Legislative Update: House Advances FY23 Perkins V Funding Measure

July 1st, 2022

This week the House Committee on Appropriations considered and marked up its federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill– legislation that would provide funding to the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor as well as the programs that these agencies administer and oversee. 

House Lawmakers Advance FY23 Education Funding Bill

The House Committee on Appropriations has been busy the last few weeks finalizing each of the 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal government budget. As shared last week, the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies marked up and passed the federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill. This bill was further amended and later approved by the full committee on Thursday, June 30, by party-line vote 32-24. This legislation, which provides funding for the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL), as well as the programs these agencies administers, will now be knitted together later this month as part of a wider FY23 spending package House Democrats hope to pass in the near future. 

If enacted, the funding measure would provide $45 million for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant program– a funding increase that exceeds President Biden’s request for this program and is aligned to what Congress provided in FY22. As CTE programs grapple with inflation and employers struggle to meet their labor needs, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education have continued to work with partners on Capitol Hill to secure an even larger investment in FY23 for this critically important program. The proposal also includes $50 million in additional funding for President Biden’s “Career Connected High School” initiative which, if enacted, would provide competitive grants to consortia of applicants. In addition, related report language from the bill would direct ED to improve data collection efforts to better understand CTE teacher shortages. 

Advance CTE expects the full House chamber to take up all 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal budget later this month. Further activity in the Senate on federal appropriations is still forthcoming and will likely resume when lawmakers return from their annual July 4 recess on July 11. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Three Days, Limitless Wisdom: Looking back on our June Meeting Series

June 30th, 2022


Over the course of three Wednesdays this month, we hosted our virtual June Meeting Series. Hundreds of Career Technical Education leaders from coast to coast tuned in for afternoon-long conversations focused on the themes
Equip (June 8), Empower (June 15) and Elevate (June 22). Here are the best quotes from our speakers, which synthesize the power of this professional learning series and the impact of our collective work!  

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

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

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

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

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

“Media is looking for good stories, and I can’t think of another time where CTE has the ability to enhance a number of fundamental aspects of education and change what it can look like. Be prepared to shine!” – Teresa Valerio Parrot, Principal of TVP Communications

“Be positive when sharing your work! Media and families want to know the value-add of CTE. Have success stories and contacts on hand to support the state context and impact.” – Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director, Advance CTE

“Real stories are worth repeating. CTE is really an American story which exists all around us!” – Derricke Dennis, Anchor and National Correspondent for ABC News

“We need our data to say to learners that no matter where you are in your career journey, there’s a place for you.” – Josie Brunner, Data Strategist in the College, Career and Military Preparation Division at the Texas Education Agency

If you registered for the series, don’t forget you can watch recordings from all sessions through July 30 by visiting www.cteworks.org and using the event password you were provided. If you were not able to join us for the June Meeting Series, attend one of our upcoming online events and our in-person Fall Meeting in October (details to be announced soon)!

Steve McFarland, Director of Communications and Membership

 

Elevating the Story of Career Technical Education: June Meeting Series Day 3 Highlights

June 29th, 2022

On June 22, Advance CTE hosted the third and final event in its three-part June Meeting Series. The day focused on the theme of “Elevate,” and offered knowledge about raising the profile of Career Technical Education (CTE), so that key stakeholders and the public support and engage with the field. 

The opening keynote session, “Breaking Through: Making CTE Resonate in a Noisy World,” was built around the fact that Americans are bombarded with thousands of messages a day, from advertising to social media to the news. That makes it difficult to build awareness of and support for CTE. The session provided insights on how to break through, by becoming expert storytellers, sharpening messaging and speaking directly to the issues that matter most. Panelists included Teresa Valerio Parrot, Principal of TVP Communications; Leslie Slaughter, Executive Advisor to the Office of Career & Technical Education, Kentucky Department of Education; and Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director of Advance CTE. 

Two key quotes from the panel included: 

  • “Media is looking for good stories, and I can’t think of another time where CTE has had the ability to enhance a number of fundamental aspects of education and change what it can look like. Be prepared to shine!” (Parrot)

  • “Be positive when sharing your work! Media and families want to know the value-add of CTE. Have success stories and contacts on hand to support the state context and impact.” (Kreamer)

The keynote session was followed by content-rich breakouts and discussions to build connections and knowledge. Each breakout session was aligned to one of the five foundational commitments of CTE Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education

Breakout highlights included:

“Quality: Maximizing Limited Time for Media Relations” elevated efficient methods to start and sustain meaningful relationships with local and regional media. Expert panelists included national reporters Derricke Dennis, Anchor and National Correspondent for ABC News, and Rebecca Koenig, Editor for EdSurge. Both encouraged attendees to understand the demands on journalists, and be mindful of their workflows when pitching stories.

“People are writing about education and others are writing about the workforce,” Koenig said, “but there is an opportunity to meet in the middle to tell stories about CTE.”

One practical tip Dennis offered: “Start your email subject line with the words ‘STORY IDEA.’” Something that simple can make him jump right to the email. 

He continued, “Real stories are worth repeating. CTE is really an American story which exists all around us!”

In “Systems Alignment: A View From the Hill: A Federal Policy Update,” attendees heard from an expert panel consisting of Advance CTE’s Policy Advisor, Steve Voytek, Dr. Alisha Hyslop of ACTE and José Miranda of the Associate of Community College Trustees. Topics ranged from current priorities in Congress to the midterm elections. 

Two key takeaways from the session included the effort to l extend Pell Grant eligibility to short-term workforce training programs is moving through Congress and there is likely to be an increase in the Perkins Basic State Grant funding.

In the breakout “Equity: Student Voices: What Clicks with Me,” secondary and postsecondary CTE learners shared how they learned about CTE, what it felt like/feels like to be a CTE learner, and barriers to full program participation and success. Panelists included Technology Student Association President Gowri Rangu, 2021-2022 Future Farmers of America Utah state officer Kenadee Stubbs and CTE alumni Kendall Brown from Alabama and Faith Lanzillo from New Hampshire. 

The panelists talked about overcoming the obstacles they faced and envisioned what we can do, as state leaders, to diversify and strengthen CTE enrollment.

The panelists agreed that mentorship is essential: they were able to see themselves in career paths through diverse ambassadors, learners and professionals, who helped them choose and stay on a career path. Some shared the obstacles they had to overcome, such as lengthy application processes and difficulty changing programs, but all expressed gratitude for having found a path to a fulfilling and rewarding career. 

“Public-Private Partnerships: Centering Equity to Address Our Talent Pipeline Shortages” focused on how industry needs to think differently about how they attract, hire and retain talent. Bridgette Gray and Kate Naranjo, leaders from Opportunity@Work, an organization committed to changing hiring practices across the nation, provided expert insights. Opportunity@Work is a strong advocate for  more skills-based hiring practices, a policy construct advocated for in CTE Without Limits. These practices have the benefit of broadening and diversifying the talent pool for the private and public sectors. Recently, the state of Maryland adopted a skills-based hiring strategy and can be a key tool to ensure a more equitable and diverse workforce. 

Skill-based hiring promotes hiring based on demonstrated competencies, lived experiences and credentials. Some years ago Advance CTE shifted its language in position description to allow for lived experience equivalency when assessing new candidates and position announcements do not generally list degree requirements. 

“Communicating With Data to Drive Policy and Practices and Inform Stakeholders” rounded out the breakout offerings. The session focused on the story CTE administrators are able to tell with data, which can invoke a sense of urgency in addressing the needs of learners and the economic ecosystem. Panelists included Josie Brunner, Data Strategist in the College, Career and Military Preparation Division at the Texas Education Agency; Scott U’Sellis, Data Manager at the Kentucky Office of Career and Technical Education; and Brennan McMahon Parton, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign. 

“The average person is not going to go looking for nine different tools,” U’Sellis said. “You need one tool that gives them the answer they want. Ask people, is this interesting data to you, does this help you find what you really want to know?”

Brunner boldly asserted that the storytelling power of data is full of potential: “We need our data to say to learners that no matter where you are in your career journey, there’s a place for you,” she said. 

Taking a step back, the panelists agreed that there is always a human element to the data, and that’s what can make storytelling so powerful. When looking at data, they noted that it’s easy to forget that data points represent whole people who are so much more than the data that represent them.

Further learning ahead

More than 200 people from across the country tuned in to the three-part June Meeting Series. The event will be complemented by Advance CTE’s Virtual Learning Series, a year-round webinar sequence for the general public and members. We also recently announced our first large in-person gathering since the pandemic started, our Fall Meeting, which will take place in October 2022 (more details coming soon)! 

Steve McFarland, Director of Communications and Membership

Welcome Amy Hodge to Advance CTE!

June 28th, 2022

My name is Amy Hodge, and I am excited to part of the Advance CTE team as a Policy Associate. In my role, I will support a variety of projects such as as the state policy strategy and data initiative and the Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE⁠—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. I will also contribute to member engagement and outreach activities.

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and I earned my undergraduate degree in general social science from the University of Oregon. After graduation, I taught middle school writing and social studies at KIPP Texas-Austin. Working in the classroom was immensely formative for my professional aspirations, as I saw a distinct need for hands-on learning that allowed students to make connections between their experiences in the classroom and real-world careers.

In 2019, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue my Masters in Public Policy at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Through my coursework and professional experiences working as a Graduate Assistant with the Tennessee Board of Regents, I had the opportunity to build my knowledge of the postsecondary pathways that are so vital to the health and longevity of state economies. After graduation, I had the opportunity to serve as a Policy and Advocacy Fellow with the Urban Leaders Fellowship in Kansas City, Missouri. This experience was invaluable as it allowed me to work as both a policy consultant and conduct advocacy research for the Kansas City Social Innovation Center (KCSIC) around micro-credentialing.

As a policy consultant for State Senator Lauren Arthur, I conducted research and led state-level stakeholder interviews to formulate policy recommendations for her legislation on school accountability reform. My work with KCSIC focused on analyzing peer program outcomes to identify high-impact practices that drive competency-based systems within formal education systems.

Last summer, I moved back home to Oregon to join Education Northwest as an Associate in Project Management and Applied Research. I am eager to begin this exciting new chapter with Advance CTE!

Outside of the office, I enjoy live music, exploring Oregon’s wine country and forcing affection on my two cats.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate 

Learner Perspectives: Tejas Shah, Advance CTE Intern

June 27th, 2022

Tejas Shah served as Advance CTE’s Spring 2022 Policy Intern. Prior to joining Advance CTE, he interned for elected officials, political candidates and a policy organization at the local level.  He is a rising junior at Cornell University majoring in Policy Analysis and Management. 

Introduction

This spring, I had the amazing opportunity to intern with Advance CTE, and support their state policy team. As I look back on my four months with Advance CTE, I am reflecting on my professional and personal growth. This post gives state leaders a learner’s perspective on being exposed to the field of Career Technical Education policy for the first time.

Where I Started

When I started my internship search for the spring semester, I knew I wanted to get real-world experience in the policy space. As a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in policy analysis, I am at that point in my college career where I am starting to think about my post-graduation plans. Thus, dipping my toes into a policy sphere that I had little experience with seemed exciting. Before interning with Advance CTE, I didn’t know much about CTE. I had heard the terms vocational education and work-based learning, and had a general idea about what that meant. However, my understanding of these topics contained  assumptions and biases that I hoped to, and did, recognize through this internship experience.

Learning About CTE Systems

The first project I was assigned to involved the New Skills ready network (NSrn) initiative. I transcribed interviews with education professionals across one of the six sites,  Nashville, Tennessee. I heard from principals, guidance counselors, and educators, each with a unique perspective on CTE policy within their community and how the NSrn initiative impacted learners and systems. Hearing from such a diverse set of individuals was illuminating. Although I graduated from a public high school, I never truly knew how much goes into ensuring learners have a high-quality education. 

This project made me reflect on my own high school experience. Through this project, I learned that high-quality career pathways would have helped me narrow down my career interests before I entered college. Additionally, hearing from guidance professionals about the significance of a high-quality guidance program was extremely interesting. I did not know career and technical education were options I could take advantage of. My guidance counselor had hundreds of other students to assist – perhaps a guidance department based on academic flexibility and smooth transitions from secondary to post-secondary education would have opened doors I did not know I had access to.

I also had the opportunity to build on my learning about writing a blog by highlighting another New Skills ready network site, Boston, Massachusetts. I heard from experienced professionals within high schools and postsecondary institutions, and learned about a variety of dual-enrollment initiatives in place that link secondary and postsecondary experiences. Like high-quality pathways, ensuring secondary learners have access to college-level learning opportunities significantly impacts postsecondary readiness and completion outcomes. I took a few classes at my high school that offered college credit. However, very few of these credits transferred to my postsecondary institution. Fortunately, I was not relying on these credits to graduate. However, through this project, I came to realize that for some students, getting college credit for high school classes can significantly improve a learner’s chances to succeed in college-level coursework and achieve a postsecondary attainment. I never realized that my college credits not transferring were symptoms of a larger issue that Advance CTE hopes to address.

What I especially enjoyed about my experience at Advance CTE was the infusion of equity in all the projects that I completed. My supervisor always made it a priority to bring equity to the forefront of our discussions. I was exposed to a variety of different readings, resources, and interviews that highlighted the importance of integrity of support for each learner within the education system. For example, I became aware of the importance of wraparound supports for learners. I lived a very privileged life – my parents had access to a vehicle and my house had stable internet. However, for learners who don’t have access to such resources, receiving a high-quality education is much more difficult. Additionally, through supporting  the New Skills ready network project, I was introduced to the systemic racism and inequality that exists within the education sphere, which is reflected through gaps by race and ethnicity in participation in high-demand career pathways. Breaking down these systemic barriers and stereotypes is work that I now realize is extremely important to making sure all students, regardless of background, have equitable access to high-quality education.

Skillbuilding Journey

My experience at Advance CTE was a great opportunity for me to build my professional skills. This internship was the first time I was charged with managing projects. At first, it was a challenge to have the confidence to take on projects with a lot of responsibility. However, the staff at Advance CTE gave me plenty of resources to help me to be proactive in my task management. For example, I utilized Basecamp to remind myself of the checkpoints I needed to complete for a project. Breaking down a daunting assignment into smaller, more digestible pieces made it much easier for myself to understand what needed to be done. Additionally, splitting up projects into smaller portions made it easier to notice when I was falling behind. Coming out of this experience, I feel much more confident in my proactive communication skills. I have found myself applying these strategies to my college work as well. I have started to map out my assignments on Google Calendar. I can look a week, a month, or a whole semester ahead to make sure I am prioritizing my tasks and budgeting my time efficiently and effectively. 

In addition to my project management development, this opportunity has strengthened my adaptability skills. Many of the deadlines set at the beginning of projects changed, some of which were last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. In some cases, receiving information or feedback from outside sources took longer than expected. In others, staff changes meant changing project roles. Though some of these changes could be dizzying, it helped strengthen my ability to be flexible. Projects and the needs of Advance CTE’s members constantly evolve, and being able to adapt to such changes is important. For example, I was tasked with updating pages on the Advance CTE website. However, during the project, the manager left Advance CTE, so my supervisor and I had to learn together to execute the project. This was intense at first, but it was a great learning experience as well. Proactive communication and collaboration allowed me to adapt and carry out the project successfully. 

At the end of every month, I would have a check-in with my supervisor where we pinpointed skillbuilding areas that I have excelled in, and skillbuilding areas that I could improve upon. These monthly meetings were extremely beneficial in my development as a professional. I was given the ability to see my progress firsthand. We would brainstorm strategies to implement over the course of the following month to bolster my skillbuilding process. Through discussing hypothetical situations and deconstructing problems that occurred during the previous month, these monthly meetings were especially important in increasing my confidence within the internship program. Guidance and constructive criticism are paramount for learner development, in and out of the classroom.

Appreciation and Next Steps 

I want to thank all the staff at Advance CTE. Their constant support and direction has been extremely helpful in my career exploration and development. This internship solidified my interest in researching and communicating policy. This summer I will serve as an intern for the Office of the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. I look forward to continuing to broaden my skill set and policy experiences! 

Tejas Shah, Spring 2022 Policy Intern

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

June 24th, 2022

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

Labor Secretary Walsh Testifies on USDOL FY23 Budget Request 

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

House Lawmakers Release and Markup FY23 Education Funding Bill

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

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

Advance CTE Endorses Career Counseling and Awareness Legislation 

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

Senate HELP Committee Holds Pandemic Learning Hearing

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

ED Proposes New Title IX Rule

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

ED Hosts Pathways Event

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

DOL Hosts Good Jobs Summit 

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

FCC Announces New Funding Commitments

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

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

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

June 22nd, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate

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

June 21st, 2022

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

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

Keep reading for top quotes and resources from the day! 

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

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

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

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

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

Data Breakout: Building a Culture of Data 

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

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

Equity: Maximizing the Potential of Equity-centered CTE Programs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Ahead 

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

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement

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

June 20th, 2022

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Maryland

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

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

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

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

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

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate 

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

June 15th, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

In particular, I’d highlight the following:

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

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

There are two things worth noting here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

 

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