GAO Report Highlights Strategies to Support CTE Programs and Ongoing Challenges

April 12th, 2022

On March 30th, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report reviewing Career Technical Education (CTE) programs funded by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Following a congressional authorization of $1.3 billion for Perkins V in fiscal year 2021, GAO conducted a series of interviews with state education officials and representatives from CTE program providers in Delaware, Georgia, Ohio and Washington, as well as additional CTE stakeholders including business representatives, in order to study service and funding strategies and challenges. 

According to the study, state officials, program providers and stakeholders reported a variety of strategies to support different learner populations in CTE:

  • Leveraging state, local and non-Perkins federal funding. To address learner needs in CTE programming, many respondents braided diverse funding sources, including state and local revenue streams, federal grants and philanthropic donations. Program providers at the secondary level were most likely to take advantage of Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants and Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, while providers at the postsecondary level frequently reported using Adult Education State Grants. 
  • Conducting needs assessments. States and providers also utilized the comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA) process to identify learner needs and tailor CTE programs accordingly. Ohio created “equity labs” to provide resources for school districts to analyze CLNA data, which led to the discovery of English Learner underrepresentation in CTE and the subsequent hiring of an interpreter to make program information more accessible for this population.
  • Creating meaningful partnerships with business and industry. Both state officials and stakeholders illuminated the importance of engaging with industry in order to develop relevant career pathways and offer work-based learning opportunities.
  • Seeking support from state and local leadership. Stakeholders emphasized that buy-in from leaders such as governors and superintendents is often a key component for expanding and improving CTE programs. A program provider in Georgia reported that the district superintendent’s support ultimately allowed the county to transition from traditional public schools to career academies in order to promote higher graduation rates and greater student engagement.

Despite these successes, however, respondents highlighted challenges related to the delivery of CTE programs, the replication of effective models and program accessibility for learners.

Challenges for program delivery revolved around limited funding and capacity, troubles with attracting and retaining racially diverse CTE educators, and negative perceptions of CTE programs, largely due to a lack of shared knowledge on program purposes and outcomes. The report highlighted outreach activities such as reaching out to school counselors as beneficial for raising awareness of the benefits of CTE, as well as the creation of Grow-Your-Own (GYO) teacher programs to recruit underrepresented educators from the community.

State leaders and program providers also reported that it can be a struggle to replicate effective models due to insufficient data on long-term outcomes, as well as a lack of information on evidence-based strategies. These limitations, combined with funding constraints, make it hard to scale successful programs such as Washington’s I-BEST model, which provides additional support services and a team-teaching model that requires hiring two teachers per course. The state of Delaware is attempting to address data limitations by developing a postsecondary data system that connects different sources of information in order to develop a better understanding of learner needs and outcomes.

Additionally, learners experienced two major challenges in accessing high-quality CTE. First, many learners are unable to participate in work-based learning opportunities, often due to a lack of communication between schools and employers, as well as transportation barriers that make it difficult to travel to work sites. The GAO report suggests business and industry engagement as a key strategy to address these issues. Second, learners may lack support services they need to succeed, including language accommodations, child care, flexible scheduling and financial aid. Tests are a barrier to entry for many learners, and accessing financial assistance for postsecondary non-degree programs can also be difficult. The report emphasized efforts to hire translators and provide flexible online instruction as possible methods for making CTE more supportive and accessible for learner populations.

With the shared commitment to Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) and a continual effort to meaningfully collaborate across workforce and education systems, state CTE leaders can create innovative approaches to program outreach to build support for CTE programs among diverse constituencies, as well as advocate for expanded investment in additional services and supports that allow each learner to reach career success.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

Legislative Update: House Advances WIOA Proposal

April 8th, 2022

This week the House Education and Labor Committee marked up legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) while the Senate considers additional pandemic aid legislation with implications for postsecondary institutions. In addition, Advance CTE continues to encourage its members and partners to support legislation to improve learner access to Pell Grants for high-quality, short-term postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Finally, be sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to join the House and Senate CTE Caucuses if they have not already done so! 

House Democrats Release WIOA Reauthorization Proposal 

Since last spring, Congressional lawmakers have been considering and debating making updates to WIOA– federal legislation that funds the nation’s workforce development system. Last week, Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee released a comprehensive proposal to reauthorize this law dubbed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 (H.R. 7309). On Tuesday, April 5, the committee held a hearing to markup this legislation, considering and debating amendments to this proposal. An updated version of the legislation, known as an amendment in the nature of a substitute (ANS), was considered and ultimately adopted by the committee along party lines. This ANS made several small changes to the underlying legislation first released last week, including by adding digital literacy efforts as an allowable usage of WIOA youth funding. 

Broadly, Democrats were supportive of H.R. 7309 and highlighted aspects of the proposal that they either directly sponsored or generally supported. Republicans were broadly unsupportive of the proposed legislation, instead favoring a separate ANS proposal put forward by Rep. Miller-Meeks (R-IA). Republicans on the committee proposed several amendments to H.R. 7309, including this alternative proposal, which were all defeated along party lines. Following several hours of debate, the Committee passed H.R. 7309 by a margin of 29-21. This vote advances the legislation out of committee for further consideration by the full House chamber with a floor vote tentatively expected later this spring. 

Ahead of the markup, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to the committee, applauding certain aspects of the legislation, particularly the bill’s approach to the sharing of one-stop center infrastructure costs. The letter went on to note that work lies ahead to further refine and improve on this proposal. Despite the encouraging progress on WIOA taking place in the House, it remains unclear whether comparable activity will commence in the Senate. As these efforts continue to unfold, Advance CTE and its partners will continue to work with lawmakers to make updates to this important law aligned with the organization’s newly updated recommendations for this legislation. 

Lawmakers Consider Higher Education Recission

For the last few months, Congress and the Biden Administration have been grappling with how to pass additional legislation to fund pandemic response activities, such as the purchasing of testing kits, vaccines and additional therapeutics. Broadly, Republicans and Democrats have continued to disagree on how to pay for this supplemental funding package. Recently, a group of Senators has coalesced around a $10 billion package for this purpose. However, as part of this emerging agreement, Republicans have insisted that this be paid for using unspent pandemic aid dollars. Nearly $500 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief funds (HEERF) would likely be used to defray some of the total $10 billion cost of the package. A summary of the agreement can be found here. A timeline for the advancement and passage of this legislation remains unclear.  

Lend Your Support to Pell Grant Modernization 

Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act – legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to improve the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would drastically enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring American global economic competitiveness, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, especially nonprofit CTE institutions, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Equip, Empower, Elevate: Advance CTE’s 2021 Annual Report

April 7th, 2022

In June 2021, the Advance CTE and The Center to Advance CTE’s Boards of Directors unanimously approved a new three-year strategic plan with three key strategic priorities — to EQUIP Advance CTE to lead with a focus on quality and equity, EMPOWER members to realize the CTE Without Limits vision, and ELEVATE high-quality and equitable CTE.

As we reflect on 2021, we are excited to share the collective progress we made towards accomplishing these strategic priorities. In 2021, Advance CTE and its members: 

  • Built and maintained community: Despite being virtual throughout 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, Advance CTE endeavored to create inclusive and engaging spaces for our members. All told, Advance CTE’s 14 virtual professional learning events, which included our two annual meetings, webinars and lunch and learns, served more than 1,000 total attendees from 49 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Collaborated to design the future: In March 2021, Advance CTE released Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, with the support of over 40 national organizations. To turn this vision into reality, we  convened shared solutions workgroups on key priority areas identified in our vision, including learner voice, social capital, data quality and use, and credit for prior learning. Leaders from 42 states and the District of Columbia participated in Advance CTE workgroups, committees and kitchen cabinets in 2021.

     

  • Expanded capacity around data and equity: Data and equity are two of the most critical priorities among our members as they work to design and expand high-quality CTE programs that support all learners. In 2021, we launched the Career Readiness Data Quality Policy Benchmark tool microsite, offered direct technical assistance to a group of five states to build out data capacity, supported the first cohort of 10 states as they participated and then replicated an opportunity gap analysis workshop and released our Brave Dialogues discussion and facilitation guide to help state and local leaders lead conversations around racial equity in CTE.  
  • Developed resources aligned with members’ needs: Advance CTE released over 50 resources in 2021, all accessible in our Learning that Works Resource Center, on key topics including equity and how to engage learners with special populations status, work-based learning, communicating about CTE, employer engagement and more, and featured replicable examples from leading states and communities. 
  • Elevated CTE through effective communications and federal advocacy: Advance CTE continued to build the research base and tools needed to effectively communicate the value proposition of CTE to learners, families and employers. In addition, we helped to secure an additional $52.25 million for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act’s basic state grant program, bringing the total funding level for the program to approximately $1.335 billion. Our advocacy was instrumental in ensuring that nearly $120 billion in allotted education funding in the American Rescue Plan included CTE programs and activities as an allowable activity.

Looking ahead to 2022:

  • Advance CTE will continue to EQUIP our members and ourselves to lead the CTE field with a fierce commitment to quality and equity through interactive and engaging professional development events and resources. We are particularly excited to launch our second cohort of the Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellowship — Sponsored by ECMC Foundation in the coming months.
  • We will also EMPOWER our members to advance and realize the principles and actions in CTE Without Limits.  In early 2022, Advance CTE launched our Advancing CTE Without Limits initiative, providing direct technical assistance to three states and offering a community of practice to engage the cross-sector partners that need to be involved to realize the vision. We will also support two additional cohorts of states through our Opportunity Gap Analysis Workshops.
  • Finally, Advance CTE will continue our charge to ELEVATE high-quality and equitable CTE among federal and state policymakers, the media, learners and families and other key stakeholders. One way we will accomplish this is by hosting workshops for counseling professionals in 30 states to arm these champions with the messages and information they need to recruit learners into high-quality and equitable CTE programs of study.

View Advance CTE’s 2021 Annual Report: careertech.org/who-we-are 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

Welcome Steve McFarland to Advance CTE!

April 6th, 2022

My name is Steve McFarland and I am the new Director of Communications and Membership for Advance CTE. In this role, I lead the organization’s internal and external membership engagement, professional learning and strategic communications. I direct technical assistance, resource development and related supports to Advance CTE members and partners to advance the organization’s strategic priorities and mission, build in-state capacity for Career Technical Education (CTE) leadership, and raise the visibility of and support for high-quality and equitable CTE throughout the country.

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, I have worked in nonprofit and higher education communications for more than 20 years. I began my career working for National Public Radio and Paramount Global Entertainment before entering the organizational communications field. I then led fundraising communications for the Divinity School at Harvard University, spearheaded the rebranding of America’s Second Harvest to Feeding America in the late 2000s, and for a decade directed communications and operations for Aurora University, a thriving private college in the Chicago suburbs. I received undergraduate degrees in Mass Communication and Comparative Religion from Miami University (Ohio), and a master’s degree in the Sociology of Religion from the University of Chicago. 

I was drawn to Advance CTE because I have seen firsthand how the traditional “ideal” model of education–four years of high school followed by four years of college–is changing rapidly. And it’s a much needed change! CTE opens doors to limitless possibilities, and provides content and careers that resonate to a wide range of skills and interests. 

This is an exciting mission to be a part of, and I am looking forward to doing great things for our members and the countless students they serve.

Steve McFarland, Director of Communications and Membership 

Legislative Update: FY23 Budget Released as House Moves Forward With WIOA

April 1st, 2022

This week the Biden Administration formally published its annual Congressional budget request for federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23). Meanwhile, lawmakers in the House introduced legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) while U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urged stakeholders to use pandemic aid funding to address nationwide teacher shortages and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new study on Career Technical Education (CTE). In addition, Advance CTE continues to encourage its members and partners to support legislation to improve learner access to Pell Grants for high-quality, short-term postsecondary CTE programs. Finally, be sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to join the House and Senate CTE Caucuses if they have not already done so! 

President Biden Releases Disappointing FY23 Budget Request 

On Monday, March 28, President Biden published his Administration’s FY23 budget request to Congress. The $5.8 trillion budget proposal would provide a nearly 21 percent increased investment for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and an 18 percent increase for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). While these topline figures are encouraging, this budget was developed and published before Congress enacted final full-year funding for the previous federal fiscal year (FY22). Because of this timing ED has requested an effective $25 million decrease in investment for the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant program. Since the publication of this budget request, ED has framed this (and other proposed reductions in funding for education and workforce programs) as “artificial cuts,” publicly maintaining that they support enacted FY22 funding levels in instances where the budget request fell short of FY22 funding totals.

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement expressing significant disappointment in this budget request. The statement also calls into question the budget request’s proposed creation of a new $200 million competitive grant program as part of a new “Career-connected High Schools” initiative. 

Despite these disappointing elements in the President’s proposed budget, Advance CTE looks forward to working with partners in Congress to ensure robust funding levels for Perkins V formula grants. The full ED budget summary can be found here and more detailed justifications for individual requests can be found here. DOL’s summary can be found here, along with more detailed information here

House Democrats Release WIOA Reauthorization Proposal 

For the last year, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been quietly considering making updates to WIOA– the nation’s primary workforce development law. Yesterday, March 31, Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee released a comprehensive proposal to reauthorize this law. While Advance CTE is still analyzing this legislation, the organization is encouraged to see a number of its priorities reflected in this draft. 

Most particularly, the proposal would make significant improvements to the sharing of one-stop center infrastructure costs and would also provide greater flexibilities, along with improved coordination, with regards to youth workforce funding. In addition, the proposal would make notable improvements to the law’s underlying data infrastructure, softening an existing prohibition on the creation of a national database to more effectively understand and evaluate the impact WIOA-funded programs and services have on individuals and communities. 

As mentioned, Advance CTE is still in the process of analyzing all aspects of this draft proposal and looks forward to working with the committee to further improve and refine this legislation. A committee markup of the legislation is expected to be scheduled soon. 

Secretary Cardona Encourages States to Use ARP Funding to Address Teacher Shortages

On Monday, March 28, the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona called on education stakeholders to make use of funding provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to address persistent and widespread teacher shortages. With the use of  ARP funds, Secretary Cardona urged states, postsecondary leaders, districts and schools to consider establishing evidence-based teacher residency programs, creating registered apprenticeship programs for the teaching profession, and increasing teacher compensation along with a slew of other proposals. The full announcement can be found here

GAO Publishes Study on CTE 

On Wednesday, March 30, the GAO published a new study examining CTE programs, strategies, and related challenges. The publication interviewed stakeholders from Delaware, Georgia, Ohio and Washington, including representatives from national organizations. The study looked at how stakeholders are using federal CTE funding, the challenges they currently face, and how these efforts are aligned with other education and workforce development efforts. Among several findings, researchers found that learners have experienced significant challenges in accessing CTE programs due to the lack of federal financial aid eligibility for nondegree postsecondary programs. 

To more effectively address this longstanding inequity, Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act – legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to increase the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would significantly enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring that postsecondary education is truly working for everyone, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, including individual nonprofit CTE institutions serving postsecondary learners, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. Please share and add your support by April 13! 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

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 

Simple Tools to Improve Youth Apprenticeship Data Quality

March 24th, 2022

Despite its growing popularity, youth apprenticeship remains a relatively new strategy for connecting young people to the world of work and helping them access high-quality pathways to well-paying jobs. While public data on apprenticeship participation is readily available through the U.S. Department of Labor, very little is known about the reach of youth apprenticeship. 

The limited availability of public data on youth apprenticeship is due in part to the lack of a common definition of youth apprenticeship and limitations in data capacity at the state and local levels. To address the first challenge, the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), a national network of intermediary organizations, public agencies, non-profit organizations and foundations, is working to build field consensus around a common definition of youth apprenticeship. In 2018, PAYA identified four core elements of a high-quality youth apprenticeship program. 

That leaves remaining challenges around data capacity. Even as youth apprenticeship programs increase their enrollment, the existing apprenticeship data infrastructure is insufficient to monitor and support these emerging programs. State and federally administered Registered Apprenticeship programs can submit data through the Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Database System (RAPIDS), but this system cannot yet differentiate between traditional and youth apprenticeship programs. 

To help state and local intermediaries improve their youth apprenticeship data capacity, Advance CTE, through the PAYA network, developed a youth apprenticeship data toolkit. The toolkit is designed to address common challenges by compiling tools and resources that state and local intermediaries can use to improve the quality of youth apprenticeship data. It includes templates, guides and links to external resources that can be adapted and modified to suit different program needs.

The tools are organized around five key steps: 

  • Step 1: Determine what to measure and why
  • Step 2: Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Step 3: Build the infrastructure
  • Step 4: Access the data
  • Step 5: Scale and sustain using an equity lens

The toolkit is meant for youth apprenticeship agencies and organizations at various levels of implementation, from early design to statewide expansion. 

To better understand the state of youth apprenticeship implementation, ensure equitable access to high-quality programs, and evaluate program impact, state and local leaders must strengthen the quality and accessibility of their youth apprenticeship data. Access Building A Youth Apprenticeship Data Ecosystem: A Starter Kit today in the Learning that Works Resource Center. 

View more resources on youth apprenticeship here.

Legislative Update: FY22 Omnibus Signed Into Law

March 18th, 2022

This week President Biden signed a full-year spending package for the current fiscal year, providing several increased investments of note to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. In addition, Advance CTE continues to encourage its members and partners to support legislation to improve learner access to Pell Grants for high-quality, short-term postsecondary CTE programs. Finally, be sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to join the House and Senate CTE Caucuses if they have not already done so! 

President Biden Signs FY22 Omnibus Into Law

As we shared last week, Congress successfully passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package which provides full-year funding for the remaining six months of the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). This spending package provides support for federal education and workforce development programs, including the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). On Tuesday, March 15, President Biden formally signed the legislation into law. The legislation provides an additional $45 million for Perkins V’s basic state formula grant program (an increase of nearly 3.5 percent). The legislation makes a host of other notable investments to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, including increased investments in apprenticeship expansion efforts, career education programs at community colleges, and other important funding beneficial to expanding CTE opportunities to more of the nation’s learners. 

With the FY22 funding process now complete, the FY23 budget and appropriation process can now formally begin. This process typically begins with the release of the President’s budget request to Congress, which Advance CTE expects to be released in the coming weeks. Once the Biden administration’s budget request is published and sent to Congress, lawmakers will formally begin efforts to craft the necessary spending bills (12 in total)  that compose the federal budget. Ahead of these efforts, the Senate confirmed Shalanda Young to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this week by a margin of 61-36. This agency is tasked with leading the formulation of the Biden Administration’s FY23 budget request and will be a key stakeholder in future FY23 federal appropriations negotiations this year. As these efforts and more continue to take shape, Advance CTE is working to ensure robust investments in CTE. 

In the meantime, be sure to check out Advance CTE’s updated Perkins funding resource reflecting the new investments made by Congress in FY22. 

Sign-on to Support Pell Grants for High-Quality CTE Programs

Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the JOBS Act– legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to increase the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would significantly enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring that postsecondary education is truly working for everyone, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, including individual nonprofit CTE institutions serving postsecondary learners, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. Please share and add your support by the end of this month! 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses if they have not done so already. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

In Delaware, Building a Youth Apprenticeship Data System Means Looking to the Future

March 16th, 2022

This is the third blog in a series published in partnership with New America through the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA). The blog series highlights how PAYA network sites are using data to improve youth apprenticeship quality and equity. 

In Delaware, youth apprenticeship is a critical pillar of the state’s career readiness initiatives and is a truly collaborative project. While administration of the state’s youth apprenticeship programs falls under the Delaware Department of Labor, related technical instruction is handled by the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE). This requires a significant amount of coordination and partnership across state agencies. 

In 2020, Delaware received a grant through the U.S Department of Labor to enroll 400 youth apprentices in the areas of construction, hospitality and Information Technology. This opportunity, and the expansion of youth apprenticeship in the state, enabled Delaware to focus on improving the quality and use of its youth apprenticeship data. 

Tackling Youth Apprenticeship Data Challenges 

As Delaware works to strengthen and scale youth apprenticeship, the state encountered a few challenges with accessing quality data. For one, state leaders confronted some inflexibilities with the federal Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Database System (RAPIDS), which includes nationwide data on Registered Apprenticeship participation but does not differentiate youth and adult apprenticeships. 

Another challenge was coordinating and systematizing partnerships among agencies and organizations. Delaware first had to create and adopt shared definitions for youth apprenticeship data and then work to break down silos to enable timely inter-agency data sharing. 

And finally, state leaders wanted to make sure youth apprenticeship data could fuel program improvement, equity initiatives and storytelling, and made sure to shift from a compliance to a continuous improvement mindset. 

To tackle these challenges, DDOE assumed a coordinating role, leveraging its scale as a statewide agency to convene partners, reach consensus on important decisions, and establish data sharing agreements. In this role, DDOE was able to compile and match data, including education records, employment records and social services records, “behind the curtain” before pushing de-identified data back out to partners. 

Equipped with relevant and timely data, DDOE is now positioned to support local youth apprenticeship programs to make data-informed decisions. For example, DDOE can identify learners who would be a good fit for youth apprenticeship and provide that information to school counselors ahead of youth apprenticeship recruitment cycles. 

This data also enables DDOE to craft a story about youth apprenticeship, targeting policymakers and members of the public with stories about the impact of high-quality programs.

Lessons Learned

One important lesson from Delaware is the critical need for qualitative data from learners. Partners are developing a new case management system to ensure qualitative data is collected, considered, and utilized as part of a continuous program improvement process.  To fully understand the story behind the numbers, data must be connected to the learners’ voices and experiences. 

Delaware also learned that the goal of youth apprenticeship data systems should not be sustainability alone but rather evolution. Data systems should be flexible, always moving towards the next set of questions the state is looking to explore and answer. If states and youth apprenticeship intermediaries can anticipate the questions they will want to answer in the future, they can begin to build data systems that address those needs. 

Delaware’s advice to state and local youth apprenticeship intermediaries is to concentrate first on the initial strategy, coordination of effort, systems building and partner relationships. This will ensure there are suitable conditions for collecting and using youth apprenticeship data effectively. Partners should also establish a shared system of values that emphasize partner action and innovation and are reinforced by established data routines. 

Additional blog posts in this series can be accessed here. For additional resources on data and accountability, please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

Welcome Dr. David Eshelman as the New State CTE Director in Virginia

March 15th, 2022

Advance CTE joins the Virginia Department of Education in welcoming Dr. David Eshelman as the new State Career Technical Education (CTE) Director. David has 12 years of experience as a local school division CTE director and has spent the most recent four years at the state agency. He held the role of Director, Workforce Development through the development of the state’s Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) State Plan.

Advance CTE staff met with David as he shared his pathway to becoming the State Director, as well as his initial priorities for CTE in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Advance CTE: Which of your professional experiences has most prepared you for your role as the State Director? 

David: Although I have held a previous role at the agency prior to becoming the State Director, it was the years spent as a CTE classroom educator and at the administrative level at local comprehensive high schools and career centers that fully equipped me to serve learners and their families now as the State Director. I come to this role with 32 years spent in education, but my state team, among others and myself, are most excited to see how we leverage my experiences spent alongside learners to grow CTE in Virginia.

Advance CTE: What excites you most about being the State Director in Virginia? 

David: I am most excited about work underway in Virginia to expand access to work-based learning (WBL) opportunities. As State Director, I am mobilizing funding for a virtual WBL network that complements the Virginia Career Works project and will ensure each learner, no matter what their zip code is, has opportunities for this type of learning. That truly excites me.  

Advance CTE: As you are settling into your new position, what initial priorities have you identified? 

David: In our state and at the department we have identified a need to build leadership capacity and support our CTE educators who are at the local level and who may even have the aspiration of moving to the state agency or into a regional chair role. There’s nothing like working at the state department, and I want to prepare our next generation for leadership. My priorities in this effort are to offer our own WBL opportunities like summer externships at the agency, opening up opportunities for learning to all, and building a knowledge base by position. 

Advance CTE: You have experienced leveraging social capital through your career progression, in what ways do you hope to create such opportunities for educators and learners in your state?

David: I do not want institutional knowledge to leave our agency when staff retire or transition to other positions. With my priorities of developing state CTE leaders, I hope to exercise social capital to ensure all new local CTE directors in the state have mentors or at least a professional network of peers to mobilize when they have a need or are looking for support. 

While leading this work, however, I am also looking forward to nurturing my own social capital through the opportunities Advance CTE provides to new State Directors, such as the New State Director Institute. 

Advance CTE: Fast forward and we are now celebrating your one-year anniversary as State Director. What is one challenge you’d like to have overcome by that milestone?

David: We are currently, as I imagine many are, going through changes in our state leadership. What I hope to have accomplished by next year is to increase internal office efficiency and workflow automation for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education in Virginia. I also want to be sure we develop substantial methods of communication where all parties involved are receiving the information and data needed to make informed decisions that serve our learner populations, particularly focusing on the rural areas in the state and the learner gaps in our programs there.

Advance CTE: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

David: This is a tough question, but I will have to keep it close to home and go with Virginia Ham!

Welcome, David! Advance CTE is thrilled to support David as he strives to ensure each learner in Virginia has access to and the means to succeed in any high-quality CTE program or experience that leads to success in their career of choice.

Click here to learn more about the state CTE system in Virginia.
View resources that feature best practices in Virginia here.

Follow David on Twitter and LinkedIn

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate for Digital Media 

 

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