Championing Career Technical Education: Highlights from CTE Month 2024

February 29th, 2024

Each February, the Career Technical Education (CTE) community celebrates CTE Month to raise awareness of opportunities and impact achieved for every learner and leader through its programs.

This year’s CTE Month celebrations showcased the continued significance and success of CTE across the nation. Below, you’ll find highlights from this month, featuring events from states, partners, policymakers, and other champions of CTE!

Federal CTE Champions 

On February 8, Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Fox (R-NC) spoke on the House Floor to celebrate CTE Month, stating, “By equipping students with the competencies they need to be successful on the job, career and technical education programs give participants an invaluable head start.” Watch here

Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) Recognize February as Career and Technical Education Month

Co-chairs of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus Reps. Thompson and Bonamici spoke on the importance of career technical education on Capitol Hill.  Watch on C-SPAN Read the press release

 

 


State CTE Champions 

Arkansas CTE Day at the Capitol

Throughout the month of February, Arkansas held regional CTE showcases to highlight local programs that serve as a bridge between K-12 and higher education, with the first one taking place at the Capitol Rotunda alongside Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Read the full press release

 

Maine’s CTE Month Showcase

Maine kicked off Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month at the State House with a showcase featuring learners, instructors, and directors from 15 of the state’s 27 CTE centers. The showcase featured learners’ advanced skills in areas from biotechnology and hospitality to welding and graphic design. Notably, every instructor and director at the event reported an increase in “non-traditional students” participating in CTE programs. Read more about the kick-off

 


CTE Champions in Schools

Secretary of Education Cardona Joins President Biden’s Investing in America Tour

On February 21, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) as part of President Biden’s Investing in America Tour. The visit featured a tour of CCRI’s advanced manufacturing lab, a roundtable discussion with educational leaders, and dialogues with learners. Additional discussions took place with CCRI’s President Rosemary Costigan, Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, and U.S. Representative Gabe Amo. 

Cardona applauded CCRI’s intentional alignment of education with workforce needs, especially with the state’s Latine population as a Hispanic-Serving Instituion. The event demonstrated Rhode Island’s commitment to inclusive and high-quality CTE programs that serve both learner and industry – “I wanted a new career path, something where I could earn my diploma and show my kids it’s not too late to go back…I had my kids at a young age and was always focused on providing and making sure they had what they needed before I could go back to school. To finish will be a big accomplishment, not just for me but for them, too” said Fredy Vasquez, 38, a learner in the Advanced Manufacturing and Design degree program. Read more about Cardona’s visit and CCRI

 

DACCTE Celebrates Poster Contest Winner

Delaware Advisory Council on Career and Technical Education (DACCTE), along with partners from the Department of Labor and Department of Education hosted a poster contest to showcase the talent represented in CTE classrooms every day. The winning poster was used to celebrate CTE Month in Delaware. Read more on DACCTE’s CTE Month activities


CTE Champions on Social Media

#ThisisCTE Social Media Campaign


The Oregon CTE Youth Advisory Council launched a #ThisIsCTE social media campaign to highlight CTE programs and initiatives across the state and increase CTE awareness. 
View on Facebook | View on X (Twitter)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSDE CTE Month Myth Busting

The Maryland State Department of Education (MDSE) conducted a social media campaign dispelling common myths about CTE.

 


To continue to advocate for CTE year-round, explore our resources to reach learners, families, employers, and policymakers:

…and follow us on LinkedIn for the latest on CTE information, resources, research and more!

Funding Career Technical Education: Incorporating Elements Into Funding Models to Address CTE Access, Completion and Program Quality

January 24th, 2024

Advance CTE released the 2023 State of CTE: An Analysis of State Secondary CTE Funding Models to highlight how states and the District of Columbia provide high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) through various secondary CTE funding models and approaches. This blog, the third in a series, describes ways states have incorporated elements into their funding models to address CTE access, completion and program quality. 

Overview

Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE calls on states to design equitable funding models that direct funding to where it is needed most. Funding is not just about budget sheets but about investing in and fostering an environment where every learner’s potential is unleashed. A state’s commitment to CTE is reflected in their financial decisions, and states are making changes to secondary CTE funding models to better serve and offer opportunities for all learners.

Background

Advance CTE conducted a survey with State CTE Directors in summer 2022 to better understand the extent to which states are currently incorporating elements into funding models to address CTE access, completion and program quality. Forty-six state leaders responded to the survey, and Advance CTE followed up with select state leaders in interviews to gather additional information about dimensions of equity.

Some of the most salient findings from the survey of State CTE Directors include:

65 percent reported state funds supported access to secondary CTE programs for all learners, 56 percent reported state funds supported completion of secondary CTE programs of study for all learners, 54 percent reported state funds supported access to equipment and resources in CTE classrooms, 47 percent reported state funds supported access to college and career advisement, and 44 percent reported state funds supported attainment of CTE certifications while in high school.

There remains room for innovation in states’ secondary funding models as almost half of states are not supporting funding in one or several of the dimensions of equity. Additionally, almost a fifth of State CTE Directors indicated their state funding does not reflect any of the dimensions of equity. States should continue to evaluate and incorporate changes to secondary CTE funding models to ensure all learners have access and success through CTE.  

Highlighted Practices

States such as Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas are linking state funding to state-approved CTE programs meeting quality standards. This move ensures access for learners regardless of their geographical location. 

Other states, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, are incentivizing learner enrollment and success in certain CTE courses or programs aligned with state labor market needs. These states use varying weights (i.e., multipliers) based on program types or course levels, aligning educational goals with workforce demands. For example, Indiana allocates amounts based on the number of CTE credit hours generated by districts and the enrollment in apprenticeship programs or work-based learning.1

Recent shifts in foundational education formulas or bonus structures have also resulted in positive change. Massachusetts, for instance, introduced incremental funding to its formula for Chapter 70 (i.e., the major program of state aid to public elementary and secondary schools) under the Student Opportunity Act, benefitting English language learners and learners experiencing low income, including those in CTE programs.2 You can learn more about Massachusetts in the state case study accompanying this release.

In Texas, local education agencies (LEAs) can earn outcomes bonuses for learners meeting the state’s college, career or military readiness measures. This bonus is weighted for learners who are considered economically disadvantaged or who are enrolled in special populations thereby tailoring additional funds to cater to learner needs, especially within CTE programs.3 You can learn more about Texas in the state case study and read about additional examples in the Research Report accompanying this release.

Recommendations

State leaders should consider the following recommendations if they plan to leverage funding incentives and/or prioritize geographies, learner or program characteristics and/or program areas:

  • Incentivize success for special populations and subgroups. Providing LEAs with bonuses for outcomes achieved by special populations and subgroups not only encourages LEAs to eliminate CTE enrollment barriers but also incentivizes districts to provide all learners with the support they need to be successful. 
  • Acknowledge that each learner has unique experiences, backgrounds and needs by using learner markers (e.g., special population status) to direct additional state funding where it is needed most. These special population status markers can include low income, disability and English language learner status. Embed learner characteristics or markers as a factor in formulas to ensure that the highest-need learners are getting the supports to access and succeed in high-quality CTE programs. 
  • Consider how to provide CTE beyond geographic borders, incentivizing schools or districts offering virtual learning opportunities or access to publicly funded CTE programs not offered in learners’ home LEA.4 This strategy could be especially helpful in areas where geography can limit program availability and career exposure. 

Funding structures must continually evolve to bridge resource gaps among different learners. State CTE Directors can help shape funding conversations so learners thrive in an ever-evolving CTE landscape.

Additional Resources

Be sure to read the other blogs in this series: Funding Career Technical Education: Secondary CTE Funding Basics and Funding Career technical Education: Using the 2023 State of CTE Funding Report Resources. In the next blog in this series, we will explore how states also make contributions to CTE programs through non-categorical programmatic appropriations to support unique elements of CTE.

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

Dr. Laura Maldonado, Senior Research Associate

New Skills ready network Highlight Blog: Career Connected Advising in the Middle Grades

November 22nd, 2023

The New Skills ready network (NSrn) is part of JPMorgan Chase’s substantial portfolio in support of an inclusive economy and workforce. This five-year commitment is part of the New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work and their $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity. With a dedication to building equitable career pathways, the New Skills ready network connects six sites —  Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee — with local partners with the intentionality necessary to build a strong workforce ecosystem for all learners.

For this highlight blog, Advance CTE Senior Policy Associate Haley Wing met with Erin Jacques, MyCAP District Coordinator, and Marsha Innis-Mitchell, Executive Director of Postsecondary Initiatives for Boston Public Schools to discuss career-connected advising in middle grades. Erin and Marsha are both partners of the New Skills ready network Boston, Massachusetts, project team.  

The Boston, Massachusetts project team for the New Skills ready network believes in a city where all young people can engage in high-quality career learning that supports exploration, informed decision-making and preparation for the future. The team aims to dramatically increase the number of Black, Latinx, special education, and English Learner students who participate in and persist through engaging, relevant, and equitable career pathways and are prepared to enter meaningful careers. 

 



 

Overview

Over the past three years, the Boston, Massachusetts, project team has been transforming systems to drive equitable education and career outcomes for all learners. The project team has achieved significant milestones in the development of high-quality, equitable career pathways including addressing structural and institutional barriers to equitable career pathways and creating a holistic and seamless advising system to support learners. In year three of the New Skills ready network initiative, the project team prioritized expanding access to coordinated, holistic and equitable college and career advising. The 2022-2023 school year was the first of college and career-connected advising in the middle-grades and project team members from Boston Public Schools shared how they leveraged cross-department collaboration, offered supports to identified priority schools for the rollout and lessons learned throughout the process.

Leveraging Cross-Department Collaboration to Support Expanded Access to Career-Connected Advising 

In expanding access to college and career advising, Boston Public School members of the initiative’s project team strengthened their implementation of the My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP). MyCAP is a learner-centered, multi-year planning tool designed to provide learners with ongoing opportunities to plan for their academic, personal, social and career success. Additionally, because MyCAP is student-centered, there is a large focus on anti-bias and equity to inform, advise and mentor learners. This includes expanding learners’ thinking about what is possible and positioning them to move forward in ways they envision future success. 

Implementing MyCAP with fidelity across Boston Public Schools requires sustainable and deepened staff capacity at the district’s central office as well as at the school level. Marsha and Erin both support cultivating and maintaining strategic partnerships across the district to align with MyCAP priorities. The collaboration and partnerships during this first year of expanded access to middle-grade learners included leveraging family liaisons who support informing learners and families of opportunities within Boston Public Schools and activating counselor teams that support caseloads of learners in the middle grades. The project team also expanded its reach to include community partnerships that operate in the college and career areas to better serve middle-grade learners. The advantage of bringing these partnerships into the fold allowed greater support for learners with exposure to skills and experiences that support college and career readiness and success (see image). 

To actualize expanded access to MyCAP, the project team identified a cohort of schools with grade configurations in the middle grades (grades 6,7 and 8). The team then worked across departments within the school district to increase the capacity to deliver training, guidance and resources to the identified priority schools. Training for school-level staff includes step-by-step instruction on using the tool and leveraging the accompanying resources to draw connections between learners’ interests and college and career opportunities.

To support schools in their efforts, the district staff recommends schools leverage formalized MyCAP plans that articulate how schools will accomplish MyCAP implementation and the set of experiences they will provide for learners over the course of the school year. Due to the intentionality of the district leadership, plans include support systems like additional counselors pushing in, leveraging collaboration with partners and additional guidance from the district team to support the work.

Impact of Expanded Access to MyCAP

As a result of the Boston, Massachusetts project team expanding access to high-quality college and career advising through MyCAP, 45% of 7th-grade learners and 42% of 8th-grade learners in the identified priority schools have completed at least one MyCAP task in the first year of expansion. Additionally, the number of district and school-level staff that are being trained on MyCAP continues to increase; in the first year 150 staff were trained and over 200 individuals have been trained as of October 2023. The group of 200 includes staff representing all of the district’s secondary schools and a dozen of lower-elementary schools. 

The district team and school-level staff are also making greater connections with MyCAP to other bodies of work such as transition planning and special education efforts. MyCAP supports the development and implementation of efforts to support learners’ postsecondary readiness and transitions; these components are also in alignment with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Transitional planning is integral to IEPs and MyCAP is transition planning for learners.

Lessons Learned from Launching Expanded Access to MyCAP

Additional capacity building: A key component of the expansion of MyCAP includes additional capacity building. The project team explicitly highlighted that this work is not possible without a district-level staff member dedicated to serving and supporting school-level staff to implement MyCAP. Erin’s role allows the capacity to sit down with school-level staff to increase counselors’ leadership abilities and competencies. As mentioned earlier, the district provides resources to support this work, however, resources and guidance documents are only useful if there is a staff member to support walking through the planning and implementation process.

School counselor involvement is critical: At the school level, school counselors are needed to support the planning, collaboration and implementation of MyCAP. In schools where the expanded access efforts have been implemented, there is a counselor who has built their team within the school, trained their team and teachers, and informed administrators of the planning and implementation process. This is especially important considering scheduling within school buildings and ensuring that MyCAP is integrated into and across advisory blocks within schools.

Adequate training is essential to advocacy: In addition to better serving learners in their career and college planning, the project team has also noted the increased advocacy efforts of counselors within schools that are implementing expanded access to MyCAP. The project team has noticed when school-level counselors are adequately trained and supported, they take ownership of the implementation process and leverage their leadership to mobilize their peers. This can include accurately communicating the vision of MyCAP, identifying how and when it connects to other school-level staff’s work, offering support to leverage MyCAP and advocating for systems within the school that support learners’ postsecondary success. This is especially exciting to witness given there is no mandate to implement or leverage MyCAP in Boston Public Schools, and signals to the district that in the sea of competing priorities, school counselors, administrators and staff are identifying MyCAP as foundational to learners’ transitions to and through college and careers.

Replicating Expanded Access to College and Career Advising

Providing learners access to high-quality college and career advising is a critical component of supporting learners’ transitions, readiness and preparation for the workforce. Leaders who are interested in replicating the efforts of Boston Public Schools should:

    • Prioritize cross-sector capacity building: identify who in the community can come together to help make the effort a shared responsibility.
    • Leverage a relationship-centered approach: build the capacity and system to respond to school-level staff’s needs with grace, flexibility and transparency.
    • Center learners and their experiences: focus the work of the initiative to implement systems and processes that are most impactful for learners and their communities.

Looking Ahead

As the project team looks forward, they plan to continue the momentum of expanded access to MyCAP and plan to bring in more schools with earlier grade bands like elementary schools in the district. As MyCAP training and implementation expands, the team continues to have a deep focus on equity, aligning inclusive education goals and activating MyCAP at points of transition within learners’ journey. 

To learn more about Individual Career and Academic Plans, read Implementing Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP) at Scale in the Learning that Works Resource Center. This brief highlights promising practices for ICAP implementation at the state and local levels in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin and provides recommendations for further state and local work to scale ICAPs.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

Read our other New Skills ready network Highlight Blogs from 2023:

Three Actions to Expand Access to High-Quality CTE and Work-Based Learning: Exploring CTE Without Borders Webinar Recap

October 30th, 2023

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) puts forth a bold vision for a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem that will close equity gaps in educational outcomes and workforce readiness, and leverage Career Technical Education (CTE) as a catalyst for ensuring each learner can reach success in the career of their choice. Principle 5 of CTE Without Limits calls for each learner to be able to access CTE without borders, and calls specific attention to meeting the needs of learners without access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning opportunities due to their geographic location. Advance CTE is helping states to actualize this vision principle by offering resources, examples and supports to expand access within and across state lines.

In September 2023, Advance CTE hosted a webinar to share more information about the CTE Without Borders initiative. The event also provided a deep dive into the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook and how it provides strategies, actions and resources to support expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning and elevated promising practices that have actualized expanded access to meet learner and industry needs in Rhode Island and Texas

The Exploring CTE Without Borders webinar featured the following speakers: 

  • Michael Gonzalez, Executive Director, Rural Schools Innovation Zone (RSIZ);
  • Christina Sedney, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Policy Analysis & Research, Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE); 
  • Spencer Sherman, Former Vice President of Policy and Partnerships, Linked Learning Alliance; and 
  • Dale Winkler, Senior Vice President, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

All speakers in the webinar supported the development of the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook and engaged the audience with the following key themes they gleaned from supporting expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning:

  • Implement a stakeholder-led approach to expanding access;
  • Leverage strong systems, structures and partnerships to sustain expanded access; and
  • Codify state policies to expand access within and across states.

Implement a stakeholder-led approach to expanding access

Sherman and Gonzalez shared various promising perspectives and challenges experienced when actualizing expanded access. One recurring advice includes implementing a backward approach to strategizing and actualizing expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning opportunities. Sherman noted that implementing a bottoms-up approach calls on leaders to begin this work by speaking with learners, industry and CTE educators to fully define the issue of CTE access. Leveraging the expertise of stakeholders to define the problem accurately supports leaders with the action planning stage to understand the infrastructure, policy, resources and capacity needed to actualize both in-state and cross-state access that meets learners’ and industry’s needs. Gonzalez reinforced this strategy and identified the need to understand the nuance across geographies to ensure that the labor and resource-intensive actions leaders design and implement effectively serve the regions.

Leverage strong systems, structures and partnerships to sustain expanded access

During the facilitated question and answer portion, Gonzalez and Sherman identified the value of leveraging strong systems, structures and partnerships to begin or enhance expanded access and ensure that the work is sustainable. They both emphasized the importance of strong executive leadership and distinguishing local champions to support the work. Strong executive leadership, like then-Governor Gina Raimondo who championed the Prepare Rhode Island initiative, signals importance and facilitates bringing together multiple agencies and partners to understand how all agencies can work together to expand access. Identification of local champions, like adults or leaders learners interact with day-to-day, allows leaders at the state level to capture a strong understanding of the issues learners experience in CTE programs. With strong executive and local leadership, leaders can then begin to implement systems, structures and processes that work across all partners contributing to expanded access. Establishing strong systems ensures that in the event of personnel or leadership transitions, expanded access sustains and continues to evolve to meet the needs of learners and industry. 

Codify state policies to expand access within and across states

Sherman and Gonzalez raised the importance of leveraging state policy to codify expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning. Gonzalez shared examples of policies in Texas that incentivize expanded access within the state through increased funding like the Texas Partnerships Senate Bill 1882 that allowed the Rural Schools Innovation Zone to come to fruition. The legislation, which incentivizes school districts to partner with non-profit organizations like the RSIZ, provides districts engaging in the partnership to receive funding and accountability incentives. Implementing and codifying state policies is another opportunity to ensure the work of expanded access to high-quality CTE remains sustainable to meet labor needs and support learners in achieving their career goals. 

Advance CTE staff are available to support CTE leaders in this important work. Please contact Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, at hwing@careertech.org for more information about this initiative.

To learn more about creating access to high-quality CTE for all learners regardless of geographic location, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center to access the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

Maine’s Early College Programs: Empowering Local CTE Choices for Early College Options

October 25th, 2023

Providing equitable access to programs and opportunities by removing barriers to access based on location, socioeconomic situation or other factors is a key component of ensuring each learner can access Career Technical Education (CTE) without borders. This blog shares two programs as promising practices in Maine that allow all learners, regardless of location or socioeconomic situation to access dual-enrollment and early postsecondary learning opportunities. 

Maine offers two primary programs within their early college program offerings: the Dual Enrollment Career Technical Education Program and the Aspirations Program. A promising practice and important aspect of these programs is empowering local districts and CTE centers to choose the program and partner institution that best fits the needs of their learners.

The Dual Enrollment Career Technical Education Program (Title 20-A, Chapter 229) focuses on fostering a cohort-based approach to provide students in their junior and senior years with access to college credit-earning CTE courses. This program is only open to the state’s CTE centers and to be eligible for the program a CTE center must meet the following requirements:

  • Programming begins with the student’s junior year in secondary school
  • Includes up to 3 years of summer career academies
  • Includes a college freshman seminar experience 
  • Meets national concurrent enrollment standards 
  • Concludes at the end of summer following the student’s senior year in secondary school
  • Includes college course work that provides the opportunity to earn a general associate’s degree allowing students of many diverse interests the opportunity to transfer credits earned to postsecondary education programs of their individual choosing

Additionally, CTE centers must include individual learning plans, academic and career assessment, college and career advising, career exploration, and job-shadowing opportunities matched to achieve the learner’s individual academic and career goals. 

The Dual Enrollment CTE Program is optional, allowing schools to choose to participate if the program meets their needs and the needs of their learners. Maine’s 27 CTE centers and regions can partner with the University of Maine system, Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy or approved independent institutions like the Bridge Academy Maine. The Bridge Academy Maine specifically works to offer college-level courses to Maine’s CTE centers providing hands-on experience. Offering programs that provide both career and college-readiness CTE opportunities enhances the options available to learners within the state. 

Understanding that there are costs outside of just tuition, the Dual Enrollment CTE program also covers additional related costs to further enhance access and better support equity of the program. Some of the costs that centers can be reimbursed for are professional development, learning management systems, transportation costs, books, and work-based learning summer academies. CTE centers are able to utilize the reimbursement funds both for initial program startup costs as well as for the continuation of programs. The Dual Enrollment CTE Program is managed by the Office of Workforce Development and Innovative Pathways. 

Promising practices:

  • Empowering schools and districts with the option to participate and to partner with the institution that best fits their needs
  • Reimbursement of costs outside of just tuition that can apply for both program startup and continuation costs

Since 1997 the Aspirations Program (Title 20-A, Chapter 208-A) has provided eligible learners the opportunity to receive academic credits towards a high school diploma and an associate or baccalaureate level degree through dual-enrollments and successful completion of college-level courses at approved Maine institutions. As a part of the Aspirations Program, learners may earn up to 12 free credits per academic year with a maximum of six credits per semester. This program is available to all Maine secondary schools and is also available to learners who are homeschooled. 

The Aspirations Program allows learners to take courses during the summer, providing flexibility for learners and families. Summer programming has proven to be very successful with strong enrollment and completion rates showcasing the importance of not only empowering schools and districts but also empowering learners. 

Understanding that there are transportation barriers, including those living in rural and remote populations in the state, programs can also apply for remote instruction hosted by the approved institutions. This open access, regardless of the type of institution or location, provides greater access to a larger population of learners. The Aspirations Program is funded through the Department of Secondary Education’s general budget. State funding of dual and concurrent enrollment is an important aspect of supporting the ability of learners to access this opportunity.

Promising practices:

  • State funding for up to 12 credits per learner
  • Providing flexibility for learners to take courses in the summer
  • Empowering schools and districts to partner with the institution that best fits their needs
  • Programs can apply for remote instruction to increase access for learners in rural and remote areas

To learn more about the impact of state funding on dual enrollment, read Dr. Kristin Corkhill’s research on The Impact of State Funding on Dual Enrollment Participation in Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Programs. An alumnus of the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation, Dr. Corkhill’s research was conducted as part of the Real World Project capstone project

For more information on helping learners access high-quality CTE and early postsecondary opportunities without geographical barriers, read the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook in the Leaning That Works Resource Center.

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

States Make Progress in Strengthening Meaningful Learner Engagement in CTE

August 22nd, 2023

Career Technical Education (CTE) programs must be designed with learners, not simply for learners, to be responsive to their diverse needs at every stage of the CTE continuum. Being responsive to diverse learner needs can occur only if learners have direct and ongoing input into the design and delivery of CTE programs and experiences. This blog provides an overview of the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE Technical Assistance cohort; highlights the states in the cohort that are meaningfully engaging CTE learners to inform CTE programs and policies; and shares links to resources to support states in engaging CTE learners.

Over the past seven months, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) provided training, resources and coaching to help states identify opportunities to engage learners more meaningfully in the design and delivery of CTE programs and experiences. The cohort of states (Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wisconsin), engaged in six 90-minute virtual sessions and individual coaching sessions to work through the Learner Voice Toolkit to develop and execute on strategies for leveraging learner voice in CTE policies and programs.

Over the course of the technical assistance sessions and coaching calls, each state team developed a comprehensive Action Plan to leverage meaningful learner engagement in the development of CTE programs and policies. The Action Plans are guiding the states’  actions over the next year to improve and systematize their learner engagement. 

Action Plan Development

The development of the Action Plan took place in stages. States first completed an organizational capacity assessment to understand the existing structures, policies, relationships and resources that can support the expansion of learner engagement practices. 

States then identified high-level goals in which they envisioned what meaningful learner engagement would look like in their states to support CTE program improvement, CTE policy development, learner supports, Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process improvement with learner engagement and more. After identifying the goals, states mapped the actions that needed to be taken in order to achieve their goals. 

Through the development of each state’s Action Plan, states included learners’ feedback and input. States engaged learners in focus groups, interviews, surveys, advisory board meetings and more to capture their input and reflect their thoughts in the Action Plans. States in the cohort were supported by Advance CTE with a pool of funds to compensate learners for their time and expertise engaging with state agencies. Over the course of the Action Plan development phase, states in the cohort engaged more than 400 learners.

Early Areas of Success

Prioritizing learner engagement in the development of Action Plans is not a common practice, however, states in the technical assistance cohort are already seeing the value of more meaningfully engaging learners in CTE program development and improvement. 

Wisconsin learned from learners in their state the type of communication they prefer for engagements, the compensation rate they need to engage in events and meetings, the areas of CTE that student voices are most needed and the roles they are most interested in engaging in. 

New Hampshire leveraged the input from learners from their statewide survey to develop a toolkit for regional and local practitioners to improve learner engagement at their CTE centers. 

Colorado and Oregon engaged learners in a mix of focus groups and surveys to learn what they enjoy about CTE, challenges they experience in CTE programs and ways their state agency can do a better job of incorporating learner voice. Both states focused on engaging learners who were not typically included in focus groups or surveys to ensure they had a broad range of voices.

Delaware leveraged learners’ input and leadership and now has two simultaneous learner-led cohorts supporting the development of a new teacher preparation program of study and leadership training for Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) leaders. The learners leading the cohorts support the state agency and foster deeper engagement with their peers across their state to expand the reach of meaningful learner engagement. 

Looking Ahead

As the official cohort technical assistance sessions come to a close, states in the cohort will continue to engage in coaching sessions with Advance CTE and ACTE to actualize the goals they identified in their Action Plans. 

Additionally, Advance CTE will continue to hold space for state leaders to come together to discuss opportunities to improve meaningful learner engagement in CTE in Community of Practice sessions. These one-hour sessions will be held bimonthly from August 2023 through February 2024 and will be open to all states interested in learning more about meaningful learner engagement in CTE. To register to attend the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE Communities of Practice, please fill out the form on this page

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, Advance CTE

Funding Career Technical Education: Secondary CTE Funding Basics

August 21st, 2023

Providing high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) requires robust, sustained funding designed to be responsive to the evolving and diverse needs of industry and learners. State leaders make decisions every day on how to direct funding where it is needed most and having knowledge about how other states are funding secondary CTE will help with decision making. Adequate and equitable funding allows learners to engage in a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation system as described in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Eduction (CTE Without Limits). This blog provides a background on CTE funding and describes various models and approaches states use to fund secondary CTE.

States rely on a mix of federal, state and local policies to provide funding sources for secondary CTE.1 The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V*) is the primary federal investment in secondary and postsecondary CTE. A state’s share of funding is determined by a statutory formula based on the age distribution of the state’s population and its per-capita income. The remaining 15 percent of allocations are used to support state leadership and administration activities.2 States have flexibility in determining how funds are allocated between secondary and postsecondary CTE, with an average of 62 percent of funding going to secondary programs and 38 percent supporting postsecondary programs for fiscal year 2022 (FY22).3

CTE programs can be costly to run because of the need for specialized equipment/facilities, smaller class sizes and additional staffing.4 Federal funding through Perkins V alone cannot meet those costs, so many states make a financial commitment to support CTE. Local and philanthropic partners also support CTE at the district level. Funding at the state level for secondary CTE is varied and complex.

However, there are distinct processes that can be organized into several state models. To categorize state funding models for FY22, Advance CTE used the definitions of foundational and categorical funding and the respective approaches found in State Strategies for Financing Career and Technical Education5; additionally, a new definition of hybrid funding was developed.

Foundational funding finances programs out of general state aid formulas. Local administrators must decide how funds should be distributed across educational priorities (which may or may not include CTE).6

Categorical funding is dedicated funding for CTE programs that is distributed to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to support CTE. These approaches — which may include cost-based, student-based and/or unit-based formulas — typically target state funding for the use of CTE programming.7 There are three approaches to how LEAs receive this funding: 

  • Cost-based approach — LEAs are compensated for CTE services based on their actual reported costs from the prior academic year. States may cap or limit the rate at which eligible expenses are reimbursed.8
  • Student-based approach — States distribute funds relative to the number of CTE learners enrolled based on the full-time equivalent or average daily membership calculation in an LEA.
  • Unit-based approach — States distribute funds based on a set of educational units (and their related costs) used to deliver CTE. Units may include pupils, instructors, equipment or materials.10

Hybrid funding is a new funding model formulated by Advance CTE that reflects states that implement components of multiple categorical funding approaches. 

States may also direct funding specifically for area technical centers (ATCs) to deliver CTE programming. This funding is often in addition to one of the previously stated models, which fund secondary CTE programs more broadly across a state. More information about ATCs can be found in Advance CTE’s website: A 50-State Analysis of Area Technical Centers.11

Advance CTE recognizes that state leaders desire more in-depth information about secondary state CTE funding to maximize current models or to pursue reforms towards more effective and equitable funding models. To meet this need, stay tuned for the release of our 2023 State of CTE: An Analysis of State Secondary CTE Funding Models in late August! The research report and accompanying website provide insights into current national trends in state secondary CTE funding and recommendations to enhance equity in the design and delivery of funding. 

*As amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act 

Dr. Laura Maldonado, Senior Research Associate

New Skills ready network Highlight Blog: Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen Career Pathways

July 26th, 2023

The New Skills ready network (NSrn) is part of JPMorgan Chase’s substantial portfolio in support of an inclusive economy and workforce. This five-year commitment is part of the New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work and their $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity. With a dedication to building equitable career pathways, the New Skills ready network connects six sites —  Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee — with local partners with the intentionality necessary to build a strong workforce ecosystem for all learners.

Denver, Colorado’s vision for the NSrn initiative, aims to “dramatically increase the number and diversity of students who complete selected high-quality career pathways that start in high school, continue into and through higher education, and lead to good jobs in Denver’s labor market.”

Over the past three years, the project team has achieved significant milestones in the development of high-quality, equitable career pathways including building a shared data framework, aligning work-based learning opportunities within high-quality career pathways and enhancing the learner experience when transitioning from secondary to postsecondary institutions. Under the leadership of the site lead, The Attainment Network, the project team leverages strategic cross-sector partnerships while centering equity and learner voice to enhance and improve their career pathways work. 

A critical component of the Denver, Colorado, site work includes centering and leveraging the voices of learners to understand their experiences, barriers and opportunities and shaping career pathways aligned with their needs.In April 2023, The Attainment Network held their second annual Learner Voice Symposium which brought together an audience of educators, employers and policymakers to hear directly from Colorado learners what they seek in career-connected pathways and how they define success.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, Advance CTE, interviewed Rana Tarkenton, Chief Operating Officer, The Attainment Network to discuss the importance of leveraging learner voice in career pathways and how others might replicate their efforts to meaningfully engage learners in the design and implementation of career pathways.

Overview of the Learner Voice Symposium Event

The purpose of the Learner Voice Symposium is to elevate highlights from learners’ diverse perspectives and backgrounds and provide actionable insights to improve and expand pathways for all learners. The Symposium serves as a reminder to partners of the reason why they engage in this work and elevates the voices of learners who are not always invited to the table when developing and implementing career pathways. Learners, who are not simply the receivers of the work of career pathways, but rather the experts in their experiences, provide critical feedback to leaders. 

The Symposium fills a gap in the career preparation ecosystem in Colorado; leaders developing career-connected pathways are continuously striving to improve the system and learners are disconnected from the leaders who need to hear their voices most. The Attainment Network identified this gap and provides career pathway partners the space to listen to and reflect learner voices in their work in the form of The Symposium. 

The Symposium held virtually on Zoom, included a keynote speaker who is a practitioner that engages with learners frequently and specializes in community engagement, and breakout sessions that are co-led by learners who are compensated for their time and expertise. The Symposium is attended by a wide audience including practitioners in secondary and postsecondary education, college and career advisors, state agency providers, policymakers and employer partners.  

Participants have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions of their choosing covering topics like authentic youth engagement in career pathways, immigrant and undocumented learner experiences, non-traditional learners and pathways and more. Presenting organizations that support the sessions include Ednium, The San Luis Valley Boys & Girls Clubs, Emily Griffith Technical College, MSU Denver and more.

All of the information shared during The Learner Voice Symposium is centered on elevating the experiences of learners and incorporating their voices in the development of career-connected pathways. At the close of The Symposium, The Attainment Network announced their Learner Voice Grants that organizations and institutions can apply for to support and enhance their meaningful learner engagement efforts. 

Impact of The Learner Voice Symposium on the New Skills ready network 

The learner engagement in The Learner Voice Symposium supports the Denver, Colorado, New Skills ready network team in their communications strategies as they develop materials and messaging to better connect learners and families to career-connected pathway opportunities. Additionally, Denver Public Schools (DPS), a secondary partner for the New Skills ready network site, and the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) are two of the grantees for the Learner Voice Grant. DPS and CDHE leverage the grant funding to support their learner engagement work in the development of local and state-level career pathways. 

With more than 175 attendees of The Symposium, The Attainment Network models meaningful learner engagement for its system-wide network. The Network, being a statewide intermediary, supports strengthening the career pathway ecosystem and strengthens relationships with system partnerships that impact learners. 

Further, the Denver, Colorado, project team also elevates the voices and feedback from learners in state-level policy. The Attainment Network, alongside the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Community College System, led an effort to design, collect, and report on community input to inform the HB22-1215 Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-Based Learning Integration Task Force (Study of Expanding High School Programs).

Recommendations delivered to the Task Force focus on equitable access to and successful expansion of high school programs across all regions of Colorado with a focus on traditionally underserved populations and those who have not accessed relevant programming in their educational experience. The discovery process of community feedback collection leveraged community organizations, educational organizations, and local partnerships.

Replicating Meaningful Learner Engagement

Leveraging learners’ input and feedback in the development of career pathways, CTE programs and policies is a valuable component of program improvement. Leaders who are interested in replicating The Learner Voice Symposium should prioritize including learners whose voices are historically underrepresented, leveraging partners who can support recruiting learners to bring them to the table and co-creating the event with partners and learners to ensure the content fills the needs for the ecosystem.

The Attainment Network engages in the planning and execution of The Symposium with an equity lens to ensure a diverse representation of learners, speakers and attendees. The Network also backward plans by prioritizing the outcomes they want the event to achieve from the start of the planning process to ensure there are sessions with meaningful outcomes and takeaways for attendees. 

The planning and execution of an event of this size includes a lot of logistics and leaders should consider adequate staffing, preparation that helps to keep audiences engaged and ensuring the videos and notes from the event are accessible once the event is over. The addition of a visual scribe enhances the experience for attendees throughout the session, as well as providing engaging artifacts to further share learnings after the event and marketing for future events. 

Looking Ahead

As The Attainment Network enters year four of the New Skills ready network, the project team is working towards holding more learner and community engagement events to continue the work of leveraging learner voices, input and feedback in the design and delivery of career pathways. The Network team is currently working on analyzing themes from The Learner Voice Symposium to inform the design of their Colorado Pathways Conference on September 19 – 20. The two-day conference will focus on pathways-focused education-to-workforce systems across the state and country. 

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

 

College in High School Series: Using Perkins Reserve Funds to Support Dual Enrollment CTE Programs

June 22nd, 2023

Montana is looking at innovative ways to support its career technical education (CTE) early post-secondary opportunities by giving learners earlier access to dual enrollment offerings. This blog features Montana and the use of Perkins funding to expand access to dual enrollment opportunities for all CTE learners.  

Using Perkins Reserve Funds to Support Dual Enrollment CTE Programs

In 2018, the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) increased state reserve funds from 10 to 15 percent. Reserve funds must be used to foster innovation in Career Technical Education (CTE) and promote program alignment with high-skill, high-wage or in-demand careers. States have flexibility with how they allocate reserve funds and there is opportunity for local and regional areas to develop and expand early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) and invest in enhancing secondary to postsecondary transitions to ensure credit transfer or articulation for more learners.

Montana under the Montana Board of Regents, has used reserve funds to drive college acceleration through early postsecondary CTE opportunities in the state and increase secondary to postsecondary articulation agreements. As a result, Montana saw significant increases in dual enrollment participants and their program success rates. According to the Montana Perkins V State Plan, the number of learners taking dual enrollment courses doubled from 2014 to 2018, while the number of dual enrollment learners matriculating into a Montana University System institution tripled.

The state uses a competitive Perkins Reserve grant process to support the Montana Career Pathways (MCP) initiative – to increase awareness of secondary CTE programs and activities, as well as options for postsecondary degrees and credentials that align to the learner’s pathway. Competitive grants are available to tribal colleges, two-year colleges, community colleges and consortia.

Recipients can use Perkins Reserve grant funds to employ full-time dual enrollment coordinators and CTE dual enrollment exploratory activities. The coordinators serve as liaisons between secondary and postsecondary institutions and work closely with learners in helping them identify a pathway related to a career in a program their institution offers. In addition, coordinators serve as liaisons between faculty and staff and create collaborative spaces for secondary and postsecondary faculty by facilitating meetings to discuss articulation agreements and course transfer as well as collaboration with business and industry. Grant funds also allow for recipients to create CTE career exploration activities that connect secondary (middle and high school learners) with postsecondary learners, and staff to local industry partners for hands-on and meaningful CTE experiences.

Since the initial allotment of Perkins Reserve funds (under Montana’s previous state plan) has been hugely successful statewide, the Department has decided to continue the allotment into their updated Perkins V State Plan, strengthening and scaling its offerings while specifically committing to work with tribal colleges and special population learners. As such, the state continues to prioritize funding activities related to career exploration, CTE dual enrollment, and promotion of state-level CTE programs of study such as Montana Career Pathways, industry-recognized credential attainment and work-based learning opportunities. 

To learn more about how CTE early postsecondary opportunities such as dual enrollment serve learners, check out Advance CTE’s resource on Intentional Acts of Dual Enrollment: State Strategies for Scaling Early Postsecondary Opportunities in Career Pathways.

For more in-depth information on Montana’s work, please visit the following resources: State of EPSO, Montana Perkins Plan, Montana State Plan

Suela Cela, Senior Policy Associate

 

College in High School Series: a Look at CHSA’s State Policy Roadmap

June 14th, 2023

Advance CTE serves as a steering member of the College in the High School Alliance,a coalition of national, state, and local organizations collaborating to enable high school students to enroll in authentic, affordable college pathways toward postsecondary degrees and credentials offered with appropriate support. This blog, the second in a series, highlights the CHSA’s Unlocking Potential guide that elevates findings and work states are doing to design and deliver high-quality college in the high school programs. 

Resource Overview

College in High School Alliance (CHSA)’s Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity & Quality in College in High School Programs provides a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for states looking to expand equitable access to college and high school programs. This guide provides policy recommendations as well as actionable items for state and local administrators and concludes with other examples of state tools and resources.

Background:

College in High School Alliance defines college in high school programs as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school. These programs are formed via partnerships between school districts and accredited institutions of higher education to provide high school-age students postsecondary experiences that lead to college credentials or degrees. 

The number of students participating in College in High School Programs has increased to provide opportunities to more than 5.5 million secondary learners, with Career Technical Education (CTE) courses making up one-third of enrollments (1). While these programs have proven popular and in high demand, enrollment demographics do not reflect the full diversity of the learner population. Significant opportunity exists for reducing barriers to accessing College in High School Programs for all learners, especially those in low-income communities, learners of color, learners from rural communities and first-generation college-goers.

Unlocking Potential provides recommendations and highlights work for state policies that advance the goals of equity and quality for college in high school programs in six categories:

The numbers in the image represent page numbers from the resource guide, per each category.

  • Equity Goal and Public Reporting:  
    • Set an equitable and statewide public goal for increasing the participation and success of traditionally underserved learners in the early postsecondary groups
    • Disaggregate public reporting and accountability for progress toward the goal
    • Practices in Louisiana, Montana, Minnesota, and Washington are highlighted 
  • Program Integrity and Credit Transfer: 
    • Support and promote high-quality early postsecondary opportunities
    • Create cross-sector partnerships between secondary and postsecondary teams
    • Create articulation agreements to remove barriers on student transfer opportunities
    • Practices in California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas are highlighted 
  • Finance: 
    • Design funding mechanisms that remove financial barriers for low-income and moderate-income students who want to participate in early postsecondary opportunities
    • Practices in Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, Utah, Vermont and Washington are highlighted 
  • Course Access and Availability: 
    • Remove course access and availability barriers for all learners 
    • Maximize learners’ college credit attainment experiences through international pathway opportunities and by providing academic and career exploration opportunities
    • Practices in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine and Virginia are highlighted 
  • Instructor Capacity
    • Develop strategies to recruit, provide support, and diversify the pool of instructors with the appropriate qualifications to teach college in high school programs
    • Create high-quality partnerships between K-12 and postsecondary partners as college in high school programs 
    • Scale college in the high school programs and create sustainability
    • Practices in Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota and Ohio are highlighted 
  • Navigator Support: 
    • Prioritize student navigational support.
    • Enhance the current advising mechanisms. 
    • Practices in California, Colorado, Montana, Ohio and Tennessee are highlighted 

The policy recommendations are presented along a continuum: foundational, advanced, and exceptional policies. Foundational policies are those that every state must have to best support its learners.

For example, under the Equity Goal and Public Reporting, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) data reporting requirements would be considered a foundational policy. On the other end of the spectrum, states can enhance these same data reporting requirements by creating tool kits and providing technical assistance to empower local use of data to remove barriers for learners and create more equitable programs. 

To learn more about how CTE early postsecondary opportunities (EPSO) such as dual enrollment serve learners, check out Advance CTE’s report on The State of CTE: Early Postsecondary Opportunities. This 50-state report, provided in partnership with College in the High School Alliance reveals key findings on how EPSOs serve CTE learners and provides recommendations for state leaders to leverage state infrastructure and collaboration to advance equity in these experiences.

  1. The State of CTE: Early Postsecondary Opportunities
  2. Unlocking Potential

 

Suela Cela, Senior Policy Associate

 

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