Posts Tagged ‘CTE Without Limits’

Interview: CAST Researcher Dr. Amanda Bastoni on Supporting Rural CTE Learners

Monday, November 21st, 2022

As part of ongoing blog topics aimed at supporting all learners in the realization of the national vision for the future of Career Technical Education (CTE), CTE Without Limits, Dr. Amanda Bastoni, Educational Research Scientist at CAST and Dr. Tunisha Hobson, State Policy Manager engaged in a discussion to highlight the importance of providing support for CTE learner success in rural areas. CAST is a nonprofit education research and development organization, and Dr. Bastoni has conducted multiple research projects on rural learner access and engagement in STEM-focused programs. [Note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity].

Considering your wealth of experience in this area, how do you think states should approach learner access to CTE in rural areas? 

State leaders should create policies that support small rural employers’ participation in CTE. A quick way for states to support rural learners is through work-based Learning.  One example, in New Hampshire (RSA 188 –E: 9-a), employers of any size can be eligible for a tax credit against business profit taxes up to 50 percent for salaries of students and supervisors participating in work-based learning experiences and up to 100 percent for supplies and equipment donated for related use to an educational program offered by the regional CTE center when they make donations of time, money and goods for CTE centers.  

Learner access can also begin with large scale remote career day programs and intentional employer engagement in the local and broader communities. There is a rural community in Arizona that is conducting school-wide career days where the whole school engages with different employers in activities and conversations about the experiences of working in that field. 

Additionally, I think there is an opportunity to engage employers and industry partners in rural areas by preparing them for filling roles with learners. Many rural employers are willing to support work-based learning experiences, but there is a need to equip them with the right tools for success.  Equipping employers with tools describing the work-based learning continuum provides an opportunity for employer engagement from small sized companies to larger corporations in understanding the experiences that can be provided to learners in rural communities. 

What are some best practices states can use to support rural learners to access equitable opportunities in CTE? 

Equip educators through professional development: Communicating the complexities of rural learner experiences is reliant upon the messenger. The most well meaning practitioner may not understand the challenges rural learners encounter, so it is important to find research based professional development that encourages engagement for rural learners. Ultimately, teachers can leverage their community relationships to connect learners to additional resources and opportunities. 

Access CTE Without Borders while considering the digital divide: Using asset-based learning approaches to meet the needs of rural learners is important. State leaders should consider innovative approaches to realizing career pathway experiences. One example, simplistically, consider designing experiences where learners can leverage cell phones rather than laptops or computers they may not have access to. Additionally, consideration for STEM through outdoor recreation related career pathways and experiences invite rural learners to engage in CTE without borders. 

Build social capital for underrepresented rural learners, particularly for careers they do not see in their community: Family engagement and inclusion of learner voice is a foundational requirement for decision making and helping learners build their social capital. Policy makers and practitioners are critical to move the work forward, but the voices of learners will drive effective change in communities. Efforts to elevate learner voice can include sharing strategies, analyzing information, and developing solutions can not only help rural learners understand how social networks are being developed but also help build positive self-identity. 

Encourage and support virtual work-based learning experiences within the classroom: Embedding virtual work-based learning experiences in CTE coursework bolsters learner exposure to careers beyond their communities. Examples like BioFab Explorer from CAST, which aims to broaden the participation of underrepresented populations in rural communities in biofabrication and biomanufacturing, embeds a components of career guidance curriculum, including work-based learning simulations and activities that teachers can use to help students explore careers and develop and demonstrate industry skills, to dual enrollment opportunities. 

What guidance can help states remove barriers with postsecondary program persistence in rural areas?

Rural learners need access to transportation, childcare, and paid work-based learning experiences to support their families and encourage persistence in a career pathway. Offering paid apprenticeships and internships related to outdoor recreation through postsecondary programs are critical in rural areas.  According to research, many rural regions are currently experiencing declines in traditional resource-extractive industries such as mining and timber harvesting.

Like many “amenity/decline” regions, New Hampshire was significantly impacted by the loss of paper mills in the 1990s followed by the 2008 recession; however, the region has also seen steady growth in outdoor recreation. In 2020, outdoor recreation represented a higher percentage of New Hampshire’s GDP (2.6 percent) than the U.S. average (1.8 percent), ranking it 11th nationally (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2021). Similar rural states across the country are leveraging the outdoors as a significant positive asset for recreation and employment through legislation which creates opportunities in career pathways for learners. In 2021, New Hampshire joined 13 other states including Maine, Vermont, North Carolina, Oregon, Montana, Virginia, and West Virginia, in committing to establish State Offices of Outdoor Recreation Industry Development (Confluence of States, 2018).

Additional Resources 

With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE

CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide

Dr. Tunisha Hobson, State Policy Manager 

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About- Dr. Amanda Bastoni

Dr. Bastoni is a former CTE teacher and Director. While currently employed as an Educational Research Scientist at CAST, some of her research projects have included: 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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Vision Spotlight: Implementing CTE Without Limits at the Local Level

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

In March 2021, Advance CTE released Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) to empower “leadership at all levels to reflect on, refine and even rebuild many of the systems and structures that are limiting learner success.” Later that year, we subsequently released Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits to help leaders assess, prioritize and implement strategies for one or more vision principles.

One school district – Utah’s Davis School District (DSD), just north of Salt Lake City – has taken both CTE Without Limits and Pushing the Limits to heart. DSD is recognized across the state for strong pathway programs. After their Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process revealed achievement and enrollment gaps for special populations in CTE, DSD administrators sought bold solutions and turned to CTE Without Limits as a framework to close these gaps. Leveraging these resources, DSD supported professional district training and strategic school plan development with the express purpose of increasing equitable enrollment in CTE programs districtwide. 

Implementing CTE Without Limits

Once DSD administration began conversations with educators and staff, they recognized the need to create schoolwide “Without Limits Teams,” comprised of a school administrator, special education staff, school counselors, and the school’s CTE coordinator. Last spring, school staff from each of the 25 DSD schools were each brought together in full day district-wide workshops structured on the five CTE Without Limits principles and designed using Advance CTE’s CTE Without Limits implementation assets. After the training, the teams were asked to create a Without Limits plan to implement these principles in their building; 19 of the 25 have already submitted their plans as a result of the training.

The plans were created using a district-wide rubric to help sharpen and focus action areas. Learner voice was also incorporated into the conversation, with the district conducting twelve focus groups with 54 students, asking similar questions as the workshops for district staff. The district also conducted pre- and post-surveys to help develop priorities for these action plans and help administrators learn where schools need the most support. 

Collaboration is Key

In a recent interview with Advance CTE staff, Davis School District CTE Supervisor Tim Peters and Without Limits Project Lead Melanie Allen reiterated the value that the collaborative nature of these Without Limits Teams has for CTE district-wide and with state and community partners. Because of the composition of the Without Limits Teams, the cross-departmental work has become a key strength of this initiative. The Layton High School team gave high praises to the Without Limits initiatives and said, “The impact of everyone being on the same page can’t be overestimated for the teachers and the students. We are already seeing growth in course requests for welding tech, accounting and computer programming.”  Local CTE Coordinator Kristen Davidson noted, “We’re having conversations now that we’ve never had before, and it’s changing the way we serve students.” 

Utah State CTE Director Thalea Longhurst is a strong supporter of DSD’s model. “Davis School District is leading our state in focusing on truly embedding CTE Without Limits in their daily work,” she shared. “Their work is led by strong leaders who understand the importance of collaborative conversations and truly using data-driven decision making to improve programs. They have shown that even small changes can be incredibly impactful while still considering and implementing larger systemic changes. Their work is exactly what we hope others will follow as we all strive to implement this vision for the future of CTE.”

Lessons Learned

After their first iteration of workshops, DSD shared a few lessons learned that they hope other Utah school districts or other districts nationwide consider before starting this work in earnest. 

Next Steps

As a result of the workshops, plan feedback, and learner focus groups, the district is working on a toolkit to support the school plan action steps. DSD administrators also hope to make this an iterative process, conducting ongoing training and coaching to help their Without Limits Teams revise and refocus their plans on a yearly basis. 

For more information about CTE Without Limits as well as communication and implementation resources, please visit the CTE Without Limits page on our website.

Learn more about Career Technical Education at Davis School District in Farmington, UT.

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate 

 

 

 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits, Uncategorized
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State CTE Policy Update: Examining CTE Instructor Compensation Strategies

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its report “State of the States 2022: Teacher Compensation Strategies” earlier this month. This report takes a deep dive into the compensation strategies each state and the District of Columbia use to continue to recruit and retain talented instructors.

Instructors are the backbone of high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) and are essential to ensuring that each learner is fully supported by the career preparation ecosystem of their state. “Teacher Compensation Strategies” divides compensation strategies into three different categories: 1) Differentiated pay; 2) Performance pay, and 3) Pay for prior work. While the first two offer their own merit, and all can perhaps be used in some combination, pay for prior work may offer an elegant solution for staffing CTE teachers.

A common barrier to CTE teacher recruitment and retention is matching instructor salaries, which are historically lower than industry salaries talented CTE instructors often transfer from. In an effort to reduce the gap, states can offer instructors an increase in pay based on experience from non-school related careers relative to the subject matter they are teaching. This strategy embraces the promise to capture and value all learning that occurs, wherever and whenever it occurs. Below are some highlights from the report on the current application of this strategy::

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the states currently using pay for prior experience strategies, North Carolina and Louisiana took two different approaches. North Carolina, per the report, awards one year of credit per two years of relevant, non-education work experience pre-bachelor degree, and a one-for-one exchange post attaining a bachelor’s. Louisiana school districts are required to develop compensation plans that take into account effectiveness, experience, and demand with no one factor being given a weight of more than 50 percent. The report highlights that language surrounding this particular strategy is often vague which makes it hard to track if it is being enacted.

With teacher attrition at unprecedented levels and teacher recruitment levels dropping, state CTE leaders have the opportunity to provide innovative solutions to teacher compensation. You can read the full report here: State of the States 2022: Teacher Compensation Strategies. Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center provides additional tools on embedding credit for prior learning and other state approaches to fully documenting skills. 

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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CTE Without Limits Spotlight: Panel Highlights Leadership Priorities for Vision Implementation

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

On Friday, May 13, attendees at Advance CTE’s Spring State Leadership Retreat heard from three State CTE Directors participating in Advance CTE’s state cohort to begin implementation of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Moderated by Advance CTE Senior Advisor Nithya Govindasamy, panelists shared how CTE Without Limits has inspired meaningful cross-sector conversations, and key leadership lessons to build trust, center learners and sustain partnerships. 

Background 

The panel consisted of three state directors: Sarah Heath of Colorado, Katie Graham of Nebraska and Maria Swygert of South Carolina. At the start of the panel, each leader provided a brief overview of the focus of their initial vision implementation work. 

Colorado’s focus is Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem to empower state and local leaders to have knowledgeable and meaningful conversations about equity gaps in data. Heath shared “we saw the work isn’t working,” that too many leaders could interpret the data but didn’t feel empowered to discuss and act on it. Through participation in the cohort, Colorado strives to build will and support for change through a statewide equity action plan with a focus on expanding equity-focused professional development opportunities for state and local CTE leaders. 

Nebraska’s focus is advancing Principle 3: Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey with a focus on learners with disabilities. State CTE staff will partner with special education and vocational rehabilitation services agencies to scale strong existing state collaboration to the local level. This includes alignment of policy, communications and professional development initiatives.

South Carolina’s focus is Principle 1: Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem to achieve ‘next-level collaboration’ through more uniform processes and local support for conducting the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process. This will be accomplished through an assessment survey to each of their twelve cross-sector regional teams consisting of secondary, postsecondary and workforce leaders, as well as a state-level meeting to create an action plan based on survey results. 

Building and Sustaining Meaningful Cross-Sector Partnerships 

Each leader shared strategies they found to be effective in building and sustaining meaningful cross-sector partnerships. State Director Katie Graham emphasized the importance of cultivating personal relationships with leaders before you need them for project work. She shared that her choice to focus on learners with disabilities was inspired in part by her strong personal relationships with state staff connected to special education and vocational rehabilitation that simply started with conversations about their work years ago, rather than a specific request to share funding or resources. 

State Director Sarah Heath elevated that building partnerships requires several steps, and should not begin with an ask for shared funding. Using a “gather, train, then share” approach, Colorado began their partnerships by finding shared goals and planning meetings and initiatives together. This was followed by providing mutual support on logistics and information, including conversations on common definitions, data collection and use, and data metrics to find common ground. 

The directors also highlighted the importance of establishing intentional strategies that build trust and provide information that reinforces shared goals. State Director Maria Swygert shared that each quarter her office compiles a two-page report connecting the latest employment, graduation, placement and other key data points. This tool is shared with more than 70 partners statewide to reinforce the shared goal of improving learner and workforce outcomes. Graham shared that the growth of her partnership with those serving learners with disabilities resulted in a meeting where 19 needs assessment plans, including the CLNA, were streamlined to reduce the burden on local leaders and make connections among the data being collected. 

Leadership Lessons Learned 

Each leader was asked to share leadership lessons learned as a result of this work to build and sustain meaningful, learner-centered partnerships. Acknowledging and addressing capacity issues rose to the forefront. For states that may view the vision as yet another item for their to-do list, Heath emphasized that CTE Without Limits should not be seen as a separate approach, but rather a ‘value-add’ that takes the intent and goals of existing strategic plans, state vision statements, and other planning document to the next level and keeps learner needs at the center of all conversations. 

Heath also shared that vision implementation work made her more comfortable with learning to let go of work, even though it may be important, that did not specifically advance learner needs or their state strategic plan. Swygert shared that the relationship-building conducted through this cohort allowed her to feel more comfortable not doing all the work alone and trusting the expertise and leadership of other state staff serving learners, including those not directly involved in CTE. 

Each leader emphasized the value of vulnerability, transparency and honesty, especially in the early stages of relationship building with other state leaders, so that no damaging assumptions are made. Heath shared her mindset of “we all have room to grow in the work, and we want to grow together.” Graham shared a conversation she had with a state leader where she was only seeking to learn more about their role, but the latter assumed they were seeking funding instead of a meaningful partnership. So additional time was needed to build the trust to share the desired information. 

Additional Resources 

The CTE Without Limits cohort will receive funding, individual coaching and intensive technical support from Advance CTE through October 2022. An additional CTE Without Limits Community of Practice is open for state leaders to participate in bimonthly cross-state calls to share challenges and solutions aligned to the five vision principles. Sixteen states are currently participating — those interested in joining can contact Senior Policy Associate Hinderliter at dhinderliter@careertech.org

For additional conversations with state and national leaders on advancing CTE Without Limits, visit Advance CTE’s webinars page for recordings of a spring virtual learning series aligned to each of the vision’s five principles. 

Visit Advance CTE’s vision page for 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.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits
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CTE Without Limits Spotlight: Q&A with Nancy Hoffman of JFF on ‘No Dead Ends’

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Earlier this year, Jobs for the Future (JFF) issued a policy brief, “No Dead Ends: How Career and Technical Education Can Provide Today’s Youth With Pathways to College and Career Success.” This resource aligns with the current vision for the future of Career Technical Education (CTE), Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education  where each learner is able to navigate their journey to career success without limits. 

“No Dead Ends” offers a series of federal and state policy considerations that are informed by the insights of leading secondary and postsecondary practitioners. The brief also spotlights several states with strong policy conditions.

Advance CTE spoke with college and career pathways expert Nancy Hoffman of JFF to learn more about the report. Below, she shares her reflections, research, and policy recommendations for how state and local CTE leaders can realize the mindset of “without limits.”

The Advance CTE team encourages members to draw on the ideas and evidence in this blog to advance aims around equity, economic mobility, and systems alignment. 

Advance CTE: It’s great to speak with you, Nancy. Can you share what a “without limits” vision means to you and how it ties into JFF’s call for “no dead ends”? 

Nancy Hoffman: The first time I heard the phrase “no dead ends” was in 2005 on a tour of Switzerland’s vocational education and training (VET) system. Swiss VET engages the majority of Swiss teenagers in a mix of school and paid apprenticeships with two to three days of paid work each week. The VET system is designed to provide youth with multiple pathways (see graphic  and page 6 of this report). All progression routes are open to all youth “without limits” as aligned with the CTE Without Limits vision, and the system is “permeable,” meaning there are “no dead ends” to pathways that a 15-year-old VET student chooses. Career exploration begins early with all middle schoolers spending a week with an employer in an occupation of interest.  Students get help understanding choices in the school curriculum as well as in each town’s career advising center. The apprentice may end up, as many do, with a bachelor’s degree from a university of applied sciences, even a Ph.D., and may change from one field or company to another. 

While the United States has come a long way in embracing a new narrative about career and technical education (CTE), dismissive attitudes remain. Unlike in Switzerland, our public discourse separates going to college from career preparation, despite the fact that everyone goes to college to get a career—whether pursuing an industry certification or a Ph.D. JFF’s No Dead Ends publication takes a hard look at how to remove the remaining stigmas seen in policy, in practice, and in the public perception that CTE students are “not college material” and are in a “remedial” pathway that will lead to jobs with low wages demanding only basic skills.

To continue to move CTE perceptions in a positive direction, the JFF brief requires action on three levers: higher visibility for CTE, better allocation of resources, and incentives that reward CTE programs in the same way as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other such markers of readiness for postsecondary education. No Dead Ends also demands that all programs for college and career preparation be assessed with an equity lens. Ironically, the institutional racism that historically funneled students of color and low-income students into CTE is now shutting them out in some states. In many regions, CTE is becoming an attractive way for privileged students to get hands-on experience in high tech, engineering, health care, and the like. 

Advance CTE: JFF’s No Dead Ends report emphasizes the importance of “career identity,” which corresponds to Principle 3, “Each Learner Skillfully Navigates Their Own Career Journey.” What does career identity mean, and how can it be supported for each learner? 

Nancy Hoffman: As we have come to learn, career advising is not the same as supporting a young person’s journey to career or vocational identity. At JFF, we define career identity as the link between a person’s motivations, interests, and competencies and their potential career roles. 

Child development researcher Dr. Robert Halpern has written extensively on the need for schools to nurture the vocational identities of teenagers. He notes how little support most schools provide in helping young people “attend to their vocational selves: to confirm and disconfirm interests; think about and understand vocation (and vocational knowledge) in deeper, more differentiated ways; learn about vocational possibilities and understand what it means to be prepared for specific kinds of work; and understand how to prepare for work and the length of time that requires.” Halpern put it, “When thinking about career paths, young people are asking not simply ‘what do I want to do?’ but ‘who do I want to be?”  Young people begin to ask such questions as early as middle school, but most middle school curriculum does not integrate the study of careers and career exploration into the curriculum. Indeed, this gap inspired JFF to create Possible Futures, a program for grades 6 through 10 that provides a fun and engaging career exploration program, helping young people gain the foundational knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to make critical decisions about their future with confidence.

Advance CTE: No Dead Ends tackles how to make sure all high-quality pathways are accessible to each learner. Looking through an equity lens, what issues commonly arise with CTE generally and work-based learning experiences, more specifically?  

Nancy Hoffman: As the Gates Foundation’s Striving to Thriving project powerfully documented through thousands of interviews, Black and Latinx young people see their race or ethnicity as an asset. Yet our education and employment systems are sending them contradictory signals about what their proper aspirations ought to be, where they will be welcomed, and most important, whether they will be welcomed for who they are.   

As researcher Nat Malkus notes, schools may fail to notice the “hidden tracking” within CTE. Students headed to four-year colleges tend to enroll in what Malkus calls “New Era CTE” (e.g. computer science, engineering, health care) and students wanting a certification or unsure of their next steps, are guided toward traditional trades course– not all of which provide access to well-paying jobs. The distribution of students within CTE can mirror the domination of an occupation by a particular race/ethnicity, gender, or other personal characteristic. This means, for example, populating IT and computer science courses with college-bound white males, while young women of color take internships in helping professions. 

Local and state leaders must be alert to sorting mechanisms within CTE. Do privileged students get the high-tech internships while low-income students take on jobs where there may be a lot to learn? And then do they continue on such a path to a career that almost guarantees low wages? Equity gaps widen especially when schools lack a placement system and ask students to find their own employer-supported internship. Most challenging is how schools identify, respond to, and take action to prevent placing students in unwelcoming or even racist workplaces or unwittingly reinforcing occupational segregation. A recent JFF blog, “Identifying the ‘Fruit and Root’ of Systemic Racial Inequity,” notes the pernicious use of the word “fit,” which can be a cover for racism, as in “she won’t fit into our company’s culture.” The authors argue that “the seemingly neutral concern about “fit” has proven to be problematic, and tends to cover for a preference for a homogenous culture in the workplace. Employers want to hire people of color, but the people of color they hire are subtly forced to conform to existing norms—of dress, behavior, speech–to truly belong.”  

Advance CTE: No Dead-Ends lays out several key policy considerations for strengthening college and career pathways, supporting career identity developing, and expanding access to high-quality work-based learning experiences. To conclude our conversation, could you share a couple of these policy recommendations? 

Nancy Hoffman: Defining a high-quality CTE program is a foundational step for developing state systems that better serve learners. In No Dead Ends, JFF suggests that states should consider clearly articulating key quality standards for “fundable” CTE programs. States should also consider tying funding eligibility to these quality standards to ensure resources are used effectively. For example, Delaware not only created a statewide definition of CTE but required each program of study to adhere to three key principles: (1) prepare students for career success and post-secondary education; (2) align with workforce needs and are developed in partnership with relevant stakeholders; and (3) improve student achievement by connecting academic and career success measures. However, states don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Perkins V has a good definition for CTE, and states can use that as a jumping-off point to ensure high-quality programming. 

In the brief, JFF also recommends that the federal government define career identity development and give states guidance on how to operationalize this aim. Current definitions coming out of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) note that a high-quality program of study includes career and academic guidance. However, while advising is critical, policy must more deeply encourage the development of career identity which should be framed as a key aspect of adolescent development overall. When Perkins is reauthorized in a few years, JFF believes the law should include a definition of this term, and OCTAE should release clearer guidance. These efforts will help promote more robust college and career coaching for students.

Visit Advance CTE’s website to learn more about the CTE Without Limits vision, and the Learning that Works Resource Center for more guidance on  advancing equity in CTE experiences. 

Nancy Hoffman, JFF and Stacy Whitehouse, Advance CTE

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy, Research
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Getting to Know Advance CTE’s Strategic Priorities: Equip, Empower, Elevate

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Kimberly Green! Kim is the Executive Director of Advance CTE. Kim’s role at Advance CTE is to provide strategic direction to all of the organization’s workstreams to ensure Advance CTE is boldly advancing toward the accomplishment of the strategic priorities and theory of action, both of which aspire to ensure equitable career success for each learner. 

Q: Given your history and tenure at Advance CTE and in the field, how have you seen the organization evolve into what is now the 2021-2024 strategic plan?

A: January 2023 will mark 30 years for me at Advance CTE; that is a lot of time and tenure to have seen things change. The name of our organization changed (NASDCTEc to Advance CTE). We expanded state memberships to cover a “team” rather than just one individual from each state. Internally, our staff has grown significantly, with our team members living and working literally across the entire country. The breadth and depth of our work shifted to reflect the evolving needs of our members and the CTE community. We deepened and expanded our federal policy work and added in robust state policy, communications, data/accountability, equity,  etc. research, professional development and technical assistance. We launched revolutionary and impactful streams of work like the National Career Clusters Framework ® and the CTE: Learning that Works for America campaign, etc.; these efforts have incubated and supported a significantly increased level of support and interest in CTE and career readiness among the public and state policymakers.

What hasn’t changed is our steadfast commitment to serving our members. For nearly every year of these 30 years, all states were members of Advance CTE. This is something I am extraordinarily proud of! We are steadfast in our commitment to supporting leaders, encouraging transformative leadership and “be(ing) the change we want to see in the world” (quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi). Our efforts to coalesce our community and stakeholders toward a common, bold vision is a hallmark of who we are at Advance CTE.  We don’t shy away from taking on the important and difficult work, like efforts to address the legacy and currency of racial equity gaps in CTE, all the while remaining vigilant to hold the bar high in terms of quality expectations. 

Q: If you had to choose, which accomplishment from 2021 are you most excited about?

A: This is hard! There is much to choose from but I’d probably have to say releasing CTE Without Limits, which is a north star for our work and launching the Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leadership Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation which will help to strengthen and diversify the pipeline of talent to fill state leadership positions in CTE. 

Q: What do you see as the major priority for the organization moving into the second quarter of 2022? 

A: We are getting ready to host our Spring State Leadership Retreat this month (May 2022). I am excited to see our members again – in person! I am also excited to re-connect and build new relationships, strengthen existing relationships, and to learn from and alongside our members. 

Q: CTE Without Limits states that the work ahead will require commitment and shared ownership from all stakeholders. Are there any upcoming opportunities that will equip, empower and elevate the field? 

A: Our Virtual June Meeting Series is going to be amazing! This three-event series will offer premier professional content to inspire attendees and arm them with replicable polices and practices to advance high-quality and equitable CTE, plus the opportunity to build their peer network across the country.

Every day, I am honored to serve our members in the CTE community. I am inspired by their commitment to be bold, lead change and to do the work that requires a deep and abiding persistence. In some ways their work is hidden; learners and other stakeholders often don’t know the important role that state leaders have in setting policies that close equity gaps or ensure their classrooms have qualified instructors and latest equipment. They don’t know the advocacy efforts state leaders lead to to build supportive environments in order to secure the investments needed so that more learners can have access to CTE. But I see the work our members do … and I am grateful.

Kimberly Green, Executive Director

By Brittany Cannady in CTE Without Limits
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Resource Recap: 5 Steps to Get Started with the CTE Without Limits Roadmap Tool

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

March 2022 marks one year since the release of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). CTE Without Limits positions CTE as the catalyst for achieving a cohesive ecosystem that is responsive to each learner’s needs for college and career success.

To celebrate this milestone, Advance CTE elevated the work of vision partners through a Twitter chat, announced three states participating in a state cohort for vision implementation, and held a vision-focused Ask an Expert session. The event delved into Advance CTE’s hallmark vision implementation resource released last fall, Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits

This resource recap post breaks down the roadmap resource and provides first steps for state CTE leaders to prepare for and use this comprehensive tool. 

Resource Background 

Achieving CTE Without Limits is only possible through shared commitment and action among all CTE stakeholders The Pushing the Limits roadmap serves as the primary evaluation and planning tool for state and local CTE leaders to conduct a collaborative process that: a) provides an initial assessment of state policy and practice; b) identifies top areas for action; and c) develops implementation strategies for one or more vision principles.

The document is provided in both a combined format as well as separate by each of the five vision principles. The three to four action steps recommended for each vision principle can be evaluated by state leaders through five activities:

Getting Started 

Effective use of the roadmap requires intentional planning and collaboration. Here are five ways to get started: 

  1. Select your core state or local team that includes representatives with deep experience in K-12, postsecondary and workforce policy and practice through the lens of CTE. 
  2. Complete Advance CTE’s State Capacity Tool to determine which vision principle(s) to focus on. 
  3. Gather data and guiding documents to inform the self-assessment, including program participation and outcomes, statewide and regional agreements across system, statewide and department initiatives and goals, etc. 
  4. Complete the self-assessment as individual core team members and share answers prior to soliciting additional input. 
  5. Identify priority principles and action areas to address first based on conditions in your state.

Maximizing the Resource 

CTE leaders can take several steps to maximize this resource to realize systems change at all levels, including: 

Advance CTE staff are available to support CTE leaders in this important work. Visit Advance CTE’s staff web page for contact information. Visit Advance CTE’s vision web page for additional vision education, assessment and implementation resources. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits, Uncategorized
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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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This Week in CTE: FCCLA Advancing CTE Without Limits

Friday, February 18th, 2022

Advance CTE continues to celebrate CTE Month® by uplifting Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) student leaders and their national advocacy weeks. 

These organizations are a powerful model for learner-centered and learner-led education, and Advance CTE is pleased to be joined by seven national CTSOs in supporting the national vision for CTE. Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) places CTE as the catalyst for achieving a cohesive career preparation ecosystem that is responsive to each learner’s needs for college and career success. 

Throughout February, the This Week in CTE blog series has highlighted the activities of several CTSOs and their alignment with the five interconnected principles of CTE Without Limits. Today, we highlight Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), who celebrated their national week  this week, February 14-18, 2022, with the theme “Make It Count” and social hashtag #FCCLAWeek.

Each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystem.

FCCLA members at New Horizons Regional Education Center: Woodside Lane in Newport News, Virginia participate in flexible, responsive CTE programs.  Internships at a local elementary school provide these learners with hands-on experience and real-world skills  in early childhood education.

 

 

 

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

Griffin Middle School in Georgia elevated learner voices and cultural experiences by incorporating commemoration of Black History Month into their celebration of FCCLA Week. 

The national branch FCCLA is also dedicated to retaining and supporting FCCLA advisors through their annual Chapter Advisor Summit held in January. 

 

 

Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable.

FCCLA strives for FCCLA members to have clear paths for their skills to be valued and counted. FCCLA has identified four career pathways that align to key technical and “employability” skills gained through FCCLA experiences, listed below. Members also have the opportunities to test and display skill competencies at competitions at the regional, state and national level. 

Each learner can access CTE without borders

FCCLA members have the opportunity to share their skills and make connections beyond the classroom and even their state. National FCCLA leader Hayley Reid participated in a federal policy panel held by the National Transportation Safety Board. 

FCCLA Real-World Skills: 

Applied Academic Skills: Communications, Math, Science, Basic Literacy

Critical Thinking Skills: Problem Solving, Organization & Planning

Resource Management: Time, Money, Materials & Personnel

Information Use

Communication Skills

Interpersonal Skills: Leadership, Teamwork & Negotiation

Personal Qualities

Systems Thinking: Teamwork & Project Management

Technology Use

Visit Advance CTE’s vision page for communication and implementation tools for state and local CTE leaders to bring CTE Without Limits to life. 

If you would like to share how your CTE program or CTSO creates limitless opportunities for each learner in this blog series, please email Brittany Cannady, bcannady@careertech.org

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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