Posts Tagged ‘Access and Equity’

How States Can Make Good on their Commitments to Learners with Disabilities in CTE 

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022

Career Technical Education (CTE) offers all learners the opportunity to build academic, technical and employability skills that will prepare them for a future in a dynamic and changing world. Learners with disabilities in particular benefit from CTE coursework in high school. Research shows that CTE provides opportunities to improve employment and postsecondary outcomes for secondary learners with disabilities and has led to higher rates of on-time graduation and more competitively paid jobs. 

States play a critical role in supporting the conditions for learners with disabilities to access high-quality CTE programs, successfully complete them, and then transition into high-wage employment. Last year, Advance CTE partnered with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School to research how states are supporting learners with disabilities in CTE and what could be done to improve access and success. 

We learned that, with the recent implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), states are well positioned to make progress on their equity goals. In fact, among the 38 respondents surveyed for the study, 84% reported plans to leverage Perkins V to support access and success for learners with disabilities. Their commitments are supported by strong state-level partnerships among CTE, special education and vocational rehabilitation, many of which were forged and strengthened through the Perkins V planning process. 

However, inter-agency plans must be supported with coordinated work, actionable data and targeted interventions to make them operational. While strong relationships exist at the state level, they do not always lead to coordination on the ground. For example, states were less likely to report sharing data, offering integrated professional development or braiding funding. 

In part, states’ efforts to expand access for learners with disabilities are stymied by data quality challenges. While states are required to collect and report CTE data disaggregated for learners with disabilities, many states do not further disaggregate CTE data by disability type. Disaggregating data by disability type is important because the supports and/or accommodations needed by learners with disabilities will vary depending on the nature of their disability. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act already requires the collection of student data by disability type, which means that all states and localities should be able to partner with their special education colleagues to obtain more accurate and nuanced data on the number of learners with disabilities.

Finally, while states have made considerable progress strengthening CTE program quality and expanding opportunities for advanced coursework, industry-recognized credentials and work-based learning, program improvement efforts are often generalized to all learners instead of targeting specific learner populations. Less than half of respondents say they provide accommodations to learners with disabilities participating in credential examinations, and only 24% indicated they are part of other statewide initiatives to improve credential attainment among learners with disabilities. More direct interventions and investments may be necessary to support learners with disabilities to access and earn credentials with value in the labor market.

Clearly, states are well positioned to expand access and support success for learners with disabilities in CTE. To operationalize their commitments, state CTE leaders should make sure to coordinate directly with their colleagues in other agencies, improve the quality and relevance of their data, and target interventions to learners with the greatest need. Read more about the survey findings in the new report Advancing Employment for Secondary Learners with Disabilities through CTE Policy and Practice. 

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy, Publications
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New Report: 5 Strategies to Strengthen Equity in Early Postsecondary Opportunity Participation and Completion

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Every year, more than 5.5 million secondary learners take advantage of Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs), including dual and concurrent enrollment and exam-based courses, like International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP). EPSOs aim to provide high school learners with an intentionally designed authentic postsecondary experience leading to officially articulated and transferable college credit toward a recognized postsecondary degree or credential. Career Technical Education (CTE) courses make up approximately one-third of all EPSO enrollments and are a critical component of a high-quality CTE program of study, bridging secondary and postsecondary learning. 

Advance CTE’s vision, Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, calls on states to ensure that each learner’s skills are counted, valued and portable. At the state level, systems are needed to translate competencies and credentials into portable credit and to ensure that all learners have the opportunity to participate in high-quality and equitable EPSO programs. To this end, Advance CTE, in partnership with the College in High School Alliance, surveyed State CTE Directors to better understand state policies that support EPSOs in CTE. The survey revealed key findings, which subsequently led to recommendations for steps to better advance and support CTE EPSOs, ensuring equity and access to EPSOs for all CTE learners. To read more about the results of the survey and our resulting findings and recommendations, or to learn more about the following actions, read the executive summary and associated full report, The State of CTE: Early Postsecondary Opportunities.

To better ensure equitable access for all learners, particularly in CTE EPSO programs, states can take the following actions:

1.Identify and highlight equity goals in statewide EPSO programs and target specific learner populations for recruitment. States with statewide EPSO programs, particularly those with targeted equity goals, have been able to reduce equity gaps by adjusting funding and tuition models, standardizing entrance requirements, providing statewide navigational supports and centralizing articulation agreements. A critical review of state-level data, including conducting opportunity gap analyses, can allow states to target historically marginalized populations for participation while simultaneously ensuring that these learners have access to high-quality EPSOs. Utah has a long-standing statewide concurrent enrollment program that focuses on continuous improvement, particularly for learners of low income, who attend postsecondary institutions at more than twice the rate of learners of low income who do not participate in the program.

2.Increase publicly available and actionable information for learners and their families. Access to high-quality EPSOs for every learner is just one part of equity; equally important is ensuring that every learner is successful by increasing transparency around opportunities and outcomes in EPSOs, including providing state-level outcome data, navigation assistance and career advising throughout the EPSO experience. Increasing communication with parents and learners about available EPSOs, their requirements and available supports will help first-generation learners and under-served groups not familiar with the postsecondary process access these programs and know how the associated credit transfers. States like Indiana, Maryland, and Kentucky all have public dashboards that share both enrollment and outcome data, disaggregated by learner population and program type. Other states, like Massachusetts, aggregate their EPSO programs through an online catalog, with filters for subpopulations, to demonstrate the range of opportunities available statewide.

3.Identify and remove barriers to access, including restrictive costs or entrance requirements, and target specific learner populations for recruitment. Data demonstrates significantly higher gains for learners of color in dual enrollment programs compared to their peers not enrolled in EPSO opportunities. While states noted that scholarship and tuition supports reduce barriers to entry, burdensome entrance requirements and a lack of information about EPSOs limit a learner’s ability to participate. For example, Tennessee’s statewide EPSO program offers grants that allow learners to take up to 10 dual enrollment courses for free. As states look to increase postsecondary attainment goals, they can leverage enrollment and outcome data to identify opportunity gaps and examine root causes, such as restrictive admissions requirements that may affect learners disproportionately. 

4.Increase supports for learners enrolled in EPSOs to ensure completion. While capacity challenges do exist, research indicates the value of early warning systems, counseling programs, and financial supports that remove or overcome barriers to completion. Statewide incentives can encourage districts to expand these types of systems that allow secondary learners to be successful in EPSOs. Alaska’s Acceleration Academy helps high school learners complete math or science courses over the summer to prepare them for participation in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, an EPSO partnership with the University of Alaska-Anchorage. 

5.Expand statewide and inter-state articulation agreements to account for all types of CTE EPSOs. Statewide agreements can help guarantee recognition of CTE EPSO credit and facilitate automatic transfer between a secondary institution and a corresponding postsecondary institution of the learner’s choice. Ensuring that the transfer of credit is as frictionless as possible is vital to supporting learners as they transition into postsecondary education and continue in a degree program. As states work to ensure that each learner’s EPSO experiences consistently are counted toward articulated credit, they should also ensure that this credit contributes to core credits in a CTE program of study and not just elective credit. States can develop additional guidelines and legislation that ensures the connection between an EPSO and a program of study. Ohio has Career-Technical Assurance Guides (CTAGs) that provide automatically articulated and transferable credit upon completion of CTE coursework.

Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resource related to specific EPSOs and equity and access supports.

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Resources, Public Policy
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“Be a Network Facilitator”: Inspiring First Steps and Common Challenges Emerge in CTE Without Limits Community of Practice Kickoff

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits, Uncategorized
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Legislative Update: Advance CTE and ACTE Host Congressional CTE Month Briefing 

Friday, February 18th, 2022

This week the Advance CTE and ACTE co-hosted a Congressional briefing with Career Technical Student Organizations, while over two-thirds of the Senate supported a resolution designating February as Career Technical Education (CTE) month. The Senate HELP Committee also held a briefing exploring issues impacting workforce development while lawmakers worked to extend current funding levels through mid-March. In addition, the FCC announced the disbursement of additional connectivity funding while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) made important updates to its College Scorecard.

Advance CTE and ACTE Host Congressional CTE Month Briefing 

On Tuesday, February 15, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) hosted a bicameral Congressional briefing featuring learners from several Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs): 

Moderated by Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green, the briefing highlighted the value of CTE and elevated CTSO learner experiences from both K-12 and postsecondary perspectives. The event also featured remarks from CTE Caucus Co-chairs Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN). During Rep. Langevin’s opening comments, the long-time House CTE Caucus co-chair noted, in part, that “A dependable, skilled, and prepared workforce is more critical to our economy than ever, and CTE lays the foundation for students to succeed both now and in the future.” Sen. Young emphasized his ambitions to grow CTE opportunities throughout the nation by co-chairing the Senate CTE Caucus noting that, “3 of 5 jobs in Indiana require more than a high-school diploma but less than a four year degree. More than half of workers in the state do not yet have this level of education.”

Following these remarks from congressional CTE champions, Green posed a series of questions to the CTSO student panel. For Deddens, the FCCLA First Vice President noted that “. . . being a national officer has allowed me to advocate for change in community and state and meet people of diverse backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. Being in CTSOs opens these lines of communication.” National TSA President Rangu noted the impact her first national TSA convention had on her, noting “It was empowering for me to see someone that looked like me [be a national leader] so I felt confident to step into that position and serve as a role model for others.” Tyagi, HOSA’s International President Elect, emphasized the importance of his mentors noting “…[they]  instilled the importance of giving back to communities to secure a future of health that has no boundaries and will take care of every individual.” DECA Collegiate President Spohn emphasized how CTE was “. . . the first time I was in a classroom where what I was being taught was applicable to what I wanted to do with my life and career.”

Senate Passes CTE Month Resolution With Overwhelming Bipartisan Support

In the evening following the CTSO panel, the Senate considered a bipartisan resolution designating February as CTE Month. The Senate unanimously passed this resolution without objection which garnered the support of over two-thirds of the Senate with 68 total co-sponsors. In a speech just before the resolution’s passage Senator Kaine (D-VA), the lead sponsor of the resolution remarked , “By formally recognizing CTE Month through this resolution, we hope to bring greater awareness to improving access to high-quality career and technical education for millions of America’s students and our Nation’s ongoing economic competitiveness.” The House recently introduced a similar resolution and is in the process of recruiting additional co-sponsors. Be sure to encourage your Member of Congress to support this resolution by the end of the month by clicking here

Senate HELP Committee Holds Workforce Development Hearing 

On Tuesday, February 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to examine workforce development policies and related strategies collectively aimed at helping workers find and obtain family sustaining employment. The hearing focused particularly on individuals with barriers to employment and the value and impact wraparound support services–like childcare, transportation, and career navigation supports–have in helping workers overcome these existing challenges. 

During the question and answer portion of the hearing, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) highlighted his and Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) ongoing sponsorship of the JOBS Act– legislation that, if enacted, would provide Pell Grants for high-quality, shorter-term training programs at postsecondary institutions to more effectively support workers and learners. Advance CTE has long supported this legislation and continues to call for its enactment by Congress this year. A video archive of the hearing, including related written testimony, can be found here.  

Congress Passes FY22 Funding Extension Through Mid-March 

The formal start of the current federal fiscal year 2022 (FY22) began on October 1, 2021. Since that time, lawmakers in Congress have been unable to come to agreement on full-year funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). Congress has passed a series of short-term funding measures—known as a continuing resolution (CR)—to extend current FY21 funding levels through FY22. To date, these actions have averted a federal government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for laws like Perkins V. However, the most recent of these CRs is set to expire February 18, 2022. 

Last week, lawmakers in the House passed another CR to extend current funding levels, yet again, for federal operations and programs through March 11. This measure passed the chamber by a margin of 272-162 and is intended to provide lawmakers additional time to work out a full-year funding agreement for FY22. Late last night, the Senate followed suit passing the legislation by a margin of 65-27. Focus now turns back to Congressional appropriators who are reportedly working to finalize full-year funding for programs like Perkins V’s basic state grant program. As these efforts unfold, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for a comprehensive FY22 funding bill and a robust investment for the CTE. 

ED Makes Updates to College Scorecard

Last week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced several enhancements to the College Scorecard broadly aimed at making it more useful for prospective learners and their families. Among the changes made is a new earnings threshold metric, which shows the percentage of former students whose earnings exceed those of the average high school graduate. This measure is intended to demonstrate a return on investment for entering postsecondary education. A similar measure is currently being considered as part of forthcoming changes to “gainful employment” rules which ED is currently negotiating with stakeholders. A recent examination of these updated College Scorecard data by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that more than half of students at roughly 30 percent of postsecondary institutions earn less than a high school graduate after 10 years. 

FCC Announces Ninth Wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund Commitments

Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a ninth wave of funding commitments totaling over $125 million as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and 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 ongoing pandemic. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of Advance CTE’s legislative priorities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This round of commitments will support 270,00 students by providing funding to over 340 schools, 20 libraries, and 6 consortia who are set to receive 330,000 connected devices and over 39,000 broadband connections. More on the announcement can be found here

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Legislation
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State Policies Impacting Access and Equity

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

State education agencies, legislators and educators faced significant challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, including adapting to remote and hybrid delivery of hands-on learning, and responding to local and national skilled labor shortages.  The number of state-level CTE policies enacted that affect Career Technical Education (CTE) fell to the lowest number in 2020 since Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) began publishing these annual Year in Review reports.

However, with a new commitment to upskilling and reskilling American learners and a CTE without limits, 41 states enacted 138 policies impacting CTE and career readiness in 2021. Advance CTE and ACTE have witnessed the return of pre-pandemic numbers in state policy actions in 2021 with policies affecting the secondary, postsecondary, adult and/or workforce systems, and including legislation, executive orders, and budget provisions that significantly changed funding.

Each year, Advance CTE and ACTE publish a yearly state policy tracker and categorize each state policy action by topic. In 2021, the top five topics that state policy most frequently addressed were:

Access and Equity

Policies that address each learner gaining access to and being successful in high-quality CTE programs have been categorized by this topic. Twenty-seven states enacted 45 policies related to access and equity that implement changes aimed to expand access to CTE for historically marginalized learners, including learners of color and learners with special population status such as learners with disabilities, learners who are economically disadvantaged, participants in fields of study that are non-traditional for their gender, single parents and out-of-workforce individuals. This category also includes middle school CTE programming and diversity in the CTE educator workforce. Below are a few state policy actions aligned to access and equity:

State Policies Impacting CTE: 2021 Year in Review marks the ninth annual review of CTE and career readiness policies from across the United States conducted by Advance CTE and ACTE. This report does not describe every policy enacted within each state but instead focuses on national policy trends. 

View the full report and 2021 state policy tracker here

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate 

By Brittany Cannady in Advance CTE Resources, Resources
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Coronavirus Relief Funds: States Leverage Federal Funds to Expand Equitable Access to CTE and Career Advisement Opportunities

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

This blog series examines trends in state uses of federal stimulus funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Stimulus funds were appropriated for emergency relief related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA); and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The five major stimulus funding streams for states and educational institutions include the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

Amid the disruption that the coronavirus pandemic has caused in the U.S. labor market, federal stimulus funds are a crucial mechanism for not only mitigating the adverse impact on schools, businesses and learners, but investing in innovating and transforming our education and workforce development systems. CTE is a key component of economic recovery and revitalization that can help bridge the skills gap, bring down unemployment, and address systemic inequities that persist in access to high-quality college and career pathways. 

To that end, states are beginning to leverage their coronavirus relief funds to expand equity and access to CTE opportunities. One key area of focus for these dollars is expanding program delivery models to reach learners where they are. Arkansas invested in digitizing CTE programs through three separate ESSER allocations totaling nearly $4 million. The state spent $2.3 million on creating pathways of virtual CTE courses that count towards learners’ concentration status under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Additionally, Arkansas is investing $950,000 to provide digital curriculum for all Career Clusters and access to industry-recognized credential assessments for CTE-enrolled learners, as well as $475,000 to provide virtual work-based learning simulation for all school districts to facilitate remote engagement with industry professionals. 

Similarly, Rhode Island expanded summer learning opportunities through a $3 million ESSER allocation for the state’s All-Course Network platform, which provides free online courses to students of all grade levels. Offerings include both traditional academic coursework such as Advanced Placement classes as well as a range of other college and career readiness-based programs and classes centered on industry-recognized credentials, work-based learning, dual enrollment and financial literacy. The enrollment system reserves a number of seats for learners from “priority groups” who are most likely to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, leveraging the Rhode Island Department of Education’s statewide data system to ensure equitable access.

Pennsylvania used both ESSER and GEER funding to support Career & Technical Education Centers (CTCs), including $10.5 million in GEER-funded equity grants to promote continuity of education and industry credentialing services for learners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The grant funding process included consideration for buildings with 20 or more English Learners. Ultimately, 78 of the state’s CTCs received funding, using it to offer summer programs and industry-recognized credential assessments, as well as to expand CTE program delivery through hybrid coursework.

Finally, some states are working to enhance statewide data systems and invest in career advising to set learners up for success. Texas invested $15 million in GEER funding for “strategic education and workforce data infrastructure” to equip learners, institutions, employers and policymakers with accessible, actionable information for decision making. The modernized data architecture will expand tools for college and career advising, allowing institutions to identify and target learners who may need additional assistance to stay engaged and on-track to earn industry-recognized credentials. 

Both North Carolina and Tennessee allocated GEER funding for their Jobs for America’s Graduates affiliate programs, which provide employability and professional skill-building opportunities for 11th and 12th grade learners identified as at risk of not completing high school or making a seamless transition into the workforce. North Carolina allocated $825,000 to expand the program and place college and career coaches in more high schools throughout the state, while Tennessee appropriated $750,000 to maintain program operations during the 2020-2021 school year.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, please stay tuned for future Coronavirus Relief Funds blog posts and visit Advance CTE’s COVID-19 page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Brittany Cannady in COVID-19 and CTE, Legislation
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Initiative Q&A: The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Last week, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the 15 Fellows joining the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation that began this month. These aspiring leaders hail from 12 states, include 13 leaders of color, and represent multiple dimensions of equity as well as secondary and postsecondary institutions at the local, district and state level. 

The Fellowship strives to address the growing shortage of state postsecondary CTE leadership by closing racial representation gaps and removing equity barriers to leadership advancement to continue to foster high-quality, equitable state postsecondary CTE systems that support the needs of each learner. 

The following Q&A with Senior Advisor Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr. provides additional insight on the structure and goals of the Fellowship as well as how the initiative will benefit members. 

Expanding CTE instructor and leadership pipelines is one of the most pressing issues facing the field. Why did Advance CTE decide to focus on state postsecondary CTE leadership? 

Postsecondary learners face more barriers than ever to accessing and completing postsecondary education. At the same time, historically marginalized learners, particular black and Latinx learners and learners experiencing low income, are still experiencing disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. There is an urgent need for diverse, equity-minded leaders in state CTE who reflect the experiences and needs of learners, and are equipped with the skills and networks to improve learner outcomes through systems transformation. Advance CTE’s deep experience supporting state CTE leaders and our commitment to innovation to advance high-quality, equitable CTE is a great intersection to step into a new space to not only empower today’s leaders but cultivate the leaders of the future. 

States are facing a severe CTE instructor shortage and often don’t have the capacity to focus on cultivating the state leadership pipeline. This Fellowships strives to enhance leadership representation across multiple dimensions of equity, with a particular focus on racial equity, while also cultivating an equity-focused leadership mindset to enhance learner access and outcomes in postsecondary CTE programs. 

What are the biggest barriers to leadership advancement for professionals historically marginalized from these opportunities, and how does this Fellowship aim to remove these barriers? 

The same systemic barriers facing learners in reaching their full career potential also exist in our state CTE systems that prevent historically marginalized professionals from reaching their full leadership potential. We are encouraged that State Directors are willing to conduct the difficult but critical work to remove those barriers, and this Fellowship can serve as a learning model. 

Many leadership position requirements still value level of education over skills and experience, particularly experiences gained through industry or positions outside of the education system. Additionally, because historically marginalized leaders, particularly those of color, are less likely to see themselves in leadership positions, they face more barriers to developing meaningful and trusting professional relationships or feeling welcome and psychologically safe in networks that are critical to leadership advancement. Furthermore, in rural and smaller geographic areas, professional and leadership development opportunities may be limited at the state level. Advance CTE has the national resources and network to fill that need. 

The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation strives to remove barriers to leadership advancement through an intensive, interactive curriculum; intentional spaces to develop networks with Fellows and national CTE leaders; individual coaching to strengthen knowledge on both equity and postsecondary CTE; and a real-world fellowship project that allows each Fellow to remove equity barriers right where they live and work. 

What promising practices do you hope to gain from this initiative that can be shared with states? 

This Fellowship is just one building block for a much stronger and permanent foundation that must be built to identify and cultivate state leadership talent from a variety of CTE-focused professions. We hope to identify the supports that aspiring leaders need most for leadership that they are not currently receiving in their home states, and empower states to implement those supports in their professional development programs. There will be two cohorts of 15 fellows served through this Fellowship, and we have already gained valuable lessons learned on effective communication tools, outreach and other components of program recruitment that will be shared with members. Finally, we will gain significant knowledge on building and managing spaces of mentors and mentees to build meaningful relationships among groups historically marginalized from leadership advancement.

I know the Fellowship has just begun, but what excites you most about this group of Fellows so far? 

The first workshop for this cohort was held last week. I am most excited about our Fellows’ enthusiasm for learning not only from Advance CTE staff and their coaches, but from each other. Each Fellow brings a rich diversity of professional and personal experience from industry, secondary and postsecondary institutions, workforce and state institutions that is so important to help these aspiring leaders develop a well-rounded understanding of how systems interact, as well as how to remove silos to ensure each learner has the means to achieve success in the career of their choice without limits. 

How can state leaders participate in future cohorts? 

It is not too early for professionals with extensive experience in delivering or supporting postsecondary CTE programs to consider applying for our second Fellowship cohort.  

Applications will open in Spring 2022, and the next cohort will begin in Summer 2022. 

Additional details about the Fellowship, including profiles for each Advance CTE-ECMCF Fellow can be found on Advance CTE’s Fellowship web page. If you are not an Advance CTE member, sign up to receive our CTEWorks newsletter to stay informed on key program dates. Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources on access and equity and instructor and leader quality

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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Welcome Dr. Kevin Johnson to Advance CTE!

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Advance CTE welcomes Dr. Kevin R. Johnson Sr. as a Senior Advisor for Equity. Dr. Johnson oversees and manages major organization-wide, highly visible initiatives that support, promote and increase equitable access to and success in high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE), including overseeing Advance CTE’s external equity strategy. Two of the first and major priorities in this role for Dr. Johnson will be leading and managing the inaugural cohort of Fellows for the Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation and the Opportunity Gap Analysis Technical Assistance work within states.

Dr. Johnson is a native of Monroe, Louisiana, and an Iraqi War Veteran who served 10-years in the US Army as a Respiratory Therapist.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Thomas Edison State University, a Master of Education in Education Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a Doctor of Education P-12 Concentration from the University of Mary Hardin Baylor.  Dr. Johnson has served as an Assistant Principal at Lyndon Baines Johnson Early College High School (Austin, Texas) providing administrative support to the CTE, English and Science Departments; a CTE/Academy Specialist at Stony Point High (Round Rock, Texas) for two-years; and as a Health Science Technology teacher for four-years.  

His professional interests are CTE data policies, school law, school finance and P-12 educational leadership. He is a current member of the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) and an ACTE Inclusion Access Equity and Diversity Advisory (IAED) Group member and mentor. Dr. Johnson most recently served as a Statewide CTE Coordinator at the Texas Education Agency in the College Career and Military Preparation division responsible for supporting the Health Science and Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics Career Clusters while providing CTE program assistance to Regions IV (Houston, TX), V (Beaumont, TX), and VI (Huntsville, TX).  

Welcome, Dr. Johnson!

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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CTE Without Limits Summer Lunch and Learn #4 Recap: Knowledge Building and Transparency Key Themes for Implementing Fourth Vision Principle

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Advance CTE continued its five-part summer lunch and learn series delving into each of the five principles of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Each session features a panel of leading voices from organizations across learning and work followed by interactive group discussions on the information shared and next steps. 

The fourth principle of CTE Without Limits aims to fully count, value and transport each learner’s skills through systematic transformations that capture learning at stages and settings, build systems that translate competencies into portable credit, and advance a culture of hiring that values skills over degrees. The August 17 panel featured Jonathan Alfuth, State Policy Director, KnowledgeWorks; Molly Bashay, Senior Policy Analyst for Education, Labor & Worker Justice, The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); and Niki DaSilva, Manager of Programs and Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce. 

Throughout the session, it was clear that equity must be a key driver for this principle to be fully realized. When each learner’s skills are fully counted, valued and portable, systems will be able to respect and validate all skillbuilding experiences and remove historic barriers to paths to career success with family-sustaining wages. 

Key Themes 

Recommendations for Implementation

The fifth and final lunch and learn held August 31 featured Stephen Pruitt, President of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB); Dale Winkler, Vice President of School Improvement for SREB; and Christina Sedney, Director of Policy Initiatives and State Authorization, Policy Analysis and Research for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). 

Recordings of previous Lunch and Learn sessions and additional vision implementation resources can be found on Advance CTE’s vision page.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits
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Communicating CTE: Strategies and Message Tailoring to Reach Historically Marginalized Learners and Families

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Recruiting learners into CTE programs should not be limited to class registration season; repeated exposure to messages about the value and benefit of Career Technical Education (CTE) help each learner feel welcome and seen. This is especially true for programs that have historically marginalized some populations from full access and participation. The start of the school year is an ideal touch point to raise awareness about CTE as learners begin new academic experiences and explore paths to career and college success. 

Advance CTE released updated national research in April 2021 on messages and messengers about the value of CTE that resonate with middle and high school families both participating in and considering CTE. This update intentionally focused on exploring equity in tested messages, with an oversample of Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income. 

Several key findings resonated across gender, race/ethnicity, income and participation, including confirmation of the value of real-world skills as the top prevailing message for families about CTE; a strong interest in career exploration and skillbuilding as priorities for families’ education experience; and significant higher levels of satisfaction by those participating in CTE with their overall education experience. 

While the findings provide evergreen, consistent messages that can reach all families, it is important to remember that these messages and dissemination methods should be tailored to address the needs, aspirations and potential access barriers of each family, particularly historically marginalized populations. 

Several equity considerations emerged from this research for Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income, including: 

These findings have important implications for how CTE can close equity gaps, as well as what aspects of CTE should be elevated when conducting outreach to historically marginalized populations. Communications should be specific about the equitable opportunities provided through CTE to prepare for and jumpstart postsecondary education, as well as to gain visibility and networks through connections and hands-on experiences with like-minded educators, peers and employers . 

Historically marginalized families will be empowered to make informed decisions that lead to college and career success when they encounter communications that include specific programmatic offerings, are easily accessible to supplement in-person sources with language, and include visuals that reflect the intended audiences. Additionally, careful consideration should be given to confirming messages shared with families match the quality and outcomes of CTE programs provided in the region or locality. 

Advance CTE provides ready-made resources for local and state CTE leaders to evaluate and refresh their messages and recruitment materials. Visit the Engaging Families and Learners for a variety of resources that break down the research and support implementation, including a Core Messages resource that provides customized message themes with an equity lens and Dos and Donts to put the research into action. 

Back to school month is a great opportunity to utilize fast digital graphics in presentations and on social media with persuasive and impactful statistics on how CTE delivers for families. It is also an ideal checkpoint to utilize Advance CTE’s parent engagement tool to start or maintain engagement strategies with historically marginalized families, including developing processes to receive feedback from learners and parents/guardians on recruitment practices and CTE programs, utilizing CTE alumni in recruitment materials, and equipping trusted sources with tested messages to share in spaces beyond the classroom. 

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional communications resources, including reports on implementing Advance CTE’s communications research in 11 states since 2017. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Communicating CTE
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