Legislative Update: Walsh Testifies on FY23 as FCC Releases New Funding

June 24th, 2022

Over the last two weeks, the U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh testified before Congress on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request while lawmakers in the House advanced FY23 appropriations legislation with implications for Career Technical Education (CTE) funding. Advance CTE also endorsed legislation aimed at promoting career awareness this week, while the Senate held a hearing on the pandemic’s impact on students’ learning. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission disbursed additional connectivity funds as part of a wider effort to provide affordable access to high-quality internet connections and devices, while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published new rules for Title IX. 

Labor Secretary Walsh Testifies on USDOL FY23 Budget Request 

Last week U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding his Department’s FY23 budget request. Secretary Walsh and members of the committees discussed a wide range of topics including apprenticeship programs and other issues impacting workforce development efforts. Archived webcasts of these hearings, including testimony, can be found here and here

House Lawmakers Release and Markup FY23 Education Funding Bill

On Thursday, June 23, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing to consider and markup the FY23 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill. If enacted the bill would provide a 13 percent increase for ED and a nearly 12 percent increase for DOL over FY22 enacted funding levels. According to a preliminary summary document from the committee, the legislation proposes a $45 million increase for the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins V) basic state grant program a 3.3 percent increase over FY22 enacted levels. The bill would also provide an additional $75 million for Student Support and Academic Enrichment state grants– a program authorized under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  In addition, the legislation proposes significant increases to core formula programs authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as well as for apprenticeship programs. 

Late Thursday evening the subcommittee advanced this legislation by voice vote for further consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee—a next step that is currently scheduled for June 30. An archive webcast of the markup, including bill text, can be found here. Additional details about this spending package are still forthcoming and Advance CTE anticipates having additional clarity regarding the committee’s priorities next week ahead of the full committee markup. 

Advance CTE Endorses Career Counseling and Awareness Legislation 

This week, Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) introduced the Creating Opportunities to Thrive and Advance Act (COTA)– legislation that, if enacted, would expand career counseling and awareness efforts funded by WIOA. Specifically, the legislation would allow certain WIOA funds to be used to allow for public outreach efforts highlighting CTE programs that lead to in-demand occupations and sectors. Advance CTE endorsed this legislation this week with the organization’s Executive Director Kimberly Green commenting, in part, “Understanding the career options available in high-growth, high-wage and in-demand fields is crucial for success in today’s economy. Advance CTE commends the introduction of this legislation which will promote awareness of the Career Technical Education programs that lead to these opportunities, helping to ensure more learners are empowered to pursue rewarding careers now and in the future.” More information about the bill can be found here.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Pandemic Learning Hearing

On Wednesday, June 22, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled “Supporting Students and Schools: Promising Practices to Get Back on Track.” The hearing focused on the impact of the pandemic on student learning and how schools are working to reverse student learning loss and get them back on track. During the question and answer portion of the hearing, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) raised the issue of teacher shortages in critical areas such as CTE. She noted, in part, that “in Nevada, we’re hearing that we have about 1500 CTE educator positions, currently unfilled due to insufficient resources” and asked witnesses how best this persistent challenge could be addressed moving forward. An archived webcast, including witness testimony, can be accessed here

ED Proposes New Title IX Rule

On Thursday, June 23, the U.S. Department of Education proposed a set of changes to Title IX regulations—rules that are intended to prohibit sex discrimination at federally funded schools. The announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Title IX and would expand these protections for transgender students among a host of other changes that determine how K-12 and postsecondary institutions must respond to complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, or assault. The proposal will be published on the Federal Register soon, with ED inviting the public to comment and provide feedback on the proposal. In the meantime, an unofficial version of the proposal can be accessed here.

ED Hosts Pathways Event

On Tuesday, June 21, the U.S. Department of Education hosted a virtual event titled “Pathways in Action.” The event convened experts and stakeholders including community colleges, employers, school districts, workforce development boards, and community-based organizations to share perspectives and best practices for how to advance high-quality career and college pathways for more learners. The event also emphasized the various roles that federal agencies have in implementing these pathways efforts as well as identifying areas where more improvements are needed to ensure that each learner can benefit from these opportunities. The convening is part of ED’s wider efforts to promote a proposed “Career Connected High Schools” initiative as part of its FY23 budget request. More on the event can be found here.  

DOL Hosts Good Jobs Summit 

Also on Tuesday, June 21, the U.S. Department of Labor hosted a “Good Jobs” summit– a full day event highlighting how the Biden Administration is administering and prioritizing job quality through federal investments. The summit featured the release of a “Good Jobs Principles” which identifies specific aspects of what constitutes quality employment. Launched at the start of 2022 and led by DOL, the Good Jobs initiative is a multi-agency effort to promote and improve quality employment opportunities for more workers. More information can be found here. In addition to these efforts, President Biden recently announced a Talent Pipeline Challenge which encourages stakeholders to commit to supporting workforce development efforts, including aspects of these ongoing initiatives. 

FCC Announces New Funding Commitments

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the first wave of funding commitments from its most recent third filing window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). Created as part of the American Rescue Plan, the ECF Program allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of Advance CTE’s legislative priorities during the public health emergency. This new wave of funding includes over $244 million in funds to support 259 schools, 24 libraries and 1 consortium. $5.1 billion in total funding has been approved to date as part of previous ECF funding windows.  

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Early innovations and lessons emerge in Year Two New Skills ready network Annual Report and Site Snapshots

June 22nd, 2022

Today, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group (ESG) released an annual report and site snapshots for year two of the New Skills ready network initiative. The five-year initiative, part of JPMorgan Chase and Co.’s $350 million global New Skills at Work program and $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity, aims to improve student completion of high-quality, equitable career pathways to gain skills needed for the future of work, particularly among learners of color and other historically marginalized learners. 

The New Skills ready network focuses on six domestic sites as illustrated in the graphic below. As a partner in this initiative, Advance CTE strives to elevate the role of state capacity and resources in advancing project priorities. Additionally, we have gained a unique perspective on promising practices to strengthen state-local partnerships across the country. 

Looking across each of the snapshots, key priorities emerged as trends for the six sites. 

First, many sites continued or finalized the mapping and analysis of career pathways to determine alignment and quality across learner levels. Indianapolis, Indiana, for example, completed their process that was started in year one of evaluating their career pathways against a criteria review tool, which examined access for non-traditional populations, credential attainment, course sequencing, and connection to labor market information, among other criteria. The review also aligned the pathways with the state’s Next Level Programs of Study (NLPS), statewide course sequences which aim to improve consistency, quality, and intentionality of CTE instruction throughout Indiana.

Career advising initiatives were also a major theme for sites in year two, as sites considered how to expand support for learners through a career journey. The Nashville, Tennessee, team prioritized aligned career advising from middle school through postsecondary, with the goal of expanding individualized support. This work, built upon a college and career advising framework developed in year one, was implemented by College and Career Readiness Coaches embedded in select Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Boston, Massachusetts, set expansion of work-based learning as a key focus for year two, as multiple sites discussed how to align work-based learning efforts across learner levels and open more apprenticeship and virtual learning opportunities. The Boston Private Industry Council, the Workforce Investment Board and Boston Public Schools collaborated to ensure a shared commitment to work-based learning and strengthen data collection efforts surrounding participation in work-based learning. Other sites established common definitions of work-based learning to ensure that all partners were consistent in discussions about access.

The snapshots also previewed work for year three of the initiative, as each site recently participated in action planning processes that informed future work. Each site has ambitious goals for year three, largely informed by lessons learned in preceding years. Some sites, like Columbus, Ohio, are continuing communications and messaging work supported by learner-tested messages that seek to inform learners about available career pathways supports and opportunities. Other sites, like Denver, Colorado, are continuing data collection and analysis efforts, finalizing data frameworks, and aligning data systems across institutions. Finally, some sites such as Dallas, Texas, are aligning their efforts with other initiatives in their cities and ensuring that all partners can equitably support learners citywide. 

Visit Advance CTE’s New Skills ready network series page to read the full annual report and a snapshot of each site’s innovative partnerships and early accomplishments across the four project priorities. Our New Skills ready network collection page provides additional resources for strengthening career pathways.

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate

“The Trail Shouldn’t End”: Top Moments from Advance CTE June Meeting Series Day Two!

June 21st, 2022

On June 15, Advance CTE held the second of three events in our Virtual June Meeting Series. The series offers three opportunities to equip Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders with the latest research and innovations, empower them to succeed, and elevate their work to raise awareness of the value of CTE. 

The week’s sessions centered around the theme EMPOWER: Strengthening Our Capacity to Realize CTE Without Limits. Attendees delved into processes to build better state systems with a keynote presentation from Rhode Island Department of Education Chief Innovation Officer Spencer Sherman, followed by content-rich breakouts and discussions to build connections and knowledge. Each breakout session was aligned to one of the five foundational commitments of CTE Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education

Keep reading for top quotes and resources from the day! 

Keynote: Innovating by Working Together: Strategic Impact through Systems Alignment

“When a student graduates high school, the trail shouldn’t end. Right now you have to cut down trees and jump over a rock to get to the next trail [to college and career]. We need to [design systems] so that students don’t get lost along the way.” – Spencer Sherman 

The keynote opened with a welcome message from Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angelica Infante-Green, who shared her personal story and commitment to serving learners of all abilities and how the nation’s smallest state is expanding access to CTE for differently-abled learners. 

Rhode Island’s Chief Innovation Officer, Spencer Sherman, then shared a deep dive on the state’s approach to systems alignment through the PrepareRI initiative and how it improved outcomes for learners including a tripled increase in the number of graduates with college credit or industry-recognized credentials. Sherman shared organization models that acknowledge the current top-down approach of many states while also illustrating how collaboration and communication can be created across both systems and leadership levels. 

Sherman  emphasized the importance of engaging middle-level managers and staff and designing processes for community organizations to align initiatives with one other in addition to engaging with government. Throughout the presentation, he reminded attendees that these improvements should be designed to last beyond any one person. He also centered these improvements around the pursuit of improving learner outcomes and creating seamless transitions to postsecondary and career paths, as illustrated in the quote above. Additional resources on Rhode Island’s governing structures can be found in Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Data Breakout: Building a Culture of Data 

Two states participating in the Postsecondary Data Initiative led by Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation were highlighted in a breakout focused on how to leverage human and infrastructure capital to create data-informed and data-driven systems. 

Peter Plourde, Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Development for the Office of Academic Affairs at the University of the District Columbia Community College and Kelly Zinck, Education Team Research Analyst, Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission emphasized the importance of creating a welcoming environment where state CTE staff can get comfortable understanding small amounts of data and building up, as well as feel comfortable asking questions to build knowledge. Attendees were provided three strategies of “Identify,” “Educate” and “Build Trust” to open the black box of data. 

Equity: Maximizing the Potential of Equity-centered CTE Programs

“I want to applaud you for your efforts and affirm the work you’re doing. I want to remind you to work hard and take things one bite at a time. Do not lose faith and know that what you are doing is going to make a difference, even if you don’t see a return on investment right away”  – Dr. China Wilson 

CAST Research Scientist Dr. Amanda Bastoni and Maryland Equity and Civil Rights Specialist Dr. China Wilson teamed up to provide impactful insights on how to leverage data through public-facing resources and policy via Universal Design Learning to maximize equity in CTE programs. Dr. Wilson shared how Maryland’s state staff empowers local CTE leaders and families to understand and use data through their Maryland CTE Data platform and Equity Professional Learning Series. Dr. Bastoni used the example of a ramp at the back of a school to emphasize that state leaders should proactive design programs and supports with equity and accessibility at the forefront, not as a retrofit. 

Dr. Wilson affirmed the tough but important journey state CTE leaders are taking in tackling this work, and reminded attendees that each step no matter how small is progress. 

Public-Private Partnerships Breakout: Developing Effective Partnerships with the Private Sector for Work-based Learning

Attendees received rich insights on how local and state systems can work in tandem to empower employers and educators to develop effective work-based learning partnerships with a focus on rural communities. Advance CTE-ECMCF Postsecondary CTE Fellow Rich Crosby focused on utilizing existing collaborative spaces and partnerships as well as creating regional consortiums to connect employers and better understand learner needs, particularly in rural areas where employers are less concentrated.

Montana State CTE Director Jacque Treaster shared a variety of delivery models for work-based learning that strive to expand access to these experiences, particularly for rural learners, including a hub-and-spoke model and distance learning for concurrent and dual enrollment programs. 

The session included a rich attendee discussion on models in other states, including Hawaii’s hub and spoke model and Nevada embedding work-based learning into Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) award programs. 

Quality Breakout: Promising Tools, Strategies and Research Findings to Improve the Quality of CTE Programs

MDRC Senior Associate Dr. Rachel Rosen shared insights on the models and research structures that allow for ethical and impactful CTE research. She noted that significant strides have been made to improve research quality, and that recent studies show significant value of CTE for male learners and learners with disabilities. ExcelInEd’s Adriana Harrington walked attendees through their Pathways Matter website that consolidates state case studies, best policy practices, and sample learner stories of pathway navigation to enhance quality and alignment of career pathways. 

Indiana State CTE Director Anthony Harl shared his state’s dedicated program quality initiative, Next Level Program of Study that allows high school students to earn up to 30-hours of college credit (a technical certificate) while in high school in 65 programs of study. Course design in this initiative focuses on more intentional sequencing of skillbuilding and a longer runway for early postsecondary opportunities paired with work-based learning. 

Systems Alignment Breakout: Linking Workforce to Education through Strategic Goal Alignment

“Our role is to connect the fire hose to the garden hose.” – Joy Hermsen

Washington State’s State CTE Director Eleni Papadakis, whose Perkins designated agency is the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, provided details on how the state’s workforce agency leveraged a strategic plan and data to improve learner outcomes, including energized local youth council and work-based learning that is more responsive to local needs due to partnerships led primarily by employers rather than led by government.  

Futuro Health DIrector of Innovative Partnerships Joy Hermsen provided a national perspective on efforts to connect health employers to talent pipelines. She shared how the organization is bridging the gap between education leader and employers through resources that map responsive career lattices and ladders and customized data reports to help learners successfully connect to health careers. 

What’s Ahead 

The final event of the June Meeting Series is scheduled for June 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET, respectively. This session will center around the theme ELEVATE: Building Awareness of and Support for High-Quality and Equitable CTE. Visit the June Meeting Series event webpage to view the event agenda and to register. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement

New Tracker Reveals Diverse State Approaches to Work-Based Learning Design

June 20th, 2022

Advance CTE’s newly released State Work-Based Learning Toolkit Innovation Tracker links publicly accessible WBL toolkits from across all 50 states and U.S. territories. Well-crafted WBL toolkits allow school districts and industry partners to work together to create a pipeline of career pathways and empower state leaders to ensure that learners have equitable access to programs offering real-world work experience.

The tracker highlights each toolkit’s content across the following categories: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The State Work-Based Learning Toolkit Tracker Analysis provides additional insight into the tracker by highlighting six-state innovations for addressing key program quality components such as equity, data collection, and employer accountability. Below is an example of the kind of analyses featured in the report:

Maryland

  • Definition: Work-based learning is defined as “…an instructional strategy that enhances classroom learning by connecting it to the workplace” (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Work-based learning experiences and programs are traditionally exemplified by job shadowing, internships, and student-based enterprises, and can include an even broader range of related experiences. Work-based learning experiences allow students to “…explore a variety of career options [and] connect the classrooms to the skills needed to be successful in the workplace… [The experiences] are supported by consistent mentoring.”
  • Innovative Practice: In addition to emphasizing examples of best practices in designing a work-based learning program through attention-grabbing graphics, such as interest surveys, Maryland has an extensive list of work-based learning-related resources available. This allows CTE administrators, teachers, and employers to build a working knowledge of the science behind work-based learning, internalize the benefits, and better understand how to optimize the experiences for learners. An intentionally designed program means learners will be able to gain the skills they need to successfully navigate their program and enter the workforce fully prepared to contribute.

Through the analysis of 41 publicly available toolkits, several data points emerged regarding the breadth of components found across states: 

  • State toolkits were organized across multiple approaches, including dedicated websites, comprehensive manual documents, and an online training course in Nebraska. 
  • Twenty-two state toolkits provided a sample State Learning Plan to guide employers and educators to fully count knowledge and skills gained through the work-based learning experience. Minnesota provided course sequence recommendations to align career seminar courses with work-based learning. 
  • Twenty-three state toolkits provided employer resources, including sample forms, training documents, liability guidance, and sample evaluations. Alaska, Georgia and Ohio provided extensive resources on labor laws and liability guidance. 

One area for improvement that emerged through the analysis was regarding specific support to achieve equitable access to work-based learning for each learner. Very few had toolkits, or linked resources, in multiple languages. Additionally, not all toolkits addressed learners with disabilities. Tracking these toolkits allows Advance CTE to identify additional areas to support,  creating equitable frameworks of work-based learning programs for their districts. Last year, Advance CTE released a framework to guide states in building infrastructure that advances access to and completion of equitable work-based learning. 

Updates to the tracker will be made quarterly. The analysis and tracker are available for viewing in the Resource Center.

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate 

CTE Research Review: Q&A with Shaun Dougherty on the Impacts of CTE Access on Learner Outcomes in Connecticut 

June 15th, 2022

This research review series features interviews with three CTE researchers— Julie Edmunds, Shaun Dougherty, and Rachel Rosen — to highlight new and relevant Career Technical Education (CTE) research topics being pursued and discuss how state CTE leaders might leverage these to make evidence-based decisions. This series is conducted in partnership with the Career and Technical Education Research Network, which is providing new CTE impact studies and strengthening the capacity of the field to conduct and use rigorous CTE research.

For the final post in this series, Advance CTE caught up with researcher Shaun Dougherty to learn more about the outcomes of his study, The Effects of Career and Technical Education: Evidence from the Connecticut Technical High School SystemThis study took place at The Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS), an independent district of choice composed of 16 high schools where all students who attend the school participate in some form of CTE. The technical high schools in this study offer between 10 and 17 programs of study compared to the two to four typically offered at traditional comprehensive high schools. These findings suggest that student participation in CTE programs can improve graduation and college enrollment rates, and labor force participation, especially for male students. These findings should be meaningful to state leaders who are interested in improving CTE data quality to improve programming and learner supports.

How do your research findings advance the CTE field’s understanding of ways to better serve learners?

My findings in Connecticut and an earlier study in Massachusetts suggest that increasing access to high-quality CTE-focused schools can improve high school graduation rates, test scores, and early workforce experiences (earnings especially). These findings suggest that ensuring access to high-quality CTE is important, especially in areas where there is high demand for it among students. In Connecticut, we show that the benefits accrue to males only, but in Massachusetts, the impacts are broader-based and larger for students who come from less financially advantaged backgrounds. 

What is also important about both of these contexts is that students are attending CTE-dedicated high schools, which is the least common form of CTE instructional delivery in the United States. Students explore multiple programs in 9th grade and then make an informed decision about what program of study to pursue for the rest of their high school experience. Within the program they choose, they then have a relatively stable set of peers and instructors, and there is alignment between content in the state graduation requirements, such as math and English Language Arts (ELA), and their technical area of study. Each of these dimensions of the experience tends not to exist in CTE delivered in comprehensive high schools or regional technical centers.

What findings would you highlight for state CTE leaders in particular?

In particular, I’d highlight the following:

  • Whole-school models of CTE may be more expensive but have been shown to have quite larger impacts on student success and so could be worth the long-term investment.
  • If whole-school models aren’t feasible, adapting some of the structures of how those schools operate in other settings could be worth pursuing.
  • Creating ways for students to explore multiple programs of study early in high school is likely to improve the experience of all students as they get more information about their interests and strengths.
  • Investing in skilled trade programs likely helps mitigate otherwise undesirable educational and social outcomes, especially for boys who struggled to be engaged in middle school. Avoiding tracking is critical, but also finding ways to engage students in ways that likely benefit them and their families and communities is critical. 

You find male students enrolled in Connecticut’s Technical High School System (CTHSS) are more likely to graduate high school and experience a notable wage increase compared to males attending traditional high schools, yet this effect is not seen among female students. What do you make of this finding? 

There are two things worth noting here:

  • Male labor force participation in the U.S.  is generally lower than females, as are their likelihoods of completing high school or entering college. Thus, there is more opportunity to have a positive impact on males than females. 
  • Males are more likely to enter traditionally male-dominated fields, such as manufacturing and construction, which are the two industries where we see the largest payoff for participating in these technical high schools. Thus, gendered patterns of program participation are related to similarly gendered patterns of employment, which are directly related to the earnings premiums we see for males. 

Can you tell me about how you were able to leverage the state’s longitudinal data system, the value that this process brought to your work, and about any limitations you encountered??

We matched the CTHSS admissions records to the Connecticut State Department of Education’s (CSDE) longitudinal data system sequentially using the following criteria: SASID, exact match on first and last name plus birth year, first initial and exact match on last name plus birth year and month, and exact match on last name plus exact birth date. The reason for the sequential match process is reporting errors in the CTHSS application file on birth dates, spelling errors and uses of nicknames in the application file that parents and/or students fill out by hand. A failure to match after applying all of these criteria leads to the observation being omitted from the sample. Our resulting match rate was 95 percent yielding a final sample of 57,658 student applications.

From the CSDE longitudinal data system, we obtained information on each student’s race, gender, free or reduced-price lunch status, English learner and special education status (i.e. presence of an IEP).

The CSDE data also provided information on short- and medium-term educational outcomes including standardized test scores prior to and during high school, attendance, and high school graduation, as well as information on college attendance drawn from the National Student Clearinghouse.

Further, through the P20Win process, students in our sample were matched to Connecticut State Department of Labor (CSDOL) data. This CSDOL match is facilitated by Department of Motor Vehicle records that contain gender, birth date, and first and last name and is matched to the CSDOL data using social security numbers. CSDOL personnel then matched the resulting data to the CSDE data using an exact match on birth date and gender and a fuzzy match algorithm on the student’s name.

Failure to match applicants in the CSDOL data may have been driven by several factors including never having a driver’s license in the state of Connecticut, name changes due to marriage or other factors, moving out of state prior to or upon the completion of high school or failure to participate in the labor market after high school perhaps due to college attendance. Our labor market data ends in the 1st quarter of 2018. Therefore, we restrict this sample to the years 2006 to 2012 so that we have a potential for at least six quarters of data on each applicant.

Without the matching to the workforce outcomes, we would be left to wonder or speculate about what happened to most students, since there is no real evidence of impact on college-going (nor should we expect it early on for students who attended schools that emphasize manufacturing and skilled trades). Thus, the linkages were critical to being able to provide policymakers with relevant, detailed answers  

The primary limitation is that we cannot see workers who moved out of state, who were employed by the federal government, who work for unreported wages, or who are independent contractors. However, our takeaway is that our findings are likely an underestimate of the benefits of CTE. 

What new questions has this work raised for you that could be applied to future research?

The two biggest questions this work has raised for me so far are:

  • First, what financial benefits will persist through middle age and beyond?
    Other work has shown that early-career benefits of CTE may decline or turn negative over a 30-year career if the jobs and skills become obsolete or workers are not able to maintain their labor force participation. The evidence that raises this concern is from much earlier periods, so following this over the long term is critical. 
  • Second, are there conditions under which females see similar, or at least positive benefits? The gendered patterns of results are both informative and distressing. For instance, Sade Bonilla (2020) found larger high school graduation benefits from CTE in California where recent expansions of CTE had focused on health services pathways, which were both in demand and disproportionately female. Relatedly, it would be important to get other measures of benefits, such as job satisfaction, flexibility, or other indirect financial benefits. For example, females are more likely to go into education. For early childhood educators, there may be an indirect financial benefit in the form of free or reduced-cost childcare for one’s own children. Further, flexibility in work schedules around children’s school schedules may also carry weight in estimating benefits. 

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional publications examining career-centered education models and Advance CTE’s 50-state report on equity in CTE early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) released earlier this year.

The work of the CTE Research Network Lead is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education with funds provided under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through Grant R305N180005 to the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The work of the Network member projects is supported by the Institute. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

‘We Must Move Beyond Compliance’: Top Moments from Advance CTE June Meeting Series Day One!

June 13th, 2022

On June 8, Advance CTE held the first of three events that encompass our Virtual June Meeting Series. The series offers three opportunities to equip Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders with the latest research and innovations, empower them to succeed, and elevate their work to raise awareness of the value of CTE. 

The first week ‘s sessions centered around the theme EQUIP: Building Our Capacity to Lead With A Focus On Quality and Equity. Attendees heard from inspiring keynote speaker Drexell Owusu, Chief Impact Officer for the Dallas Foundation, followed by content-rich breakouts and discussions to build connections and knowledge. Each breakout session was aligned to one of the five foundational commitments of CTE Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education

Keep reading for top moments and quotes from the day! 

Keynote: Pursuing Next-Level Collaboration to Jumpstart Systems Change

(We are in) a game of influence. I can’t tell an employer what to do … and I can’t tell my school district, or city, or county what to do. This is all about making the case for change through data management and influence through relationships.” – Drexell Owusu 

Dallas Foundation Chief Impact Officer Drexell Owusu was candid about the equity and quality of life challenges facing residents of Dallas. However, he was equally optimistic about the role that CTE can have in providing high-quality pathways to maximize recent economic growth and increase the number of young adults achieving a living wage to 50 percent within one generation. He identified five strategies that comprise the Dallas Thrives initiative to achieve this goal. 

Taking Dallas’ learnings and applying them to a state audience, Owusu shared that state CTE leaders are crucial in using existing convening levers to connect systems and share information; bringing and keeping employers and staff beyond the CEO at the table; providing capacity to analyze and share data; and “democratizing” information about CTE programs.

 

Data Breakout: Developing Data Policies and Procedures to Monitor, Evaluate and Improve Postsecondary CTE Programs

So much data use is focused on compliance and descriptive analysis. That’s not all that actionable. We can do so much more to deepen analysis if we make the time and space.” – Miriam Greenberg 

Miriam Greenberg, Director of the Strategic Data Project at the Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research, shared their Strategic Data Project CTE Diagnostic Tool as a means to evaluate current data components and how that data is being used. Montana State CTE Director Jacque Treaster shared how their state team leveraged Advance CTE’s Opportunity Gap Analysis Workshop to transform their professional development, cross-team collaboration and staff structure to create a data-informed culture. 

Equity Breakout: Equity in Education: Building Inclusive, Equitable, and Responsive CTE Programs

In the 1980s, we heard  a lot about diversity. We still have a challenge there. But we realized it’s not simply getting folks around the table or in the classroom. It’s also ensuring that those who are there are fully engaged, are welcomed and have the opportunity to use all their skills and talents.” – Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden 

Advance CTE’s Equity Coach, Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden, led a nuanced and timely discussion on today’s challenges in conducting meaningful equity work. She guided attendees on the differences between equity and equality and emphasized the crucial triangle of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Lane Community College Director of High School School Connections and Advance CTE-ECMCF Fellow Justin Chin led an illuminating presentation on Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) learners and their unique assets and barriers to achieving college and career success. In particular, he focused on how the ‘Model Minority Myth’ and the concept of social capital impact this this population’s perception of CTE, and provided culturally responsive strategies to help these learners see themselves in CTE.

Public-Private Partnerships Breakout: Cultivating Public-Private Partnerships to Maximize Learner Access, Social Capital and Opportunity

“We quickly realized that we need to bring people to help speak to students in a way they understand and connect with. That’s part of the shifting that industry and adapting that we had to do to make. We had to personalize the experience for the students.” – Gabe Madison 

Thomson Reuters Director of Community Relations Gabe Madison shared an industry perspective on strategies that states can pursue to help employers personalize their interactions with learners and maximize feedback loops, such as convening industry leaders organized by sectors to gather feedback on program design. She also broke down Thomson Reuter’s partnership Dallas Independent School District (ISD) P-Tech program and their focus on helping learners explore careers and build social capital. 

 

Quality Breakout: Designing Learner-Centered Career Navigation and Support Structures for Marginalized Learners

[Our institution] is driven by five lenses: student focus, success focus, future focus, work focus and community focus.– Deanna Strauss Hersko 

Lorain County Community College Manager of Career Technical Pathways & Programs Deanna Strauss Hersko framed improving CTE program quality as a focus on five lenses and tailoring supports to meet both learners and staff where they are. She provided a rich breakdown of institution-level supports, such as the Careers by Design badge to support each learner in exploring careers, reducing barriers to participating in CTE programs and informing learners on education options. 

Ohio Department of Education Program Administrator Catherine Allen shared the state’s innovative approaches to building cohesive and responsive career preparation ecosystems that engage all stakeholders. This includes a tax incentive pilot for employers to expand work-based learning experiences and a program quality focus group that is exploring innovative CTE delivery models. 

Systems Alignment Breakout: Systems Alignment that Benefits Learners Through Collaboration and Coordination of Federal Policy

“We recognize this work cannot happen overnight but will require a shared commitment and shared ownership among our leaders ….across education, workforce development, industry and philanthropy. Only together – through persistence, resilience, bravery, boldness, and commitment – can we realize the possibility and aspiration of a new career preparation ecosystem that provides each learner with limitless opportunities.”  – CTE Without Limits

Systems alignment is a seemingly elusive yet long-sought after goal among federal education and workforce programs. New America Senior Policy Advisor Lul Tesfai and National Governors Association Program Director Amanda Winters shared best practices from states like Arizona, Indiana, and Pennsylvania and others that have leveraged funds provided through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to meet complex learner and worker needs through multiple systems and programs. In particular, they encouraged centering decisions and investments on the needs of learners and workers and including their voices in system redesign. Advance CTE has the following related resources available: Coordinating across WIOA and Perkins and State Uses of ARP Funds.

It is not too late to register for the remaining Empower and Elevate session of the June Meeting Series, scheduled for June 15 and June 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET, respectively. Visit the June Meeting Series event webpage to view the full agenda and to register. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Legislative Update: Senate Confirms OCTAE Leadership and Cardona Testifies on FY23 Budget

June 10th, 2022

This week the Senate confirmed Dr. Amy Loyd to be the next head of the federal office overseeing Career Technical Education (CTE) while U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified about the Administration’s federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request as his Department convened an event on learner pathways.

Senate Confirms New OCTAE Leader

On Wednesday, June 8,  the Senate voted 57-42 to confirm Dr. Amy Loyd to be the next Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education. In this position Dr. Loyd will lead the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) within the U.S. Department of Education (ED)—a posting that oversees CTE, including the implementation of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). Following the vote, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a statement saying, in part, “I am thrilled by the Senate’s confirmation of Amy Loyd, whose expertise in the intersection between education and workforce development will make her an excellent assistant secretary [of OCTAE].” Following the confirmation vote Wednesday evening, Advance CTE and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) published a joint statement of support

“As key legislation and funding negotiations with implications for Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development persist in Congress, it is crucial for leaders at the intersection of education and work to have a seat at the table. Dr. Loyd’s confirmation as OCTAE Assistant Secretary provides the field with an exceptional advocate for equitable access to high-quality CTE and an experienced leader with a deep understanding of not only the needs of local, regional and state CTE leaders, but also historically marginalized communities through her work at JFF and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Alaska. Her leadership at OCTAE will be instrumental in preparing our nation’s workforce to obtain and advance in high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers. We congratulate Assistant Secretary Loyd on her confirmation, and look forward to working with her to ensure federal policy fully leverages CTE programs and career pathways as high-quality, equitable avenues for each learner to achieve success in the jobs of the future.”

Advance CTE looks forward to working with Assistant Secretary Loyd in this capacity to advance the organization’s federal policy priorities and ensure strong CTE leadership within ED moving forward.   

Cardona Testifies on Budget as FY23 Funding Efforts Move Forward

On Tuesday, June 7, the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to testify about the Administration’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget request for the U.S. Department of Education. The hearing focused on a wide range of issues, including CTE which was touched on by both Senators Braun (R-IN) and Baldwin (D-WI) during questioning. Sen. Baldwin in particular noted that the Administration’s proposed “career connected high schools” initiative would serve only a small subset of communities throughout the nation and asked how ED planned to ensure that support for high-quality CTE programs would be made available to a greater number of states by supplementing, rather than supplanting, existing federal support for CTE. Cardona answered, in part, that ED plans to “. . . continue to advocate and find ways to support [CTE] programs and find ways to make whatever new money is available eligible to those who are already doing this work.” An archived webcast of the hearing, including Secretary Cardona’s testimony, can be accessed here

In other FY23 funding news, Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT), Baldwin (D-WI), and Kaine (D-VA) recently led a Dear Colleague letter in support of robust funding for Perkins V’s basic state grant program. This letter garnered the support of 38 Senators and was shared with Senate appropriations leadership as the FY23 funding process gets underway in the chamber. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the House advanced a key procedural measure this week to begin debate on the 12 individual appropriations bills that compose the federal discretionary budget. This measure sets an overall $1.6 trillion budget limit for FY23—the same amount that was requested in President Biden’s most recent budget request—which will allow appropriators to begin to allocate this proposed amount among forthcoming spending bills. Advance CTE expects this work to begin later this month, likely beginning next week, ahead of the July 4th Congressional recess. As these efforts get underway, we will continue to advocate for a robust investment in Perkins V’s basic state grant program to meet the significant funding needs of the CTE community. 

Career Connected Learning Event 

Last week, June 1, ED convened a virtual event with U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to discuss the Department’s new “career connected high schools” initiative proposed as part of the Administration’s FY23 budget request. The event also featured remarks from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who shared  the Administration’s wider career connected learning strategy moving forward which will focus on five core pillars: 

  1. An overarching belief that every student should have a pathway to college and the preparation they need to get a head start while still in high school;
  2. Work-based learning to help students gain real-world knowledge, skills, exposure, and learning experience they’ll need to enter and succeed in careers; 
  3. Industry credentials to help students make progress to earning in-demand, industry-recognized credentials that can give them a leg up in today’s workforce and launch careers more quickly; 
  4. College and career advising and navigation to equip students with better information to make thoughtful decisions and lay groundwork for what comes after high school; and
  5. Systems, strategies, and capacity building to create a system that eliminates transition barriers and creates new capacities to support student success. 

An archive of the event, including additional information, can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Making Good on the Promise: Addressing Three Major Challenges for English Learners in CTE

June 9th, 2022

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) calls on each level of leadership to create systems and structures that offer every learner access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities that lead to career success. This requires dismantling systemic and institutional barriers that limit equitable access to and success in CTE for learners from special populations. 

In support of the CTE Without Limits vision, Advance CTE recently released the Improving Equity and Access to Quality CTE Programs for English Learners brief. This resource explores English Learner (EL) enrollment in CTE and three major barriers that English Learners face in accessing and succeeding in CTE programs, concluding with recommendations on how state leaders can take the lead in addressing these barriers and expanding access to high-quality CTE opportunities. 

1.Barrier: Irrelevant or Impersonal Curricula and Assessments

In both general education and CTE courses, English Learners are frequently exposed to one-size-fits-all curricula that are not personalized to their unique interests, career goals and learning needs. Additionally, ELs may need to take remedial classes that take time away from credit-bearing courses that lead to certificate or degree program completion or limit opportunities to enroll in CTE courses. Finally, many forms of assessments, including entrance and placement exams and state standardized tests, place ELs at a disadvantage by simultaneously testing both content knowledge and language skills. These assessments typically do not recognize the unique value that ELs offer as emergent bilinguals with a wealth of cultural and linguistic knowledge. 

Addressing the Barrier: Providing adaptive instruction and relevant skill-building opportunities are critical for ELs. The state of Washington’s Integrated Basic Education Skills and Training (I-BEST) team-teaching instructional model supports these learners by teaching both basic language skills and career readiness skills. Studies from the Department of Health and Human Services have confirmed the effectiveness of I-BEST at improving educational outcomes. Additionally, states should make an effort to make assessments more accessible. Virginia created a catalog of industry credentials with testing accommodations for ELs, with direction on how districts and schools should notify ELs about these accommodations prior to taking tests. 

Another avenue for addressing the educational needs of ELs is leveraging federal funding – a program provider in Ohio utilized funds from Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act to expand culturally responsive career counseling and career exploration opportunities for ELs. Finally, professional development for CTE educators is necessary to ensure that instruction is culturally responsive and adaptive. Arizona’s Department of Education has initiated a collaborative interagency project to develop professional learning opportunities for instructors across the state, centered on identifying and deploying strategies to address barriers for special populations in the classroom.

2.Barrier: Competing Priorities and Time Demands

Many ELs have family and work demands that often result in class scheduling conflicts. ELs disproportionately experience low-income, and many work in jobs with demanding, unpredictable work schedules and low wages. Further, ELs may face additional barriers to accessing child care and transportation to get to class. 

Addressing the Barrier: Wraparound services are essential for this population to access and succeed in CTE programs. States and local leaders can work together to braid different funding streams and leverage federal grants to coordinate community services and address barriers to accessing CTE. Local education agencies must also provide timely interventions and long-term supports. Georgia provides targeted guidance for ELs and other special populations at risk of dropping out of high school through the Coordinated Career Academic Education and Project Success support services. Additionally, Georgia’s technical colleges employ Special Populations Coordinators to support these learners.

3.Barrier: Few Avenues for Elevating Learner Voices and Outcomes

While K-12 schools are required to collect and report data on learners’ language proficiency, guidance for collecting and reporting these data at the postsecondary level is extremely limited. States typically do not provide any direction on how postsecondary institutions can best serve ELs. Additionally, there are few mechanisms for elevating the voices and lived experiences of ELs within decision-making processes, exacerbating the lack of knowledge on learners’ participation rates and outcomes in CTE programs. In order to truly understand the scope of institutional barriers and create meaningful solutions, state CTE leaders must find ways to access crucial data on this learner population.

Addressing the Barrier: The Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process required under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) can be a critical avenue for collecting and reporting data on ELs. Special populations are a required stakeholder to consult when developing CLNAs, and state plans must address learners’ access to CTE programs, as well as their performance levels. The Illinois Community College Board developed a CLNA template with specific fields for describing how the equity needs of each learner group are being met at every stage of the process.

This resource is part of the Making Good on the Promise series, which defines key challenges that different learners face and explores solutions that State CTE Directors can implement to help close equity and opportunity gaps in CTE. For more resources on supporting special populations in CTE, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

CTE Research Review: Exploring the Impact of P-TECH Model on College and Career Readiness Outcomes in New York City

June 3rd, 2022

This research review series features interviews with three CTE researchers— Julie Edmunds, Shaun Dougherty, and Rachel Rosen — to highlight new and relevant Career Technical Education (CTE) research topics being pursued and discuss how state CTE leaders might leverage these to make evidence-based decisions. This series is conducted in partnership with the Career and Technical Education Research Network, which provide  CTE impact studies intending to strengthen the capacity of the field to conduct and use rigorous CTE research.

For the second post in this series, Advance CTE spoke with MDRC’s Rachel Rosen about the findings from her studies, Bridging of the School-to-Work Divide and the On-Ramp to College. These studies explore the impact that participation in New York City (NYC) P-TECH model schools has on improvement in learner outcomes for New York’s student’s college and career readiness. The NYC P-TECH Grades 9-14 (P-TECH 9-14) high school model involves a partnership among the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York (CUNY), and employers collaborate with the schools implementing it. The schools prepare students for both college and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by allowing them to earn an applied associate degree in addition to a high school diploma and gain relevant work-based learning experiences within a six-year timeframe. 

These studies compared the impact that attending one of NYC’s P-TECH had on the number of dual enrollment credits learners earned, and the passage rate of the state readiness Regents exam as college and career readiness metrics. Comparison groups of students for this study were created naturally through New York’s lottery admission system. Researchers were able to observe the outcomes of those who were admitted to a P-TECH and those who were offered seats in other schools. By the end of two years of high school, 42 percent of P-TECH 9-14 students had passed the English Language Arts exam compared to 25 percent of a comparison group of students enrolled in other high schools. There was also a positive impact on passing the regents math exam with 43 percent of P-TECH students passing it by the end of two years, compared with 40 percent of comparison group students.

Based on these findings, policymakers may be interested in learning more about how to leverage the P-TECH model to replicate positive outcomes for learner populations most underserved by traditional school models. 

How do your research findings on the P-TECH school model advance the CTE field’s understanding of ways to better serve learners? 

One of the important things about the P-TECH study is that it is a causal study, so we can confidently say that the results we are seeing are directly caused by students being enrolled in the P-TECH model as compared to an alternative model. The P-TECH model was developed from proven elements of other models that are also backed by rigorous evidence. These elements include early college high school models, career academies, and small schools of choice. P-TECH is a tightly aligned model where there is good coordination between secondary, postsecondary, and employers that provide a lot of cushioning for students at these critical transition points where, in other models, they might be left to their own devices.

What findings from the Bridging of the School-to-Work Divide and the On-Ramp to College studies, would you highlight for state CTE leaders in particular?

We believe that CTE leaders will be really interested in the positive impact that we’re seeing for students who are participating in P-TECH: P-TECH 9-14 students signed up for dual enrollment programs at higher rates and both attempted and earned more college credits than the comparison group students by the end of four years of high school. It is important to note that the students in the study sample intentionally had weaker academic performance in eighth grade than the overall student population enrolled in P-TECH 9-14 schools (more than 70% of them were testing below proficient in both math and English Language Arts (ELA) in 8th grade).  Another important demographic piece for leaders to consider is the impact that attending a P-TECH high school has for learners traditionally underserved by comprehensive high schools. Our sample reflects learners who identify as Black and Hispanic, and who come from neighborhoods where the median income is below the city average, and they are experiencing positive outcomes with dual enrollment and passing the Regents exam. 

Focusing on Bridging of the School-to-Work Divide, which indicates that the P-TECH model has positive impacts on students’ college and career readiness, what do you know about how specific elements of P-TECH contribute to this impact?

There are a couple of elements of the P-TECH model that we think contribute to student success and readiness for work-based learning and dual enrollment courses:

  • First, P-TECH high schools tend to front-load the required high school classes. This means that students have more room in their schedules to fit in these college coursework-level classes when they become upperclassmen (11th and 12th grade). This is an intentional piece of the model’s design, and to make sure that students are eligible, the high schools encourage them to take their math and English Regents early. Passing the Regents* is a prerequisite to dual enrolling in CUNY classes, and students can start taking the exams as early as ninth grade.  
  • Second, P-TECH schools also have an explicit focus on helping students develop soft skills that prepare them for college and careers. These include skills such as teamwork and time management. Including these skills as part of the scope and sequence of the high school curriculum gives students a leg up when it comes to preparedness for their work-based learning opportunities. 
  • Finally, a lot of schools operate summer bridge programs to work with students who are behind and need to build up their skills. This means that they can get up to speed faster when they enter 9th grade. 

Taken together, all of these elements position students for success not only in high school but in their work-based learning experiences and to dual enroll in college courses. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Regents Examinations are New York’s statewide standardized examinations that students take to demonstrate proficiency in core high school subjects. Students are required to pass these exams to earn a Regents Diploma.

Based on the findings in both studies, your team found that P-TECH students tended to concentrate more on CTE courses than control groups, either through accumulating greater numbers of CTE credits in high school or by taking CTE-aligned courses through dual enrollment.

What factors appear to drive that trend? And are there any implications here for CTE leaders and educators? 

Yes, the P-TECH model has an explicit focus on preparing students for careers through CTE classes. The schools were set up to make these CTE classes available in high school and CTE courses were also offered at the colleges as part of the applied associate’s degrees that students can earn. 

The comparison group in this study is made up of students who applied to P-TECH, but who did not win a seat through the random admissions process. Some of those students may have ended up in other high schools across New York City that also offer CTE coursework if that was important to them. However, we’re still seeing that P-TECH students earned more CTE credits than that comparison group students, and we believe that it is due to the very tight focus on CTE in these schools.

CTE leaders should certainly consider the role that industry partners have in helping to ensure alignment across the courses students take, the associate degree coursework, and standards for the industries they represent. The industry partners had some input into which CTE classes would help students be more prepared to secure jobs within the industry, or at least if not with the industry partner itself, then the industry that the partner works in. There is a lot of communication about how to best prepare students for entering these industries.

On-Ramp to College digs into the differences in dual enrollment participation based on gender, revealing that female students enroll in college courses at higher rates than males.

Can you explain what you learned about this pattern and any insights you gained about supporting male students’ college enrollment? 

There is an interesting paradox that is frequently observed across the higher education and CTE literature where, despite being more likely to enroll and graduate than their male peers, female students experience lower levels of accrued impact from participating in CTE.

Since the P-TECH model has a combined focus on both higher education and career readiness, we wanted to see how the gender differences might play out for students in this environment. Consistently, we saw female students in both the P-TECH high schools and the comparison schools were much more likely to dual enroll than male students. This was not, however, translate into higher pass rates of the Regents exam.  While male and female students were passing the Regents at similar levels, the female students were more likely to take up the opportunity for dual enrollment than their male peers. And this pattern was held across all seven of the P-TECH schools in this study, so it seems unrelated to the program type.

In our sample, about 21 percent of students have special education designations, but within that group, almost 80 percent of these students are male. When we compared this to the general education population, we found that the male-female gap closed somewhat, but not completely. From a policy standpoint, this tells us that there is more that could be done to support students who have special education designations in dual enrollment. 

Finally, what new questions has this work raised for you that could be applied to future research?

The study is still ongoing and we are currently working on our final analysis. Generally speaking, the big open question is focused on the impacts of P-TECH on postsecondary attainment.

Other questions we’d like to explore include:

  • What are the labor market outcomes for these students? We would like to be able to follow students for a longer period to see if they are more likely to get jobs or higher levels of earnings. 
  • P-TECH models have proliferated rapidly, both across the country and internationally, but we want to know how replicable these findings are. In New York, students are able to access the rich labor market through the city’s expansive transportation system. This makes it a lot easier for them to attend classes on different campuses and their work-based learning positions. Transportation is often a huge barrier for students to take advantage of these opportunities, so we need to find a way to disentangle this factor to better understand P-TECH’s impact.
  • What does it mean to be college-ready in places that don’t have easy markers of college readiness? Finding a way to define and understand what it means to be college-ready is an important policy question.

The work of the CTE Research Network Lead is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education with funds provided under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through Grant R305N180005 to the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The work of the Network member projects is supported by the Institute. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional publications examining career-centered education models and Advance CTE’s 50-state report on equity in CTE early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) released earlier this year. 

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate 

New Skills ready network Site Highlight: Boston, Massachusetts Dual Enrollment Programs

June 1st, 2022

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

 

This blog post continues a series that highlights innovative tools and initiatives produced across Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee, that advance the initiative’s four key priorities and serve as a guide for state leaders in their work to create cohesive, flexible and responsive career pathways. 

For this post, Senior Policy Associate Haley Wing interviewed Nuri Chandler-Smith, the Dean of Academic Support and College Pathway Programs at Bunker Hill Community College, and Liya Escalera, the Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, who is also on the leadership team for the New Skills ready network. The interviews sought to learn more about the dual enrollment and early college programs within their respective schools, with a focus on learner engagement and cultural wealth.

Background

Dual enrollment programs at Bunker Hill Community College and UMass Boston enable learners within Boston Public Schools to earn college credit and gain early exposure to college experiences on campus while in high school, including during the summer months.  The partnerships are coordinated centrally through Boston Public Schools and extend learning from the school building to the university campus. The expansion of accessible dual enrollment programs in Boston helps to advance one of the project priorities of the New Skills ready network initiative to improve learners’ seamless progression from secondary to postsecondary education. Through supporting the expansion of dual enrollment opportunities and supporting policies and procedures that facilitate equitable access to these programs, Boston Public Schools, Bunker Hill Community College, and UMass Boston are ensuring learners have the tools and experiences to make fully informed decisions regarding their postsecondary coursework and path to career success. 

Dual Enrollment Programs at Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill Community College (Bunker Hill) dual enrollment programs stand out because of their commitment to improving access to and success in these programs through seamless communication and intentional program connections between secondary and postsecondary programs. Bunker Hill is working directly with guidance staff at high schools, especially Charlestown High School, to make sure learners are aware of the dual enrollment and early college programs that are available. Strategies to increase awareness include pre-recorded dual enrollment info sessions tailored explicitly for flexible use by practitioners with learners and families during workshops and advisories, and one-on-one course mapping exercises with learners to build their mindset for multi-year access to dual enrollment at Bunker Hill. Guidance teams work closely with teachers to utilize multiple measures in identifying learners for dual enrollment. This includes prior academic preparation, attendance, study habits, and willingness to take responsibility for their learning process. Charlestown’s practices are consistent with the district-wide open-access dual enrollment policy. This spring, they are working to cohort learners into advisories, based on their pathways,  to provide more targeted academic and career planning needed for increased persistence throughout the dual enrollment course experience.

Bunker Hill has a unique partnership with Charlestown High School. Charlestown High School has a program for learners that allows them to take an exploratory course in the ninth grade to expose learners to various pathways that lead to high-wage and high-demand careers as a prerequisite to dual enrollment courses. Through this course, school leaders strive for learners to make more intentional choices about their course selections in dual enrollment and feel more prepared to complete these programs. Launched in 2018,  learners in Charlestown High School can access designated pathways in technology and business. Access to a third early college pathway, allied health, opened a year later. For Charlestown’s graduating class of 2021, learners in the early college cohort completed with more than 300 combined college credits. 

Charlestown learners participating in these programs can also access expanded course options — this include 17 unique courses across the Bunker Hill catalog ranging from Principles in Engineering to Human Biology/lab.  Strong staff relationships between Charlestown and Bunker Hill have allowed the teams to re-envision supports for learners, including pivoting to a cohort model for learning that enables learners to more successfully participate in coursework. The New Skills ready network grant has facilitated increased communications and partnerships with industry partners, which has created the conditions for additional support structures where learners now have access to mentors practicing in fields aligned to the learners’ pathways.

Dual Enrollment Programs at the University of Massachusetts Boston

UMass Boston’s dual enrollment programs stand out for their focus on cultural wealth using place-based learning and intense learner support through an alumni-based mentorship program. UMass Boston has a collection of dual enrollment classes decentralized across the university – some classes are a part of precollegiate programs, while others are partnerships between UMass Boston’s individual departments and local high schools. UMass Boston utilizes this unique system because it allows faculty to focus more time on co-designing secondary and postsecondary coursework with partners in the Boston Public School system to better support learner transitions. 

UMass Boston has centered its program design on valuing cultural wealth. This includes creating culturally-sustaining programs that draw upon the strengths of learners, their families, and their neighborhoods, and taking into account the issues that are important to learners. Tapping into learners’ individual experiences within their communities is important to take seriously, emphasized UMass Boston Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies Liya Escalera. When learners’ place-based experiences and strengths are integrated into learning, they can use skills gained to be uniquely positioned to find solutions to challenges facing the city. Escalera also highlighted that enrolling in dual enrollment courses demystifies the content and rigor of postsecondary coursework and demonstrates to learners that they have the ability to succeed in college. 

Additionally, UMass Boston has piloted a program where mentoring and tutoring are embedded in dual enrollment spaces. UMass Boston utilizes graduates who are not only recent alumni but also participated in dual enrollment courses at the institution. In addition to providing one-on-one mentorship outside the classroom, UMass Boston alumni attend classes to ensure the assistance they are providing to learners parallels the material they are learning. UMass Boston has stressed the importance of ongoing support for learners’ continued academic success, especially considering the learner population they serve, including low-income, first-generation, and racially underrepresented learners.

Program Highlights, Successes and Lessons Learned

The New Skills ready network grant has enabled an expansion of dual enrollment courses, particularly within the emerging pathways of business, finance and environment science in the site’s focus schools. The New Skills ready network grant has also allowed postsecondary institutions in Boston to focus on learner flexibility. For example, UMass Boston has redefined what it means to be a successful learner aligned to their career goals. Boston partners are using resources available thanks to the New Skills ready network initiative to create a more uniform inclusion of career-specific skills into courses, including public speaking and leadership into the dual enrollment curriculum in addition to academic skill-building.

As the secondary and postsecondary partners in Boston, Massachusetts, continue to refine their dual enrollment opportunities for learners, they engage in critical reflection to ensure they are meeting learners’ needs. Since its early start in 2015, Bunker Hill has added career and pathway exploration opportunities aimed to offer learners multiple on-ramps to participation in early college and to provide learners with a foundational understanding of the options before selecting a pathway. Bunker Hill Community College replaced its original offering of college courses for first-year high school learners with an exploratory program for ninth-grade learners which was successful and provided learners and families with opportunities to understand the early college pathway option. If learners are still undecided about the pathways they want to pursue after tenth grade, they can continue to take classes at Bunker Hill Community College throughout high school to ensure the pathway they choose is one they are passionate about and prepares them for their careers.

At UMass Boston, dual enrollment courses that were too specific in their curriculum caused learners who transferred into different career pathways to experience a loss of credit, which prevented acceleration in their postsecondary experiences. Instead, UMass Boston has moved towards ensuring all pathways encourage learners to pursue coursework that interests them without fear of falling behind in coursework requirements. 

Visions for the Future

Looking forward, Bunker Hill is focused on sustainability to ensure learners will continue to have access to high-quality dual enrollment programs. This involves ensuring that all learners, regardless of their socioeconomic status and backgrounds, have access to wraparound supports and to remove barriers to success. There is an understanding that the racial disparities seen in dual enrollment programs and in higher education, in general, are not because learners are choosing not to access resources, or because they do not have the skills or ability to succeed, but rather because the institutions are not serving them to the level they need for success and they need to embody a new equity-minded and asset-based paradigm that can facilitate learners’ success. At UMass Boston, a priority for the future is flexibility. Learners should be allowed to make mistakes and change their career goals while still being ahead of the game. UMass Boston is embedding work-based learning into transferable general education courses. Additionally, creating a sense of belonging and community with an emphasis on cultural wealth within their dual enrollment programs is paramount. 

The Boston, Massachusetts team is committed to supporting policies and procedures that will enable learners to more readily participate across the district, beyond the focus schools. Within its Postsecondary transitions working group, partners across sectors have coalesced around priorities for strengthening systems and structures that will enable more effective dual-enrollment partnerships and increase access for all learners.

Tejas Shah, State Policy Intern

 

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