Posts Tagged ‘Program Quality’

CTE Without Limits Spotlight: Q&A with Nancy Hoffman of JFF on ‘No Dead Ends’

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Earlier this year, Jobs for the Future (JFF) issued a policy brief, “No Dead Ends: How Career and Technical Education Can Provide Today’s Youth With Pathways to College and Career Success.” This resource aligns with the current vision for the future of Career Technical Education (CTE), Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education  where each learner is able to navigate their journey to career success without limits. 

“No Dead Ends” offers a series of federal and state policy considerations that are informed by the insights of leading secondary and postsecondary practitioners. The brief also spotlights several states with strong policy conditions.

Advance CTE spoke with college and career pathways expert Nancy Hoffman of JFF to learn more about the report. Below, she shares her reflections, research, and policy recommendations for how state and local CTE leaders can realize the mindset of “without limits.”

The Advance CTE team encourages members to draw on the ideas and evidence in this blog to advance aims around equity, economic mobility, and systems alignment. 

Advance CTE: It’s great to speak with you, Nancy. Can you share what a “without limits” vision means to you and how it ties into JFF’s call for “no dead ends”? 

Nancy Hoffman: The first time I heard the phrase “no dead ends” was in 2005 on a tour of Switzerland’s vocational education and training (VET) system. Swiss VET engages the majority of Swiss teenagers in a mix of school and paid apprenticeships with two to three days of paid work each week. The VET system is designed to provide youth with multiple pathways (see graphic  and page 6 of this report). All progression routes are open to all youth “without limits” as aligned with the CTE Without Limits vision, and the system is “permeable,” meaning there are “no dead ends” to pathways that a 15-year-old VET student chooses. Career exploration begins early with all middle schoolers spending a week with an employer in an occupation of interest.  Students get help understanding choices in the school curriculum as well as in each town’s career advising center. The apprentice may end up, as many do, with a bachelor’s degree from a university of applied sciences, even a Ph.D., and may change from one field or company to another. 

While the United States has come a long way in embracing a new narrative about career and technical education (CTE), dismissive attitudes remain. Unlike in Switzerland, our public discourse separates going to college from career preparation, despite the fact that everyone goes to college to get a career—whether pursuing an industry certification or a Ph.D. JFF’s No Dead Ends publication takes a hard look at how to remove the remaining stigmas seen in policy, in practice, and in the public perception that CTE students are “not college material” and are in a “remedial” pathway that will lead to jobs with low wages demanding only basic skills.

To continue to move CTE perceptions in a positive direction, the JFF brief requires action on three levers: higher visibility for CTE, better allocation of resources, and incentives that reward CTE programs in the same way as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other such markers of readiness for postsecondary education. No Dead Ends also demands that all programs for college and career preparation be assessed with an equity lens. Ironically, the institutional racism that historically funneled students of color and low-income students into CTE is now shutting them out in some states. In many regions, CTE is becoming an attractive way for privileged students to get hands-on experience in high tech, engineering, health care, and the like. 

Advance CTE: JFF’s No Dead Ends report emphasizes the importance of “career identity,” which corresponds to Principle 3, “Each Learner Skillfully Navigates Their Own Career Journey.” What does career identity mean, and how can it be supported for each learner? 

Nancy Hoffman: As we have come to learn, career advising is not the same as supporting a young person’s journey to career or vocational identity. At JFF, we define career identity as the link between a person’s motivations, interests, and competencies and their potential career roles. 

Child development researcher Dr. Robert Halpern has written extensively on the need for schools to nurture the vocational identities of teenagers. He notes how little support most schools provide in helping young people “attend to their vocational selves: to confirm and disconfirm interests; think about and understand vocation (and vocational knowledge) in deeper, more differentiated ways; learn about vocational possibilities and understand what it means to be prepared for specific kinds of work; and understand how to prepare for work and the length of time that requires.” Halpern put it, “When thinking about career paths, young people are asking not simply ‘what do I want to do?’ but ‘who do I want to be?”  Young people begin to ask such questions as early as middle school, but most middle school curriculum does not integrate the study of careers and career exploration into the curriculum. Indeed, this gap inspired JFF to create Possible Futures, a program for grades 6 through 10 that provides a fun and engaging career exploration program, helping young people gain the foundational knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to make critical decisions about their future with confidence.

Advance CTE: No Dead Ends tackles how to make sure all high-quality pathways are accessible to each learner. Looking through an equity lens, what issues commonly arise with CTE generally and work-based learning experiences, more specifically?  

Nancy Hoffman: As the Gates Foundation’s Striving to Thriving project powerfully documented through thousands of interviews, Black and Latinx young people see their race or ethnicity as an asset. Yet our education and employment systems are sending them contradictory signals about what their proper aspirations ought to be, where they will be welcomed, and most important, whether they will be welcomed for who they are.   

As researcher Nat Malkus notes, schools may fail to notice the “hidden tracking” within CTE. Students headed to four-year colleges tend to enroll in what Malkus calls “New Era CTE” (e.g. computer science, engineering, health care) and students wanting a certification or unsure of their next steps, are guided toward traditional trades course– not all of which provide access to well-paying jobs. The distribution of students within CTE can mirror the domination of an occupation by a particular race/ethnicity, gender, or other personal characteristic. This means, for example, populating IT and computer science courses with college-bound white males, while young women of color take internships in helping professions. 

Local and state leaders must be alert to sorting mechanisms within CTE. Do privileged students get the high-tech internships while low-income students take on jobs where there may be a lot to learn? And then do they continue on such a path to a career that almost guarantees low wages? Equity gaps widen especially when schools lack a placement system and ask students to find their own employer-supported internship. Most challenging is how schools identify, respond to, and take action to prevent placing students in unwelcoming or even racist workplaces or unwittingly reinforcing occupational segregation. A recent JFF blog, “Identifying the ‘Fruit and Root’ of Systemic Racial Inequity,” notes the pernicious use of the word “fit,” which can be a cover for racism, as in “she won’t fit into our company’s culture.” The authors argue that “the seemingly neutral concern about “fit” has proven to be problematic, and tends to cover for a preference for a homogenous culture in the workplace. Employers want to hire people of color, but the people of color they hire are subtly forced to conform to existing norms—of dress, behavior, speech–to truly belong.”  

Advance CTE: No Dead-Ends lays out several key policy considerations for strengthening college and career pathways, supporting career identity developing, and expanding access to high-quality work-based learning experiences. To conclude our conversation, could you share a couple of these policy recommendations? 

Nancy Hoffman: Defining a high-quality CTE program is a foundational step for developing state systems that better serve learners. In No Dead Ends, JFF suggests that states should consider clearly articulating key quality standards for “fundable” CTE programs. States should also consider tying funding eligibility to these quality standards to ensure resources are used effectively. For example, Delaware not only created a statewide definition of CTE but required each program of study to adhere to three key principles: (1) prepare students for career success and post-secondary education; (2) align with workforce needs and are developed in partnership with relevant stakeholders; and (3) improve student achievement by connecting academic and career success measures. However, states don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Perkins V has a good definition for CTE, and states can use that as a jumping-off point to ensure high-quality programming. 

In the brief, JFF also recommends that the federal government define career identity development and give states guidance on how to operationalize this aim. Current definitions coming out of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) note that a high-quality program of study includes career and academic guidance. However, while advising is critical, policy must more deeply encourage the development of career identity which should be framed as a key aspect of adolescent development overall. When Perkins is reauthorized in a few years, JFF believes the law should include a definition of this term, and OCTAE should release clearer guidance. These efforts will help promote more robust college and career coaching for students.

Visit Advance CTE’s website to learn more about the CTE Without Limits vision, and the Learning that Works Resource Center for more guidance on  advancing equity in CTE experiences. 

Nancy Hoffman, JFF and Stacy Whitehouse, Advance CTE

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy, Research
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Legislative Update: FY22 Omnibus Signed Into Law

Friday, March 18th, 2022

This week President Biden signed a full-year spending package for the current fiscal year, providing several increased investments of note to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. In addition, Advance CTE continues to encourage its members and partners to support legislation to improve learner access to Pell Grants for high-quality, short-term postsecondary CTE programs. Finally, be sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to join the House and Senate CTE Caucuses if they have not already done so! 

President Biden Signs FY22 Omnibus Into Law

As we shared last week, Congress successfully passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package which provides full-year funding for the remaining six months of the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). This spending package provides support for federal education and workforce development programs, including the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). On Tuesday, March 15, President Biden formally signed the legislation into law. The legislation provides an additional $45 million for Perkins V’s basic state formula grant program (an increase of nearly 3.5 percent). The legislation makes a host of other notable investments to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, including increased investments in apprenticeship expansion efforts, career education programs at community colleges, and other important funding beneficial to expanding CTE opportunities to more of the nation’s learners. 

With the FY22 funding process now complete, the FY23 budget and appropriation process can now formally begin. This process typically begins with the release of the President’s budget request to Congress, which Advance CTE expects to be released in the coming weeks. Once the Biden administration’s budget request is published and sent to Congress, lawmakers will formally begin efforts to craft the necessary spending bills (12 in total)  that compose the federal budget. Ahead of these efforts, the Senate confirmed Shalanda Young to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this week by a margin of 61-36. This agency is tasked with leading the formulation of the Biden Administration’s FY23 budget request and will be a key stakeholder in future FY23 federal appropriations negotiations this year. As these efforts and more continue to take shape, Advance CTE is working to ensure robust investments in CTE. 

In the meantime, be sure to check out Advance CTE’s updated Perkins funding resource reflecting the new investments made by Congress in FY22. 

Sign-on to Support Pell Grants for High-Quality CTE Programs

Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the JOBS Act– legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to increase the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would significantly enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring that postsecondary education is truly working for everyone, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, including individual nonprofit CTE institutions serving postsecondary learners, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. Please share and add your support by the end of this month! 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses if they have not done so already. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

By Stacy Whitehouse in Legislation
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Coronavirus Relief Funds: States Leverage Federal Funds to Provide Re-Skilling, Up-Skilling, and Job Training for Displaced Workers

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

This blog series examines trends in state uses of federal stimulus funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Stimulus funds were appropriated for emergency relief related to the coronavirus pandemic through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA); and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The five major stimulus funding streams for states and educational institutions include the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

During a time of mass economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preparing displaced workers and learners for high-quality, long-term job opportunities is essential to close the skills gap and address shifting labor market demands. Job and income losses resulting from the pandemic have disproportionately impacted women, Black and Latinx workers, and low-wage and non-college educated workers. These populations will be key to target with federal coronavirus relief funds. 

Some states are already investing federal funds in establishing and expanding credential and training programs to address critical skills shortages and build a highly-skilled, resilient workforce for the future. South Dakota invested $2.2 million in GEER funding to launch UpSkill, a program to support workers displaced by the pandemic through 24 fully- or partially-funded certificate programs within the state’s four technical colleges. There is a clear pathway for participants to earn an Associate of Applied Science or bachelor’s degree, and the programs are offered in virtual, in-person or hybrid modalities and aligned with labor market demand.

Similarly, Delaware leveraged $10 million of the state’s CRF allocation to create the Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative, which creates a process for establishing fully-funded training and certification programs for individuals who are unemployed or underemployed. These programs, developed by the Delaware Workforce Development Board in consultation with the state Department of Labor, will provide necessary skills for in-demand occupations and connect learners to employers and open opportunities in the state labor market.

Finally, Texas created new and innovative credential programs. The state used GEER to fund $25 million in Texas Reskilling and Upskilling for Education (TRUE) Institutional Capacity Grants for community, state and technical colleges to support efforts to create, expand or redesign high-value postsecondary workforce credential programs. Proposed programs must be under six months long, aligned to industry needs, and developed alongside key stakeholders to qualify for these competitively-awarded grants. Texas also focused on re-engaging learners through a $46.5 million GEER allocation toward financial aid for individuals enrolled in programs centered on up-skilling or re-skilling displaced workers for in-demand fields. The initiative targets learners who have earned some college credit to ensure that they remain on track to attain a postsecondary credential.

These state efforts will ensure that displaced workers and learners who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic can connect with meaningful CTE opportunities and career pathways. What is notable about these initiatives is that they not only connect displaced workers with job opportunities, addressing immediate unemployment concerns, but help workers access better opportunities that are in demand and offer high wages. By strategically investing federal relief funds to build and scale short-term training programs that are driven by labor market demand, states can leverage the current crisis to build a stronger workforce and more economic opportunity for the future. Coronavirus relief funds continue to provide a valuable means of investment in establishing and expanding high-quality CTE programs for long-term learner success in a continually shifting labor market.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, please stay tuned for future Coronavirus Relief Funds blog posts and visit Advance CTE’s coronavirus resource page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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Coronavirus Relief Funds: States Leverage Federal Funds to Enhance CTE Program Quality

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

This blog series examines trends in state uses of federal stimulus funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Stimulus funds were appropriated for emergency relief related to the coronavirus pandemic through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA); and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The five major stimulus funding streams for states and educational institutions include the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

CTE program quality is key for ensuring that learners have access to necessary skills and competencies, meaningful experiential learning opportunities and strong career pathways. Alignment across workforce development systems and both secondary and postsecondary education institutions is essential for connecting learners and employers, as well as promoting experiential and work-based learning opportunities. As states continue to adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, many are focusing on program quality and investing federal relief funds to strengthen industry alignment and work-based learning initiatives. 

Some states have already directed federal relief funding to align CTE programs to industry needs and high-skill, high-wage, in-demand jobs. Florida made a $35 million GEER allocation for the state Department of Education to partner with state and technical colleges to expand and improve short-term programs leading to in-demand technical certificates, career certificates and industry-recognized certifications. Through providing additional resources to these critical CTE programs, the state hopes to “reimagine its postsecondary CTE offerings as a mechanism for economic and social mobility.” Florida made an additional $2.5 million GEER investment to develop the Pathway to Job Market Dashboard, an online platform to compile and centralize data on CTE programs across the state. The dashboard will provide an accessible, comprehensive view of CTE program performance and alignment to labor market needs.

Massachusetts directed $10.4 million in CRF funding to expand workforce partnerships with employers in the state’s target sectors. The investment will create aligned training-employment pathways statewide. The state also made an additional $300,000 CRF allocation to expand a project to transform career/vocational technical high schools into Career Technical Institutes that also serve adult learners. These Institutes will run three shifts a day and train 20,000 new workers over four years in technical fields and skilled trades. The CRF funds were used to supplement the $8.4 million state investment to expand skills training and align programs to industry needs. 

Other states are prioritizing expanding high-quality work-based learning opportunities that connect learners with employers and industry. Delaware invested $8.3 million in ARP state fiscal recovery funds as part of a public-private partnership to expand the Delaware Pathways program, which provides rigorous, industry-aligned career pathway opportunities for high school students. The funding will allow the program to reach over 80 percent of high school learners in the state, as well as over 6,000 new middle school learners. Support will be targeted for workforce development and “earn and learn” apprenticeship programs in high-growth, high-wage target industries such as health care, engineering, finance and information technology.

Iowa made a $10 million CRF allocation to create two Registered Apprenticeship grant opportunities. Apprenticeships follow an employer-driven, “earn and learn” model that connects classroom learning with on-the-job experience and culminates in an industry-recognized credential. One grant opportunity is available for high schools, nonprofit organizations and small businesses, while the other is open to postsecondary institutions and healthcare employers. Grants can be used to purchase equipment or instructional materials to create or expand apprenticeship programs that also provide for online learning. 

As states look to education and workforce development as avenues for mitigating the effects of the pandemic, coronavirus relief funds provide a key opportunity to enhance CTE program quality. Industry-aligned programs that provide work-based learning and pathways to high-quality credentials will be essential to ensure that learners are prepared for a continually shifting labor market.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, please stay tuned for future Coronavirus Relief Funds blog posts and visit Advance CTE’s coronavirus resource page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Brittany Cannady in COVID-19 and CTE
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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 admin 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 admin in Research
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