Posts Tagged ‘Equity and Access’

Funding Career Technical Education: Incorporating Elements Into Funding Models to Address CTE Access, Completion and Program Quality

Wednesday, January 24th, 2024

Advance CTE released the 2023 State of CTE: An Analysis of State Secondary CTE Funding Models to highlight how states and the District of Columbia provide high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) through various secondary CTE funding models and approaches. This blog, the third in a series, describes ways states have incorporated elements into their funding models to address CTE access, completion and program quality. 

Overview

Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE calls on states to design equitable funding models that direct funding to where it is needed most. Funding is not just about budget sheets but about investing in and fostering an environment where every learner’s potential is unleashed. A state’s commitment to CTE is reflected in their financial decisions, and states are making changes to secondary CTE funding models to better serve and offer opportunities for all learners.

Background

Advance CTE conducted a survey with State CTE Directors in summer 2022 to better understand the extent to which states are currently incorporating elements into funding models to address CTE access, completion and program quality. Forty-six state leaders responded to the survey, and Advance CTE followed up with select state leaders in interviews to gather additional information about dimensions of equity.

Some of the most salient findings from the survey of State CTE Directors include:

65 percent reported state funds supported access to secondary CTE programs for all learners, 56 percent reported state funds supported completion of secondary CTE programs of study for all learners, 54 percent reported state funds supported access to equipment and resources in CTE classrooms, 47 percent reported state funds supported access to college and career advisement, and 44 percent reported state funds supported attainment of CTE certifications while in high school.

There remains room for innovation in states’ secondary funding models as almost half of states are not supporting funding in one or several of the dimensions of equity. Additionally, almost a fifth of State CTE Directors indicated their state funding does not reflect any of the dimensions of equity. States should continue to evaluate and incorporate changes to secondary CTE funding models to ensure all learners have access and success through CTE.  

Highlighted Practices

States such as Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico and Texas are linking state funding to state-approved CTE programs meeting quality standards. This move ensures access for learners regardless of their geographical location. 

Other states, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, are incentivizing learner enrollment and success in certain CTE courses or programs aligned with state labor market needs. These states use varying weights (i.e., multipliers) based on program types or course levels, aligning educational goals with workforce demands. For example, Indiana allocates amounts based on the number of CTE credit hours generated by districts and the enrollment in apprenticeship programs or work-based learning.1

Recent shifts in foundational education formulas or bonus structures have also resulted in positive change. Massachusetts, for instance, introduced incremental funding to its formula for Chapter 70 (i.e., the major program of state aid to public elementary and secondary schools) under the Student Opportunity Act, benefitting English language learners and learners experiencing low income, including those in CTE programs.2 You can learn more about Massachusetts in the state case study accompanying this release.

In Texas, local education agencies (LEAs) can earn outcomes bonuses for learners meeting the state’s college, career or military readiness measures. This bonus is weighted for learners who are considered economically disadvantaged or who are enrolled in special populations thereby tailoring additional funds to cater to learner needs, especially within CTE programs.3 You can learn more about Texas in the state case study and read about additional examples in the Research Report accompanying this release.

Recommendations

State leaders should consider the following recommendations if they plan to leverage funding incentives and/or prioritize geographies, learner or program characteristics and/or program areas:

Funding structures must continually evolve to bridge resource gaps among different learners. State CTE Directors can help shape funding conversations so learners thrive in an ever-evolving CTE landscape.

Additional Resources

Be sure to read the other blogs in this series: Funding Career Technical Education: Secondary CTE Funding Basics and Funding Career technical Education: Using the 2023 State of CTE Funding Report Resources. In the next blog in this series, we will explore how states also make contributions to CTE programs through non-categorical programmatic appropriations to support unique elements of CTE.

Please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources about CTE funding. 

Dr. Laura Maldonado, Senior Research Associate

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits, Research
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Nancy Ligus

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

In September 2022, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE) that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. This month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance-CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellows. ECMCF Fellow Nancy Ligus (WV) is passionate about finding proactive and equity-focused solutions to reverse the current education and workforce trends in the state.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I learned of the Advance CTE Fellowship through a colleague at the West Virginia Community & Technical College System last summer. We’d both previously attended one of Dr. Johnson’s information sessions to learn more about the content of the Fellowship and how participating would give us insight and the tools needed to address the diversity and equity challenges we face in post-secondary education in WV. In my role as Director of Workforce and Economic Development for the WV CTCS, I was connected to all nine WV Community Colleges and their efforts in developing training and meeting the workforce needs in their regions. Although I recognized there were gaps in access and inclusion to Career and Technical Education throughout the state, I hadn’t been involved in any initiatives to address the deeper racial inequities and barriers to career pathways. When I transitioned to my current leadership role at Pierpont Community College in north central WV, I realized that I needed the right tools to address these challenges. I saw the Fellowship as a way that I could gain those skills, knowledge, and significantly greater understanding that I could put into action.

What skills or areas have you experienced the most growth in the program?

Through my experience in the Fellowship, I’ve grown my understanding of how systemic policies play a huge role in creating and perpetuating barriers of access to high-quality CTE programs for marginalized populations. Our state has the lowest labor participation rate, low education attainment, and generally a perception of poor educational performance and outcomes, but my new knowledge has allowed me to feel more confident sharing my ideas with other workforce development leaders and collaborating on proactive approaches to reverse these trends.

As I oversee the workforce programs at my college and collaborate on career pathways, I look at each one with a new lens. I feel empowered to anticipate some of the challenges and understand how to overcome them to create more possibilities for people. I’m also bringing what I’ve learned to my staff and other leaders in my college as we are moving out of a transitional period since the pandemic. It seems so timely; we’re sort of starting over to recapture our community’s awareness of what the college’s role is within our region, and it’s a good time to incorporate policies to reflect our commitment to equity.

Have you been tapped for new or more advanced roles within your organization as a result of your experience in the Fellowship? 

While I currently only represent one region in WV, I’ve been invited to participate in several state-wide initiatives which will be very important to the state’s future workforce and economic development. When I’ve had the opportunity, I connect relevant learnings and resources from Advance CTE and the Fellowship to inform my work. I feel like these insights are appreciated and I feel proud to be the person introducing others to innovative ideas from our workshop speakers and discussions. 

One of my objectives for participating in the Fellowship was to pass on my knowledge to future potential leaders and mentor others to continue this important work. That’s certainly been the case at Pierpont Community & Technical College, where I am currently working with the academic leadership to develop more career pathways and create strategies for addressing equity gaps. I serve on several grant committees, and having this experience has given me more appreciation for incorporating my Fellowship-based understanding of racial equity into the planning and implementation of funding.

How has your experience in the fellowship helped you explore new spaces or positions in postsecondary state CTE leadership?

I’ve always been the type of person to seek out opportunities to take my experience and knowledge to a new level. Since participating in the Fellowship, I feel I’m gaining a whole new skill set to add to my range of knowledge in the workforce development space. In my previous position at the WV CTCS, my team and I worked hard to advocate for high-quality CTE programs. While I wasn’t always able to see this labor come to fruition, I feel more confident that I could bring both my post-secondary leadership roles together; knowing what it takes for a community college to put an effective training program together at ground level, with the big-picture knowledge and experience driving and supporting the effort. If I could create my own position, it would be something like Director of Workforce Projects or a role that allows me to serve in a DEI advisory capacity to develop equity-minded practices and policies across the college system and lead a council with representation from each college to share ideas and challenges that may be unique to their area of service.

How has the Fellowship expanded your network?

As a member and Fellow, I am grateful for the wide breadth of the Advance CTE network and resource access. Not only are the resources provided to us through the workshops and speakers, etc. incredibly informative, but the Fellows themselves are exceptional leaders and resources in their own right!  This exposure has revealed where there are still many opportunities for growth in postsecondary education. Seeing and hearing what other colleges are doing to address these challenges through this network, especially through the lens of racial equity, reinforces to me that changes need to be implemented now. 

To connect with Nancy, email nancyl.ligus@gmail.com.

 

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Kayla Brossett

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

In September 2022, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE) that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. This month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance-CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellows. ECMCF Fellow Kayla Brossett (LA) is passionate about expanding access to high-quality apprenticeship opportunities for every learner, and creating strategic partnerships across industry groups to achieve this goal.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I discovered the Fellowship through my previous role with ECMC Foundation in their education solutions division. As a woman of color, I’m very passionate about finding ways to address the lack of racial diversity that I’ve observed in state leadership and throughout my own career as I’ve advanced to different leadership opportunities. I want to find ways to elevate women of color into important decision-making roles in CTE, especially since they are involved in the delivery of these programs. This demographic is underrepresented in workforce development and STEM, so the Fellowship provided an exciting opportunity to expand my network and connect with people who not only look like me, but share my passion for this work. 

What skills or areas have you experienced the most growth in the program?

Through the Fellowship, I’ve had the chance to learn and interact with my cohort and expand my knowledge of the work happening in other states. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with other Fellows who are also doing work around registered apprenticeships. It is fascinating to see how different cities, like Denver, are able to achieve high completion rates for African American women.

The panels have been informative and having this interactive component to the workshops has made connecting with the speakers to learn more about their work more accessible and more effective in developing my own understanding of the discussion topic.

I’ve also learned a lot through working with my coach and her perspective on my process for completing my real-world project has been invaluable. As a consultant that specializes in DEI work, she’s helped me apply an equity lens to the design of my work and iron out details to narrow my focus, and I think the impact will be much stronger for it. I’m focusing in on a more specific demographic of African American women in a certain age range and a certain economic class, and she encouraged me to make these changes because it will lead to more specific measures and higher-quality data collection.

Have you been tapped for new or more advanced roles within your organization as a result of your experience in the Fellowship? 

I am excited to announce that I’ve recently launched my own workforce development firm, Brown Skilled Girl. The idea for this business stemmed from early work on my Real World Project which focuses on gathering data from 500 African-American women to inform interest in training and registered apprenticeship programs for the state of Louisiana. Brown Skilled Girl is a workforce development intermediary firm that aims to elevate African-American women into high-paying career pathways through data analysis, professional mentoring, registered apprenticeship programs, targeted core and soft skills training solutions, and strategic corporate partnerships. Our vision is to advance 1 million Black and Brown American women into diverse and future-ready careers paying a salary over $100,000 USD in 10 years. Our mission is to empower women of color to achieve their full potential by creating pathways to high-paying, fulfilling careers and ensuring that they receive the training and support they need to succeed.

How has your experience in the fellowship helped you explore new spaces or positions in postsecondary state CTE leadership?

I’ve learned a lot about the different funding streams involved with implementing CTE programs. Developing this knowledge will allow me to empower learners through the different opportunities for funding to return to school to earn their credentials and complete their program without debt. That is really powerful and certainly something that I will take with me into my work with Brown Skilled Girl.

I am very interested in working across states to build coalitions to drive strategic outcomes for learners. Prior to the Fellowship, I thought I had to solve all the problems at once, and now I have a more comprehensive view of the different pieces that need to come together to build these solutions. Maybe there is an issue with data use or quality, maybe the issue is due to low awareness, or maybe communication and marketing is the problem. By understanding the root cause, I feel more equipped to develop a plan and identify the right team need to solve specific problems.

I’m currently looking at how I can support companies in securing grants to support their ability to be apprenticeship partners. Registered apprenticeships have demonstrated strong outcomes for learners, particularly in IT.  Studies have shown that there are so many positive outcomes in their placement and their job advancement that I think that every student should have the opportunity to at least decide if that’s something that they want to enroll in.


Have you discovered new opportunities for what a role in postsecondary CTE could look like/ the responsibilities of such a position?

I envision working within state government, and my goal is to create coherent connections between workforce development and economic development to increase the health and responsiveness of the state economy. I see an opportunity to broker partnerships with near-peer states, like Texas, to learn more about how Louisiana could emulate the systems that have been successful in increasing employment opportunities. People are a critical piece of this work and economic development needs to merge so that locals are being trained to assume these new jobs that will improve the economic outlook of the state as a whole. 

To connect with Kayla, email kaylabrossettrivers@gmail.com.

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Research Roundup: Strategies for Fostering Effective Partnerships for Equitable CTE Research

Monday, June 26th, 2023

Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series features summaries of relevant research reports and studies to elevate evidence-backed Career Technical Educational (CTE) policies and practices and topics related to college and career readiness. This month’s blog highlights strategies that support the connection between researchers and local CTE practitioners to generate evidence-based research to inform program improvement. These findings align with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where each learner engages in a responsive career preparation ecosystem.

State CTE leaders are eager to learn about the newest innovations or best practices to improve CTE learner outcomes. Researchers play an important role in translating the outcomes of different interventions and distilling their findings into recommendations that help to shape the direction of CTE programs. The K-12 education research landscape is rapidly shifting, and to effectively recruit districts and schools, researchers need to have strategies for building strong partnerships. A recent blog from the Career & Technical Education Research Network suggests that understanding these changes and their implications for evaluations is crucial for funders, researchers, and policymakers because of limited information on evidence-based CTE strategies and relatively few causal studies of CTE.

During the pandemic, it became clear that districts and schools are already facing many challenges regarding the availability of resources and their capacity to participate in research evaluations. Additional barriers include challenges with identifying clear counterfactuals, or programs to serve as reasonable comparisons, navigating district approval processes, and the willingness of schools to participate in district research.

States can support researchers to mitigate these challenges and foster mutually beneficial research partnerships with local practitioners that will contribute to the development of an effective data strategy. 

Strategies 

The CTE Research Network suggests the following strategies: 

Application for State CTE Leaders 

Strategic partnerships provide CTE leadership with relevant, evidence-based recommendations for implementing high-quality CTE programs for every learner. These partnerships expand the scope and quality of data available to state leaders by working directly with districts to capture the most timely information available to improve the alignment and quality of CTE programs.

There are several examples of established partnerships between state-level agencies and researchers. The Data Quality Campaign produced a Roadmap for Effective Data Use and Research Partnerships that breaks down the steps for integrating research into school improvement policies. 

The American Youth Policy Forum and Results for America also offer resources targeted to support state leaders in pushing beyond simply disseminating data to leverage research evidence to drive policy decisions.

Additional resources on data-informed program improvement can be found in Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center. The Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative blog series represent lessons learned and successful strategies employed across the five states to move their data systems and structures forward.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate 

By Layla Alagic in Research
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Dr. Luv’Tesha Robertson

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

In September 2022, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE)  that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. For this blog in the ECMCF Fellow Feature series, we interviewed  ECMCF Fellow Dr. Luv’Tesha Robertson (KY), who is already using the momentum of the Fellowship to make a positive impact in her role at the Office of Adult Education (OAE) at the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet (KELC).

“When our passion fuels our purpose, we will always blossom where we have been planted and do great work as servant leaders.”

As a lifelong learner, Dr. Robertson always embraced the opportunity to work in spaces where she believed that her skills and talents would have the greatest impact. She discovered her talent for large-scale project work when she worked as a senior associate with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. In this position, Dr. Robertson played a key role in advancing strategic priorities to improve Kentucky’s cradle-to-career initiatives by collaborating with teams across state education agencies and post-secondary institutions. Within six months, this work was rewarded when she was promoted to Director of Program Administration and Accountability with the Office of Adult Education.

“In my current role, I believe that I truly have the best of both worlds. Not only am I able to provide technical assistance to Kentucky’s 26 adult education providers, but I also have the opportunity to dive deeper into local, state, and federal policy and fully utilize my doctorate.”

Dr. Robertson had the opportunity to learn more about the world of career and technical education (CTE) by serving as an academic program manager with the Kentucky Department of Education. Understanding the important role that plays as the nexus of education and the workforce led her to participate in the 2021 Advance CTE Spring meeting.

“This Fellowship was the perfect opportunity to leverage my experience working across different levels of state policy. I realized that the resources and training afforded through this Fellowship would allow me to become the change I wanted to see and make a difference for CTE in Kentucky.”

Dr. Robertson credits the Fellowship with helping her grow as an equity-minded leader and find her voice in this space. In her current position as the Deputy Executive Director with the Office of Adult Education, she has the power and confidence to discuss the challenges that learners face, and the skills in conducting needs assessments to identify and address gaps in processes, programming, and policy.

As a result, Dr. Robertson felt prepared to apply the skills she’s gained through the Fellowship when asked to lead the state’s integrated education and training and workplace literacy initiative. By aligning the cabinet’s work with Advance CTE’s Vision Framework, Dr. Robertson is strategic in how she plans to increase state education outcomes for the Commonwealth as a whole.

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Luv’Tesha Robertson by email at luvtesha.robertson@ky.gov  

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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New Skills ready network highlight: Interview with JPMorgan Chase Vice President Deshaun Mars

Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

The New Skills ready network is part of JPMorgan Chase’s (JPMC) substantial portfolio in support of an inclusive economy and workforce. This five year commitment is part of the New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work and their $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity. With dedication to building equitable career pathways, the New Skills ready network connects six sites —  Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee — with local partners with the intentionality necessary to build a strong workforce ecosystem for all learners. 

As part of ongoing blog topics providing updates on this initiative, Deshaun Mars, Vice President, Global Philanthropy (Job Skills,) and Brice Thomas, Policy Associate engaged in a discussion to highlight JPMC’s view of the initiative and how this work advances JPMC’s philanthropic portfolio and ultimately building high-quality local and state career pathway systems. 

How does the work being done in the initiative support the rest of JPMC’s Global Ready Initiative (GCRI) job, skills, and philanthropy portfolio? 

As a firm, we are focused on creating a more equitable labor market, and we support policy solutions, organizations and initiatives that help upskill and train the workforce of today for future jobs.

More specifically, our Global Career Readiness Initiative prepares young people, particularly those from historically underserved backgrounds, to build skills and enter the labor force through quality jobs.  

This investment highlights the importance of intentional engagement between the education (K-12/higher ed) and business/employer communities to support students and arm them with the resources, skills and access to meaningful career pathways to help power the economy and workforce of the future.  

How do you see JPMC leveraging the work being developed through the initiative? 

Businesses are grappling with a challenging labor market – there are more job openings than qualified people to fill the roles. This investment helps fill that gap by increasing access to skills, training and resources for young people so they are better prepared to enter the labor force with the skills employers need most.  

We are learning how deep cross-sector relationships and partnerships can support young people, communities, and business outcomes. Within our own workforce, we are applying these same principles to transform how we prepare people to compete for well-paying jobs and successful careers.  

With multiple sites across the world, we’re able to share best practices and lessons learned to bolster engagement and strengthen the investment.  

How does JPMC plan to continue supporting the sites? 

Intentional collaboration and partnerships are key to the ongoing support of these sites. We are connecting our local market leaders and the firm’s work across other bodies of work to these partners to help them scale, build capacity and think long-term.  

Since we are past the midpoint of this initiative, what do you hope to see from the participating sites? 

Continue investing in building out the long-term infrastructure of career pathways so this work is not dependent on one funder.

As sites progress on implementation and sustainability, what encouragement would you share in their continued progress? 

We understand how difficult this work is. That is why we made a longer-term investment so our sites have the time to put the infrastructure in place to support and build the local economies of the future. 

The New Skills ready network has also supported the creation of several publications and resources designed to engage and support the field. Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center houses hundreds of reports, briefs and toolkits designed to advance high-quality CTE for our members. The State Work-Based Learning Innovation Tracker, for instance, compiles the work-based learning toolkits from all 50 states to serve as up-to-date models of best practices. Our latest resource from this initiative, the Credit for Prior Learning Messaging Toolkit, provides effective messages targeted to key audiences and strategies for dissemination to increase participation in Credit for Prior Learning among adult learners. 

JPMC, New Skills ready network, and Advance CTE remain committed to helping all learners have access to high-quality career pathways. 

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Pushing the Limits: Nebraska

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) was released in March 2020 with the support of over 40 national organizations. In October 2021, Advance CTE launched a technical assistance opportunity called Advancing CTE Without Limits, which sought to support states in a project to coordinate systems, improve equity goals, strengthen policy, or otherwise align with a CTE Without Limits principle. The year-long Advancing CTE Without Limits project ran from March 2022 to March 2023. This blog series shares the details, outcomes and lessons learned from projects across the three Pushing the Limits state teams – Colorado, Nebraska, and South Carolina.

Project Description

Nebraska has long been a state built around collaboration for Career Technical Education (CTE), particularly in ensuring systems are working toward a common goal and limiting duplication. When reviewing the opportunity to apply for technical assistance for implementation of a CTE Without Limits principle, state leaders looked to specific special populations to help better understand where gaps existed or where collective conversation could lead to better alignment of initiatives. For this reason, Nebraska leaders focused on CTE Without Limits Principle 3: Each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey. Immediately, learners with disabilities jumped out as a population already benefiting from high-quality CTE that, with an interconnected system, could be better served by a combined focus on aligned resources, tools, trainings and supports to make their own career decisions. 

Nebraska built a highly collaborative team, composed of staff from the Nebraska Department of Education’s Departments of Career, Technical & Adult Education and Special Education, Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation and local Educational Service Units, to ensure all state level groups impacting learners with disabilities in CTE were present at the table. Nebraska State CTE Director Dr. Katie Graham echoed the value of this collaboration and importance of this project: “CTE Without Limits has helped Nebraska create a north-star relative to supporting all students in high-quality CTE programs! We’ve strengthened partnerships already in place and, leveraging the Vision, moved from sharing updates to active collaboration to ensure every student has access to CTE Without Limits!”

With the support of Advance CTE coaches, Nebraska’s team focused on five key objectives:

  1. Develop a state-level, sustainable collaborative network that supports students with disabilities in career and technical education and future educational transitions.
  2. Identify related and overlapping state and local policies, practices and resources to create cohesive structures and supports. 
  3. Identify extant and needed data elements (including student, program, district and financial) and process to strengthen State Education Agency and Local Education Agency data-based decision making for students with disabilities participating in CTE. 
  4. Develop and implement a communication strategy through messaging and building local capacity via professional learning. 
  5. Develop policy and funding recommendations and aligned strategies to address gaps in access and outcomes for students with disabilities in CTE. 

 

Project Outcomes

Developing a coordinated goal: After an initial kickoff workshop, the Nebraska project team started in earnest, standing up multiple workgroups, including a data team, a policy team, and a communications team. All members of the team co-constructed a theory of action to serve as a “north star” for all project work moving forward: “All students deserve a high-quality education that prepares them for future success. To realize this vision, students with disabilities must have equitable access to the full rigor of grade-level instruction, access and enrollment in career technical education programs, and opportunity to receive pre-employment transition services in preparation for earning, learning and living.”

Determining the current state of assets: Throughout the year-long project, the Nebraska team identified an inventory of policies, initiatives, resources and tools used by all three departments to determine where awareness could be raised internally and externally about existing practice. This also helped inform where new and improved practices could be elevated to close gaps. The team examined data policy to better understand what data elements were collected across programs and to determine the feasibility of creating new CTE reports with data disaggregated by disability type or connected to Vocational Rehabilitation data to determine delivery areas most in need of attention. Because of the work of this project, these never-before-produced reports will help inform opportunity gaps and how to better support learners across the age and disability spectrums each year.

Promoting progress: The project team also focused heavily on communications efforts to ensure practice was communicated effectively statewide to both educators and families alike. Leveraging their policy and practice inventory, the team determined training and supports needed for inclusive practices and developed a repository of already existing resources that could be put in use immediately. The team is also updating promotional videos to better communicate the value of CTE to learners and families living with disability. 

Training for success: Finally, the project team developed a professional development plan to help support professional learning to include key functions of this project. Supporting learners with disabilities became a focus of Nebraska’s annual CTE conference, with keynotes and breakouts revolving around ensuring all students, including and especially those with disabilities, can skillfully navigate their own career journey. The team also created consistent messaging for including CTE conversations into Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) meetings and determined various funding opportunities or incentives for continuing to support learners with disabilities in CTE programs.  

Lessons Learned

After a year, the Nebraska Pushing the Limits team has both made abundant progress and learned valuable lessons that will impact the sustainability of this project long term. First, progress happened naturally; because leaders knew this project was happening, additional alignment opportunities naturally came to light, and group members were invited to other conversations in other agencies. Second, the formal collaboration helped groups take ownership of project components not normally under their purview, resulting in direct action and awareness that would have been much more difficult otherwise. 

Stay posted for future updates about Nebraska’s collaborative project or for more information about other states’ Pushing the Limits projects. For more information about CTE Without Limits, visit https://cte.careertech.org/sites/default/files/CTEWithoutLimits_Vision_2021.pdf

To learn more about planning and implementing the principles of CTE Without Limits in your state, check out Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits.

For additional information on improving access and outcomes for learners with disabilities, we suggest the following resources:

Making Good on the Promise: Improving Equity and Access to Quality CTE Programs for Students with Disabilities

Advancing Employment for Secondary Learners with Disabilities through CTE Policy and Practice

Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs for Students With Disabilities

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in CTE Without Limits
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Research Round-Up: Analyzing Enrollment Gaps in South Carolina’s Health Sciences Career Cluster

Monday, March 27th, 2023

Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series features summaries of relevant research reports and studies to elevate evidence-backed Career Technical Educational (CTE) policies and practices and topics related to college and career readiness. This month’s blog highlights findings from a replicative study that explores educational inequity within the South Carolina CTE Health Science Career Cluster®. These findings align with Advance CTE’s vision for the future where each learner can access CTE without borders.

CTE programs offer learners the opportunity to build their awareness of different career options through exposure to activities that promote early exploration to more explicit skill development through work-based learning and apprenticeships. When well designed, these programs achieve robust and equitable enrollment that supports local and state economic growth by aligning with relevant and high-wage industries.

One recent dissertation, Educational Equity Patterns within South Carolina Career and Technical Education (CTE): A Replication Study, authored by Nickolas Sumpteris describes the outcomes of replicating a previous study by Fuller Hamilton. Fuller Hamilton analyzed STEM CTE enrollment patterns in Illinois by the racial/ethnic make-up and sexual characteristics of all students within the state. Since no CTE educational equity research exists in South Carolina, Sumpter sought to apply this same analysis to South Carolina’s CTE Health Science Career Cluster. 

Fuller Hamilton et al. (2015) showed considerable differences in enrollment of male participants in the STEM career cluster compared to females and how these enrollment patterns correlated to other enrollment patterns within career clusters at the state and national levels. The original study also showed that all racial/ethnic groups in Illinois, except white students, were generally underrepresented in CTE programming. In addition, learners within marginalized groups identified as special populations under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) experienced significant success in obtaining high-demand skills as a pathway to college or the career of their choice when enrolled in CTE courses

The population represented in Sumpter’s paper consisted of high school learners enrolled in CTE within South Carolina during the 2018-19 school year. Secondary data was collected from a sample of 196,318 CTE enrollees and examined using descriptive analysis procedures. Sumpter’s research questions for this replication study were:

Findings 

The study in South Carolina found inconsistencies in the levels of equity that existed within race, ethnicity, and sex. These inequities were also present regarding regional effects and socioeconomic status.

Sumpter concluded with recommendations for future research:

Additional Resources

Analyzing the Health Science Career Cluster was significant because the healthcare field represents a major employer in South Carolina and is one of the largest growing fields nationally. By improving the enrollment of underrepresented groups in the Health Science Career Cluster, South Carolina can improve the quality of life and the labor market for its residents. 

State, local CTE and career pathways leaders can learn more about effectively harnessing learner group data using Advance CTE’s Achieving Inclusive CTE Goal-Setting Tool. The Achieving Inclusive CTE Goal-Setting Tool strives to equip state and local CTE and career pathways leaders to approach program participation, outcomes data, and goal setting with an inclusive and representative lens. With this goal-setting tool, leaders can more intentionally plan to recruit, engage and support underrepresented learner groups to increase access to high-quality CTE programs and career pathways.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

To read more of Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series featuring summaries of relevant research reports and studies click here.

By Jodi Langellotti in Research
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Research Round-up: State and local government leaders should look to the “STARs” to address hiring woes.

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series features summaries of relevant research reports and studies to elevate evidence-backed Career Technical Educational (CTE) policies and practices and topics related to college and career readiness. This month’s blog highlights the benefits of skills-based hiring that closely aligns with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where statewide systems and institutions effectively support each learner to earn credentials that are counted, valued, and portable.

Public sector jobs are necessary for the continued function of our society, but they are struggling to maintain staffing. The Center for American Progress’s report, The Benefits of Skills-Based Hiring for the State and Local Government Workforce, recommends that “state and local government shift to using skills-based hiring practices to expand and diversify the hiring pool and meet the sector’s skills needs.” This shift would be a departure from the present trend of state and local agencies requiring degrees that act as a proxy for skills. Skills-based hiring is gaining momentum and early implementation has shown promise. Adopting a skills-based approach for employees can be accomplished through initiatives that are already established in many states such as upskilling, teaching an employee new skills at any point in their tenure, or registered apprenticeships, a formal model that combines on-the-job training, classroom instruction and wage progression. 

The Center for American Progress defines skills-based hiring as the practice of describing a job by the technical skills required to perform it. Employers use skills-based hiring practices to fill vacancies by assessing whether a candidate’s skillset aligns with those needed. This report suggests that skills-based hiring is mutually beneficial for institutions and job candidates. Removing the bachelor’s degree requirement on job listings has the potential to increase the talent pool of potential candidates for open public sector positions and position government institutions as more competitive employers.

 

Talent Pool Demographics

More than 70 million Americans are skilled through alternative routes (STARs), a term coined by Opportunity@Work in their report, Reach for the STARs: Realizing the Potential of America’s Hidden Talent Pool. These individuals have either a high school diploma, some college, an associate’s degree or other credentials, but they do not hold a bachelor’s degree, which is the typical educational screen employers put on job postings. This requirement acts as a barrier for workers who are skilled through alternative routes ineligible for public sector jobs.

*Opportunity@Work excludes 20 million workers under age 25 from its analysis of the labor force to ensure that the majority of the population studied has completed their education. **STARs are workers who have attained a high school diploma but not a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Chart: Center for American Progress  Source: Opportunity@Work, “Rise with the STARs,” available at https://opportunityatwork.org/our-solutions/stars-insights/rise-with-the-stars-report/ (last accessed October 2022).

By reconsidering degree requirements, public sector jobs can again be the engines of mobility they once were and reflect the demographics of the constituents they serve. The skills that STARs have built through alternative routes and pathways can be transferable from one job to another. 

*The proportion of Hispanic workers who are STARs is lower because Hispanic workers are less likely to have obtained a high school diploma. Source: Opportunity@Work, “STARsInsights,” available at https://opportunityatwork.org/our-solutions/stars-insights/hispanic-stars/ (last accessed October 2022); Opportunity@Work calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau, “ACS 1-Year Estimates Public Use Microdata Sample: YEAR 2021 ANALYZED,” available at https://data.census.gov/mdat/#/ (last accessed October 2022).

 

Skills-based hiring practices can make governments more competitive employers

State and local governments are facing a significant labor shortage as their workforce comes closer to retirement. Retiring workers (currently comprising twenty-eight percent of state and local government workforce) are far less likely to have a bachelor’s degree than younger workers. This suggests that the barrier to entry to these positions has increased over time and is not mandatory for these positions.

This report recommends the following five principles to make a skills-based hiring policy successful in state and local governments:

Additional resources about skills-based hiring can be found in Advance CTE’s Resource Center.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Research
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Midpoint Highlights of the New Skills ready network

Monday, October 31st, 2022

In February 2020, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced its New Skills ready network initiative, which bolsters the firm’s efforts to support an inclusive economic recovery. This effort is part of both their $350 million, five-year New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work and their $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity. 

While there was a lot of excitement – and some uncertainty – about how exactly the work would unfold, we had no idea that, in just a few short weeks after the launch, the world would change as we knew it. Plans of in-person leadership team meetings, extended needs assessments that included focus groups of learners, industry partners and other key stakeholders, and network-wide convenings were all put on hold or adjusted due to the pandemic. 

While the ramp up may have slowed down and plans evolved, what never changed was the commitment of the six sites, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Advance CTE and our national partner, Education Strategy Group (ESG) to the ultimate vision of this initiative – to dramatically increase equitable access to and success in high-quality career pathways and experiences that lead to good jobs for all learners across these communities. This became even more important as the pandemic laid bare the deep and abiding inequities in our education system, workforce and society, particularly for learners and communities of color. 

We are now two-and-a-half years into the five-year initiative and there is a lot to celebrate! New Skills ready network is a bold and audacious initiative that aims to achieve both systems change at the ecosystem level while also improving programmatic opportunities for learners and industry partners in real time. It is no easy feat to build a career preparation ecosystem that engages and brings along K-12 districts, two- and four-year institutions, intermediaries, state agencies and industry partners – while also implementing new pathways, advising structures and other critical programmatic improvements at the school and institutional level. 

So what have we learned?

For more on site-specific progress, check out the:

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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