Posts Tagged ‘dual enrollment’

CTE Research Review: Exploring the Impact of P-TECH Model on College and Career Readiness Outcomes in New York City

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

This research review series features interviews with three CTE researchers— Julie Edmunds, Shaun Dougherty, and Rachel Rosen — to highlight new and relevant Career Technical Education (CTE) research topics being pursued and discuss how state CTE leaders might leverage these to make evidence-based decisions. This series is conducted in partnership with the Career and Technical Education Research Network, which provide  CTE impact studies intending to strengthen the capacity of the field to conduct and use rigorous CTE research.

For the second post in this series, Advance CTE spoke with MDRC’s Rachel Rosen about the findings from her studies, Bridging of the School-to-Work Divide and the On-Ramp to College. These studies explore the impact that participation in New York City (NYC) P-TECH model schools has on improvement in learner outcomes for New York’s student’s college and career readiness. The NYC P-TECH Grades 9-14 (P-TECH 9-14) high school model involves a partnership among the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York (CUNY), and employers collaborate with the schools implementing it. The schools prepare students for both college and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by allowing them to earn an applied associate degree in addition to a high school diploma and gain relevant work-based learning experiences within a six-year timeframe. 

These studies compared the impact that attending one of NYC’s P-TECH had on the number of dual enrollment credits learners earned, and the passage rate of the state readiness Regents exam as college and career readiness metrics. Comparison groups of students for this study were created naturally through New York’s lottery admission system. Researchers were able to observe the outcomes of those who were admitted to a P-TECH and those who were offered seats in other schools. By the end of two years of high school, 42 percent of P-TECH 9-14 students had passed the English Language Arts exam compared to 25 percent of a comparison group of students enrolled in other high schools. There was also a positive impact on passing the regents math exam with 43 percent of P-TECH students passing it by the end of two years, compared with 40 percent of comparison group students.

Based on these findings, policymakers may be interested in learning more about how to leverage the P-TECH model to replicate positive outcomes for learner populations most underserved by traditional school models. 

How do your research findings on the P-TECH school model advance the CTE field’s understanding of ways to better serve learners? 

One of the important things about the P-TECH study is that it is a causal study, so we can confidently say that the results we are seeing are directly caused by students being enrolled in the P-TECH model as compared to an alternative model. The P-TECH model was developed from proven elements of other models that are also backed by rigorous evidence. These elements include early college high school models, career academies, and small schools of choice. P-TECH is a tightly aligned model where there is good coordination between secondary, postsecondary, and employers that provide a lot of cushioning for students at these critical transition points where, in other models, they might be left to their own devices.

What findings from the Bridging of the School-to-Work Divide and the On-Ramp to College studies, would you highlight for state CTE leaders in particular?

We believe that CTE leaders will be really interested in the positive impact that we’re seeing for students who are participating in P-TECH: P-TECH 9-14 students signed up for dual enrollment programs at higher rates and both attempted and earned more college credits than the comparison group students by the end of four years of high school. It is important to note that the students in the study sample intentionally had weaker academic performance in eighth grade than the overall student population enrolled in P-TECH 9-14 schools (more than 70% of them were testing below proficient in both math and English Language Arts (ELA) in 8th grade).  Another important demographic piece for leaders to consider is the impact that attending a P-TECH high school has for learners traditionally underserved by comprehensive high schools. Our sample reflects learners who identify as Black and Hispanic, and who come from neighborhoods where the median income is below the city average, and they are experiencing positive outcomes with dual enrollment and passing the Regents exam. 

Focusing on Bridging of the School-to-Work Divide, which indicates that the P-TECH model has positive impacts on students’ college and career readiness, what do you know about how specific elements of P-TECH contribute to this impact?

There are a couple of elements of the P-TECH model that we think contribute to student success and readiness for work-based learning and dual enrollment courses:

Taken together, all of these elements position students for success not only in high school but in their work-based learning experiences and to dual enroll in college courses. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Regents Examinations are New York’s statewide standardized examinations that students take to demonstrate proficiency in core high school subjects. Students are required to pass these exams to earn a Regents Diploma.

Based on the findings in both studies, your team found that P-TECH students tended to concentrate more on CTE courses than control groups, either through accumulating greater numbers of CTE credits in high school or by taking CTE-aligned courses through dual enrollment.

What factors appear to drive that trend? And are there any implications here for CTE leaders and educators? 

Yes, the P-TECH model has an explicit focus on preparing students for careers through CTE classes. The schools were set up to make these CTE classes available in high school and CTE courses were also offered at the colleges as part of the applied associate’s degrees that students can earn. 

The comparison group in this study is made up of students who applied to P-TECH, but who did not win a seat through the random admissions process. Some of those students may have ended up in other high schools across New York City that also offer CTE coursework if that was important to them. However, we’re still seeing that P-TECH students earned more CTE credits than that comparison group students, and we believe that it is due to the very tight focus on CTE in these schools.

CTE leaders should certainly consider the role that industry partners have in helping to ensure alignment across the courses students take, the associate degree coursework, and standards for the industries they represent. The industry partners had some input into which CTE classes would help students be more prepared to secure jobs within the industry, or at least if not with the industry partner itself, then the industry that the partner works in. There is a lot of communication about how to best prepare students for entering these industries.

On-Ramp to College digs into the differences in dual enrollment participation based on gender, revealing that female students enroll in college courses at higher rates than males.

Can you explain what you learned about this pattern and any insights you gained about supporting male students’ college enrollment? 

There is an interesting paradox that is frequently observed across the higher education and CTE literature where, despite being more likely to enroll and graduate than their male peers, female students experience lower levels of accrued impact from participating in CTE.

Since the P-TECH model has a combined focus on both higher education and career readiness, we wanted to see how the gender differences might play out for students in this environment. Consistently, we saw female students in both the P-TECH high schools and the comparison schools were much more likely to dual enroll than male students. This was not, however, translate into higher pass rates of the Regents exam.  While male and female students were passing the Regents at similar levels, the female students were more likely to take up the opportunity for dual enrollment than their male peers. And this pattern was held across all seven of the P-TECH schools in this study, so it seems unrelated to the program type.

In our sample, about 21 percent of students have special education designations, but within that group, almost 80 percent of these students are male. When we compared this to the general education population, we found that the male-female gap closed somewhat, but not completely. From a policy standpoint, this tells us that there is more that could be done to support students who have special education designations in dual enrollment. 

Finally, what new questions has this work raised for you that could be applied to future research?

The study is still ongoing and we are currently working on our final analysis. Generally speaking, the big open question is focused on the impacts of P-TECH on postsecondary attainment.

Other questions we’d like to explore include:

The work of the CTE Research Network Lead is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education with funds provided under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through Grant R305N180005 to the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The work of the Network member projects is supported by the Institute. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional publications examining career-centered education models and Advance CTE’s 50-state report on equity in CTE early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) released earlier this year. 

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Research
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New Skills ready network Site Highlight: Boston, Massachusetts Dual Enrollment Programs

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

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 post continues a series that highlights innovative tools and initiatives produced across Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee, 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 Haley Wing interviewed Nuri Chandler-Smith, the Dean of Academic Support and College Pathway Programs at Bunker Hill Community College, and Liya Escalera, the Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, who is also on the leadership team for the New Skills ready network. The interviews sought to learn more about the dual enrollment and early college programs within their respective schools, with a focus on learner engagement and cultural wealth.

Background

Dual enrollment programs at Bunker Hill Community College and UMass Boston enable learners within Boston Public Schools to earn college credit and gain early exposure to college experiences on campus while in high school, including during the summer months.  The partnerships are coordinated centrally through Boston Public Schools and extend learning from the school building to the university campus. The expansion of accessible dual enrollment programs in Boston helps to advance one of the project priorities of the New Skills ready network initiative to improve learners’ seamless progression from secondary to postsecondary education. Through supporting the expansion of dual enrollment opportunities and supporting policies and procedures that facilitate equitable access to these programs, Boston Public Schools, Bunker Hill Community College, and UMass Boston are ensuring learners have the tools and experiences to make fully informed decisions regarding their postsecondary coursework and path to career success. 

Dual Enrollment Programs at Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill Community College (Bunker Hill) dual enrollment programs stand out because of their commitment to improving access to and success in these programs through seamless communication and intentional program connections between secondary and postsecondary programs. Bunker Hill is working directly with guidance staff at high schools, especially Charlestown High School, to make sure learners are aware of the dual enrollment and early college programs that are available. Strategies to increase awareness include pre-recorded dual enrollment info sessions tailored explicitly for flexible use by practitioners with learners and families during workshops and advisories, and one-on-one course mapping exercises with learners to build their mindset for multi-year access to dual enrollment at Bunker Hill. Guidance teams work closely with teachers to utilize multiple measures in identifying learners for dual enrollment. This includes prior academic preparation, attendance, study habits, and willingness to take responsibility for their learning process. Charlestown’s practices are consistent with the district-wide open-access dual enrollment policy. This spring, they are working to cohort learners into advisories, based on their pathways,  to provide more targeted academic and career planning needed for increased persistence throughout the dual enrollment course experience.

Bunker Hill has a unique partnership with Charlestown High School. Charlestown High School has a program for learners that allows them to take an exploratory course in the ninth grade to expose learners to various pathways that lead to high-wage and high-demand careers as a prerequisite to dual enrollment courses. Through this course, school leaders strive for learners to make more intentional choices about their course selections in dual enrollment and feel more prepared to complete these programs. Launched in 2018,  learners in Charlestown High School can access designated pathways in technology and business. Access to a third early college pathway, allied health, opened a year later. For Charlestown’s graduating class of 2021, learners in the early college cohort completed with more than 300 combined college credits. 

Charlestown learners participating in these programs can also access expanded course options — this include 17 unique courses across the Bunker Hill catalog ranging from Principles in Engineering to Human Biology/lab.  Strong staff relationships between Charlestown and Bunker Hill have allowed the teams to re-envision supports for learners, including pivoting to a cohort model for learning that enables learners to more successfully participate in coursework. The New Skills ready network grant has facilitated increased communications and partnerships with industry partners, which has created the conditions for additional support structures where learners now have access to mentors practicing in fields aligned to the learners’ pathways.

Dual Enrollment Programs at the University of Massachusetts Boston

UMass Boston’s dual enrollment programs stand out for their focus on cultural wealth using place-based learning and intense learner support through an alumni-based mentorship program. UMass Boston has a collection of dual enrollment classes decentralized across the university – some classes are a part of precollegiate programs, while others are partnerships between UMass Boston’s individual departments and local high schools. UMass Boston utilizes this unique system because it allows faculty to focus more time on co-designing secondary and postsecondary coursework with partners in the Boston Public School system to better support learner transitions. 

UMass Boston has centered its program design on valuing cultural wealth. This includes creating culturally-sustaining programs that draw upon the strengths of learners, their families, and their neighborhoods, and taking into account the issues that are important to learners. Tapping into learners’ individual experiences within their communities is important to take seriously, emphasized UMass Boston Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies Liya Escalera. When learners’ place-based experiences and strengths are integrated into learning, they can use skills gained to be uniquely positioned to find solutions to challenges facing the city. Escalera also highlighted that enrolling in dual enrollment courses demystifies the content and rigor of postsecondary coursework and demonstrates to learners that they have the ability to succeed in college. 

Additionally, UMass Boston has piloted a program where mentoring and tutoring are embedded in dual enrollment spaces. UMass Boston utilizes graduates who are not only recent alumni but also participated in dual enrollment courses at the institution. In addition to providing one-on-one mentorship outside the classroom, UMass Boston alumni attend classes to ensure the assistance they are providing to learners parallels the material they are learning. UMass Boston has stressed the importance of ongoing support for learners’ continued academic success, especially considering the learner population they serve, including low-income, first-generation, and racially underrepresented learners.

Program Highlights, Successes and Lessons Learned

The New Skills ready network grant has enabled an expansion of dual enrollment courses, particularly within the emerging pathways of business, finance and environment science in the site’s focus schools. The New Skills ready network grant has also allowed postsecondary institutions in Boston to focus on learner flexibility. For example, UMass Boston has redefined what it means to be a successful learner aligned to their career goals. Boston partners are using resources available thanks to the New Skills ready network initiative to create a more uniform inclusion of career-specific skills into courses, including public speaking and leadership into the dual enrollment curriculum in addition to academic skill-building.

As the secondary and postsecondary partners in Boston, Massachusetts, continue to refine their dual enrollment opportunities for learners, they engage in critical reflection to ensure they are meeting learners’ needs. Since its early start in 2015, Bunker Hill has added career and pathway exploration opportunities aimed to offer learners multiple on-ramps to participation in early college and to provide learners with a foundational understanding of the options before selecting a pathway. Bunker Hill Community College replaced its original offering of college courses for first-year high school learners with an exploratory program for ninth-grade learners which was successful and provided learners and families with opportunities to understand the early college pathway option. If learners are still undecided about the pathways they want to pursue after tenth grade, they can continue to take classes at Bunker Hill Community College throughout high school to ensure the pathway they choose is one they are passionate about and prepares them for their careers.

At UMass Boston, dual enrollment courses that were too specific in their curriculum caused learners who transferred into different career pathways to experience a loss of credit, which prevented acceleration in their postsecondary experiences. Instead, UMass Boston has moved towards ensuring all pathways encourage learners to pursue coursework that interests them without fear of falling behind in coursework requirements. 

Visions for the Future

Looking forward, Bunker Hill is focused on sustainability to ensure learners will continue to have access to high-quality dual enrollment programs. This involves ensuring that all learners, regardless of their socioeconomic status and backgrounds, have access to wraparound supports and to remove barriers to success. There is an understanding that the racial disparities seen in dual enrollment programs and in higher education, in general, are not because learners are choosing not to access resources, or because they do not have the skills or ability to succeed, but rather because the institutions are not serving them to the level they need for success and they need to embody a new equity-minded and asset-based paradigm that can facilitate learners’ success. At UMass Boston, a priority for the future is flexibility. Learners should be allowed to make mistakes and change their career goals while still being ahead of the game. UMass Boston is embedding work-based learning into transferable general education courses. Additionally, creating a sense of belonging and community with an emphasis on cultural wealth within their dual enrollment programs is paramount. 

The Boston, Massachusetts team is committed to supporting policies and procedures that will enable learners to more readily participate across the district, beyond the focus schools. Within its Postsecondary transitions working group, partners across sectors have coalesced around priorities for strengthening systems and structures that will enable more effective dual-enrollment partnerships and increase access for all learners.

Tejas Shah, State Policy Intern

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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CTE Research Review: Q&A with Julie Edmunds on The Evaluation of Career and College Promise

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

This series features interviews with three researchers— Julie Edmunds, Shaun Dougherty and Rachel Rosen — to highlight new and relevant Career Technical Education (CTE) research topics being pursued and discuss how state CTE leaders might leverage these to make evidence-based decisions. This series is conducted in partnership with the Career and Technical Education Research Network,  which is providing new CTE impact studies and strengthening the capacity of the field to conduct and use rigorous CTE research.

For the first post in this series, Advance CTE conversed with researcher Julie Edmunds to learn more about the outcomes of her study, The Evaluation of Career and College Promise, that evaluates North Carolina’s CTE dual enrollment pathway. The study is based on demographic and academic achievement data for 525,000 students in grades 11 and 12 who participated in North Carolina’s Career & College Promise CTE Pathway from 2012 to 2019, and a comparison group of similar students who did not participate in it.

As state CTE leaders seek replicable, high-impact strategies to implement dual enrollment and pathways programs, Edmund’s study presents a state-level glimpse into the impact and cost-effectiveness of these programs. This ongoing evaluation includes three sub-studies that build upon existing projects funded through grants from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), two in New York City and one in North Carolina. 

How do your research findings advance our understanding of how dual enrollment can enhance the learner experience?

We know many students are taking college-level CTE courses while they are still in high school, but we know very little about who takes these courses and whether they matter for students. Our findings suggest that these courses do have positive impacts; therefore, policymakers may want to look at ways of expanding access to CTE dual enrollment to more students. 

One interesting finding is that the female students are just as likely (in some cases, more likely) to participate in CTE dual enrollment than male students, a trend that is different than most CTE programming. This does make us wonder if offering dual enrollment courses might be a way to make CTE courses more attractive to female students. 

 

What findings would you highlight for state CTE leaders in particular?

Our findings show that CTE dual enrollment pathways led to positive outcomes for students in their transition from high school to college. Students participating in dual enrollment pathways graduated from high school at rates 2 percentage points higher than their peers, and they were also 9 percentage points more likely to enroll in postsecondary education, particularly in community colleges. The results were even higher among historically marginalized students (see graphic below). To help more students realize these benefits, state leaders will want to think about putting policies in place to support dual enrollment. For example, many states cover the tuition costs of these courses, which helps ensure that access to dual enrollment is more equitable. 

What have you and your team learned about the availability and use of high-quality data on dual enrollment pathways and outcomes in North Carolina?

North Carolina has very rich student-level data (course-taking, behavior, completion, academic performance, etc.). Over the past 10 years or so, the state has been working on creating a longitudinal data system that links students from PreK to the workforce. These linkages have allowed us to look at the longer-term postsecondary impacts of participation in dual enrollment courses. In states where there is no link between education and workforce sectors, there would be no way to assess the high school and postsecondary programs. This poses particular challenges for CTE, where the outcomes are intended to make a difference in students’ experiences both during and after high school. A longitudinal identifier that follows students over time is the most crucial part of the data system.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the significance of developing a cross-sector research agenda? What commitments (e.g. staff-time, resources, etc.) are necessary for successful implementation?

Because CTE has long-term goals relative to post-high school preparedness (both career and college), a cross-sector research agenda is necessary to meaningfully answer impact questions. As I noted in the previous question, the key enabling factor is a data system that allows for the linking of students across sectors. 

CTE dual enrollment is, by its very nature, a cross-sector program where high schools and colleges need to partner to ensure effective program implementation. Our past research suggests that effective dual enrollment partnerships benefit from several key factors:
1) a willingness for each side to understand where the other is coming from; 2) a focus on meeting the needs of students, even if it involves rethinking policies; and 3) staff who understand multiple perspectives, such as those who have worked in both K-12 and higher education, and who have a specific time allotted to dedicate to the partnership.   

What new questions has this work raised for you that could be applied to future research?

I sometimes think that we end our research projects with more questions than we have answered. Here are a few that we are thinking about now: 

  1. We want to understand more about how students are using their CTE dual enrollment courses. Are students applying these credits to workforce-focused majors? Are they using these credits and any credentials they have earned in their careers?
  2. We also have some evidence that CTE dual enrollment might be moving some students away from four-year colleges and into two-year institutions. We’d like to understand more about this. Is this because students recognize that what they want to do does not require a four-year degree? Are CTE dual enrollment students more likely to see community college as a valid, and much less expensive, way to get their first two years of college? Is it shifting their aspirations in some way; if so, how? 
  3. Then, there are lots more questions about the implementation of CTE dual enrollment programs and how that implementation might differ from dual enrollment programming focused on college transfer.  

Overall, there is so little research on CTE dual enrollment that there are so many topics to consider.  

Visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Research Center for additional resources regarding dual enrollment, including a recent State of CTE report on Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs). 

The work of the CTE Research Network Lead is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education with funds provided under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through Grant R305N180005 to the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The work of the Network member projects is supported by the Institute. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Stacy Whitehouse in Research
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Getting to Know Advance CTE and Early Postsecondary Opportunities

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

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 Christina Koch! Christina serves in the role of Policy Associate for Advance CTE. Christina works on projects related to state policy, including the New Skills ready network, initiatives related to Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) and supports Advance CTE’s equity initiatives, which currently includes the CTE Learner Voice Shared Solutions Workgroup.

Q: This month, we are sharing resources and best practices for states engaging in Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) for learners. How do you define EPSOs? 

A: EPSOs include dual enrollment, dual credit, concurrent enrollment and other related opportunities. I would define them as opportunities designed to give each learner a head start on college courses while still in high school to make postsecondary credential and degree attainment easier and more affordable.

Q: How does the shared vision for CTE call for states to create opportunities for each learner to have access to equitable EPSOs?

A: Many aspects of CTE Without Limits focus on removing barriers for learners to reach success in the career of their choice. For example, Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem, calls for all learners to have equitable access to opportunities so that they can be successful in their career pathways. Increasing equitable access to EPSOs could include making postsecondary credit free to learners and removing grade point average requirements. On the local level, it also means doing targeted outreach to learners from special populations to ensure they are made aware of these opportunities and understand the potential benefits of getting a head start on college courses.

Principle 4 of CTE Without Limits: Each learner’s skills are counted, valued and portable also touches on an important part of ideal ESPOs, in that the credit earned by learners is portable and counted toward their chosen career pathway. It is important that states ensure there are EPSOs available for learners within every career pathway and that credit is easily transferable among public postsecondary institutions. 

Q: How are sites that make up the New Skills ready network leading in providing EPSOs? 

A: Ensuring that EPSOs are available within every career pathway is definitely a topic of interest among the New Skills ready network sites and some already have really strong initiatives in their states. For example, Nashville, Tennessee is one of the sites in the New Skills ready network and has been expanding their EPSO program for nearly a decade. The state identified EPSOs as one of the most significant ways in which high schools across the state could help prepare learners for postsecondary success and began developing a portfolio of EPSOs. As part of the portfolio approach, all high schools must offer two or more types of EPSOs to ensure that the opportunities are accessible to all high school learners. 

Q: Are learners interested in EPSOs? How can states communicate the benefits of EPSOs to increase learner interest? 

A: Recent communications research revealed that more than 80 percent of families involved in CTE were satisfied with opportunities to earn college credit and take advanced classes compared to 60 percent or less of families not involved in CTE. 

Learners are interested in EPSOs but the challenge is that many do not know that these opportunities are available to them or how to navigate the process of earning postsecondary credit that would be useful to them in their education and career pathway. 

New tools and messaging resources are available to help states and local CTE leaders communicate the benefits of EPSOs for secondary learners and recruit families.

 

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

By Brittany Cannady in Advance CTE Resources, CTE Without Limits, Publications, Research, Resources
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Strategies for Scaling Early Postsecondary Opportunities in Career Pathways

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

Two hallmarks of a high-quality career pathway are seamless transitions across secondary and postsecondary education and offering learners the opportunity and means to participate in early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) – which include dual enrollment, dual credit, concurrent enrollment and other related opportunities. It is critical that these opportunities seamlessly result in articulated postsecondary credit for learners in a degree program that will help them progress on their chosen career pathway with no hidden barriers.

The opportunity for learners to get a head start on college courses while still in high school makes postsecondary credential and degree attainment easier and more affordable. Research consistently shows when learners are able to participate in 

EPSOs, they are more likely to graduate high school, complete college programs and be successful in their careers. For students of color, low-income learners and first-generation college students, the positive effects of degree attainment are even stronger.

While EPSOs are increasingly available for learners within career pathways, without strong policies and systems in place, too often learners engage in “random acts of dual enrollment” rather than earn credits that transfer seamlessly into their selected postsecondary institution and count toward degree program requirements. Advance CTE’s latest publication, Intentional Acts of Dual Enrollment elevates long-standing programs from Tennessee, Ohio and Utah and how these policies were implemented and scaled at the local level to provide consistent, statewide opportunities for learners. Although each state has unique strengths and challenges, some common attributes among these long-standing programs emerge:

Credits consistently articulate into postsecondary pathways across the state

To prevent “random acts of dual enrollment,” both general education and technical EPSO credits should be consistently transferred into pathways at any state public postsecondary institution to shorten time to degree for learners and ensure credits are not lost in the transition from secondary to postsecondary. Tennessee has ensured there are EPSO offerings within each secondary CTE program of study and all institutions within the University of Tennessee system and under the Tennessee Board of Regents accept EPSO credits. 

Institutionalized partnerships align systems and enable buy in and trust

Having these opportunities available on a statewide level and transferable between all public institutions takes long-standing partnerships with continued dedication to systems alignment. This requires effective and institutionalized partnerships between state agencies, with support and input from local institutions and districts. 

Robust, but streamlined, state policy to build EPSOs into career pathways

Having strong state policy in place that ensures EPSOs are consistently embedded within career pathways can provide accountability mechanisms and incentivize positive outcomes, but it is also necessary to build coherence across state and federal plans. Tennessee, Ohio and Utah all built EPSOs into their Perkins V plans. Tennessee and Utah both built EPSOs into both their ESSA and Perkins V accountability systems through the Ready Graduate indicator and Readiness Coursework indicator, respectively.

Incentives from the state level to fund EPSOs help remove financial barriers for learners

Continued financial investments from the state are critical for all stakeholders, especially to prevent major costs from falling to learners and to secure postsecondary buy-in so that providing EPSOs is not viewed as losing potential tuition for the institution.


The continued need to prioritize equity

It is imperative that barriers to access these opportunities, such as GPA requirements, administrative paperwork, cost of credit or tests and transportation, be removed to ensure equity. Ohio removed the need for learners to handle paperwork through their Career-Technical Assurance Guides (CTAG) system, which ensures learners’ earned technical credit information is automatically communicated to public postsecondary institutions in the state. In Utah, tuition is capped at $5 per credit hour for concurrent enrollment courses to make the opportunities affordable.

Additional resources on dual enrollment, articulation and transfer can be found on the Advance CTE resource center.

By Brittany Cannady in Advance CTE Resources, Publications
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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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State Policies Impacting CTE: 2020 Year in Review

Friday, February 26th, 2021

On the state and federal level, COVID-19 (coronavirus) fundamentally changed the conversation about education, significantly disrupting and refocusing state legislatures. Despite this, Career Technical Education (CTE) adapted to the challenges brought about by the coronavirus, continuing to deliver high-quality programming nationwide across all learner levels despite significant disruptions to education delivery. Because the pandemic was on the forefront of federal, state and local governments’ agendas, fewer policies and budget provisions for CTE were enacted than in previous years; in calendar year 2020, 31 states enacted or passed 67 policy actions related to CTE and career readiness.

Today, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released the eighth annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review report, examining 2020 legislation, executive orders and budget provisions that significantly changed funding. With research support from the Education Commission of the States, Advance CTE and ACTE reviewed state activity, cataloged all finalized state policy actions and coded activity based on the policy areas of focus. In 2020, states most frequently addressed the following topics: 

The policy areas that states focused on in 2020 were similar to previous years. In 2019, funding, industry partnerships and work-based learning and access and equity were also in the top five key policy trends; however, in 2020, dual/concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college and data, reporting and/or accountability replaced industry-recognized credentials and governance in the top five key policy trends. Many CTE relevant bills and budgets, including those that increased state funding for CTE, were passed before the pandemic. However, due to unforeseen spending cuts, many state budgets (or supplemental budgets) enacted this year decreased state CTE funding for FY2021. This trend is expected to continue and even worsen as economic challenges continue for many states. 

States have found creative ways to keep support for CTE at the forefront of their legislative agenda. Some states, like Louisiana, have already appropriated state funding for rapid response training to assist employers with training and reskilling that will result in quickly acquired industry-recognized credentials. Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi, and Ohio have all also enacted legislation creating programs to bolster work-based learning and workforce development programs strengthening learners, workers, and employers alike. Finally, states like Tennessee have relaxed requirements or sponsored wrap-around supports to strengthen CTE and dual enrollment programs. 

Because of the critical importance CTE plays in workforce and economic development, it is expected that more CTE-related policies will be enacted in the coming years to support up-skilling and reskilling efforts during economic recovery. This indicates a continued commitment from state leaders to advance CTE. To view previous years’ Year in Review reports, click here

Advance CTE and ACTE will be joined by state leaders on March 2 from 3:00-4:00 PM to discuss policy actions for 2020 and potential trends for 2021. Register today

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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State of CTE: Dual Enrollment in Perkins V State Plans

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

In October 2020, Advance CTE released “The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States’ Perkins V Priorities,” which examines how states have leveraged the development of the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans to expand quality and increase equity within their Career Technical Education (CTE) systems. 

Perkins V is an important federal education statute that charges states to develop high-quality programs of study that build coherent, options-rich connections between middle, high school, college and careers. A high-quality program of study should offer on and off-ramps for learners along their pathways and create seamless transitions between K-12, postsecondary institutions and the workforce. One key aspect of quality that is a priority within states’ plans is the expansion of dual/concurrent enrollment. These early postsecondary opportunities are critical because they help CTE learners understand their post-high school options and earn degrees or credentials faster, saving them time and money and prioritizing their individual needs.  

Approximately one-third of high school graduates take courses for postsecondary credit at some point during their educational careers. Historically, about a third of all dual credits earned have been in CTE courses. Participating in these opportunities can lead to higher rates of college enrollment and success, as they demonstrate to learners that they are prepared for college-level work and enable them to get a head start on their credential or degree. Ensuring there is equitable access to these programs is an important part of building educational cultures where each learner, especially learners of color, can see college as a viable option.

One foundational way that Perkins V elevates the focus on dual/concurrent enrollment is through the introduction of a new secondary program quality indicator. States can choose from three options — work-based learning, recognized postsecondary credentials (credentials of value) and postsecondary credit attainment (dual/concurrent enrollment and articulation). 

Advance CTE’s analysis of state Perkins V plans found that states largely took up the mantle of supporting and expanding early postsecondary opportunities. Generally, many of these state decisions represent a continuation of prior commitments to programs of study and ensuring seamless transitions between secondary and postsecondary. 

State Strategies to Advance Dual/Concurrent Enrollment and Articulation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Innovations

The Work Ahead

Most states’ focus within their Perkins V plans was around providing secondary learners early postsecondary credit opportunities. While these efforts are critical to help learners transition from secondary to postsecondary education, more can still be done to facilitate transitions at the postsecondary level. States should continue efforts to develop additional pathways to help postsecondary and adult learners translate experiences in non-credit programs to pathways that provide credit, through efforts such as credit for prior learning. 

Similarly, state Perkins V plans rarely included efforts to support transitions from two-year institutions to four-year institutions. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is through statewide articulation agreements to ensure full transferability of any credits that are earned by learners. Yet only a third of states are prioritizing the creation of statewide articulation agreements in their Perkins plans, including some states that previously had such agreements in place.  

Finally, states need to continue to ensure that dual/concurrent and articulation opportunities are meaningful, equitable and fully aligned to a learner’s program of study. For instance, only about half of states that are using postsecondary credit attainment as their secondary CTE program quality measure explicitly require that these credits be related to a learner’s CTE program of study or wider career pathway, which is required by the law. States need to make intentional decisions about which courses count and how many credits are earned and collect and use the data on which credits are actually articulated, by which learners, across institutions.

Resources

Christina Koch, Policy Associate
Amy Williams, Executive Director, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships

By admin in Public Policy, Research, Uncategorized
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A Learner-Centered Approach to Early Postsecondary Opportunities Amid COVID-19

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Now that the spring 2020 semester has come to a close, schools, colleges and learners across the country are left with the uncomfortable question: what happens next? Amid the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the U.S. has faced widespread school closures and an unprecedented – albeit clunky – transition to remote learning. Even as states begin to lift restrictions, the path ahead is still uncertain.

Last week the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) and Advance CTE explored some of the ways the Coronavirus has impacted – and will continue to impact – Career Technical Education (CTE) and Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSO), which include dual enrollment, dual credit, concurrent enrollment and other related opportunities. There is no silver bullet solution to these challenges, but state leaders and postsecondary institutions are already thinking of ways to minimize the impact on learners and, to the extent possible, to support continuity of learning through the summer and into the fall.

Hold Learners Harmless

One principle states and educational institutions should commit to is to hold learners harmless from the impacts of the Coronavirus, particularly the financial and academic burdens. States like Ohio have already taken steps to protect learners, issuing guidance that prohibits school districts from seeking reimbursement from students who withdraw from a postsecondary course due to Coronavirus-related disruptions.

Further, states are honoring students’ commitment to learning by giving them opportunities to earn credit for the work they have completed. In North Carolina, graduating high school seniors who are enrolled in EPSO courses will be given a passing grade – coded “PC19” to indicate the unusual circumstances of the pandemic – to ensure they can still meet graduation requirements. States like Georgia and Louisiana are giving learners additional time to complete course requirements over the summer.

Commit to Transparency

As states, higher education systems and local institutions adjust grading policies amid Coronavirus-related shutdowns, they must commit to transparency and provide clarity about how credit transfer will be supported. There are questions about binary grades and their impact on the transferability of EPSO courses to two-year and four-year institutions. States with guaranteed transfer acceptance and institutions with transparent policies for addressing binary credit offer students their best option. Some states have begun to release guidance on EPSOs including CTE dual credit opportunities, which NACEP has compiled here.

Don’t be Afraid to Innovate

States and institutions have adapted remarkably well to social distancing on a very short timeframe, but the hands-on, practical learning experiences that make CTE unique and compelling are often not easy to simulate in a remote or online format. That said, necessity is the mother of invention. Instructors and administrators have started finding creative solutions to maintain continuity of learning, from manufacturing products out of household supplies to distributing at-home lab kits. In Illinois, the Community College Board, Board of Higher Education and Illinois Articulation Initiative are allowing the transfer of credits for lab science course offerings that are delivered through nontraditional formats such as simulations, online labs or at-home science kits. In some cases, campuses are exploring ways to safely facilitate hands-on learning over the summer by cutting class sizes or offering intensive summer bootcamps – all while adhering to social distancing guidelines – to help learners make up missed hours.

Keep Equity Front and Center in Funding

As states face declining revenue and anticipate budget cuts in education and elsewhere, they must consider the critical role these programs play in their societal and economic recovery after the pandemic. Funding to decrease the cost of postsecondary education is an important equity lever to help ensure that the talent pipeline into high-skill, high-wage and in-demand occupations includes the entirety of their diverse communities. But a blanket approach to budget reduction, where all learners receive the same benefit, may imperil this approach.

States should analyze their EPSO funding with an equity lens and, when needed, make cuts that don’t disproportionately impact learners traditionally underrepresented in higher education. Increases in cost to the learner, driven by budget cuts, disproportionately impact learners from economically disadvantaged families who cannot absorb a change in cost like an affluent student can. As states assess the impact of this pandemic on education budgets, they should consider strategic changes to help under-resourced school districts, to address affordability for those students that are most price sensitive, and to look thoughtfully about ways to build access to those underrepresented in higher education. Focusing on equity will be critical to ensure budget cuts don’t exacerbate equity gaps in higher education and ultimately the workforce.

Recognize the Role in Recovery

As state and the national economy recovers and reconfigures, states will be looking to ensure they have a strong, robust talent pipeline to address their current, evolving and future workforce needs. There is a lot of uncertainty in forecasting what the labor market and economy will look like in the next three to five years, but it is certain that revitalizing state economies will depend on access to a skilled, educated workforce. States that have invested in career pathways approaches tied to workforce needs, have strong business and industry engagement in CTE, and strong connections between secondary and postsecondary education and industry already understand the value of these programs in driving the state economy. These relationships and a willingness to partner will yield dividends as states emerge from this crisis.

It is too early to measure the true impact of the Coronavirus on postsecondary readiness and credit attainment, but states and institutions can already anticipate some of the barriers that will come and take steps to address them. The time to act is now. States can and should clarify their policies on CTE EPSOs and ensure that the weight of school closures and learning disruption does not unnecessarily harm learners, particularly those who have the most to benefit from these opportunities.

This blog post is the second in a two-part series about the impacts of the Coronavirus on CTE dual enrollment. It was written by Amy Williams, Executive Director of NACEP, and Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research for Advance CTE.

By admin in COVID-19 and CTE
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COVID-19 Will Disrupt Early Postsecondary CTE Credit Attainment: Don’t Make Learners Bear the Burden

Monday, June 15th, 2020

The last weeks of March were a test of adaptability for the nation’s education institutions. Over the span of weeks, school districts, community/technical colleges and area technical centers had to amend remote learning policies amid unprecedented school closures. The rapid pace at which systems and institutions have adapted to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has been likened to turning a battleship at the pace of a speedboat.

Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSO) – which include dual enrollment, dual credit, concurrent enrollment and other related opportunities – play an important role in facilitating successful transitions between secondary and postsecondary education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately one-third of high school graduates take courses for postsecondary credit at some point during their educational careers. The integration of EPSO courses in Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways is creating options-rich, intuitive linkages between high school, college and career. This approach yields benefits to students, their families and their communities: earning postsecondary CTE credit in high school can lead to higher rates of college enrollment, persistence and success. But as schools, districts and colleges adapt to a new Coronavirus reality and a pervasive shift to online learning, where does that leave learners who are enrolled in CTE EPSO courses?

Coronavirus-related shutdowns put pressure on CTE EPSO courses in a number of ways:

The field has been quick to recognize these challenges, but given the decentralized nature of higher education – in most cases, articulation agreements for CTE credit are negotiated at the local level between individual districts and partner colleges – the response has been inconsistent and incomplete. This situation creates both challenges and opportunities.

So how can states respond to some of these challenges? Next week the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) and Advance CTE will explore some strategies to minimize the burden on students and honor their commitment to learning.

This blog post is the first in a two-part series about the impacts of the Coronavirus on CTE dual enrollment. It was written by Amy Williams, Executive Director of NACEP, and Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research for Advance CTE.

By admin in COVID-19 and CTE
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