Vision Commitments ‘Vlog’ Episode 3: Maximizing the Return on Investment for Industry Engagement to Build CTE Without Limits

July 29th, 2021

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

Our third panel featuring the Corporation for Skilled Workforce (CSW), National Skills Coalition (NSC) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation discussed the growth and potential of public-private partnerships and the need for this collaboration across all stages of program development, including design, delivery and evaluation. Each panelist shared their insights on policy frameworks and next steps to more easily facilitate public-private partnerships and better connect systems of education, industry and workforce, as well as recommendations to improve trust-building and communication with industry partners to fully realize the value of CTE. 

All panelists agreed that the positive shift of public-private partnerships towards long-term investments with industry as “end customers” rather than one-time requests for input can strongly benefit CTE, and identified key components to successful partnerships including consistent engagement, braided funding that incentivizes partnership and level-setting on success and performance metrics. Equity was another common theme, with panelists emphasizing the importance of evaluating equity at each program stage, leveraging partnerships to bring diverse voices into program development, and utilizing partnerships to advance skills-based hiring. 

You don’t want to miss CSW’s Vickie Choitz’ road trip analogy as a policy framework for advancing collaboration in purpose, funding and performance metrics in partnerships – it starts at the 8:20 mark! 

Episode Quotes 

“While today the quality of CTE has vastly improved, the involvement of business and other private organizations can act as a way to build trust with those communities that vocational programs of the past failed to appropriately serve.”                                                                  Brianna McCain, State Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition 

“In order for [employers] to see a positive return on investment they need to capitalize on those relationships. None of us can do this alone – it’s going to take these really effective public-private partnerships to make a difference for learners and ensure their experiences are worthwhile for both educators and employers.”                                                                            Jaimie Francis, Executive Director of Programs & Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce

“It’s important to make sure that your structures support partnership building [so that] partnerships are the default – funding, regular meeting structure, etc. so that partnership is the way of doing business rather than trying to swim against the tide.”  – Vickie Choitz, Director of Federal, State & Local Systems Change, Corporation for Skilled Workforce 

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

Watch previous episodes that discuss steps CTE leaders can take to prioritize quality and diversity, equity and inclusion in realizing CTE Without Limits. Our final episode will focus on harnessing actionable, transparent and trustworthy data. 

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


Getting to Know Advance CTE and Federal Policy

July 28th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

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

July 21st, 2021

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

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

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











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

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

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

Framework Composition 

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

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

Framework Use 

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

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

Benefits of New Skills ready network Partnership 

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

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


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

July 15th, 2021

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

Disruption to High School Post-Graduation Plans

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


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

Re-Engaging and Supporting Learners

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

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

Supporting Postsecondary and Adult Learners at Community Colleges

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

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

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

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


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

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

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

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

July 13th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

New Vision Resource Elevates Existing Initiatives Aligned with CTE Without Limits

July 8th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Principle 3: Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey

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

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

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

Principle 5: Each learner can access CTE without borders

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

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

Christina Koch, Policy Associate

Two New App Development with Swift Certifications from Apple

June 28th, 2021

On March 29th, Apple made available two new App Development with Swift certifications to recognize foundational knowledge of Swift, a robust and intuitive programming language that’s easy to learn, simple to use, and super powerful — which makes it a great language for first-time coders and full-time developers. The App Development with Swift Associate and App Development with Swift Certified User exams are based on free Develop in Swift curriculum from Apple to help learners in high school and higher education stand out for high-demand jobs in iOS app development.

Coding has transformed the global economy, creating entire new industries and supporting millions of jobs. The iOS app economy in the US alone now supports more than 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states, helping to provide opportunities for Americans of all ages. Certification in App Development with Swift helps students prepare for current and future app economy careers.

App Development with Swift Associate

Learners in high school or higher education who successfully complete the App Development with Swift Associate exam demonstrate knowledge of the impact of computing and apps on society, economies and cultures while exploring iOS app development. This certification is aligned with the Develop in Swift Explorations course, which is available for free from the Apple Book Store. 

App Development with Swift Certified User

Learners in higher education who successfully complete the App Development with Swift Certified User exam demonstrate fundamental iOS app development skills with Swift. They have knowledge of core concepts and practices that professional Swift programmers use daily. This certification is aligned with the Develop in Swift Fundamentals course, which is available for free from the Apple Book Store. 

To learn more about the new App Development with Swift certifications, please visit

Learn more about Develop in Swift, visit:

Legislative Update: Hearing on ED Priorities and Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

June 25th, 2021

This week, the House held a hearing on education policies and priorities. Read below for details, as well as information on the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, reintroduction of a bill on teacher shortages and the first session of the Equity Summit Series. 

Cardona Testifies on ED Policies and Priorities 

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified to the House Committee on Education and Labor about the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). In his statement, Secretary Cardona spoke about the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to make up for years of federal underinvestment in education programs. He also voiced a commitment to addressing the inequities that persist for students and teachers in underserved schools. Secretary Cardona discussed the need to improve career pathways, including through an increased investment for Career Technical Education (CTE) in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) and a $1 billion annual investment for 10 years through the American Jobs Plan. Secretary Cardona also covered the American Rescue Plan Act, ED funding levels, funding inequities in state and local education systems, investment in Title I grants to local educational agencies, investment in improving students’ physical and mental health, community-based programs, support for special education, teacher training and support, postsecondary education investments, school infrastructure, student aid administration and enforcement of civil rights laws.  

Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Co-Chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, used his time to talk about the importance of CTE and ask for an update on implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Secretary Cardona responded that he is looking forward to working together on implementation.

Secretary Cardona’s full opening statement can be found here. A full recording of the hearing and opening statement from Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) can be found here

Administration Announces Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

The Biden-Harris Administration announced support for a new Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework on Thursday. The $1.2 billion framework invests in clean transportation infrastructure, clean water infrastructure, clean power infrastructure, remediation of legacy pollution and resilience to climate change. It also addresses universal broadband infrastructure with a $65 billion investment. The fact sheet on the framework, including spending levels, can be found here

Senate Reintroduces Bill on Teacher and Principal Shortages

On Thursday, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act to address teacher and principal shortages. The PREP Act particularly addresses shortages in rural areas, and ways to increase teacher diversity.  Senator Kaine is also one of the Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus. The legislation would expand the definition of high need districts under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to include schools with teacher shortages in rural communities as well as in “core academic subjects,” which includes CTE.  Advance CTE is pleased to support the PREP Act. Full bill text can be found here.   

ED Holds First Installment of Equity Summit Series 

The first installment of ED’s Equity Summit Series took place on Tuesday and covered “Building Equitable Learning Environments in Our Schools.” The session discussed how the Biden Administration is committed to advancing equity through school reopenings, recovery and long-term investments in education, and how this shows up in the American Families Plan and the President’s FY22 Budget request.  

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden joined the virtual event and spoke about how, “For many years schools across the country have grappled with issues of inequity, especially our students of color, those from low income homes, students with disabilities, and English language learners. As we recover from this pandemic, it’s on all of us to ensure we don’t return to the same broken systems of the past, but build back better than before. And that’s exactly what our administration is committed to doing.” Other speakers included Secretary Cardona, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Dean of USC Rossier School of Education Pedro Noguera, 2021 DC Teacher of the Year Alejandor Diasgranados and learners and educators from across the country. A full readout can be found here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

New Skills ready network Year 1 Reports Highlight Early Innovations and State Support to Advance Quality and Equity in Career Pathways

June 15th, 2021

Today, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group (ESG) released an annual report and site snapshots for the first year 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 and gain a unique perspective on promising practices to strengthen state-local partnerships across the country. 

One key step highlighted across the snapshots is each site’s approach to connecting systems and creating a common vision and definitions. Boston, Massachusetts, centered on a shared definition of cultural wealth as a framework to discuss equitable practices in career pathway design. Denver, Colorado created the Pathways Data Framework, a shared process for defining, collecting and analyzing data across partners to fully measure progress in achieving equitable career pathways. 

Dallas, Texas, is leveraging their Dallas Thrives initiative to draw on capacity from across their region to work towards a common vision. As an early step, Nashville, Tennessee’s leadership team agreed upon common definitions of systemic racism, implicit bias, educational equity and more and has provided racial equity training to over 300 stakeholders to ground their work in a foundational understanding in what racial equity really means in their community and institutions. 

The report and snapshots also explore how sites are utilizing state leadership, capacity, and existing initiatives to guide the focus of their first year and to map future work. For example, several schools in Indianapolis, Indiana will serve as pilots for the state’s Next Level Program of Study initiative, which aims to improve quality and consistency of CTE program instruction as part of Indiana’s Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) implementation strategy. 

Columbus, Ohio will leverage statewide articulation and transfer agreements as well pre-existing statewide programs to advance equity and access to postsecondary opportunities in career pathways, including the College Credit Plus program, Career-Technical Assurance Guides, the Choose Ohio First scholarship program. The Ohio Department of Higher Education has also established an internal project team to provide state support to the larger cross-sector project team. Nashville, Tennessee’s local efforts are tapping into the state’s Tennessee Pathways’ Designation Process 

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.  For more information about the New Skills ready network initiative, read the Getting to Know interview with Senior Policy Associate Jeran Culina. 

5 Steps to Refresh Career Technical Education Program Recruitment Plans This Summer 

June 10th, 2021

The impending summer season is a great time for state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to take a step back and evaluate how existing recruitment plans and practices reach each learner and family to achieve an effective and equitable recruitment process.

As conversations continue about potential national investments in the career preparation ecosystem, it is essential that communications about CTE align with what matters most to families in their education, and address in detail the opportunities provided through CTE to meet those needs. Recruitment processes and communications must also address lingering stigmas, lack of knowledge and systemic barriers that have prevented learners of color, learners experiencing low income and other historically marginalized populations from participating in and fully benefiting from the potential of CTE programs. 

Today, Advance CTE released a second round of tools to help state and local CTE leaders implement updated communications research released in April 2021 on tested messages and messengers for CTE that resonate with learners and families. The research also details equity considerations and message tailoring for Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income so that each learner feels welcomed, supported and has the means to succeed in CTE programs. 

Developing and  executing a recruitment plan can seem like a big undertaking, but Advance CTE is here with simple steps to help you get started. 

Here are five easy ways to put this research into action this summer using messages and tools from Advance CTE: 

  1. Learn the key messages that resonate with families and learners about CTE, and message tailoring considerations to reach Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income. Our core messages resource provides three top messages for all audiences and additional messages for historically  marginalized populations. 
  2. Evaluate your current communications tools, including newsletters, digital media, website and printed materials. Do the materials include these tested messages? Have steps been taken to remove barriers to each family accessing and fully understanding information about CTE programs? Our messaging card provides a starting point for effective use of messages. 
  3. Inform your colleagues about key messages, and develop a plan of action to share these messages with stakeholders to ensure consistent communication both during and after CTE recruitment season. Our newly updated communications advocacy guide provides five keys to success and a step-by-step process to develop a plan.  Advance CTE has created a ready-made slide deck and talking points that make it easy to share these findings in a 20 minute presentation.
  4. Engage your ambassadors and trusted sources to receive feedback about current recruitment practices and communications materials.  Advance CTE’s newly updated parent engagement tool provides seven steps and assessments to evaluate current practices and fully leverage your team and ambassadors in the recruitment process.
  5. Reintroduce the value and impact of CTE to families through digital media this summer as you make plans to align messaging and equitable outreach across all communication channels. Advance CTE’s social media guide and ready-to-use graphics assist leaders in navigating the differences among digital platforms and keep messages about the impact of CTE front-of-mind for families this summer.


Visit our Engaging Families and Learners web page for the full research report and list of communication and implementation resources. Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources on communication, career advisement and access and equity. 

Advance CTE is here to help leaders fully realize and leverage this research and their state and community. Email with questions or to receive assistance in putting this research into action.