Posts Tagged ‘Program Quality’

Advance CTE 2021 Fall Meeting Staff Reflections

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

On October 27 and 28, over 270 state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders gathered for Advance CTE’s 2021 Fall Meeting. Through timely plenary discussions, breakout and networking sessions, members and supporters were able to reflect on the transformations of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, gain knowledge on the latest research and promising practices in states, and create community by building networks with leaders in similar roles. 

Advance CTE staff departed the meeting feeling energized and excited about the many ways our members are going above and beyond to advance the event theme, “Meeting CTE’s Moment”. This post shares top outcomes of Fall Meeting with reflections from Advance CTE staff. 

1. Highlighting High-Quality, Equitable State Practices: Speakers from 22 states and 19 national organizations highlighted innovative state practices, and more importantly provided tangible lessons learned and first steps for leaders to implement the initiatives in their own state. 

“The amazing work being shared by CTE leaders across the country was truly inspiring. The statewide mentorship program and New Teacher Institute in Missouri are best practices models for the nation to emulate. Allowing Local Education Agencies (LEA) to serve as an Educator Preparation Program (EPP) is an outstanding example of out-of-the-box thinking. Despite the crippling disparity in pay compared to the surrounding states, the program has yielded high retention rates by providing new teachers with the supports necessary to be effective practitioners. The jewel of the Fall Meeting, in my opinion, was South Carolina’s presentation on the combined efforts between the state’s CTE and Special Education departments to provide access to high-quality programs of study. The innovative process of evaluating the enrollment and performance of students with disabilities by specific disabilities is a model for developing equitable systems for all learners. I’m excited to see the strategies for improving academic success developed from the analysis and I hope the methodology becomes a national trend.” – Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr., Senior Advisor

“One of my favorite parts of the Fall Meeting was the opportunity state leaders had to share challenges they were facing with top of mind topics and directly problem-solve with national CTE leaders. In a breakout session sharing the latest research on employer engagement, Director of Public Policy James Redstone from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) offered advice to states on how to structure programs and outreach to better meet employer needs. In a session on connecting Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and CTE, renowned national SEL leader Dr. Scott Solberg was able to share best practices and common challenges gained from a network of over 20 states led by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Despite limits to capacity, our members are always so eager to keep innovating. Hearing lessons learned in states from a national perspective is so valuable in order to make the most of the resources and take the work on these topics and more to the next level.” – Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate, Communications and State Engagement

2. Elevating Learner Voice and Learner-Center Systems: Fall Meeting featured a dedicated    series of breakout sessions focused on elevating high-quality examples of national tool and state initiatives that centered learners in policy and practice. Sessions on Advance CTE’s recently released learner voice toolkit  and social capital featured CTE learners.

“The 2021 Fall Meeting intentionally focused on leveraging the learner voice within state CTE decisionmaking. I was thrilled to witness Advance CTE being joined by two esteemed learners over the two-day meeting: Autumn Steffens and Daraja Brown. Secondary learner Autumn shared her hopes for future learner engagement, “It makes me feel seen as a learner and will help with my decisionmaking in the future.” Postsecondary learner Daraja shared how she has leveraged her social capital to advance through career pathways, “It is important for me to find the different professionals, teacher and mentors that I connect with on a personal level…someone that is in my corner and cares about me and my professional development.” Ultimately, it is important that state and local CTE leaders with the ability to influence CTE policy and programming leverage stakeholders from all levels, including learners. By these actions, state and local CTE leaders are taking every opportunity to advance CTE, particularly under the new shared vision, to ensure each learner achieves career success.” – Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate, Digital Media

“Beyond reconnecting with so many familiar faces, I always love the opportunity to hear from national researchers and partners about exciting or important work in the field, especially those that highlight inequities or illustrate how to better leverage the work we all do to support all learners. Timely research from Strada Education Network and the Urban Institute really demonstrated for me the importance of reaching out to learners at the margins of education, whether they are learners disrupted by the pandemic or learners who don’t have access to high quality postsecondary CTE due to gaps in technology access. At the same time, our members bring these learners to the forefront and are working to design CTE programs that are high-quality and equitable. I always leave our meetings excited about the future of CTE!” – Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate 

3. Building Community: Fall Meeting not only provided an engaging chat feature where attendees routinely shared ideas and celebrated their peers, but also featured two role-alike sessions where leaders networked by professional role, identity and stakeholder level. For the first time, leaders of color also had a dedicated space to connect.

“Advance CTE members are no strangers to virtual meetings, and yet no one felt like strangers to each other. The sense of community and camaraderie was apparent via warm “good to see you” chats and among presenters who were meeting for the first time or reconvening for the hundredth time in a breakout session. We know that members have missed being in person together, but I find encouragement and meaning in the Fall Meeting as a culmination of building a virtual community over the past two years.” – Sara Gassman, Senior Associate, Member Engagement & Professional Learning

“The highlight for me was watching our members shout out each other and other members of their team for their incredible work to advance high-quality and equitable CTE! It was heartening and refreshing to see so many old and new colleagues and peers recognize their fierce commitment to CTE and innovative practices for a wide array of policies, such as establishing standing up new advisement systems, expanding equitable early postsecondary opportunities, building local capacity for identifying and closing opportunities gaps, and recruiting and retaining a more diverse CTE workforce, to name a few! Our members are doing amazing work and I love seeing that work recognized and celebrated by their peers across the country.” – Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

4. Advancing CTE Without Limits and Exploring the Future of CTE: Fall Meeting was grounded in the five principles that comprise Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), and each series of breakout sessions sought to challenge the limits of state leaders to transform systems so that each learner can achieve success in the career of their choice. 

“Just seven months after CTE Without Limits was released, it was incredible to see how state CTE leaders are thinking about operationalizing the principles. I had the privilege of listening in on Lisa Stoner-Torbert’s session on Delaware’s PIPEline for career success program for learners with disabilities, which demonstrates how flexible career pathways, aligned funding and cross-sector partnerships can provide historically marginalized learners the means to succeed in their chosen career pathways.” – Austin Estes, Data & Research Manager

“Another standout moment was during the Ensuring Access to CTE for All Learners Through Equitable Recruitment and Admissions Requirements session. The speaker, Ms. Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Assistant State Superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education, so eloquently shared the importance of diversity in advancing our vision for CTE through a visual “band” analogy. She explained the need to have “all instruments” represented in order to produce great music and how the lottery system in their state was not allowing for “all instruments” to have a chance to be part of the band. Her example provided the why behind the work as she shared policy and practices their state edited to create more equitable access to programs. The co-presenters for the session from the state of Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner and Elizabeth Bennett, Associate Commissioner of CCTE, also incorporated CTE Without Limits in their concrete examples of how they have revised state policy and law to create a path for all learners to be recruited and admitted in high-quality CTE programs in their state. 

It was great to hear and learn from state leaders and funders who believe and are invested in the CTE Without Limits vision. State leaders were inspired to innovate, be bold and take action to execute the vision without limits in their respective states.”  – Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Advisor 

5. Connecting Federal Policy to State Action: Fall Meeting attendees had the opportunity to receive updates on the latest federal policies and supports from senior officials at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). 

“The highlight of the Fall Meeting for me was the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with DOL on the lasting effects of the pandemic on the labor force and the future of work. The discussion elevated the necessity for alignment across secondary, postsecondary and the workforce and the opportunity for CTE to bridge that alignment. It was clear that DOL is supportive of the work our members are conducting in all states. and that the administration wants to continue to fund initiatives that support the economic recovery of our nation and challenge our limits on innovative programming and learner engagement in high-quality career pathways.” – Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate  

If you were not able to attend the Fall Meeting, don’t worry – Advance CTE’s Spring Meeting is not too far away. Advance CTE is carefully considering the safety and needs of members as we determine the best format and capacity for this event, and more information will be coming soon. In the meantime, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center to access the reports, resources and tools shared during Fall Meeting. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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New Skills ready network Site Highlight Series: Indianapolis Pathways Evaluation Framework

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

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.

Our newest blog series will highlight 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. 

For this post, Policy Associate Dan Hinderliter interviewed Jennifer O’Shea, Postsecondary Readiness Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to learn more about their career pathway evaluation framework used to measure the quality of their 42 pathway programs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purpose 

O’Shea shared that developing a pathway quality framework rubric had several purposes: 

Ultimately, the project team is aiming for all IPS students to be “future-ready” graduates with a significant portion completing and earning credit for early postsecondary credit through CTE, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Early College programs. 

Framework Composition 

The framework was created by a consulting firm using the foundations of the Association of Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) Quality CTE Program of Study Framework and Naviance’s college, career and life readiness framework to create program quality criteria.  

Both qualitative and quantitative feedback was incorporated into this framework. In addition to considering existing CTE programs of study requirements, feedback regarding program quality was collected from families, school counselors, administrators, instructors and industry partners. In addition to the rubric, evaluators will also examine enrollment and completion data disaggregated by race to identify enrollment disparities as a quality indicator. 

Framework Use 

After the evaluation was completed for all 42 pathways, each pathway component each was coded red, yellow or green. The coding was then used to decide to sunset, merge or enhance each pathway. Five pathways had a substantial number of green components and identified as already achieving substantial alignment with the quality criteria.

Five pathways were chosen as an initial focus group for enhancement as part of Indianapolis’ New Skills ready network priorities in consultation with local two and four year institutions that will partner with IPS to create more seamless postsecondary transitions and early postsecondary opportunities. The five career pathways chosen were Business Administration, Construction Trades, Digital Manufacturing, Engineering, and IT Tech Support & Services.

Benefits of New Skills ready network Partnership 

While the district’s work to evaluate and improve pathway program quality began prior to joining the New Skills ready network, O’Shea shared that participating in the initiative has made the process more impactful and collaborative. She cited the initiative’s focus on collaboration as a means to utilize lessons learned from other sites as well as create a more comprehensive framework based on input from K-12, postsecondary, industry and workforce leaders rather than operating in a silo. The initiative’s funding also allowed for long-term investments to evaluate and maintain program quality through the addition of a data analyst, employer engagement manager, and a new college and career exploration course for middle grades.  

For more information about the early accomplishments of Indianapolis and the five other sites that are part of the New Skills ready network, view Advance CTE’s Year One snapshots. For more resources on strengthening career pathways, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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Communicating CTE: New Communications Research Highlights Key Equity Considerations in Communicating CTE to Families and Learners

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

 

Today, Advance CTE released a new report and updated resources on messages that resonate with families about the value and benefits of Career Technical Education (CTE), and how they should be communicated to each learner to achieve effective and equitable recruitment into secondary CTE programs.

Communicating Career Technical Education: Learner-centered Messages for Effective Program Recruitment  is an update to messaging research conducted in 2017 on families both participating in (current) and not participating in CTE (prospective). This new research  includes an intentional focus on revealing differences in education preferences, experiences, and message and messenger impact among Black and Latinx families and families experiencing low income to advance a shared vision of CTE programs where each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed.

Encouragingly, the topline findings showed that an overarching message about ‘Preparing for the Real World’ resonated with learners and parents/guardians across participation, race, ethnicity and income: 

Through CTE, learners gain real-world skills that prepare them to succeed in college and a career that they are passionate about. 

However, the research also revealed important equity considerations that states should consider when supporting local systems in evaluating and taking steps to improve equity in program quality in hands-on particularly in regards to program quality, the impact of social capital and messenger trust. 

1. Learners in CTE have more opportunities to prepare for postsecondary education and are more confident about completing a degree. 

The findings indicated that participation in CTE increased the likelihood that learners planned to complete a degree over completing ‘some college,’ particularly among Latinx  families and families with low income.

Additionally, 80 percent of families participating in CTE are satisfied with opportunities to jumpstart their postsecondary education in high school through opportunities to earn college credit and take advanced classes compared to just 60 percent of families not participating in CTE.

State Impact: These findings reinforce the importance of states designing seamless transfers from secondary to postsecondary education across all career pathways, removing barriers to accessing early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs), and communicating these opportunities in digestible, intentional ways to families. 

2. Informed school-based messengers are key for CTE enrollment, but online sources and messenger trust are key considerations for historically marginalized families. 

While school counselors and teachers were the top two sources for both families in and  outside CTE to receive information about CTE programs, families from historically marginalized populations also consistently included online sources such as Google search and school websites in their top two sources. 

Significantly, historically marginalized learners not participating in CTE were less likely to choose school counselors as a top source than parents/guardians. While 84 percent of prospective Latinx parents/guardians would likely consult a school counselor about CTE, only 37 percent of prospective Latinx learners would. Among Black families, 74 percent of prospective Black parents/guardians would likely consult a school counselor about CTE while only 59 percent of prospective Black learners would. 

State Impact: These findings reinforce the importance of states designing communication campaigns through multiple avenues with reinforced messaging like those found in our updated messaging triangle (LINK), as well as examining systemic barriers and solutions to building more diverse school counselor and instructor talent pipelines. 

3. Families participating in CTE are more satisfied across all aspects of their education, but intentional focus is needed on achieving equitable access to hands-on experiences. 

The great news is across race, ethnicity and income, 88 percent of parents/guardians and learners participating in CTE are satisfied with their education experience compared to 75 percent of those considering CTE. This includes aspects such as quality of classes and teachers, opportunities for career exploration and skillbuilding, and even opportunities for advanced classes. 

However, equitable satisfaction by race and income was not achieved for work-based learning experiences such as opportunities to connect and network with employers and opportunities for internships. For both of the aforementioned categories, satisfaction among current Black learners dropped 1 and 2 percentage points respectively compared to prospective Black leaners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Impact: As states continue to reimagine CTE programs and work-based learning experiences in this learning recovery, this finding reinforces the importance of designing programs on the margins and removing barriers to access to ensure each learner participates in high-quality programs across all career pathways, and to realize the full impact of these effective messages. 

Overall, CTE provides the education experiences and benefits that families are looking for, but program quality is critical to achieve full message impact and effective recruitment. To read the full report and to access resources to put this research into action including a message triangle with tailoring for historically marginalized populations, please visit our Engaging Families and Learners web page. For resources on advancing equity and access in CTE programs, visit the Equity and Access page in Advance CTE’s Resource Center.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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A Decade of Visions for Career Technical Education and Why it is Time for CTE Without Limits

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Advance CTE is looking forward to releasing Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, a new vision supported by 38 national organizations that pushes Career Technical Education (CTE) to its full potential by dismantling systems that silo stakeholders and perpetuate inequalities so that each learner has access to and the means to be successful in the career of their choice. 

This shared vision is the culmination of over a decade of efforts by our organization and our members to better connect systems of learning and work to advance learner success. CTE Without Limits takes that work to the next level by providing a framework for system-wide transformations that have held CTE in providing high-quality and equitable experiences to each learner regardless of their background or where they live.

A Decade of Visions for the Future of CTE

 In 2010, Advance CTE released Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for CTE. This vision emerged from the economic crisis of the late 2000s and strived to place CTE at the forefront of preparing learners and workers with the skills to achieve sustainable careers in a global economy. This vision focused on achieving excellence in program quality through improving program alignment with the National Career Clusters® Framework, increasing industry participation in program development, developing national programs and assessments to increase skill portability and connecting data systems across learning and work to identify and elevate high-quality CTE programs.

Successful initiatives related to this vision include: 

In 2016, Advance CTE and 11 supporting organizations released Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This vision elevated the emphasis on creating learner-centered and learner-supported systems and introduced the need for a shared commitment among CTE stakeholders to advance program quality and system alignment across each learner’s journey. 

This vision also shifted its focus from national initiatives to improving state systems to fully serve learners and position them for potential scaling. Significant new action areas included the development of an integrated career advisement system, expanding work-based learning for all learners, removing barriers to recruitment and retention of quality instructors and enhancing accountability measures in federal and state policy across programs where learning and work intersect. 

One of the most important accomplishments of this vision was the reauthorization of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The updated legislation successfully included elements to build learner-centered systems, including streamlined performance targets and program quality measures to better define and track learner success; an increase in the reserve fund set-aside to encourage innovation and flexibility; and the creation of a new comprehensive local needs assessment that compels state CTE leaders to conduct regular, collaborative evaluation of program and learner needs.

The Need for a New Vision for CTE 

The national crises of the past year has brought to the forefront issues that have held learners and workers back for too long. Our new vision, CTE Without Limits, will be released next week and is inspired by the ideas of more than 200 CTE leaders and partners that participated at our CTE Forward Summit in Fall 2020. 

This vision names solutions that not only bring together actors across K-12 and postsecondary education, workforce development and business and industry, but also lay the groundwork for CTE to lead in addressing the most pressing issues facing learning and work as a whole, including breaking silos among systems; dismantling barriers that perpetuate racism and inequalities that inhibit learner success; and empowering the individual to contribute to and direct their path to career success. We are most proud that this vision takes a much-needed step in prioritizing equity not only as a principle, but also as a theme that unites all five vision principles and action areas. 

Take the first step to bring this new vision to life – register to join us on March 18 at 2:00 pm ET to celebrate CTE Without Limits virtually featuring Sara Allan, Director of Early Learning and Education Pathways at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of the Metro Nashville Public Schools, Emily Fabiano, Director of Strategy and Operations, Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, and Dr. Nicole Smith, Chief Economist, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

We hope to see you there! 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits
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Navigating CTE during COVID-19: States Must Maintain Quality In the Face of Flexibility

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

 

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances for all learners, as outlined in the first blog in this series. A key tenet of equity is flexibility, meeting each learner where they are at and providing the supports needed to help that learner be successful. However, this flexibility must always be offered with a persistent commitment to access and quality. During the crisis facing our nation, understandably, the response to these challenges of massive school and college closures and rapid scaling of distance learning has been to provide significant flexibility to states and educational institutions. For example, many postsecondary institutions have made classes pass/fail, the U.S. Department of Education is granting waivers to states who are unable to assess students during the pandemic, some states are waiving graduation requirements, and some states have taken action to waive licensure requirements

When leveraging the flexibility provided, states must ensure that the actions they are taking do not disproportionately negatively affect historically marginalized populations or lead to widening or new equity gaps. Quality should not be sacrificed in the name of flexibility. 

Equality vs. Equity. Retrieved from Shorter-Gooden Consulting (n.d.). https://www.shorter-goodenconsulting.com

The decisions that state leaders make today can have significant long-term consequences. For instance, some postsecondary institutions have made classes mandatory pass/fail to address equity concerns. Institutions recognize that students’ current environments may not be conducive to learning and therefore the letter or numerical grades they receive may not be a true reflection of their abilities or their peers whose lives have not been as disrupted by the pandemic may have an unfair advantage. However, making classes pass/fail can have long-term consequences for grade point average calculation for scholarships and the transferability of credits. There must be intentional alignment across systems and institutions to ensure that learners are equipped with the skills, knowledge and experiences needed to succeed. Pass/fail grading constructs do not provide enough information, regarding the skills and knowledge a learned acquired, thus having long-term consequences to future educational and career progression. Further, pass/fail courses often do not transfer. Therefore, institutions must provide transparency about whether they will waive credit transfer requirements and allow students to receive credit for pass/fail classes to promote seamless transitions and prevent exacerbated equity gaps.   

As we experience continued periods of disruption, state leaders must be prepared to make difficult decisions to prioritize equity to ensure that each learner is able to access and thrive in CTE programs.

This is the second blog in a series of blogs that will map out how state leaders can continue to advance equity, quality and access during the Coronavirus pandemic. Read the first blog in the series here. To learn more about Advance CTE’s commitment to advancing equity in CTE, click here. To access resources related to equity and the Coronavirus, click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

By Brianna McCain in Uncategorized
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What Do State CTE Directors Want to Learn from the Research Community?

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Career Technical Education (CTE) is gaining widespread interest and support from state policymakers, who see it as a strategy to expand access to opportunity and meet employer needs. Between 2014 and 2018, states enacted roughly 800 policies related to CTE, and in 2019, workforce development was one of the top education-related priorities mentioned by governors in their state-of-the-state addresses.

What’s more, in 2018 Congress passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which reauthorized the federal law for CTE and invests around $1.2 billion a year to strengthen and expand CTE programs. The law was enacted in July 2019 and will be in full effect in July 2020 after states submit their four-year plans for CTE to the U.S. Department of Education (see more about the Perkins V planning process here).

With CTE in the spotlight, State CTE Directors are working hard to improve quality and equity in CTE. But state CTE offices often do not have the staffing or resources to conduct rigorous program evaluations to learn what’s working and what needs improvement. By partnering with CTE researchers, State Directors can gain critical insights into the impact of CTE programs, policies and practices.

While the design, governance and delivery of CTE varies from state to state, there are several common questions and challenges across the country that CTE researchers can help address, particularly in light of Perkins V implementation:

Improving program quality: State leaders are working to improve CTE program quality by connecting secondary and postsecondary coursework, integrating academic and technical learning, aligning programs with labor market needs and expectations, and preparing learners to earn industry-recognized credentials of value. Tennessee, for example, recently revised its secondary CTE program standards and developed model CTE programs of study that meet statewide workforce needs. Answers to the following research questions would help fuel these efforts:

Ensuring equitable access and success in CTE: To reverse historical inequities in CTE, state leaders are using data to identify disparities and ensure each learner can access, fully participate in and successfully complete a high-quality CTE program of study. In Rhode Island, the Department of Education repurposed $1.2 million in state funds to launch an Innovation & Equity grant initiative, which provided resources to local recipients to recruit and support underrepresented student populations in high-quality programs. CTE researchers can help these efforts by addressing the following questions:

Improving the quality and use of CTE data: Most State Directors believe improving and enhancing their CTE data systems is a priority, but only 45 percent say they have the information they need at both the secondary and postsecondary levels to improve program quality. States like Minnesota (through the State Colleges and University System) are working to improve the validity and reliability of their data by collaborating with industry-recognized credential providers to obtain data for their students. CTE researchers can help state leaders improve data quality in two ways:

Fostering collaboration and alignment across state agencies: Supporting learner success requires cross-agency collaboration and coordination. State leaders are working to create seamless pathways by sharing data, coordinating program design, and braiding resources to achieve economies of scale. One example is Massachusetts, where Governor Charlie Baker established a cross-agency workforce skills cabinet to coordinate education, workforce, housing, and economic development. The following research questions would help accelerate the work in Massachusetts and other states:

Expanding career advisement opportunities: School counselors are the most trusted source of information on CTE and career options, and states are working to bolster their career advisement systems by reducing the counselor-to-student ratio, requiring each student to complete an individualized graduation plan, and developing user-friendly platforms for career exploration. In Oklahoma, for example, it is now policy for all students to identify their career and academic goals through the state’s new Individual Career and Academic Planning program. CTE researchers can help address the following questions:

As states chart a vision and path for the future of CTE, they can and should use their data to inform decisions. Researchers can help them collect and analyze high quality data to understand the relationships between CTE program elements and various learner outcomes. This can help them understand what is and isn’t working with current policy and practice and identify how to focus their efforts to improve quality and equity in CTE. In addition, researchers can help state directors plan and conduct rigorous evaluations as they roll out new CTE policies and programs. Over the next few months, Advance CTE and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will feature a series of successful partnerships between states and CTE researchers and explore how those projects provided critical data and insights to inform state policy.

This blog series was co-authored by Corinne Alfeld at IES (corinne.alfeld@ed.gov) and Austin Estes from Advance CTE (aestes@careertech.org). IES began funding research grants in CTE in 2017 and established a CTE Research Network in 2018. IES hopes to encourage more research on CTE in the coming years in order to increase the evidence base and guide program and policy decisions. At the same time, Advance CTE has been providing resources to help states improve their CTE data quality and use data more effectively to improve CTE program quality and equity.

By Austin Estes in Research
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The Colorado Community College System is creating a new vision for career and technical education – and using Advance CTE’s Policy Benchmark Tool to support that process

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

As Colorado’s population and economy continue to boom, employer demand for skilled workers is at an all-time high. Career Technical Education (CTE) can meet that need and more. Last October, the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), which houses the state’s CTE operations, began the process of developing a statewide strategic plan for CTE. Branded “Next Gen Ed,” the plan aims to strengthen Colorado communities with a new direction for the role of CTE – not just as academic and technical preparation, but as a complete and impactful experience that prepares learners for their career, life, and civic participation.

Across the state, we are hosting visioning sessions with business and industry leaders, community members, and parents to understand how we can work together to provide an education for students that meets future workforce needs. Some of the topics being discussed are perceptions of CTE, work-based learning, and the transition from postsecondary education to the workforce. A critical aspect we’re also addressing in constructing our strategic plan is CTE program quality, and to help us do that, we’re using Advance CTE’s Program Approval Policy Benchmark Tool.

The Benchmark Tool is designed to help states evaluate and strengthen their secondary and postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) program approval policies and processes. It specifies the core elements that an effective program approval policy should have, and provides a step-by-step guide for CTE leaders to identify gaps in current state policy and prioritize areas for improvement. This can better ensure that all postsecondary CTE programs are of the highest quality and relevance.

In Colorado, we are using the tool to assess our state-level postsecondary policies, and we are introducing the tool to our academic discipline groups, which include key faculty from specific program areas from all the state’s community colleges. While the tool focuses on policy, using it means taking a deep dive into practice. How do we actually align programs of study with academic and industry standards? What does it mean to collaborate with our high school counterparts and with industry? These conversations have been supported by Advance CTE through a grant from The Joyce Foundation.

We know there is still a need for more career development in Colorado; we want all students regardless of interest to be prepared to enter the workforce and beyond. Our hope is that CTE will drive the state’s education, workforce and economic priorities. I am excited about our new CTE vision and strategic plan; I know it will contribute to stronger communities and will benefit this generation and future ones.

To learn more about CTE in Colorado and to stay up to date on the visioning process, visit coloradostateplan.com.

Sarah Heath, State CTE Director and Associate Vice Chancellor, Colorado Community College System

By Ashleigh McFadden in Uncategorized
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High-quality State Policy is Crucial for Ensuring Program Quality

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Advance CTE has just released a Policy Benchmark Tool that will allow states to evaluate and improve their program approval policies. In this tool, Advance CTE has defined and described the non-negotiable elements of an effective policy for approving and evaluating programs of study, which encompass both secondary and postsecondary CTE.

Any policy – be it regulatory, legislative or programmatic – related to ensuring high-quality CTE programs are developed and implemented should include and/or address the following core elements. While there may be other elements within a CTE program approval policy, if a state does not address the list below, its CTE program approval policy will not be able to sufficiently ensure that all CTE programs are high-quality.

  1. Rigorous course standards and progressive, sequenced courses: All CTE programs must be comprehensive, aligned with rigorous standards and prepare learners for opportunities in high-skill and in-demand fields
  2. Secondary and postsecondary alignment and early postsecondary offerings: All CTE programs must vertically align across the secondary and postsecondary education levels to ensure seamless transitions for learners, and allow learners to earn credentials of value, including postsecondary certificates and degrees.
  3. Industry involvement: Industry partners at the state and local level must play an active role to identify, develop and regularly review CTE programs of study.  
  4. Labor market demand: CTE programs must prepare learners for careers in high-skill and high-demand fields.
  5. High-quality instruction: Any CTE program must have appropriately certified instructors in place before being approved by the state. Ensuring instructors have the necessary academic content, knowledge of pedagogy and industry expertise must also be a top priority.
  6. Experiential learning: High-quality CTE programs must provide opportunities for learners to engage in authentic experiential learning both inside and outside of the classroom.  

 

State leaders can use the CTE Program Approval Policy Assessment Rubric to identify gaps in their current state policy on these six criteria and prioritize policies that validate potential programs of study in a way that shows they are high-quality and are aligned with the state’s vision and definition of success. Once state leaders have completed an assessment of their state’s CTE program approval policies, they can begin planning for implementation using the templates and prompts. After they have completed these sections, state leaders can then examine the CTE Program Evaluation Policy Criteria for potential criteria to inform CTE program re-approval, evaluation and potentially phasing out CTE programs that are not deemed high-quality.

To support its members in using this tool, Advance CTE has also created a facilitation guide for the rubric, and is eager to provide virtual and/or in-person assistance to a select number of interested states. Email Ashleigh McFadden at amcfadden@careertech.org for more information.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Advance CTE Resources, Publications, Resources
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Latest Advance CTE Brief Examines Rural CTE Program Quality

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

When Todd County School District received a $103,000 grant in 2014 under Governor Dennis Daugaard’s South Dakota Future Fund, the rural South Dakota district put the money to use, administering a survey of local business leaders to identify the career pathways that were most in need in the community. With the information collected through the survey, Todd County School District updated and aligned Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum to better reflect employer needs.

Targeted investments like Gov. Daugaard’s fund, which has since evolved into South Dakota’s Workforce Education Grant program, provide a catalyst for rural districts and institutions to improve CTE program quality and ensure career pathways are aligned with labor market needs and student interest.

Improving CTE quality in rural communities is an imperative for all states, yet rural CTE programs often face unique challenges that are not present in more densely populated areas. For example, decentralization, lack of resources and more limited employer relationships in rural communities can result in the preservation of legacy programs over more industry-relevant career pathways. Decisions about what programs to offer are too often driven by the availability of equipment or facilities, teacher supply and even tradition.

To help states improve the quality of rural CTE, Advance CTE today released the first in a series of briefs titled CTE on the Frontier: Catalyzing Local Efforts to Improve Program Quality. The brief explores state strategies to improve the quality of local CTE programs to ensure they meet industry needs and expand opportunities for rural learners, drawing on promising practices from the states:

These examples demonstrate different approaches state leaders can take to empower local leaders and support program improvement in rural areas. Future briefs in the CTE on the Frontier series will tackle other common challenges, including learner access to the world of work, employing strategic partnerships to increase program offerings and strengthening the rural CTE teacher pipeline.

CTE on the Frontier: Catalyzing Local Efforts to Improve Program Quality was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

By Austin Estes in Publications, Resources
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New Advance CTE Report Highlights States that Are Raising the Bar through Career Pathways Approval

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Next week, Advance CTE will recognize the winners of 2017’s Excellence in Action awards — an annual competition to elevate and celebrate high-quality programs of study. This year’s slate of competitors is stronger than ever, demonstrating how well-designed programs that integrate academic and technical instruction, span secondary and postsecondary education, and equip learners with relevant work-based learning experiences can prepare learners for academic achievement and career success.

Examples of strong programs of study — and career pathways, more broadly — exist in every state. Yet all too often these career pathways are islands of excellence, setting the bar for quality, but requiring further state action to ensure all students can benefit from strong career pathways. While the approach to developing career pathways varies across the nation, state leaders can play a role in promoting quality by leveraging policy, programs and resources to ensure all career pathways meet minimum standards.

Today Advance CTE released its newest report, Raising the Bar: State Strategies for Developing and Approving High-Quality Career Pathways. The report examines successes in Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware to demonstrate how states can use the career pathways approval process to raise the level of quality.

All states have processes in place to review and approve career pathways, but not all use them to promote and uphold quality standards. This report describes a few approaches states can take — such as defining quality criteria, using fiscal and accountability policy to incentivize adoption, and providing regional supports — to promote quality through the pathways approval process.

This report was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Publications, Resources
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