Posts Tagged ‘Access and Equity’

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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Vision Commitments ‘Vlog’ Episode 3: Maximizing the Return on Investment for Industry Engagement to Build CTE Without Limits

Thursday, July 29th, 2021

This summer, Advance CTE is pleased to partner with experts from supporting organizations of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) to conduct video panels to delve into four of the five foundational commitments that connect the vision principles. 

Our third panel featuring the Corporation for Skilled Workforce (CSW), National Skills Coalition (NSC) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation discussed the growth and potential of public-private partnerships and the need for this collaboration across all stages of program development, including design, delivery and evaluation. Each panelist shared their insights on policy frameworks and next steps to more easily facilitate public-private partnerships and better connect systems of education, industry and workforce, as well as recommendations to improve trust-building and communication with industry partners to fully realize the value of CTE. 

All panelists agreed that the positive shift of public-private partnerships towards long-term investments with industry as “end customers” rather than one-time requests for input can strongly benefit CTE, and identified key components to successful partnerships including consistent engagement, braided funding that incentivizes partnership and level-setting on success and performance metrics. Equity was another common theme, with panelists emphasizing the importance of evaluating equity at each program stage, leveraging partnerships to bring diverse voices into program development, and utilizing partnerships to advance skills-based hiring. 

You don’t want to miss CSW’s Vickie Choitz’ road trip analogy as a policy framework for advancing collaboration in purpose, funding and performance metrics in partnerships – it starts at the 8:20 mark! 

Episode Quotes 

“While today the quality of CTE has vastly improved, the involvement of business and other private organizations can act as a way to build trust with those communities that vocational programs of the past failed to appropriately serve.”                                                                  Brianna McCain, State Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition 

“In order for [employers] to see a positive return on investment they need to capitalize on those relationships. None of us can do this alone – it’s going to take these really effective public-private partnerships to make a difference for learners and ensure their experiences are worthwhile for both educators and employers.”                                                                            Jaimie Francis, Executive Director of Programs & Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce

“It’s important to make sure that your structures support partnership building [so that] partnerships are the default – funding, regular meeting structure, etc. so that partnership is the way of doing business rather than trying to swim against the tide.”  – Vickie Choitz, Director of Federal, State & Local Systems Change, Corporation for Skilled Workforce 

Thank you to Advance CTE’s Meredith Hills for serving as a facilitator and to our panelists for your expertise and insights. 

Watch previous episodes that discuss steps CTE leaders can take to prioritize quality and diversity, equity and inclusion in realizing CTE Without Limits. Our final episode will focus on harnessing actionable, transparent and trustworthy data. 

Visit our vision page to read the full vision, access vision communication and implementation resources, and view recordings of our summer Lunch and Learn webinar series focused on the five vision principles. Vision the Learning that Works Resource Center for tools to evaluate and advance public-private partnerships in CTE systems and programs through employer engagement and systems alignment

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits, Uncategorized
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New Vision Resource Elevates Existing Initiatives Aligned with CTE Without Limits

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Today, Advance CTE released a repository of partner initiatives related to Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). The intent of this resource is to elevate existing national investments in the CTE, education and workforce fields related to the principles of this shared vision and to highlight current gaps to determine where future investments need to be made to accomplish the vision. 

Repository initiatives were shared with Advance CTE by national partners that have signed on to CTE Without Limits. The initiatives submitted by partners serve as concrete examples from the field to help conceptualize how the principles and action areas from CTE Without Limits can be realized with shared commitment and shared ownership among leaders and practitioners at all levels.

CTE leaders will be able to access the learning and resources from the examples in this repository as a starting point for building on existing work related to the vision and laying new building blocks for transformational systems change that allows each learner to achieve success in the career of their choice without limits.

The repository currently has over 50 initiatives submitted by over 20 vision partners and will serve as a living resource that will be periodically updated. Below are a few of the examples organized by principle:

Principle 1: Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem

Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem

Principle 3: Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey

Principle 4: Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable

Principle 5: Each learner can access CTE without borders

To access the repository and more implementation resources related to CTE Without Limits, visit: careertech.org/without-limits

Christina Koch, Policy Associate

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits, Uncategorized
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5 Steps to Refresh Career Technical Education Program Recruitment Plans This Summer 

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

The impending summer season is a great time for state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to take a step back and evaluate how existing recruitment plans and practices reach each learner and family to achieve an effective and equitable recruitment process.

As conversations continue about potential national investments in the career preparation ecosystem, it is essential that communications about CTE align with what matters most to families in their education, and address in detail the opportunities provided through CTE to meet those needs. Recruitment processes and communications must also address lingering stigmas, lack of knowledge and systemic barriers that have prevented learners of color, learners experiencing low income and other historically marginalized populations from participating in and fully benefiting from the potential of CTE programs. 

Today, Advance CTE released a second round of tools to help state and local CTE leaders implement updated communications research released in April 2021 on tested messages and messengers for CTE that resonate with learners and families. The research also details equity considerations and message tailoring for Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income so that each learner feels welcomed, supported and has the means to succeed in CTE programs. 

Developing and  executing a recruitment plan can seem like a big undertaking, but Advance CTE is here with simple steps to help you get started. 

Here are five easy ways to put this research into action this summer using messages and tools from Advance CTE: 

  1. Learn the key messages that resonate with families and learners about CTE, and message tailoring considerations to reach Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income. Our core messages resource provides three top messages for all audiences and additional messages for historically  marginalized populations. 
  2. Evaluate your current communications tools, including newsletters, digital media, website and printed materials. Do the materials include these tested messages? Have steps been taken to remove barriers to each family accessing and fully understanding information about CTE programs? Our messaging card provides a starting point for effective use of messages. 
  3. Inform your colleagues about key messages, and develop a plan of action to share these messages with stakeholders to ensure consistent communication both during and after CTE recruitment season. Our newly updated communications advocacy guide provides five keys to success and a step-by-step process to develop a plan.  Advance CTE has created a ready-made slide deck and talking points that make it easy to share these findings in a 20 minute presentation.
  4. Engage your ambassadors and trusted sources to receive feedback about current recruitment practices and communications materials.  Advance CTE’s newly updated parent engagement tool provides seven steps and assessments to evaluate current practices and fully leverage your team and ambassadors in the recruitment process.
  5. Reintroduce the value and impact of CTE to families through digital media this summer as you make plans to align messaging and equitable outreach across all communication channels. Advance CTE’s social media guide and ready-to-use graphics assist leaders in navigating the differences among digital platforms and keep messages about the impact of CTE front-of-mind for families this summer.

 

Visit our Engaging Families and Learners web page for the full research report and list of communication and implementation resources. Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources on communication, career advisement and access and equity. 

Advance CTE is here to help leaders fully realize and leverage this research and their state and community. Email info@careertech.org with questions or to receive assistance in putting this research into action.

By Stacy Whitehouse in Communicating CTE, Uncategorized
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New Resource Strives to Strengthen Collaborative Partnerships Between State and Local Partners

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

Intentional and early collaboration between state and local leaders is vital to ensuring success in high-quality career pathways for all learners. Strengthening partnerships between local entities and state agencies helps each partner achieve its mission and amplify its reach. 

Given the state’s vital role in creating aligned systems, leaders in education, workforce and public policy must commit to breaking down silos and building up trusting, collaborative relationships. This means that leaders at both the state and local level must work together to create shared visions and mindsets and align their work to better support all learners. 

Strengthening state and local partnerships is a critical strategy to advance mutual interests that benefit learners and the entire career pathways system as a whole.  Advance CTE’s latest publication, Strengthening Career Pathways through the Power of State and Local Partnerships, suggests five strategies states can take to build, refine and sustain partnerships across state and local parties — with a specific focus on the challenges that exist in beginning and sustaining those partnerships. Each section of the report describes what the strategy looks like in practice and provides state and local examples of promising practices across the country.

Those strategies include:

Leveraging federal and state funds to fuel local innovation, using state criteria as guidelines for quality

For example, Tennessee leveraged Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) reserve funds and provided technical assistance to help Wilson County build and scale a special program for biotechnology that would meet the state’s criteria for approval. After initially approving the program in 2018 as a “special program of study,” the Tennessee Department of Education worked to scale the biotechnology program into the now statewide BioSTEM program of study in the 2019-2020 school year.

Providing meaningful technical assistance to help local administrators define roles and establish shared definitions, goals and strategies.

For example, the Nebraska Department of Education’s reVISION process lays the foundation for strong state and local partnerships through direct technical assistance and support for local education agencies through the use of a state-level reVISION coordinator to collaborate with on the work.

Sharing knowledge, ideas and best practices by extending expertise and leveraging convening power. 

This approach helps local leaders identify proven strategies to overcome challenging barriers. For example, the Colorado Community College System recognized the importance of flexibility, relationship development and collaboration when working on the strategic planning process for Perkins V. This included sharing information on the CTE visioning and strategic planning process, collecting feedback on how to improve the state CTE system as a component of Colorado’s talent strategy, and establishing mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders for feedback.

Strong state and local partnerships are a key component of any high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. As state leaders begin implementing their Perkins V plans, they have a responsibility to build partnerships with local leaders across their state. States can do this by building trusting and collaborative relationships with local leaders and leveraging economies of scale to provide innovation funding, offer technical assistance and share best practices. This report, and the strategies included, is one tool designed to support state leaders in this endeavor. 

Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for more resources on systems alignment and access and equity to CTE. Visit the New Skills ready network series page to read all three policy briefs with promising practices to strengthen career pathways. 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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Research Review: Promising Practices for Reducing Racial Disparities in Academic Outcomes

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Gaps in academic outcomes between learners of color and their White peers is a challenge that continues to perplex education leaders. Two new studies highlight promising practices for how states can begin to narrow racial disparities in academic outcomes and better prepare learners for the transition to postsecondary education through strong academic support and quality career and academic advising. 

Removing Barriers to Gateway Courses 

Academic and technical proficiency are both essential for career readiness. Career Technical Education (CTE) secondary learners who pursue postsecondary education are required to demonstrate academic proficiency while completing technical coursework. However, traditional postsecondary placement models can be a barrier to learners, extending both the time and costs of completing a program of study, and ultimately serve as a deterrent for learners pursuing a postsecondary degree. 

In a recent study, researchers at Florida State University examined how Florida reformed its introductory college-level course placement policies and the impact the reform had on learners of color. Prior to 2013, Florida postsecondary students scoring below college-ready on a statewide placement test were required to take at least one developmental education course. Nearly 70 percent of first-time-in-college learners were required to take these developmental education courses based on their placement test scores, with Black and Latinx learners being overrepresented compared to White learners. Learners had to pay tuition to enroll in these courses without  receiving credits, and the courses did not count towards degree requirements. Furthermore, learners were required to successfully complete developmental education courses before they were allowed to enroll in for-credit gateway courses such as English and math. 

After the Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 1720 (SB 1720) in 2013, learners who entered a Florida public high school in the 2003-2004 school year or later and graduated with a standard high school diploma were presumed to be college-ready, were exempt from college placement testing and developmental coursework, and could enroll directly into gateway English and math courses. The passage of SB 1720 also reformed developmental education courses overall by requiring colleges to design them in a way that better meets the needs of learners in the following ways:

These reforms allowed learners who choose to enroll in developmental courses the opportunity to complete them faster, only enroll in the courses they needed, and complete their education on-time. Additionally, under SB 1720 colleges were required to reform their advising services, which increased learner awareness of developmental course options along with other academic services such as tutoring.  

Comparing three cohorts of learners who had enrolled in a Florida postsecondary institution prior to SB 1720 (Fall 2011 – Fall 2013) and three cohorts of learners after SB 1720 (Fall 2014 – Fall 2016), researchers found that after the passage of SB 1720, the percentage of first-time college students enrolled in gateway math and English courses increased overall for learners; however, gains were most significant for learners of color and outpaced the growth of White enrollment by 15 percentage points. 

Similarly, the percentage of learners who passed the introductory college-level courses increased across the board; however, the gains were much more pronounced for learners of color when compared to their White peers. 

The findings from this study indicate that traditional postsecondary placement models may be underestimating the ability of learners to be successful in college-level courses, particularly learners of color who are overrepresented in developmental education.

STEM Dual Enrollment Leading to College Persistence

Another study by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) illustrates the importance of dual enrollment courses in reducing racial/ethnic gaps in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program outcomes. About one-third of CTE high school concentrators pursue a program of study in the STEM Career Cluster, reaffirming that high-quality CTE programs can provide a strong foundation for and serve as a delivery system of STEM competencies for a broader range of learners. 

CCRC found that when Florida high school learners enrolled in college-level algebra courses through dual enrollment, they were more likely to pursue and persist in STEM programs in their first year of college compared to learners who did not participate in dual enrollment. When disaggregated by race/ethnicity, the study found that, even though dual enrollment algebra learners were much more likely to be White, Black and Latinx learners who enrolled in dual enrollment courses were much more likely than White learners to enroll and persist in STEM programs in college. 

Conclusion

Taken together, these studies suggest promising practices that can narrow racial/ethnic academic achievement and opportunity gaps and prepare learners for success along their career pathway. The research demonstrates how increased access to introductory college-level courses, strong academic supports, quality career and academic advising, and access to college in high school programs can have significant access and equity implications and begin reducing disparities in outcomes for Black and Latinx learners. 

For more information on advising and dual enrollment, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

By admin in Uncategorized
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Staff Reflections from 2021 Spring Meeting Part 3: Celebrations and Challenges in Advancing Equity in CTE

Friday, April 30th, 2021

This post offers reflections from Advance CTE staff on key equity themes from our 2021 Spring Meeting. Visit Advance CTE’s Resource Center for additional resources on equity and access, career advisement and data and accountability. 

Using Data to Identify and Close Opportunity Gaps in Career Technical Education (CTE) Advance Equity in CTE

This year marked my fourth Advance CTE Spring Meeting, but it was not a typical spring meeting by any means. The backdrop of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic was present throughout, not just in the technology and virtual set up, but also in the conversations and session topics. The past year has thrown into stark relief the inequities across race, ethnicity, gender identity and socioeconomic status that have long been present in CTE. From the plenary panels down to breakout sessions and networking discussions, the question on top of everyone’s mind was how can we improve equity in CTE during and beyond the pandemic?

I had the pleasure of partnering with Jeralyn Jargo and Robb Lowe from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system office on a presentation about data and equity in CTE. Last year, Advance CTE worked with Minnesota to develop and conduct a multi-part workshop with consortium leaders — who represent both secondary and postsecondary CTE — to identify and act on opportunity gaps in their data. We worked with consortium leaders to develop data dashboards, conduct a root cause analysis, and review and select evidence-based strategies for action. As a result of the workshops, one consortium is now working on a pilot program to recruit Black men into the teaching profession, targeting a critical shortage of diverse educators. Later this year, Advance CTE plans to roll out the workshop training to its broader membership to help CTE leaders understand how to identify and address opportunity gaps in their own data.

Austin Estes, Data and Research Manager

 

Brave Dialogues for Equity in CTE 

As someone driven by equity in education, I was very excited that my first Advance CTE Spring Meeting was focused on equity in CTE. I had the opportunity to lead a workshop on facilitating brave dialogues in CTE. Brave dialogues encourage participants to be courageous and show vulnerability to engage in conversations focused on race and racism. These conversations are always important, but even more so today considering that issues related to systemic racism have dominated the national discourse over the past year. Within CTE, state leaders are anxious to address opportunity gaps that have long persisted in CTE along with tackling stigmas associated with CTE given its history of tracking marginalized learner groups into low-quality vocational programs. To address opportunity gaps and CTE stigmas, state leaders need to create the space for brave dialogues.

In the equity workshop, state CTE leaders shared challenges to engaging in brave dialogues within their state. Some common challenges include a hesitancy to acknowledge or confront CTE’s history with systemic racism or not having the language or resources to confidently speak about the challenges facing historically marginalized learners. In other cases, leaders are engaging in these conversations but are unsure of what actions to take in order to address equity related challenges. To support state CTE leaders, Advance CTE is developing an equity discussion guide to support these conversations. Built around a critical self-reflection framework, the guide supports state CTE leaders in helping their staff and local practitioners in building awareness of their own values, assumptions and biases; knowledge of how learner identities can impact their experience in CTE programs; and skills to apply their awareness and knowledge into equitable policy and practice. The equity discussion guide, due to be released in early summer 2021, will be accompanied by training workshops to support state CTE leaders in facilitating these brave dialogues. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

 

Leading with an equity lens 

This year was my first Advance CTE Spring Meeting and first ever virtual conference experience. This past year highlighted the inequities that continue to exist in CTE, education and workforce development and has left states with many questions about how to best increase equity in their CTE programs. 

Many of the sessions at Spring Meeting had an emphasis on the importance of increasing equity in CTE. My session, Leading with an equity lens, specifically went into depth about this topic and how to apply an equity lens so that all state CTE decisions, policies and practices attend to the individualized needs of learners and tackle systemic and institutional barriers to success. 

This session featured Jacque Treaster, Director of Dual Enrollment and Career & Technical Education, Montana University System and Jennell Ives, Director of Secondary Postsecondary Transitions, Oregon Department of Education who led participants through their work to improve CTE data systems and examine state policies and practices to ensure learners of all ages, races, genders and abilities are positioned for lifelong success.

When asked to share their equity successes, states mentioned creating a diversity, equity & inclusion group at the state level to offer professional development to state department of education employees and schools; emphasizing equity in legislation as a driver while also addressing it in the CLNA applications; and using special populations data to drive program and funding decisions. 

Despite these promising strategies, many equity challenges still remain for states, including challenges with hiring personnel representative of the learner population, how to best use data in decision-making and how to get others on board with seeing equity as an important state issue. 

Next, Jacque spoke about Montana’s work with their data to try and break down where their American Indian, rural, and economically disadvantaged learners are taking postsecondary courses and which program areas they are most likely to enroll in to ensure these populations are entering high-wage, high-skill career pathways. They are hoping that by continuing to take a closer look at the data, they will be in a better position to figure out where to pool more resources for those students.

Jennell then presented on Oregon’s equity work and how the support from the Governor and other top agencies in the state to focus on antiracism in education has encouraged a focus on identifying inequities in their data and stakeholder feedback, collaborating directly with communities and learners impacted directly by CTE decisions and creating an internal review process to check their work for an equity and antiracism lens.

Although there is still much work to be done, hearing from these speakers about their state’s approaches to equity left the audience with tangible ideas to further incorporate equity into their own work and priorities.

Christina Koch, Policy Associate

 

Advancing Equity Through Research Initiatives

In my first year as an Advance CTE staff member, I was excited to hear from a wide range of experts and panelists in our first virtual spring meeting. Despite the modified format, each person celebrated the successes our community has achieved this past year and highlighted obstacles and barriers that we have acknowledged and worked through. Through each of the panels and presentations, I heard a common theme of ensuring equitable access and participation from minoritized and marginalized populations. 

One presentation I moderated was a conversation with state and local leaders based on Advance CTE research regarding the importance of area technical centers (ATCs)- CTE-focused, non-degree granting institutions that often bridge the gap between secondary and other postsecondary institutions. Our research illustrated the role that ATCs could play, especially in post-secondary attainment, upskilling and reskilling as largely open-access, low-cost program options. A significant portion of the conversation focused on the unique opportunity these institutions have of increasing access to CTE programming for all learners. Both speakers highlighted how their institutions work to improve outcomes for minoritized groups and celebrate the diverse perspectives that come with recruitment and retention of a variety of populations.

Despite the research focus on equity for these institutions, and on equity in other sessions, it was also clear there is still work to be done. Each panelist I heard speak on equity offered challenges about centering equity as a key component of our work to ensure that each learner, regardless of race or background, can access CTE. For area technical centers, one particular challenge highlighted by speakers was the difficulty in recruitment and retention practices for marginalized groups. In future research initiatives, it is vital that we examine our data with an equity lens, asking probing questions about what it means for practices, policy, and programs to be equitable. We also plan to specifically feature best practices that elevate equity as a core component. While these steps will work towards our goal of highlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion in each of our research initiatives, it is vital we continue to have conversations, like those held regularly at our Spring Meeting, to ensure that equity is not just highlighted, but celebrated.

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate 

 

Advancing Equity Through Career Advisement 

At this year’s Spring Meeting, equity was explored through a variety of lenses. My session facilitated a conversation on our vision to empower students to navigate their career journey through career advisement, featuring panelists from the Washington State Workforce Board and the Arkansas Department of Education discussing best practices to provide dedicated supports to historically marginalized populations. 

Sonja Wright-McMurray, the Senior Associate Director of the Division of Career and Technical Education (CTE) at the Arkansas Department of Education shared about one opportunity in Arkansas that aligned equity with career advisement systems, the College and Career Coach program. The College and Career Coach Component is designed to motivate and support Arkansas students and adults achieve their goals as it relates to college and career planning through intensive hands-on, programs and services. As part of the application process the state requires applicants to pay close attention or give “high priority” to students who are classified as “Special Populations”, as defined by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). 

At the time the state was looking to launch their career coach program, Arkansas was also engaged in the development of a statewide partnership with the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition, which created collaborative relationships with agencies supporting special education, transition services and rehabilitation services. As a result, the state pushed all Career Coach programs to provide targeted services to students with disabilities as well as at least two other special population categories. 

The insights shared by the panelists reinforce the importance of collaboration to address learner needs as well as strong accountability processes for local systems to document equity-focused reforms and processes.. As state leaders continue their work on aligning career advisement systems I am excited to see how they integrate equity throughout the continuum. 

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Spring Meeting
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A Decade of Visions for Career Technical Education and Why it is Time for CTE Without Limits

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Advance CTE is looking forward to releasing Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, a new vision supported by 38 national organizations that pushes Career Technical Education (CTE) to its full potential by dismantling systems that silo stakeholders and perpetuate inequalities so that each learner has access to and the means to be successful in the career of their choice. 

This shared vision is the culmination of over a decade of efforts by our organization and our members to better connect systems of learning and work to advance learner success. CTE Without Limits takes that work to the next level by providing a framework for system-wide transformations that have held CTE in providing high-quality and equitable experiences to each learner regardless of their background or where they live.

A Decade of Visions for the Future of CTE

 In 2010, Advance CTE released Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for CTE. This vision emerged from the economic crisis of the late 2000s and strived to place CTE at the forefront of preparing learners and workers with the skills to achieve sustainable careers in a global economy. This vision focused on achieving excellence in program quality through improving program alignment with the National Career Clusters® Framework, increasing industry participation in program development, developing national programs and assessments to increase skill portability and connecting data systems across learning and work to identify and elevate high-quality CTE programs.

Successful initiatives related to this vision include: 

In 2016, Advance CTE and 11 supporting organizations released Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This vision elevated the emphasis on creating learner-centered and learner-supported systems and introduced the need for a shared commitment among CTE stakeholders to advance program quality and system alignment across each learner’s journey. 

This vision also shifted its focus from national initiatives to improving state systems to fully serve learners and position them for potential scaling. Significant new action areas included the development of an integrated career advisement system, expanding work-based learning for all learners, removing barriers to recruitment and retention of quality instructors and enhancing accountability measures in federal and state policy across programs where learning and work intersect. 

One of the most important accomplishments of this vision was the reauthorization of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The updated legislation successfully included elements to build learner-centered systems, including streamlined performance targets and program quality measures to better define and track learner success; an increase in the reserve fund set-aside to encourage innovation and flexibility; and the creation of a new comprehensive local needs assessment that compels state CTE leaders to conduct regular, collaborative evaluation of program and learner needs.

The Need for a New Vision for CTE 

The national crises of the past year has brought to the forefront issues that have held learners and workers back for too long. Our new vision, CTE Without Limits, will be released next week and is inspired by the ideas of more than 200 CTE leaders and partners that participated at our CTE Forward Summit in Fall 2020. 

This vision names solutions that not only bring together actors across K-12 and postsecondary education, workforce development and business and industry, but also lay the groundwork for CTE to lead in addressing the most pressing issues facing learning and work as a whole, including breaking silos among systems; dismantling barriers that perpetuate racism and inequalities that inhibit learner success; and empowering the individual to contribute to and direct their path to career success. We are most proud that this vision takes a much-needed step in prioritizing equity not only as a principle, but also as a theme that unites all five vision principles and action areas. 

Take the first step to bring this new vision to life – register to join us on March 18 at 2:00 pm ET to celebrate CTE Without Limits virtually featuring Sara Allan, Director of Early Learning and Education Pathways at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of the Metro Nashville Public Schools, Emily Fabiano, Director of Strategy and Operations, Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, and Dr. Nicole Smith, Chief Economist, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

We hope to see you there! 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits
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Communicating CTE: Washington’s Statewide Initiative for Secondary Career Exploration Empowers Educators and Learners 

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

The third post in the Communicating Career Technical Education (CTE) series will focus on creative initiatives for career exploration for secondary learners by highlighting Washington’s State of Innovation Challenge. This is particularly timely as states continue to grapple with the difficulties of supporting long-term career exploration experiences in an environment of sustained uncertainty and student disconnect in virtual learning environments.

Background 

The State of Innovation Challenge, launched in November 2020 and open through March 2021, is a statewide initiative led by the Washington’s STEM Education and Innovation Alliance in partnership with the Office of Governor Jay Inslee, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Career Connect Washington. The initiative invites learners to offer solutions to policy issues related to hunger, mental health and community resilience that have emerged from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic while also exploring pathways to careers and postsecondary education. 

Becky Wallace, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education at the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, shared that her office was inspired to join this initiative because of the widespread evidence that instructors were overwhelmed with the transition to virtual learning and did not have the capacity to fill the void of a lack of hands-on learning. The things that make CTE unique including work-based learning, real-world skill attainment and application have been challenging to replicate in a hybrid and virtual environment. As such, the Office saw this as an opportunity to elevate project-based and experiential learning for learners in all types of programs, empower the learner voice and leverage statewide resources to expand the career path students can name and see as a possible passion.  

The initiative proposes challenge cases covering three major policy areas questions: 

More detailed subtopics are given for each challenge case that can be aligned to CTE programs. For example, learners that choose the Food Chain case can develop projects addressing school nutrition, food waste, food production or restaurant and hospitality impacts that connect to the associated career pathways. 

Learners in middle school, high school, alternative education and out of school youth programs are able to participate. The initiative is also accessible for programs beyond the traditional classroom setting such as Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), community organizations such as 4-H Washington and Junior Achievement, and specialized programs like the Road Map Project that supports homeless and foster youth. 

Julia Reed, Senior Consultant for social impact consulting firm Kinetic West that guided the formation and implementation of the initiative, shared that the biggest concern was convincing educators that this initiative could enhance, not burden, their virtual instructional goals. Flexibility and variety in lesson plan offerings were prioritized to make sure the initiative was easy to participate in and would enhance student engagement in their classroom.

In the Classroom 

After choosing a challenge case, students and educators take several steps to develop a policy solution: viewing videos created by teen filmmakers connected to each policy question; selecting one of the provided subtopics for their chosen challenge case; exploring careers associated with the policy area; and executing a lesson plan and policy tool that can range from one day to one or more months in duration. 

The project solutions themselves encourage exploration and skillbuilding across a variety of career pathways, as students are allowed to record videos, create apps, design websites and computer programs, write business plans and more as part of a proposed solution. Educators are provided instructional guides for each challenge to assist building lesson plans, and are able to share their lessons through a group lesson bank and submit final projects for state recognition.  

Students are able to directly interact with employers and learn about career pathways within industries through virtual weekly industry engagement webinars. Past employer engagement sessions include interactions with high-tech manufacturers, firefighters and government agencies all based within Washington. 

Exploring Postsecondary Pathways 

Students are able to build on their exploration of policy, skillbuilding activities and careers by researching postsecondary opportunities for further education. Rather than recreating the wheel, this initiative elevates pre-existing state college preparation and financial aid resources, including Career Connect Washington’s Career Launch paid learning program, Washington College Access Network’s College Knowledge Materials with handbooks in five languages for grades 9 to 12 on planning for a postsecondary education path, and Washington Student Achievement Council’s Ready, Set Grad step by step online portal. 

Marketing and Equity Considerations 

Reed emphasized that marketing this initiative focused on building sustainable partnerships and reaching underserved populations by utilizing existing peer-to-peer networks. More than 40 organizational partnerships were established with additional intentional outreach to underserved communities, particularly learners of color, learners in rural communities, and Native American learners. 

Equity was a major consideration not only in marketing but the design of the initiative itself. Several strategies pursued include: 

This initiative reflects the enormous potential of states to scale up local efforts to connect learning to work and bring these experiences to more learners. Additionally, the inclusion of lesson plans and engagement opportunities provides timely support for educators and local systems that face unprecedented burdens in coronavirus response. 

Additional information and resources for this initiative can be found on the State of Innovation website

Communicating CTE is a new series where Advance CTE is exploring how states are leading the way in communicating about the value and benefit of CTE to key stakeholders. Read the previous posts in this series. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Communicating CTE
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State Reentry Plans Prioritize Equity

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Many states are in the process of planning for learners to physically reenter school and college in the fall. However, the possibility of a “second peak” or “second wave” of COVID-19 (coronavirus) means that states are also preparing to provide high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) to learners at a distance. States are preparing for an “accordion effect,” in which learners may spend some time in the classroom and some time engaging in distance learning. To help institutions prepare for different scenarios, state agencies have released guidance and plans for reentry. Specifically, many of the reentry plans call attention to the importance of advancing equity during the pandemic and ensuring that each learner has access to the supports needed to succeed.

In June, Arizona released a “Roadmap for Reopening Schools” that provides strategies and considerations for local education agencies as they prepare for reentry and periods of campus closures. Core to the guide is taking a learner centered approach through leveraging strategies related to leadership and instruction, such as strategies related to trauma-sensitive teaching and social emotional learning. The state recognizes that supporting learners during this time requires a community effort. To that end, the roadmap includes critical questions for institutions to consider as they build out their plans, such as “what partnerships are necessary to implement the plan (i.e., Tribal Nations, youth and community organizations, etc.)?” and “what can we do now to reduce the disparities in access to learning that will exist for vulnerable student populations if schools are forced to close?”  

Similarly, Kentucky released considerations for reopening schools. The resource includes key questions institutions should consider as they develop their plans, such as “how will schools and districts ensure students participate in and fulfill work-based learning placements?” and “how will schools and districts ensure the equity of instruction for students who are still choosing to learn from home or must remain at home due to safety restrictions?” State CTE leaders can leverage the key questions that are featured in states’ reentry plans to help inform what it means to provide high-quality work-based learning opportunities, access to industry-recognized credentials and access to other CTE opportunities during periods of remote learning.

In addition to questions for consideration, state reentry plans include strategies to advance equity during the pandemic. Virginia released “Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020,” which emphasizes the state’s commitment to ensuring equity and includes considerations, key steps and strategies to advance equity during coronavirus. Some key strategies include establishing processes and accountability levers to ensure that the implementation of reentry plans do not lead to disparate impacts and consequences and investing in equity. Specifically, the guide encourages institutions to prioritize funds, such as federal stimulus funding, to meet the needs of Enlgish language learners, students with disabilities, undocumented students and students living in proverty.

This is the first blog in a series that will examine state guidance and plans for reentry. To learn more about Advance CTE’s commitment to advancing equity in CTE, click here. To access resources related to equity and the coronavirus, click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By admin in Uncategorized
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