Posts Tagged ‘Learner Engagement’

Research Round-up: Impact of Career-Connected Learning on Learner Engagement and Hope

Monday, October 30th, 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 impact of career-connected learning on learner engagement and hope. These findings align with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey.

The New Hampshire Learning Initiative (NHLI) partnered with Gallup to survey a group of New Hampshire learners to better understand the impact of Career Connected Learning (CCL). Specifically, this study sought to measure the interactions between CCL participation, school engagement and hope among middle school and high school learners. CCL is an education strategy aiming to boost learners’ knowledge of potential career options and the skills needed for those careers. CCL bridges CTE and core academic classroom experiences to expand career exploration and work-based learning opportunities.

This sample included 9,600 learners, across grades 5-12 from 28 schools and 13 districts throughout the state of New Hampshire.

In this study, participating in CCL opportunities, as explained in the chart below, was measured by engagement and hope.

Findings from the Gallup-NHLI learner poll demonstrate strong relationships between learners’ career-connected learning participation and their hope and engagement. These encouraging results indicate that CCL opportunities may help move the needle in improving learner outcomes.

What type of Career Connected Learning activities were observed in this study?
CCL learning opportunities occur in various ways within schools or even in the community. Common types of CCL include learning about a job or career in their core academic courses, participating in a career fair or attending a job talk or panel. The graph below demonstrates the frequency of learner participation in various types of CCL activities.

 

 

About one in three high school students (35%) — and one in four middle school students (26%) — say CCL opportunities at their school have informed what they plan to do after high school.

These results are encouraging and provide educators and leaders with the data they need to best foster learner success — an important step in closing the gap between the skills learners have and the jobs employers need to fill.  Partnerships between industry and school districts to increase the frequency of CCL could increase knowledge of local and regional opportunities and peak learner interest. For state and local leaders seeking to leverage the power of CCL in CTE programs, consider the following:


Please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for resources to support connecting the learner experiences in the classroom to careers.

Amy Hodge, Membership and Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Research
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States Make Progress in Strengthening Meaningful Learner Engagement in CTE

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

Career Technical Education (CTE) programs must be designed with learners, not simply for learners, to be responsive to their diverse needs at every stage of the CTE continuum. Being responsive to diverse learner needs can occur only if learners have direct and ongoing input into the design and delivery of CTE programs and experiences. This blog provides an overview of the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE Technical Assistance cohort; highlights the states in the cohort that are meaningfully engaging CTE learners to inform CTE programs and policies; and shares links to resources to support states in engaging CTE learners.

Over the past seven months, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) provided training, resources and coaching to help states identify opportunities to engage learners more meaningfully in the design and delivery of CTE programs and experiences. The cohort of states (Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wisconsin), engaged in six 90-minute virtual sessions and individual coaching sessions to work through the Learner Voice Toolkit to develop and execute on strategies for leveraging learner voice in CTE policies and programs.

Over the course of the technical assistance sessions and coaching calls, each state team developed a comprehensive Action Plan to leverage meaningful learner engagement in the development of CTE programs and policies. The Action Plans are guiding the states’  actions over the next year to improve and systematize their learner engagement. 

Action Plan Development

The development of the Action Plan took place in stages. States first completed an organizational capacity assessment to understand the existing structures, policies, relationships and resources that can support the expansion of learner engagement practices. 

States then identified high-level goals in which they envisioned what meaningful learner engagement would look like in their states to support CTE program improvement, CTE policy development, learner supports, Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process improvement with learner engagement and more. After identifying the goals, states mapped the actions that needed to be taken in order to achieve their goals. 

Through the development of each state’s Action Plan, states included learners’ feedback and input. States engaged learners in focus groups, interviews, surveys, advisory board meetings and more to capture their input and reflect their thoughts in the Action Plans. States in the cohort were supported by Advance CTE with a pool of funds to compensate learners for their time and expertise engaging with state agencies. Over the course of the Action Plan development phase, states in the cohort engaged more than 400 learners.

Early Areas of Success

Prioritizing learner engagement in the development of Action Plans is not a common practice, however, states in the technical assistance cohort are already seeing the value of more meaningfully engaging learners in CTE program development and improvement. 

Wisconsin learned from learners in their state the type of communication they prefer for engagements, the compensation rate they need to engage in events and meetings, the areas of CTE that student voices are most needed and the roles they are most interested in engaging in. 

New Hampshire leveraged the input from learners from their statewide survey to develop a toolkit for regional and local practitioners to improve learner engagement at their CTE centers. 

Colorado and Oregon engaged learners in a mix of focus groups and surveys to learn what they enjoy about CTE, challenges they experience in CTE programs and ways their state agency can do a better job of incorporating learner voice. Both states focused on engaging learners who were not typically included in focus groups or surveys to ensure they had a broad range of voices.

Delaware leveraged learners’ input and leadership and now has two simultaneous learner-led cohorts supporting the development of a new teacher preparation program of study and leadership training for Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) leaders. The learners leading the cohorts support the state agency and foster deeper engagement with their peers across their state to expand the reach of meaningful learner engagement. 

Looking Ahead

As the official cohort technical assistance sessions come to a close, states in the cohort will continue to engage in coaching sessions with Advance CTE and ACTE to actualize the goals they identified in their Action Plans. 

Additionally, Advance CTE will continue to hold space for state leaders to come together to discuss opportunities to improve meaningful learner engagement in CTE in Community of Practice sessions. These one-hour sessions will be held bimonthly from August 2023 through February 2024 and will be open to all states interested in learning more about meaningful learner engagement in CTE. To register to attend the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE Communities of Practice, please fill out the form on this page

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, Advance CTE

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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New Skills ready network Highlight Blog: Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen Career Pathways

Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

The New Skills ready network (NSrn) is part of JPMorgan Chase’s 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 a 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.

Denver, Colorado’s vision for the NSrn initiative, aims to “dramatically increase the number and diversity of students who complete selected high-quality career pathways that start in high school, continue into and through higher education, and lead to good jobs in Denver’s labor market.”

Over the past three years, the project team has achieved significant milestones in the development of high-quality, equitable career pathways including building a shared data framework, aligning work-based learning opportunities within high-quality career pathways and enhancing the learner experience when transitioning from secondary to postsecondary institutions. Under the leadership of the site lead, The Attainment Network, the project team leverages strategic cross-sector partnerships while centering equity and learner voice to enhance and improve their career pathways work. 

A critical component of the Denver, Colorado, site work includes centering and leveraging the voices of learners to understand their experiences, barriers and opportunities and shaping career pathways aligned with their needs.In April 2023, The Attainment Network held their second annual Learner Voice Symposium which brought together an audience of educators, employers and policymakers to hear directly from Colorado learners what they seek in career-connected pathways and how they define success.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, Advance CTE, interviewed Rana Tarkenton, Chief Operating Officer, The Attainment Network to discuss the importance of leveraging learner voice in career pathways and how others might replicate their efforts to meaningfully engage learners in the design and implementation of career pathways.

Overview of the Learner Voice Symposium Event

The purpose of the Learner Voice Symposium is to elevate highlights from learners’ diverse perspectives and backgrounds and provide actionable insights to improve and expand pathways for all learners. The Symposium serves as a reminder to partners of the reason why they engage in this work and elevates the voices of learners who are not always invited to the table when developing and implementing career pathways. Learners, who are not simply the receivers of the work of career pathways, but rather the experts in their experiences, provide critical feedback to leaders. 

The Symposium fills a gap in the career preparation ecosystem in Colorado; leaders developing career-connected pathways are continuously striving to improve the system and learners are disconnected from the leaders who need to hear their voices most. The Attainment Network identified this gap and provides career pathway partners the space to listen to and reflect learner voices in their work in the form of The Symposium. 

The Symposium held virtually on Zoom, included a keynote speaker who is a practitioner that engages with learners frequently and specializes in community engagement, and breakout sessions that are co-led by learners who are compensated for their time and expertise. The Symposium is attended by a wide audience including practitioners in secondary and postsecondary education, college and career advisors, state agency providers, policymakers and employer partners.  

Participants have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions of their choosing covering topics like authentic youth engagement in career pathways, immigrant and undocumented learner experiences, non-traditional learners and pathways and more. Presenting organizations that support the sessions include Ednium, The San Luis Valley Boys & Girls Clubs, Emily Griffith Technical College, MSU Denver and more.

All of the information shared during The Learner Voice Symposium is centered on elevating the experiences of learners and incorporating their voices in the development of career-connected pathways. At the close of The Symposium, The Attainment Network announced their Learner Voice Grants that organizations and institutions can apply for to support and enhance their meaningful learner engagement efforts. 

Impact of The Learner Voice Symposium on the New Skills ready network 

The learner engagement in The Learner Voice Symposium supports the Denver, Colorado, New Skills ready network team in their communications strategies as they develop materials and messaging to better connect learners and families to career-connected pathway opportunities. Additionally, Denver Public Schools (DPS), a secondary partner for the New Skills ready network site, and the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) are two of the grantees for the Learner Voice Grant. DPS and CDHE leverage the grant funding to support their learner engagement work in the development of local and state-level career pathways. 

With more than 175 attendees of The Symposium, The Attainment Network models meaningful learner engagement for its system-wide network. The Network, being a statewide intermediary, supports strengthening the career pathway ecosystem and strengthens relationships with system partnerships that impact learners. 

Further, the Denver, Colorado, project team also elevates the voices and feedback from learners in state-level policy. The Attainment Network, alongside the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Community College System, led an effort to design, collect, and report on community input to inform the HB22-1215 Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-Based Learning Integration Task Force (Study of Expanding High School Programs).

Recommendations delivered to the Task Force focus on equitable access to and successful expansion of high school programs across all regions of Colorado with a focus on traditionally underserved populations and those who have not accessed relevant programming in their educational experience. The discovery process of community feedback collection leveraged community organizations, educational organizations, and local partnerships.

Replicating Meaningful Learner Engagement

Leveraging learners’ input and feedback in the development of career pathways, CTE programs and policies is a valuable component of program improvement. Leaders who are interested in replicating The Learner Voice Symposium should prioritize including learners whose voices are historically underrepresented, leveraging partners who can support recruiting learners to bring them to the table and co-creating the event with partners and learners to ensure the content fills the needs for the ecosystem.

The Attainment Network engages in the planning and execution of The Symposium with an equity lens to ensure a diverse representation of learners, speakers and attendees. The Network also backward plans by prioritizing the outcomes they want the event to achieve from the start of the planning process to ensure there are sessions with meaningful outcomes and takeaways for attendees. 

The planning and execution of an event of this size includes a lot of logistics and leaders should consider adequate staffing, preparation that helps to keep audiences engaged and ensuring the videos and notes from the event are accessible once the event is over. The addition of a visual scribe enhances the experience for attendees throughout the session, as well as providing engaging artifacts to further share learnings after the event and marketing for future events. 

Looking Ahead

As The Attainment Network enters year four of the New Skills ready network, the project team is working towards holding more learner and community engagement events to continue the work of leveraging learner voices, input and feedback in the design and delivery of career pathways. The Network team is currently working on analyzing themes from The Learner Voice Symposium to inform the design of their Colorado Pathways Conference on September 19 – 20. The two-day conference will focus on pathways-focused education-to-workforce systems across the state and country. 

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

 

By Jodi Langellotti in CTE Without Limits
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5 Tips to Create Year-Long Impact Through CTE Month

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

February 1 marks the start of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month, a national celebration of the impact of CTE on learners, families, educators, our workforce and our communities.  It is a critical opportunity to conduct communications and outreach to introduce CTE to audiences who may not be aware of it or may have historical stigmas about its value. In doing so, you can cultivate more diverse interest in your programs and cultivate new CTE champions. 

We asked states what they already have planned, and these were some of their responses. 

Here are five tips to help you push the limits and maximize your CTE Month Activities to create impact not just in February but all year long: 

Tip 1: Use Your Activities to Tell A Story

Your CTE Month activities should be designed to advance your top legislative, strategic plan and programmatic goals. Consider who is invited to your events, who is featured as speakers and what materials should be shared. Combine your top quantitative outcomes with impactful stories from CTE stakeholders to proactively address stigmas or opposition to your goals and reach audiences needed to advance these goals. 

Tip 2: Choose Impact over Quantity

We know staff capacity is limited. Therefore, it is important that work invested in your CTE Month events and activities are not done just only of tradition, but also because they are impactful in advancing goals and reaching your target audience. 

Here are some questions to ask: What audiences do you need to reach during CTE Month? Do your current activities equitably reach those audiences? Do your activities reach new audiences? 

Tip 3: Be Intentional About Who You Spotlight 

Equity and access should be embedded in all CTE Month activities. Consider whether the visual representation, wording used, languages and formats allow your intended audiences to fully know about and participate in the activities. 

Additionally, consider whether all audiences are represented in your events, and if there are specific voices you need to add to your table. Perhaps you have an event for all employers, but are there employers with internship or placement programs supporting special populations that you should target to connect to current work? would it be more impactful to engage specifically with employers with existing programs to support learners transitioning out of foster care or learners with disabilities? 

Tip 4: Activate your CTE Champions

You don’t have to do all CTE Month activities yourself! Consider how your existing champions across policymakers, educators, employers, etc. can hold their own events, leverage existing events to highlight CTE, and/or make introductions to bring new CTE champions to the table. This is particularly important to closing representation gaps in your programs or garnering support for legislative or policy initiatives. 

Tip 5: Make CTE Month Year Round!

Make sure your events aren’t a one-time impact! If some of these tips are causing you to reevaluate your current activities, consider if there are adjustments or new events that can be held throughout the remainder of 2024 to make CTE a larger story that builds toward advancing your goals and initiatives. 

Use Advance CTE’s communication and advocacy resources to reach families, employers and policymakers: 

Stacy Whitehouse, Communications Manager 

 

By Jodi Langellotti in Uncategorized
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New Resource: Elevating Family Voice in Career Pathways

Wednesday, October 5th, 2022

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) calls on leaders to ensure that each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem. One avenue Advance CTE is utilizing to realize this vision is  the New Skills ready network, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. funded initiative which draws on cross-sector partnerships in six cities composed of state, regional and local partners. Building flexible and responsive career pathways systems at each level requires leaders to provide meaningful and ongoing mechanisms for elevating learner voice, and the voices of learners’ families and communities, to share their unique experiences and have direct and ongoing input into the design and delivery of career pathways.

As state leaders continue to assess and adjust program throughout the career pathways continuum, including CTE, steps should be taken too identify the full scope of institutional barriers in policies and programs, develop learner-centric programs and interventions and build trust with marginalized learners and communities to ensure their voices and perspectives are brought to the forefront of decisions. 

In support of this effort, Advance CTE’s new brief, Elevating Family Voice in Career Pathways,  includes five strategies as well as actions, tools and resources leaders can leverage to effectively and meaningfully engage families in every stage of career pathways development. 

This resource details the challenges and opportunities associated with family engagement and provides promising approaches to comprehensive family engagement practices. Some examples of promising approaches and strategies that are meaningfully engaging families include:

Read about more promising examples and five implementation strategies in Elevating Family Voice in Career Pathways  For more resources on developing high-quality career pathways, please visit the New Skills ready network series page in the Learning that Works Resource Center .

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

By Stacy Whitehouse in Publications
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Top Recommendations from Coalition for Career Development Center’s Inaugural Report to Improve State Career Readiness

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

In May, the Coalition for Career Development Center released the first annual The Condition of Career Readiness in the United States. The 129-page report evaluates key states’ career readiness policies, investments and outcomes across all 50 states, including personalized career and academic plans (PCAP), funding, curriculums, accountability, and Career Technical Education (CTE) program outcomes. Accompanying the report is an interactive national map that links available PCAP resources, work-based learning (WBL) toolkits, Perkins V plans, social-emotional learning (SEL) toolkits and ESSA plans for each state to allow state leaders to assess and enhance their career readiness systems 

The report finds that  “[to] become a Career Ready Nation we all have work to do. And, cost-effective solutions and strategies used by many states or regions within states offer a way forward.” As a 50-state landscape of key components of career readiness, this report gives state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders valuable findings and guidance to better align and interconnect career readiness systems that are responsive to the needs of each learner across their entire career journey. 

Here are several recommendations and state highlights that state CTE leaders can consider to make that alignment possible;

Recommendation 1: Expand Post-School Outcome Data 

Recommendation 2: Identify Engagement Strategies for Learners Ages 16 to 19

Recommendation 3: Invest in PCAP

Recommendation 4: Increase Access to Work-based Learning Opportunities

Recommendation 5: Invest in Career Advising

The extensive report includes sources cited from several publications in Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center (specific references can be found starting on page 119.) 

Brice Thomas, Policy Associate 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Resources
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New Skills ready network Site Highlight Blog: Columbus, Ohio Learner and Family Engagement

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

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

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

Policy Associate Dan Hinderliter interviewed Donna Marbury, Director of Client Services for Warhol and WALL ST, a full-service marketing firm that serves as a consultant for the Columbus New Skills ready network site and has partnered on multiple initiatives with Columbus City Schools. This post will highlight the site’s work in elevating learner voice to market career pathways to families. 

Background 

Career pathways in Columbus City Schools provide the opportunity for high school learners to access high quality career technical education, and are open to all juniors and seniors. Dozens of courses are offered through eleven pathway programs split between two locations, Columbus Downtown High School and Fort Hayes Career Center. Through the New Skills ready network, the Columbus project team is prioritizing improving rigor and quality specifically in the areas of health sciences and information technology. Postsecondary partners Columbus State Community College and The Ohio State University are also reviewing quality pathways in this area to ensure seamless transition and alignment for learners in and between educational institutions.

Purpose and Components 

One of Columbus’ project focuses is creating messaging and materials to more effectively communicate the opportunities and benefits of career pathways to learners and families. The strategy focused on direct outreach to students and families through polling, focus groups and co-design sessions. Marbury emphasized that this strategy is rooted in creating communications “not for, but with the end user” to ensure materials meet both learners’ and families’ needs in how they digest and receive information.

This engagement began with focus groups of families and learners in the eighth and tenth grades, both those who are interested in and not interested in participating in career pathways in Columbus City Schools. Focus groups were also held with administrators, counselors and internship coordinators who were identified as key “translators” between student needs and goals and family perceptions and expectations for their students

Marbury acknowledged that it was difficult to reach families due to work schedules, communication needs, and the challenges of connecting virtually, and as a result, a post-focus group survey was targeted specifically to parents to determine communication preferences to better align future engagement. 

Active Listening through Learner Feedback Loops 

Columbus’ strategy integrates learner input beyond one-time focus groups, and Marbury emphasized that it is clear through their work so far that learners want to be involved in the entire process. Design workshops were held to allow a sub-set of learners involved in the focus groups to provide feedback on initial drafts of graphics and messaging. Future quarterly check-ins will engage this group in testing subsequent versions of the messaging and materials. 

Learner feedback on the updated materials has helped to reach diverse groups of students and achieve authenticity through messaging that is easily understood and able to be easily acted upon; photography that aligns with East African and Latinx representation in Columbus communities, and in formats such as memes and videos that match popular means for learners to access information.

Learners want to be involved in these projects. If they are interested in a career pathway, they want to feel empowered to talk about it, and we need to make it easy for them to do so.” – Donna Marbury, Director of Client Services, Warhol and WALL St. 

The updated communication tools are one piece of a larger plan to design and communicate career pathways more clearly to families and learners so that each learner’s academic plans are aligned to their career goals starting as early as middle school. 

Lessons Learned 

Marbury elevated that the choice to participate in a career pathway in Columbus can be an emotional decision because it often requires the learner to leave their home school environment to attend one of Columbus’ career technical high schools. The communications to students and families must address this and highlight the benefits to students now and in the future. She also shared that the opportunity for hands-on learning experiences and the involvement of pathway alumni, particularly those from historically underrepresented populations, strongly resonated with learners. Finally, she emphasized the importance of involving learners and families at not just the beginning but across the entire project cycle of materials development to ensure the end product reflects the needs of the targeted audience. 

For more information about initiatives being pursued by Columbus and the five other sites that are part of the New Skills ready network, view Advance CTE’s Year One snapshots. Additionally, Advance CTE’s recently released learner voice toolkit provides actionable resources, guidance and tools to ensure CTE learner voices are elevated and heard for the improvement of CTE policies and practices

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By admin in Resources
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