Getting to Know Advance CTE’s Strategic Priorities: Equip, Empower, Elevate

May 5th, 2022

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 Kimberly Green! Kim is the Executive Director of Advance CTE. Kim’s role at Advance CTE is to provide strategic direction to all of the organization’s workstreams to ensure Advance CTE is boldly advancing toward the accomplishment of the strategic priorities and theory of action, both of which aspire to ensure equitable career success for each learner. 

Q: Given your history and tenure at Advance CTE and in the field, how have you seen the organization evolve into what is now the 2021-2024 strategic plan?

A: January 2023 will mark 30 years for me at Advance CTE; that is a lot of time and tenure to have seen things change. The name of our organization changed (NASDCTEc to Advance CTE). We expanded state memberships to cover a “team” rather than just one individual from each state. Internally, our staff has grown significantly, with our team members living and working literally across the entire country. The breadth and depth of our work shifted to reflect the evolving needs of our members and the CTE community. We deepened and expanded our federal policy work and added in robust state policy, communications, data/accountability, equity,  etc. research, professional development and technical assistance. We launched revolutionary and impactful streams of work like the National Career Clusters Framework ® and the CTE: Learning that Works for America campaign, etc.; these efforts have incubated and supported a significantly increased level of support and interest in CTE and career readiness among the public and state policymakers.

What hasn’t changed is our steadfast commitment to serving our members. For nearly every year of these 30 years, all states were members of Advance CTE. This is something I am extraordinarily proud of! We are steadfast in our commitment to supporting leaders, encouraging transformative leadership and “be(ing) the change we want to see in the world” (quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi). Our efforts to coalesce our community and stakeholders toward a common, bold vision is a hallmark of who we are at Advance CTE.  We don’t shy away from taking on the important and difficult work, like efforts to address the legacy and currency of racial equity gaps in CTE, all the while remaining vigilant to hold the bar high in terms of quality expectations. 

Q: If you had to choose, which accomplishment from 2021 are you most excited about?

A: This is hard! There is much to choose from but I’d probably have to say releasing CTE Without Limits, which is a north star for our work and launching the Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leadership Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation which will help to strengthen and diversify the pipeline of talent to fill state leadership positions in CTE. 

Q: What do you see as the major priority for the organization moving into the second quarter of 2022? 

A: We are getting ready to host our Spring State Leadership Retreat this month (May 2022). I am excited to see our members again – in person! I am also excited to re-connect and build new relationships, strengthen existing relationships, and to learn from and alongside our members. 

Q: CTE Without Limits states that the work ahead will require commitment and shared ownership from all stakeholders. Are there any upcoming opportunities that will equip, empower and elevate the field? 

A: Our Virtual June Meeting Series is going to be amazing! This three-event series will offer premier professional content to inspire attendees and arm them with replicable polices and practices to advance high-quality and equitable CTE, plus the opportunity to build their peer network across the country.

Every day, I am honored to serve our members in the CTE community. I am inspired by their commitment to be bold, lead change and to do the work that requires a deep and abiding persistence. In some ways their work is hidden; learners and other stakeholders often don’t know the important role that state leaders have in setting policies that close equity gaps or ensure their classrooms have qualified instructors and latest equipment. They don’t know the advocacy efforts state leaders lead to to build supportive environments in order to secure the investments needed so that more learners can have access to CTE. But I see the work our members do … and I am grateful.

Kimberly Green, Executive Director

Resource Recap: 5 Steps to Get Started with the CTE Without Limits Roadmap Tool

March 31st, 2022

March 2022 marks one year since the release of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). CTE Without Limits positions CTE as the catalyst for achieving a cohesive ecosystem that is responsive to each learner’s needs for college and career success.

To celebrate this milestone, Advance CTE elevated the work of vision partners through a Twitter chat, announced three states participating in a state cohort for vision implementation, and held a vision-focused Ask an Expert session. The event delved into Advance CTE’s hallmark vision implementation resource released last fall, Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits

This resource recap post breaks down the roadmap resource and provides first steps for state CTE leaders to prepare for and use this comprehensive tool. 

Resource Background 

Achieving CTE Without Limits is only possible through shared commitment and action among all CTE stakeholders The Pushing the Limits roadmap serves as the primary evaluation and planning tool for state and local CTE leaders to conduct a collaborative process that: a) provides an initial assessment of state policy and practice; b) identifies top areas for action; and c) develops implementation strategies for one or more vision principles.

The document is provided in both a combined format as well as separate by each of the five vision principles. The three to four action steps recommended for each vision principle can be evaluated by state leaders through five activities:

  • Data Review: Collect and analyze data to identify gaps in data availability as well as equity and opportunity gaps for learners that will impact roadmap planning.
  • State Assessment: Provides self-assessment questions to help state leaders reflect on the current alignment of policies and practice, capacity for change, and potential impact of moving the needle for each action. The completer assigns a score to each section. 
  • SWOT Analysis: Applies information from self-assessment questions to identify top-level Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to advance each action step.
  • Models and Resources: Provides sample implementation steps, policies and resources to inspire action;
  • Heat Map: Scores reach assessment section in a heat map that identifies intersecting areas of high need and high capacity for change, to aid leaders in narrowing the focus of their work.
  • Action Planning: Offers an action planning tool to develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals and action steps in real-time, six months and a year to drive systemic change.

Getting Started 

Effective use of the roadmap requires intentional planning and collaboration. Here are five ways to get started: 

  1. Select your core state or local team that includes representatives with deep experience in K-12, postsecondary and workforce policy and practice through the lens of CTE. 
  2. Complete Advance CTE’s State Capacity Tool to determine which vision principle(s) to focus on. 
  3. Gather data and guiding documents to inform the self-assessment, including program participation and outcomes, statewide and regional agreements across system, statewide and department initiatives and goals, etc. 
  4. Complete the self-assessment as individual core team members and share answers prior to soliciting additional input. 
  5. Identify priority principles and action areas to address first based on conditions in your state.

Maximizing the Resource 

CTE leaders can take several steps to maximize this resource to realize systems change at all levels, including: 

  • Input: Receive input on the self-assessment questions beyond your core team, including learners, educators, administrators and support staff at the local, regional and state level. This can be accomplished by sharing the roadmap questions or creating a separate survey of selected questions from the roadmap in multiple choice format. 
  • Capacity: Align action planning to meet the capacity of state team members, partners and institutions.
  • Aim Higher: At the same time, revisit your ‘dream list’ of initiatives, supports and goals and leverage the roadmap to push your work to the next level.
  • Utilize Existing Collaborative Channels: Don’t reinvent the wheel; utilize board and commission meetings, workgroups, conferences and other state and local collaborative events for information gathering and roadmap completion. 

Advance CTE staff are available to support CTE leaders in this important work. Visit Advance CTE’s staff web page for contact information. Visit Advance CTE’s vision web page for additional vision education, assessment and implementation resources. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

The Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellowship is Where You Belong

March 10th, 2022

The Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation is intended to build a talent pipeline of state-level postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders fiercely committed to creating an accessible and racially just postsecondary state CTE system. Through the Fellowship, each Advance CTE – ECMCF Fellow will gain an understanding of effective policies and practices for improving postsecondary CTE outcomes and how to scale those policies and practices statewide. They will come to understand their strengths as a leader and how to leverage those strengths to influence their respective postsecondary state CTE systems to be more effective and equitable. Fellows will build confidence, visibility and a national network that they can rely on during and after the Fellowship. After completing the Fellowship, Fellows will be better positioned for postsecondary state CTE leadership roles such as State CTE Director, state-level leaders and institutional leaders. 

Does this sound like you? We hope so!

The application period for the 2022-2023 cohort is now open through 5 p.m. EDT on March 31, 2022. Before applying, read over our frequently asked questions (FAQs) and register to attend an information session to ask any questions in real-time. 

FAQs 

  1. How many Fellows will be selected for the 2022-2023 cohort? 

Fifteen Fellows will be selected for the 2022-2023 cohort. We have a goal for the majority of participating Fellows to be professionals of color.

  1. Do applicants need previous experience in postsecondary state CTE? 

No. Experience in postsecondary state CTE is not required. However, this Fellowship is not designed for those who are newly entering the CTE profession or exclusively seeking professional development to improve secondary dual enrollment programs. A strong background in delivering, supporting or designing CTE programs is required to be eligible to apply. This experience can cover a broad range of fields: 

  • State education, labor and workforce agencies; 
  • K-12 institutions, two-and four-year colleges, or area technical centers; 
  • Nonprofits and career technical student organizations (CTSOs); and
  • Industry. 
  1. Is previous leadership experience required to apply? 

Current and aspiring postsecondary state CTE leaders are encouraged to apply. However, the Fellowship is not designed for those who are new to CTE or have limited years of service in CTE.

  1. When does the Fellowship begin and end? 

The Fellowship will begin September 2022 and will end November 2023. 

  1. In what format will Fellowship events be held? 

Workshops and coaching will be conducted virtually. Participants will be offered the opportunity to meet in person in Spring 2023 at Advance CTE’s annual meeting and will be required to meet in-person at the ECMC Foundation convening of Fellows held annually. Partial or full compensation for travel will be provided for all in-person events. 

  1. How much time will the Fellowship take?

Advance CTE anticipates that Fellows will spend up to 10 hours per month working on Fellowship-related responsibilities. The Fellowship’s curriculum includes eight, half-day virtual workshops that include pre-and post-work for each workshop. Fellows will be expected to work on a real-world project throughout the duration of the Fellowship. Additionally, Fellows will schedule monthly coaching sessions with their assigned coach.

  1. Who is providing input on the curriculum? 

A National Advisory Committee consisting of national organizations, state-level institutions and eight CTE leaders of color provide input on Fellowship curriculum, promotion, and recruitment and evaluation of outcome. The Fellowship is designed and facilitated by Advance CTE with support from Education Strategy Group (ESG) and draws upon national partners to enhance and support the curriculum design, content and delivery. 

  1. How long are the workshops? 

Each workshop will be conducted virtually, from 1 – 5 p.m. ET during the business week. Applicants will need to receive approval from their supervisor to participate in this Fellowship during work hours. 

Dr. Kevin Johnson, Senior Advisor

“Be a Network Facilitator”: Inspiring First Steps and Common Challenges Emerge in CTE Without Limits Community of Practice Kickoff

March 1st, 2022

“Go forth without limits!” was an apt parting chat message as over 70 state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders from across 16 states convened virtually last month to launch the community of practice for Advancing CTE Without Limits, a cross-state implementation initiative that provides a dedicated space to foster collaboration and problem solving to advance vision principles. 

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) was developed with the input of nearly 200 contributors representing national, state and local CTE leaders and stakeholders and anchored in the belief that each learner must have access to and the means and succeed in the career of their choice, with CTE serving as the catalyst for that journey. Since its release a year ago this month, Advance CTE has conducted a robust awareness campaign that has gained the support of over 40 national partners, and is now transitioning to meaningful state assessment and implementation work. 

The kickoff served as an initial networking session for states and an inspirational launch point to prepare for the work ahead. Attendees had the pleasure of the hearing from JFF Vice President Joel Vargas, who shared how JFF is advancing the vision through its recent research and report The Big Blur: An Argument for Erasing the Boundaries Between High School, College, and Careers —and Creating One New System That Works for Everyone

Vargas highlighted promising first steps in Idaho (Financing Students Directly), Tennessee (Ready Graduate Indicator), Texas (P-TECH and and Early College High Schools) and Washington (Mandatory Acceleration) that are blurring the lines among secondary, postsecondary and career preparation systems. 

Vargas challenged attendees to dream big and be the new models for scalable solutions by being a “network facilitator,” by combining career pathway expansion with intentional investments in collaboration and sustained partnerships. He connected the vision to a world where policymakers “boldly reimagine public responsibility” where providing two years of higher education and training for careers is seen as a public responsibility that is not just affordable or free, but structured to provide full support for each learner on their career journey.  

“Partners have to focus not just on the technical work, but also on building relationships and trust. Systems change is also people change.” – Joel Vargas, Vice President of Programs, JFF 

Following the keynote, leaders participated in two breakout sessions within and across states to identify promising first steps and common challenges to realizing the action areas of Principle 1: Each Learner Engages in a Cohesive, Flexible and Responsive Career Preparation Ecosystem. States raised common challenges of designing and securing funding models that prioritize collaboration and learner-centered policies and sharing learner-specific data among state agencies and education institutions. However, they also shared initiatives that could be meaningful first steps towards systems change, including partnerships to improve connections to postsecondary career pathways for learners with disabilities; combining CTE and counseling in one department, and statewide articulation and transfer agreements to fully count all learning. 

Participating states will be engaged in bimonthly cross-state calls to share challenges and solutions aligned to the five vision principles. Three states, Colorado, Nebraska and South Carolina, applied for and were selected to participate in a state cohort and will receive additional resources including funding, individualized coaching and intensive technical support. 

Sixteen states are participating in the CTE Without Limits Community of Practice: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The community of practice is still open for additional state participation – state staff can email Senior Policy Associate Dan Hinderliter for additional information. 

Advance CTE’s vision page offers a variety of awareness and implementation resources, including its step-by-step assessment and action planning guide, Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits that will be the basis for Advance CTE’s state cohort work. 

CTE leaders are also encouraged to participate in activities to commemorate the first anniversary of CTE Without Limits, including a Twitter chat on March 8 at 1:00 p.m. E.T on Advance CTE’s Twitter page, and webinars aligned to the vision principles throughout the spring.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Getting to Know Advance CTE and CTE Month Celebrations

February 17th, 2022

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 Stacy Whitehouse! Stacy is the Senior Associate for Communications and State Engagement at Advance CTE. Stacy works to develop and implement communications and outreach strategies that support state CTE leaders. Some of her most recent initiatives include communications research for recruiting and retaining families and learners into CTE, and employer engagement. Stacy also develops and implements strategic communications for Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). 

In this month’s edition of the CTEWorks Newsletter, we are continuing our celebration of CTE Month! In the interview below, Stacy shares what lies ahead for the field as we use this month to increase our advocacy and awareness of high-quality CTE programs that allow for each learner to find success in a career of their choice. 

Q: How have you seen states innovatively celebrating CTE Month? 

A: States have had to continue to hold primarily virtual events this year, but it’s exciting to see so many well-designed social media campaigns highlighting the accomplishments of CTE learners and alumni! 

Oregon has gone the extra mile and is using CTE Month to organize a multimedia campaign to introduce CTE to populations historically underrepresented in their programs. They will be running audio, video and print ads on Hulu, Pandora, radio stations and news outlets in tribal communities as well as Chinese and Spanish language publications.  What I especially like about this campaign is how utilizing multiple channels allows the state to compare reach across these mediums to inform future campaigns and outreach efforts. 

Q: Are there any key communications themes from CTE Month that state and local leaders can carry with them past February? 

A: One of the wonderful things about the month is it’s a high-profile opportunity to reintroduce CTE to learners, families, employers and other key stakeholders. There’s no reason to stop! 

If you did a social media campaign, advertise a sign-up form so families can receive emails or mail with additional updates about CTE program exploration and enrollment. Additionally, use the same videos and graphics at in-person events to gauge real-time reactions from families and get more mileage from your resources. If Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) leaders visited legislators, use that as a launchpad to include learners in the policymaking process outside of CTE Month. 

I am always glad to talk to state about creating communication strategies and campaigns that include meaningful metrics for success that support larger program enrollment, quality and equity goals. 

Q: We are approaching the one year celebration of CTE Without Limits. How can stakeholders plan to participate? 

A: The commitment of our local and state leaders to promote and learn about this new vision for CTE and keep pushing the envelope on program quality and equity despite all the capacity challenges they face has been really inspiring.

The easiest way vision supporters can celebrate is to continue educating stakeholders about CTE Without Limits by using Advance CTE’s communication resources. If you’re ready to go to the next level, start your vision assessment journey with Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits that provides a step by step guide for CTE leaders to assess one or more vision principles against existing policy and practice.

We also want to hear stories of your ‘why’ for pursuing CTE Without Limits – post a photo and use the hashtag #CTEWithoutLimits to share your story of who inspires you to realize systems where each learner can achieve college and career success without limits.

Finally, save the date for our Twitter chat co-hosted with several national organizations who are vision supporters on March 8 at 1PM ET. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to share their insights and progress on implementation. Be sure to follow Advance CTE’s Twitter page.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

This Week in CTE: FBLA-PBL Creating a CTE Without Limits

February 4th, 2022

While stakeholders across the Career Technical Education (CTE) continuum celebrate CTE Month®, Advance CTE will join in the celebration by uplifting Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) student leaders and their national advocacy weeks. 

These organizations are a powerful model for the potential and impact of learner-centered and learner-led learning, and Advance CTE is pleased to be joined by seven national CTSOs in supporting the national vision for CTE. Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) places CTE as the catalyst for achieving a cohesive career preparation ecosystem that is responsive to each learner’s needs for college and career success. 

This February, the This Week in CTE blog series will highlight the activities of several CTSOs and their alignment with the five interconnected principles of CTE Without Limits. This week highlights the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL), who will celebrate their national week February 13-19, 2022, with the theme “Success Starts Here.” 

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

FBLA-PBL encourages high-quality CTE experiences as early as middle school through its FBLA Middle Level chapters that provide education programs, awards and competitive events. 

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

CTSO leaders can be impactful ambassadors to help each learner feel welcome not only in CTE, but in their school and community. FBLA members at a Georgia middle school used their state chapter’s monthly service challenge as an opportunity to help fellow students feel seen and welcome. 

Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey

FBLA-PBL’s celebration includes opportunities for CTSO leaders to connect with both chapter members and national leaders to develop meaningful relationships that are crucial to achieving college and career success. On February 15, FBLA National President Jaya Singh and PBL National President Andre Davis will host a national forum, and Regional Networking events will be held on February 18. 

Meaningful connections are also being pursued through programs at the state level, such as New Jersey FBLA’s Chapter Connections initiative and local chapter texting group. 

Advance CTE’s With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE provides a variety of strategies and resources to elevate the learner voice in all aspects of CTE programs and practice.

Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable

As part of FBLA-PBL Week, the organization is elevating student skills and stories through a multimedia contest that invites members to submit a piece of writing, graphic, video, or speech sharing ‘Success Starts Here’, with that in mind, where does success start for you?”

February 15 is Share Your Story Day which will highlight learner stories and impact via the #myFBLAStory hashtag. 

Each learner can access CTE without borders

Over the past several weeks, FBLA-PBL members from across the country have demonstrated their skill competencies and high-quality CTE-focused projects through competitions at the area and regional level. Learners receiving top awards will compete at the state and national level to inspire and advance high-quality CTE without limits.

Visit Advance CTE’s vision page for communication and implementation tools for state and local CTE leaders to bring CTE Without Limits to life. 

If you would like to share how your CTE program or CTSO creates limitless opportunities for each learner in this blog series, please email Brittany Cannady, bcannady@careertech.org

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate for Communications and State Engagement

Vlog: Opportunity America on Leveraging Non-degree Programs During Workforce Development

November 17th, 2021

Opportunity America in partnership with Lumina Foundation and Wilder Research set out to explore the role of community colleges in providing job-focused education and training in their new community college study, The Indispensable Institution. Opportunity America is a Washington think tank and policy shop promoting economic mobility – work, skills, careers, ownership and entrepreneurship for poor and working Americans. 

Advance CTE’s newest video blog features Tamar Jacoby, President of Opportunity America, as we discuss the report and in particular delve into the study’s exploration of the potential of non-degree programs to serve the needs of a national workforce realignment.  

Our conversation focuses on the profile of a non-degree learner and the next steps for state leaders in greater utilization of non-degree programs, particularly in the areas of funding, data, and industry alignment.

The study reinforces that significant work ahead for the attainments of non-credit learners be fully counted by institutions in degree and non-degree pathways, as well as a high need for data infrastructure that fully documents participation in and outcomes of non-degree learners. The good news is that this study indicates non-credits learners are strongly aligned to job-focused programs, and there is great potential to strengthen and align these programs with industry as labor realignments continue. 

Gaining a better understanding of non-credit learners is critical for each learner’s skills and learning to be fully valued, counted and portable as outlined in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits)

It is clear there is more to learn about the non-degree arena and its learners in community colleges. Visit the Opportunity America report site to view the full study and interactive data portal.

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate 

Welcome Dr. Tunisha Hobson to Advance CTE!

November 9th, 2021

Advance CTE welcomes Dr. Tunisha Hobson as State Policy Manager.  Dr. Hobson will support the New Skills ready network, an initiative under the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Global Career Readiness investment, while working to provide equitable opportunities for each learner. Dr. Hobson will manage and support the state policy team at Advance CTE; she will lead state policy strategy, overseeing efforts for providing technical assistance to states, track state policy and elevate best practices for high-quality, equitable career pathways under Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). 

Dr. Hobson is a native of Memphis, TN and earned a Bachelor in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Marketing, Master in Education Curriculum and Instruction, Education Specialist in Administration and Supervision, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Tennessee State University. She has almost two decades of experience working with students and educators in all levels of education within areas ranging from literacy improvement initiatives to Career Technical Education (CTE).

Dr. H, as she is affectionately called by colleagues and learners, has worked in charter and traditional public, urban and suburban districts serving as a school administrator, marketing teacher, CTE high school department chair, DECA advisor, work-based learning coordinator, and a member of the Tennessee Department of Education’s work-based learning leadership council along with the textbook adoption panel. She is also a graduate of the Relay Graduate School Instructional Leadership Professional Development Program where she has gained experience in providing quality instructional leadership practices. Dr. H is an education advocate, specifically in the CTE realm, and has worked with Tennessee SCORE as a Fellow where she focused on strengthening work-based learning practices in Tennessee. Dr. H went on to become a regional lead within the fellowship program, supporting fellows along their advocacy journeys. Outside of the school building, Dr. H became a published author! Leveraging her career experiences, Dr. H released her book, Take Notes, This Is On the Test

Dr. H has traveled to five continents beyond North America and believes in expanding her cultural experiences while helping others. She enjoys traveling the world, watching sports, reading a good book, spending time with family and friends and documenting her journey. She is excited to join the Advance CTE team and continue supporting learning that works!

14 States Recognized in 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence

November 3rd, 2021

Our new career preparation ecosystem, designed under Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) must ensure each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to succeed. As stakeholders continue to implement this new shared vision, the field calls for state and local leaders to remain committed to high-quality programs and instructors that build a competitive talent pipeline. There also remains an ongoing need for federal, state and local investments in those individuals working directly with learners. 

Last month, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools announced their 2021 Prize for Teaching Excellence winners! This award invests in quality programs and instructors who work directly with learners, a foundational commitment to achieving CTE Without Limits. Annually, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools awards more than $1 million to 18 outstanding skilled trades instructors and programs in public high schools across the country to increase the understanding, support and investment in skilled trades education. Since its inception five years ago, 89 high-quality skilled trades instructors nationwide have been recognized and more than 100,000 students in career pathways have been impacted by these investments.

Teachers and schools awarded have full autonomy over how the prize money can be spent to advance their skills trades education program. As an example from earlier this year, two previous winners used their prizes to develop and implement apprenticeship programs. Both were recognized nationally for their programs.

2019 Prize winner Brent Trankler of Missouri used grant funding from the local Workforce Development Board to develop and implement a Youth Registered Apprenticeship at the Sikeston Career and Technical Center (Sikeston, MO). Trankler has leveraged employer relationships to build the learn-as-you-earn program for learners, allowing for clear pathways to career opportunities after graduation.  

2020 Prize winner Chad Sutton of Indiana recently received approval on his Welding Apprenticeship from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship. With ongoing stakeholder collaboration between Sutton and his school administration, the local workforce board (NE Indiana Works), the Indiana Office of Work Based Learning and employers from the industry, 40 high school juniors and seniors will be able to participate. Sutton’s welding apprenticeship will be the first of its kind in the state and can serve as a model for leveraging partnerships to scale apprenticeship programs.

This year, winners span across the following 14 states:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • West Virginia

For more information on the 2021 Prize for Teaching Excellence winners click here

Meet the grand prize winners here

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for state resources on program quality and work-based learning, including apprenticeships. 

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate for Digital Media

RFP: States Advancing CTE Without Limits

October 14th, 2021

Today, Advance CTE released its primary implementation tool and Request for Proposals (RFP) to support states in transitioning from the education and awareness phases of the past six months to evaluation and implementation phases of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits)

Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits is a step-by-step guide to help states conduct an initial alignment test of current policies and practice with vision principles, identify top areas for action, and develop an action plan of near and long-term implementation strategies for one or multiple vision principles. 

The States Advancing CTE Without Limits RFP allows states to be early leaders in deeper implementation work of 1-2 vision principles and related actions through funding, intensive technical support, and a community of practice with other state teams. 

The following Q&A with Executive Deputy Director Kate Kreamer provides guidance on how states of all capacities can leverage the roadmap and RFP opportunity to make meaningful first steps towards implementation. 

Let’s explore the roadmap, which is going to be a useful tool for states for years to come as they work to realize CTE Without Limits. What was the idea behind the roadmap design, and how is it tailored for use by any state? 

CTE Without Limits is intentionally ambitious, and we knew it may be difficult for states to determine the best place to start in transforming their systems. We listened to Advance CTE’s Board of Directors and our vision kitchen cabinet of thirteen state leaders committed to bringing the vision to life – they asked for a step-by-step process to evaluate their current systems against the vision, as well as an action plan down to the month and week as a manageable means to carry out the work. We heard loud and clear that our members wanted a “roadmap” to help them accomplish the principles and actions within the vision.

Advance CTE is proud to serve all 50 states, DC and territories. The roadmap is designed to meet states at their capacity. For example, states can choose to tackle just one principle or all of them. The tool is broken down by action area, which is a more manageable grain size than a principle, and allows for deeper reflections. Importantly, we kept each set of questions limited to no more than ten to allow states to work at their own pace and collaborate without getting too overwhelmed. Additionally, we combined scoring with the qualitative evaluations to make it easier for states to identify the most urgent and/or achievable areas for action. 

At first glance, the roadmap can seem a little overwhelming. What are some easy first steps that state leaders can take to prepare to conduct the self-assessment in this tool? 

I want to be candid that the roadmap is just the first step of what will be a long road towards implementation for both states and the more than 40 vision partners. This roadmap is meant to be returned to and used in multiple ways over time. 

That being said, one of the easiest steps states can take is to conduct partner mapping. Who do they need to have at the table to conduct a complete, honest assessment of systems through this roadmap? 

Next, states can determine how this roadmap connects to pre-existing evaluation checkpoints. Use those checkpoints to create a schedule where pieces of the roadmap can be incorporated into existing meetings about a state vision, strategic plan, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) planning, etc. 

Finally, we understand that most states will address one or two principles at a time, not all five – or even just some of the highest impact actions within the vision. Advance CTE’s CTE Without Limits State Capacity Tool is part of our grant application for vision implementation assistance, but it is also a great first step for any state whether or not they apply to quickly determine which principles are most attainable and which principles require the most urgent action. 

Speaking of the grant application, let’s discuss States Advancing CTE Without Limits, which is an opportunity for states to apply for more direct and intensive vision support. What is the time commitment and expectation for states in the cohort? 

This RFP is open to any state and is intended to provide a dedicated, collaborative space to receive intensive vision through a cohort of up to five states. I’m really excited about this cohort because they will be the early adopters and national models for vision success with a lot of lessons learned along the way. 

The grant is a significant time commitment – work must be completed between December 2021 and October 2022, but it is designed to empower the state to continue the work for years to come.  States must provide a single point of contact for the project who is expected to attend monthly and bi-monthly calls. Collaboration is also a key focus of this grant – we expect states to not only develop a cross-sector team within their state for this work, but also be active participants in cross-state spaces to ensure the models developed from this work can be utilized by all members. 

I want to emphasize that states are not expected to conduct implementation activities for all five principles. Part of the application process is using the capacity tool to determine one to two principles and the related actions that will be the focus of the project during the grant period. 

Can you give a little more detail about the supports participating states will receive? 

We know states struggle with capacity building across all facets of systems transformation, so this grant focuses on providing intense, individualized support while also facilitating broader knowledge-building across all five vision principles through the cross-state community of practice. 

Selected states will receive funding up to $25,000; a dedicated coach with monthly check-ins and intensive technical assistance; one in-state or virtual visit; dedicated spaces to connect with other states in the cohort and complete the vision roadmap; and opportunities for national recognition and presentations to share the work with members and stakeholders. Visit the vision webpage to access the roadmap, RFP application, and additional vision education and implementation tools. The deadline for states to apply for States Advancing CTE Without Limits is November 9, 2021 at 5:00PM ET.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement

 

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