Posts Tagged ‘career advising’

Coronavirus Relief Funds: Challenges and Missed Opportunities in Leveraging Federal Funds for CTE

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

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 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.

Federal coronavirus relief funds provide a critical avenue for states to invest in equitable, high-quality CTE programs to help learners and workers recover from the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. Although many states have successfully leveraged these funds to introduce or expand initiatives related to CTE, there have also been various challenges and missed opportunities in relief spending. 

Missed Opportunities

Based on Advance CTE’s analysis of spending trends, states generally placed a disproportionate emphasis on short-term postsecondary education and workforce development initiatives over long-term pipeline programs and opportunities at the secondary level. Many states did not mention CTE in their ESSER plans, which address elementary and secondary funding, and several others made only passing references to CTE and did not include specific funding commitments. 

Additionally, there has been a general lack of investment in addressing the significant educator shortages that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While many states mentioned these shortages in their funding plans, few explicitly committed to allocate federal relief funds toward systemically addressing these shortages. Indiana is one state that took a longer-term approach to strengthening educator pipelines by using ESSER funds to create grow-your-own “teacher cadet” programs targeted at attracting underrepresented candidates into the teaching profession while still in high school. By creating pathways for future educators at the secondary level, Indiana is taking a systemic approach to addressing its identified educator shortage.

Challenges

From what Advance CTE has learned in interviews with State CTE Directors, it seems that many of the problems that have arisen in directing federal funding toward CTE results from the short deadlines for submitting relief spending plans to the federal government and spending the funds states receive. Many states do not feel that they have enough time to coordinate with all relevant state agencies and solicit input from stakeholders. If the necessary infrastructure for rapid cross-system collaboration was not already in place, states found it much more difficult to share information and ideas with partners in time to meet early deadlines. While the latest round of ESSER and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds must be obligated by September 2024, GEER funds must be obligated by 2023.

Further, federal relief funds are limited and consist of a one-time infusion of dollars into education and workforce systems. Many states feel that they do not have the money in their own budgets to sustain continuous investments that may be necessary to maintain new programs and initiatives. These challenges ultimately obstruct innovative, long-term strategizing.

Looking Ahead

State Directors have highlighted various priorities in federal relief spending moving forward. First, many have identified a continual need for more intentional programming and wraparound support for learners in rural areas. These learners often lack access to high-quality CTE program options and broadband internet, both of which are more important now than ever as the pandemic re-shapes labor market demand and program delivery models.

Additionally, State Directors have identified work-based learning and career advising as two key priorities in mitigating the long-term impacts of the pandemic on learner preparation and engagement. These will be especially important from an equity perspective to address opportunity gaps and ensure that each learner has the experience and supports they need to succeed. 

Looking ahead, coronavirus relief funds continue to provide states a vital opportunity to invest in CTE and career pathways. These funds can act as a springboard for addressing systemic barriers to learner and worker success by providing initial investments for longer-term pipeline initiatives. Most importantly, states can leverage funds to not only mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, but to adapt to new labor market realities, innovate, and build stronger education and workforce systems that meet the needs of every individual they serve.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, check out the Coronavirus Relief Funds blog series and visit Advance CTE’s coronavirus resource page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Brittany Cannady in COVID-19 and CTE, Legislation
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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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Five Strategies to Scale Individual Career and Academic Planning

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

When the Oklahoma Department of Education launched Individual Career and Academic Planning (ICAP) in 2017, the intent was to support learners along their entire career journey to make informed choices about their future academic and career goals. Today, ICAP is firmly rooted in policy and practice. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, learners entering the ninth grade in Oklahoma must complete an ICAP to graduate from a public high school. 

ICAP report thumbnail

What is remarkable about Oklahoma’s ICAP process is that the process supports learners to and through high school graduation, helping them transition to postsecondary education or into the workforce. Learners who enroll at the University of Oklahoma can identify a major by comparing their ICAP personal interest survey results or Career Clusters survey results from high school with the university’s career pathways major planning tools. Too often, career and academic planning is siloed between secondary and postsecondary education, but Oklahoma is working to break down these silos and ensure ICAP supports learners even after they graduate from high school. 

ICAPs have different names in different states, including Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and Individual Graduation Plans (IGPs). They refer to both the process of engaging in individualized academic and career development activities as well as the product: a living, usually online, portfolio that is created by each learner and regularly updated as they advance through school and transition into the workforce.

While ICAPs have been adopted by at least 38 states, they are often layered on top of the myriad other commitments that under-resourced and under-staffed schools and districts are responsible for, making them more of a box-check activity than a meaningful career planning process. When implemented with fidelity, ICAPs can enable learners to skillfully navigate their own career journeys and build occupational identities that span their lifetimes. State leaders play a critical role in ensuring that ICAPs are implemented effectively, that academic and career planning is integrated into state-level initiatives, and that each learner is provided coordinated supports to help them navigate their career journey. Specifically, state leaders can support ICAP implementation by: 

Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group’s new resource, Implementing Individual Career and Academic Plans at Scale, highlights promising practices for ICAP implementation at the state and local levels and provides recommendations for further state and local work to scale ICAPs. The brief features promising state and local practices in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin. It was developed through JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s New Skills ready network, a partnership of Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group. For more resources on career advisement, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research

By admin in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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High School Graduates Reassessing Postsecondary Plans During COVID-19, Prioritizing Real-World Skills and Alternate Career Pathways

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Postsecondary enrollment has seen dramatic declines during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, particularly for learners with low incomes and learners of color. A report recently published by the Strada Education Network sheds light on the experiences of high school graduates who have delayed their postsecondary education plans in 2020 and 2021. The report builds on survey data of 1,000 recent graduates previously covered by Advance CTE, as well as 17 in-depth interviews with learners. Strada finds that while these high school graduates remain committed to continuing their education, pandemic-related disruptions have caused them to reassess their initial plans and explore alternate pathways to career success. 

Learners across the board have experienced heightened uncertainty about college affordability and traditional career pathways as the labor market destabilized as a result of the coronavirus. Some learners said they were hesitant to enroll in coursework that would likely be conducted online, and concerns about taking care of family members amidst the health risks associated with the pandemic were also prevalent reasons for delaying enrollment, particularly among Black and Latinx learners. The report highlights three major priorities of high school graduates when considering when and how to re-engage with higher education: 

These priority areas shed light on effective supports that state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders and educational institutions can implement to promote the success of aspiring postsecondary learners disrupted by the pandemic. Financial assistance, mentoring relationships and personalized advising supports are especially powerful tools for closing the opportunity gaps that hinder the success of learners with low incomes, learners of color and first-generation college students. Despite the uncertainties of today’s labor market, recent high school graduates still believe that postsecondary educational opportunities are essential for both personal and professional development, as well as preparing for and transitioning to meaningful careers. Recognizing the future-focused resilience of these recent graduates and addressing their central areas of concern are important first steps for re-engagement in postsecondary education and career pathways.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Brittany Cannady in Research, Resources
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New Skills ready network Site Highlight Blog: Nashville Career Advising Framework

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

In 2020, JPMorgan Chase & Co. launched the New Skills ready network across six domestic sites to improve student completion of high-quality career pathways with a focus on collaboration and equity. As a national partner in the New Skills ready network, Advance CTE strives to elevate the role of state capacity and resources in advancing project priorities and gain a unique perspective on promising practices to strengthen state-local partnerships across the country.

This blog series highlights innovative tools and initiatives produced across the six sites that advance the initiative’s four key priorities and serve as a guide for state leaders in their work to create cohesive, flexible and responsive career pathways.

For this post, Senior Policy Associate Jeran Culina interviewed two leaders from the Scarlett Family Foundation, Consultant Jenny Mills McFerron, and COO Tom Parrish to learn more about the career advising framework in development for four Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) high schools with the goal to scale it to all MNPS-zoned high schools in future years. 

Purpose and Components 

Too few learners in Nashville have access to consistent advising experiences across secondary, postsecondary and community-based levels. When systems fail to provide students with equitable and high-quality career advising, they make it challenging for students to skillfully navigate a path to career and college success. Additionally, education leaders lack access to fully integrated data to track and evaluate learner outcomes. 

With this in mind, Nashville’s New Skills ready network team is creating a career advising framework that seeks to provide a seamless and consistent career advising experience across K-12, postsecondary, and community offerings through shared language and practices as well as intentional spaces for counselors and other advising professional to share best practices as the framework is implemented. 

At the same time, Nashville is pursuing an initiative to place college and career counselors at secondary and postsecondary institutions, with equity being a leading factor in the pilot schools’ selection. Four college and career advisors have been placed at the four high schools participating in the New Skills ready network grant to advance high-quality advising with the intention of eventually scaling these efforts to all Metro Nashville public school high schools. These positions will support the existing advising staff and actively share their experience with site partners to inform the career advising framework. 

Unique Features 

Nashville’s approach to this work is unique in several respects: 

Vision for Success

The Scarlett Family Foundation strives to facilitate the development of a framework across the K-12, postsecondary, and community systems that would support each Nashville learner’s ability to successfully access high-wage, high-demand jobs. 

For the framework itself, McFerron strives for this model to create consistent and systemic advising transition points for each learner from middle school, high school and postsecondary stages, provide adequate support for learners to smoothly navigate these transition points, and ultimately improve student outcomes. She also elevated the importance of involving more stakeholders in career advising support, including teachers and administrators, to provide much-needed capacity for advising.  

We want to see continuous improvement over the very long term and have that success sustained and built upon over time, and helping students successfully navigate [key education] transition points is critical to that.” – Jenny Mills McFerron, Scarlett Family Foundation 

Next Steps and NSrn Impact 

The next phase will focus on collecting input from a variety of stakeholders, including learners and their families. Three affinity groups consisting of K-12, postsecondary, and community organization leaders will provide during the formulation and execution of the framework as a draft is written over the next six months.

Parrish praised the New Skills ready network’s focus on long-term, sustained change as a key benefit of the site’s involvement that he hopes will reverse the recent cycle of short bursts of progress that are not realized for each learner. 

I think doing this grant over five years with its intentional focus, you are forced to come back to talk about what’s working and what is not working, and over time you spread and institutionalize some of these practices, tweak them as needed, and ultimately provide the evidence that this model is working even as other initiatives and people come and go.” – Tom Parrish

For more information about the early accomplishments of Nashville and the five other sites that are part of the New Skills ready network, view Advance CTE’s Year One snapshots. Previous entries for this series highlighting Indianapolis’ pathways evaluation framework can be found here

For more resources on advancing quality and equity in career advising, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate for Communications and State Engagement

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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