With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) released With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE. This toolkit provides state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders with actionable resources, guidance and tools to ensure CTE learner voices are elevated and heard for the improvement of CTE policies and practices.

Learner voice is often neglected even though learners themselves are affected directly by decisions made about CTE programs and have invaluable first-hand experiences. It is therefore critical that learners be engaged as key stakeholders in the decision making process within CTE programs. By empowering learners to share feedback regarding their CTE experiences through intentional and ongoing feedback loops, CTE programs can better address learner needs, break down barriers — particularly for historically marginalized populations — and improve quality. 

Meet Autumn Steffens, CTE learner from Wisconsin! Autumn was part of the CTE Learner Voice Shared Solutions Workgroup composed of national and state leaders and learners from across the country to co-develop this toolkit. Autumn and the other learners in the workgroup shared their critical perspectives with the group to inform the toolkit’s content.

Q: Why is incorporating learner voice into CTE program design and delivery important?

Autumn: CTE learners are the people that you [state leaders] are trying to help. Including our voices and letting us be heard is vital to see improvement in the current CTE program. You need first-hand experience from learners in the modern school system to give input and ideas of how we can improve the CTE program. Having learners in the program design area is important because we need people behind the curtain to make the decisions and put out a plan to make the CTE program better. Also, having learners at the front lines in the delivery of the program is vital because other learners need someone to set an example and be the face of the new CTE program. 

Q: What impact do you hope this toolkit has on the CTE field?

Autumn: This new toolkit will hopefully impact all of the learners who are not as confident in their CTE program, yet. Having a toolkit that will directly affect learners whose voices were not heard originally will inspire them to continue in their CTE journey. More learners will be motivated to join the CTE program and they will grow as not just learners, but people as well.

The full resource and supplemental tools can be found here

Christina Koch, Policy Associate

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