CTE recently released Moving Career Pathways Forward: Learning From the New Skills for Youth Initiative, with support from JPMorgan Chase and in partnership with Education Strategy Group. The report shares the successes and challenges of six states as they sustained career pathways development after the conclusion of a major philanthropic investment and the coronavirus pandemic. The report also features recommendations from state leaders to move career pathways development forward. In this blog, Senior Research Associate Dr. Laura Maldonado provides highlights of lasting legacies and recommendations from the report. 

Overview

While receiving a major grant from a funder to support career pathways development is exciting, it is important to develop sustainable systems and processes while leveraging the funding to continue the work beyond the conclusion of the grant. New Skills for Youth (NSFY) was one of the earliest and most impactful philanthropy investments in career pathways and career readiness in recent history. Launched in 2016, and supported by JPMorgan Chase, NSFY was a $75 million, 5-year initiative to strengthen and expand high-quality career pathways for youth.1 Advance CTE, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Education Strategy Group served as the national partners in NSFY to transform career readiness education in 10 states across the United States. Ultimately, the grant concluded and states had to determine the transition of resources and supports to provide continuity of services.

As states and communities continue to prioritize career pathways policies and programs, it is useful to review insight from NSFY states around scale and sustainability given what they accomplished and what their systems look like today. Advance CTE’s vision for the future of Career Technical Education (CTE) calls on states to ensure each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem.2 Thinking upfront about the management of a grant end date helps keep learners at the forefront of high-quality career pathways. 

Background

To help address sustainability concerns, Advance CTE identified state leaders from six NSFY states who were willing to share how they sustained growth and progress of career pathways nearly 4 years after the end of the initiative. Moving Career Pathways Forward: Learning From the New Skills for Youth Initiative helps current leaders build on lessons learned and recommendations from past leaders. 

Lasting Legacies From the NSFY States

One feature of the report is the highlight of lasting legacies, or systems and structures started during NSFY that are still in existence today. 

Kentucky has improved training and support for CTE teachers, collaborates more with industry partners, and has seen changed attitudes regarding regional approaches.

NSFY enabled the Louisiana Department of Education to pursue cutting-edge entrepreneurial initiatives, such as wraparound supports, virtual work-based learning, and other activities that would have taken a long time to be approved for state funding. 

Massachusetts has a comprehensive approach to pathways, a common language, and additional capacity support at the district level. 

Cohesiveness of college and career readiness efforts in state programming and a strengthened commitment to equity continues to be a statewide focus in Ohio

Engaging with employers, using data to address equity gaps, and elevating career education to learners, families and key partners were key efforts sustained in Rhode Island

And finally, efforts launched in NSFY that have been sustained in Wisconsin include Regional Career Pathways and assessment practices for regional pathway work. 

Recommendations From the NSFY States

Another feature of the report is recommendations and action steps to sustain career pathways across multiple partner groups. These recommendations come from the learned experiences of state leaders and provide additional examples from states. 

State Agencies and Intermediaries

  • Navigate the Team Through the Change Management Process. Turnover is to be expected over a number of years in organizations and educational systems. State leaders can maintain momentum by offering onboarding and offboarding to team members, creating a shared space for documents and materials, tailoring change messaging for each partner group, and building in time for transition planning.
  • Build and Sustain Partnerships. Developing and improving high-quality career pathways requires cross-sector collaborations among secondary education, postsecondary education, and workforce systems. State leaders should align high-level leadership to career pathways, add new employer and industry partnerships, and ensure that routines and structures continue on a consistent basis.
  • Identify New Funding Streams and Processes. State leaders should continue to leverage existing federal sources (e.g., Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act [Perkins V] reserve funds), advocate for line items in state budgets, secure private funding and public grants, and better align funding with program approval processes. Finding ways to braid funding streams from federal, state, and local sources can be a strategy to support equitable career pathways.3

 

Local Leaders

  • Maintain Engagement With Local Leaders. Although NSFY took a statewide systems-level approach, leaders at the local level were ultimately the linchpin of the day-to-day implementation and execution of the initiative. State leaders should continue to have conversations with districts, CTE leaders, and implementers to ensure that local leaders recognize the long-term process of career pathways systems, and they receive technical assistance to build their capacity.

Learners

  • Incorporate Learner Voice Into Career Pathways Processes. State leaders should listen to learners and find ways to incorporate learner voice into career pathways processes by capturing statewide learner data and using existing learner voice resources, such as the Learner Voice Toolkit.4

Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group are currently helping six states and local sites think through the sustainability and scaling of career pathways systems after the conclusion of JPMorgan Chase’s current major career pathways initiative—New Skills ready network.5 The New Skills ready network sites are working to improve learner completion of high-quality career pathways as part of a 5-year initiative, which will end in 2025. 

Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group, ExcelinEd, JFF, and New America are also working with 11 states over two cohorts in another initiative focused on scale and sustainability—Launch: Equitable & Accelerated Pathways for All.6 Within Launch, sites are building sustainability plans to address long-standing barriers and achieve scale in their career pathways efforts. 

Starting or sustaining statewide initiatives with multiple agencies and partners is a major undertaking. The Moving Career Pathways Forward: Learning From the New Skills for Youth Initiative report helps state leaders use lessons learned from NSFY to replicate promising practices in their state for high-quality career pathways.

Additional Resources

Please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources about career pathways. 

Dr. Laura Maldonado, Senior Research Associate

Enhancing Connections through Perkins V: The Crucial Role of Stakeholder Engagement

April 1st, 2024

 

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, commonly known as Perkins V, marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Career Technical Education (CTE) in the United States. Enacted to empower learners with the skills needed for success in a rapidly changing workforce, Perkins V emphasizes the importance of “stakeholder engagement” in shaping and implementing effective CTE programs.

In this blog post, Director of Member Engagement and Professional Learning Dr. Stephanie Perkins explores the key aspects of this activity in Perkins V and its impact on fostering a dynamic and responsive educational ecosystem.

The Role of Stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement in Perkins V is not merely a checkbox but a fundamental driver of success for CTE programs. These partners play a vital role in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of these programs. By bringing together diverse perspectives, stakeholders contribute valuable insights that help create a comprehensive and well-rounded educational experience for learners.

Educators are at the forefront of this initiative, working closely with industry partners to design curricula that blend academic knowledge with practical skills. Employers, in turn, provide crucial input on the skills and competencies needed in the workforce, ensuring that CTE programs produce graduates who are not only academically proficient but also well-prepared for real-world challenges.

Community members and parents are also essential partners, offering valuable insights into the local context and helping bridge the gap between education and community needs. Their involvement ensures that CTE programs are culturally relevant and aligned with the aspirations of the learners they serve.

Benefits of Stakeholder Engagement

  • Relevance and Responsiveness: Engaging with those impacted by CTE ensures that CTE programs stay abreast of industry trends and technological advancements. This responsiveness is crucial for preparing learners with the technical and employability skills demanded by the evolving job market. Additionally, by involving employers in the educational process, Perkins V helps bridge the gap between classroom learning and workplace demands. This alignment is vital for reducing the skills gap and increasing the employability of CTE graduates. 
  • Diverse Perspectives: Stakeholder engagement brings together a diverse range of perspectives, enriching the educational experience. This diversity ensures that CTE programs are designed and cater to the needs of all learners, regardless of their background or aspirations. When directly involved in CTE programs, these partners can allow each learner to see themselves in every career.
  • Community Support: Engaging community members and parents builds a strong support system for CTE programs. This support is crucial for sustaining and expanding these initiatives, fostering a sense of collective responsibility for the success of learners. Additionally, connecting community resources as a part of wraparound services for learners can improve CTE programs design by helping to meet the needs of each learner.

Challenges and Strategies

While stakeholder engagement is pivotal, it comes with its own set of challenges. Balancing the interests of various partners, addressing conflicting priorities and ensuring sustained commitment can be daunting. To overcome these challenges, communication and collaboration are key. Regular forums, advisory boards, and partnerships can facilitate ongoing dialogue, allowing impacted parties to contribute meaningfully to the CTE ecosystem.

Perkins V heralds a new era in CTE, emphasizing the significance of stakeholder engagement in shaping successful programs. By fostering collaboration among educators, employers, community members, and parents, Perkins V ensures that CTE remains a dynamic and responsive force in preparing learners for the challenges of the modern workforce. Through ongoing dialogue and collective effort, partners contribute to the creation of a robust and relevant educational ecosystem that empowers students to thrive in their chosen careers.

Advance CTE supports states in developing and executing comprehensive, ongoing, and impactful state engagement that begins in Perkins V but can ultimately broaden input and partnership in all work. This year, we have released a suite of supports designed to ensure your Perkins state plan serves as a powerful lever to achieve your state vision for career technical education, and more broadly CTE Without Limits. These supports include: 

Additional resources can be found in the Perkins V section of the Learning that Works Resource Center

Dr. Stephanie Perkins, Director of Member Engagement and Professional Learning

State CTE Policy Spotlight: Governors Prioritize Workforce Development in their State of the State Addresses

March 29th, 2024

In this post, Policy Associate Velie Sando highlights how governors are championing workforce development, and by extension Career Technical Education (CTE) in their 2024 State of the State addresses.

As the new year unfolds, 38 governors across the nation have delivered their much-anticipated State of the State addresses, outlining their vision for the future and key educational priorities, including career readiness. Some governors vouched for increased funding toward CTE  initiatives while others highlighted accreditation as a means to address workforce demands in their state.  The emphasis on career readiness within the State of the State addresses aligns with Advance CTE’s Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), which leverages CTE as a catalyst for ensuring each learner can reach success in the career of their choice.  

This year, as in previous years, governors continue to emphasize workforce development in their efforts to prepare learners for the evolving job market. Thus far, 24 addresses implicate CTE in some capacity, as governors highlight apprenticeships, training programs, and initiatives such as free community college to address emerging labor market needs. 

Apprenticeships

With growing labor market demands, states including New Jersey and Pennsylvania have invested in apprenticeship programs to meet workforce needs in their state. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy highlighted doubling the number of apprenticeship programs in fields such as life sciences and renewable energy, reflecting a proactive approach to meeting workforce demands in emerging sectors. Similarly, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro celebrated 33 new apprenticeship programs, mentioning significant enrollment numbers and program expansions. Elsewhere, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee proposed expansions in apprenticeships, particularly in high-demand sectors like healthcare. Tennessee’s proposal aims to bridge the gap between education and employment, ensuring a skilled workforce meets the needs of the healthcare industry. Similarly, Colorado Governor Jared Polis aims to create 100 new private sector apprenticeships by June 30 and increase state government apprenticeships by 50%, while Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced a $3 million investment in youth apprenticeship opportunities.

Free Community College

Recognizing the pivotal role of education in workforce development, states including Colorado and Massachusetts have implemented initiatives to make higher education more accessible. Governor Polis of Colorado highlighted that their expansion of free community college for in-demand careers has already benefited 3,500 learners, empowering them with the skills needed to thrive in today’s job market. Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy celebrated the MassReconnect program which offers free community college to adults aged 25 and older, removing barriers to education and training for mid-career professionals. Similarly, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for tuition-free community college for all high school graduates, addressing the financial burden often associated with pursuing higher education and ensuring equitable access to skill-building opportunities for all graduates. 

Training Programs

Governors recognize that investments in specialized training programs are crucial for addressing evolving workforce needs. Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee celebrated the launch of the first State Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies at Rhode Island College, underscoring the importance of staying ahead in emerging fields, laying the groundwork for a skilled workforce equipped to tackle cybersecurity challenges. Missouri invested $54 million in workforce training through the MoExcels initiative, demonstrating a commitment to equipping postsecondary institutions with the resources needed to deliver high-quality training programs.

Michigan highlighted free community college and training for medical technicians and electricians aged 21-24 through the Michigan Reconnect program, catering to the growing demand in these critical sectors. Massachusetts proposed building a workforce plan for growing industries, while Maine Governor Janet Mills celebrated the Maine Jobs Plan for investing over $200 million in skills attainment and training programs. Elsewhere, Idaho Governor Brad Little announced the Idaho LAUNCH grants that will cover up to $8,000 in costs to enroll in education or training programs after high school, incentivizing residents to pursue education and training aligned with in-demand careers. 

Governors across the nation are prioritizing workforce development initiatives to ensure a skilled and adaptable workforce for the future. By investing in apprenticeships, expanding access to free community college, and bolstering training programs, states are laying the foundation for economic growth and prosperity. Outside of workforce development, governors are also investing in rural communities to mitigate the barriers that hinder their access to educational and training opportunities. CTE can serve as the connector offered in communities to connect secondary and postsecondary classroom learning, work-based learning and apprenticeship, and skilling and reskilling training programs. 

Advance CTE and ACTE’s eleventh annual State Policies Impacting CTE: 2023 Year in Review and Advance CTE’s Longitudinal Year in Review Analysis Tool examine CTE and career readiness policies across the nation. While the report focuses on policy trends, the tool comprises every CTE-related policy enacted within each state since 2013. 

 

For further insights and resources connected to workforce development, check out our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Velie Sando, Policy Associate

Realizing CTE Without Limits: An Interview with Colorado State CTE Director Dr. Sarah Heath

March 27th, 2024

This month, Advance CTE celebrates the 3 year anniversary of the release of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), supported by over 40 national organizations. As part of the celebration, Advance CTE is highlighting the initiatives, outcomes and lessons learned of current and former states who have participated in technical assistance opportunities to conduct the challenging but necessary work to fully realize the vision in their state. 

Senior Director of Policy Nithya Govindasamy interviewed Colorado State CTE Director Sarah Heath to revisit the impact of technical assistance on realizing a more cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem. 

How has the CTE Without Limits influenced the mindset and priorities for CTE in your state? 

CTE Without Limits has influenced the mindset and priorities in Colorado in terms of alignment. Our team has examined our goals and determined how we can better serve learners and how we can get learners ready for things that are connected geographically. 

CTE Without Limits has also been central to goals and actions that can be taken to infuse the principles in the Perkins State Plan and strategic plan to ultimately support local leaders and educators. In Colorado, we are trying to connect the principles in the vision and the foundational commitments when evaluating our current goals and the gaps in our goals. We have used it to “check ourselves” and integrated it to support our stakeholder outreach and continue to use it as a bar and checkpoint.

What do you consider your state’s most impactful work in progress as a result of the CTE Without Limits vision? 

For Colorado, the most impactful work has occurred in our equity-centered work, specifically empowering locals through the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) and tying it to CTE Without Limits through the Opportunity Gap Analysis (OGA). In particular, we’ve focused on sub-populations indicators and “checking ourselves” to ensure we were not being too generic in measuring success. Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem, pushed us to identify tangible tools to help locals; it also pushed our state team to view data differently and get comfortable with data. Tools like the heat map ease people into the work without the “equity stigma”. 

We are also using tools to analyze local performance and to inform local decision making. For example the OGA data was linked to school performance frameworks and school finance to show the intersections. We are training principals and need to train middle-management leaders in our schools to help them to make data-driven decisions to help all learners be successful. 

In Colorado, working directly with locals to be more impactful has been a priority. We held a session about this work at CACTA (Colorado Association for Career and Technical Administrators, the Admin Division of ACTE in Colorado), where the designated CTE Directors attend for each district and they are empowered to engage the principals. Rural school districts are supported by Boards of Cooperative Educational Services or BOCES (typically fiscal agents for Perkins) and each have a Superintendent Council, so our team has taken the opportunity to use their meeting structure and support to offer more CTE services. 

Additionally, Colorado has taken a “near-peer approach” and is leveraging the relationships with the BOCES and helping the state team connect with local leaders who are not always the designated CTE Director. The Colorado CTE Team is also reflecting on their experiences to ensure the best presenter or connector is available to support these cohorts. For example, the state Program Director for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy was a principal in a rural school district prior to being on the Colorado CTE Team so it makes perfect sense to connect her to projects where we are expanding the knowledge of our local principals in how to connect CTE data to their school performance data and goal setting.  

Colorado participated in the inaugural cohort to provide vision-related technical assistance to states. What is one part of that work (highlighted here) that you have been able to build upon over the past year, and how?

Of the work highlighted in last year’s blog, we focused on Goal 3: “Building Local Leader Data Literacy: Leverage Advance CTE’s Opportunity Gap Analysis (OGA) process to increase data literacy of local CTE administrators and educators and in doing so improve data-focused storytelling of learners’ outcome and identification of program participation and success gaps.” In order to increase the data literacy of locals and teachers, we are offering professional development with a panel of local CTE directors. We are using the CLNA and OGA for action planning, and conducted needs assessment in-person during a statewide CTE roadshow. 

In terms of what is next for us, we are intentionally incorporating learner voice into our work. We are focused on “how are we empowering local leaders and their data literacy” and helping them with storytelling. For example, our CTE concentrator graduation rate is 98% while our overall Colorado high school graduation rate is 83%. Elevating these data points and integrating into our storytelling on the local level will assist in destigmatizing CTE. CTE is being seen all over Colorado as a new strategic move in high school education. We are seeing Designed Career and Technical high schools being built in school districts who market their four-year college going culture.  We are seeing most districts “up” their CTE programs and want to better serve learners across the board by offering multiple off ramps from industry credentials, Apprenticeship, and college credit.

We’ve been able to engage with families by going to the PTA conference and enhancing their data literacy. We are working with the entire ecosystem to empower local leaders, administrators, principals, parents/guardians, family members and learners and “empower” local communities by equipping them with better information to make more informed decisions. We are also helping connect education to the overall ecosystem through regional level conversations about industry needs and alignment. 

What resources or support has been most helpful in moving this work and mindset forward? 

For the Colorado team, the technical assistance and the actual resources, such as the Pushing the Limits Roadmap, has been the most helpful. We have used this resource to develop goals, to conduct an assessment of our current system, and develop an action plan. The tools were helpful in identifying the areas that need to be improved and we were able to use the tool to help locals assess their own system. 

Another helpful resource was the With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE. We walked through the toolkit and tackled issues such as not “tokenizing” learners by just having them on advisory committees. 

Having the tools, resources and support was definitely helpful when determining how to use the various pieces to help locals. 

What principles and areas of work connected to the vision are you planning to focus on this year? 

Colorado is currently focused on Principle 4: Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable. We are centering this mindset in our work by leaning into Credit for Prior Learning (CPL), portable credit and policy change and matrix, faculty qualifications, and counting all learning that happens. In 2020, Colorado passed HB 20-1002, which enables students and adults to earn postsecondary credit for prior work experience, including work-based learning. A landscape report on CPL was released in 2021 that guides our work:

Through our team that supports concurrent enrollment as well as our work on the Colorado “Student Bill of Rights”, we are working to ensure learners are receiving the correct credit for earned Industry Recognized Credentials when they matriculate to an institution of higher education as well as their  CTE high school experiences, even if it does not include concurrent enrollment, and assisting learners with understanding how to link these experiences to their college credits through articulation.

Colorado’s Governor has set a Skills-Based hiring expectation and as a team, we are using this expectation to help our employers who serve on our CTE advisory committees better understand how to post jobs to ensure they are attracting talent based on their skills. 

Additional Resources

To learn about how to begin implementing CTE Without Limits in your state or community, read Colorado, Nebraska, and South Carolina’s origin and impact journeys so far.. Resources to learn about and implement the vision can be found on our CTE Without Limits webpage

Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Director of Policy

Elevating Learner Voice Through Youth Participatory Action Research in Kentucky

March 26th, 2024

How prepared do learners feel to use the certification they have earned through their CTE program? Do learners feel their certification will increase their chances of employment after graduation? A group of learners in Kentucky are working with Advance CTE and the Kentucky Student Voice Team to find out. In this blog, Membership and Policy Associate, Amy Hodge introduces this new initiative.

In September 2023 , Advance CTE launched an exciting new pilot initiative to engage state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders in the youth participatory action research space. This project centers the belief that CTE programs should be designed with learners, not simply for learners, as learners are too often left out of key conversations about what access, quality, and success look like. Youth participatory action research (YPAR) is an exciting approach for engaging learners in policy and practice decision-making.

The CTE Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project is a collaboration between the Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT), the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), the Kentucky Postsecondary Council on Education (CPE), and Fayette County Public Schools. This pilot is generously funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and aligns with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where learners have agency and feel empowered to advocate for high-quality CTE programs.

Advance CTE helped recruit a group of 15 high school-aged learners to receive training from the Kentucky Student Voice Team on designing their own YPAR project. Learners came from three career academies in Fayette County, KY, including Tates Creek High School, Bryan Station High School, and Frederick Douglass High School. These school teams receive bi-monthly training from the Kentucky Student Voice Team to learn about different youth research strategies, survey design, and how to use these findings to become more effective advocates for high-quality CTE programs in their state. 

After they’ve designed and collected responses from their school community, learners will have the opportunity to present their findings and recommendations to state-level leadership and inform future policies. Throughout this first phase of the work, Advance CTE will identify ways to scale this process in other states and communities in the future and make recommendations for state CTE leaders looking to incorporate more learner voices into how programs are designed and delivered.

The academy teams have completed sessions about the fundamentals of YPAR, reviewing different pathways for students to have a voice and seat at the table in education decision-making, research fundamentals, and survey question design, construction, and distribution. Themes have begun to emerge as these learners narrow in on the focus of their research questions. These themes include:

  • Certification effectiveness now and in the future
  • CTE’s preparation for learners’ career and life after graduation
  • Additional CTE programs that aren’t currently available to learners
  • Learners’ understanding of and comfort with CTE 
  • Learners’ perceptions of educator and school support in CTE [programs]

Questions that learners identified through their preliminary exploration include:

  • How prepared do learners feel to use the certification they have earned through their CTE program?
  • How connected do you feel with your teachers at school?
  • How much do you feel your certification increases your chances of employment after graduation?

Advance CTE Members will be able to learn more about this project when the school teams present at Advance CTE’s Fall Meeting in October. 

Learn more about KSVT!

The Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT) is an independent, youth-led nonprofit that works to co-create more just, democratic Kentucky schools and communities by partnering with research, policy, and advocacy partners across the state.

For more information and tools to design a learner-centered CTE program, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Amy Hodge, Member and Policy Associate

 

 

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