Posts Tagged ‘EPSOs’

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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