Posts Tagged ‘Washington State’

“The Trail Shouldn’t End”: Top Moments from Advance CTE June Meeting Series Day Two!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

On June 15, Advance CTE held the second of three events in our Virtual June Meeting Series. The series offers three opportunities to equip Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders with the latest research and innovations, empower them to succeed, and elevate their work to raise awareness of the value of CTE. 

The week’s sessions centered around the theme EMPOWER: Strengthening Our Capacity to Realize CTE Without Limits. Attendees delved into processes to build better state systems with a keynote presentation from Rhode Island Department of Education Chief Innovation Officer Spencer Sherman, followed by content-rich breakouts and discussions to build connections and knowledge. Each breakout session was aligned to one of the five foundational commitments of CTE Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education

Keep reading for top quotes and resources from the day! 

Keynote: Innovating by Working Together: Strategic Impact through Systems Alignment

“When a student graduates high school, the trail shouldn’t end. Right now you have to cut down trees and jump over a rock to get to the next trail [to college and career]. We need to [design systems] so that students don’t get lost along the way.” – Spencer Sherman 

The keynote opened with a welcome message from Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angelica Infante-Green, who shared her personal story and commitment to serving learners of all abilities and how the nation’s smallest state is expanding access to CTE for differently-abled learners. 

Rhode Island’s Chief Innovation Officer, Spencer Sherman, then shared a deep dive on the state’s approach to systems alignment through the PrepareRI initiative and how it improved outcomes for learners including a tripled increase in the number of graduates with college credit or industry-recognized credentials. Sherman shared organization models that acknowledge the current top-down approach of many states while also illustrating how collaboration and communication can be created across both systems and leadership levels. 

Sherman  emphasized the importance of engaging middle-level managers and staff and designing processes for community organizations to align initiatives with one other in addition to engaging with government. Throughout the presentation, he reminded attendees that these improvements should be designed to last beyond any one person. He also centered these improvements around the pursuit of improving learner outcomes and creating seamless transitions to postsecondary and career paths, as illustrated in the quote above. Additional resources on Rhode Island’s governing structures can be found in Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Data Breakout: Building a Culture of Data 

Two states participating in the Postsecondary Data Initiative led by Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation were highlighted in a breakout focused on how to leverage human and infrastructure capital to create data-informed and data-driven systems. 

Peter Plourde, Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Development for the Office of Academic Affairs at the University of the District Columbia Community College and Kelly Zinck, Education Team Research Analyst, Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission emphasized the importance of creating a welcoming environment where state CTE staff can get comfortable understanding small amounts of data and building up, as well as feel comfortable asking questions to build knowledge. Attendees were provided three strategies of “Identify,” “Educate” and “Build Trust” to open the black box of data. 

Equity: Maximizing the Potential of Equity-centered CTE Programs

“I want to applaud you for your efforts and affirm the work you’re doing. I want to remind you to work hard and take things one bite at a time. Do not lose faith and know that what you are doing is going to make a difference, even if you don’t see a return on investment right away”  – Dr. China Wilson 

CAST Research Scientist Dr. Amanda Bastoni and Maryland Equity and Civil Rights Specialist Dr. China Wilson teamed up to provide impactful insights on how to leverage data through public-facing resources and policy via Universal Design Learning to maximize equity in CTE programs. Dr. Wilson shared how Maryland’s state staff empowers local CTE leaders and families to understand and use data through their Maryland CTE Data platform and Equity Professional Learning Series. Dr. Bastoni used the example of a ramp at the back of a school to emphasize that state leaders should proactive design programs and supports with equity and accessibility at the forefront, not as a retrofit. 

Dr. Wilson affirmed the tough but important journey state CTE leaders are taking in tackling this work, and reminded attendees that each step no matter how small is progress. 

Public-Private Partnerships Breakout: Developing Effective Partnerships with the Private Sector for Work-based Learning

Attendees received rich insights on how local and state systems can work in tandem to empower employers and educators to develop effective work-based learning partnerships with a focus on rural communities. Advance CTE-ECMCF Postsecondary CTE Fellow Rich Crosby focused on utilizing existing collaborative spaces and partnerships as well as creating regional consortiums to connect employers and better understand learner needs, particularly in rural areas where employers are less concentrated.

Montana State CTE Director Jacque Treaster shared a variety of delivery models for work-based learning that strive to expand access to these experiences, particularly for rural learners, including a hub-and-spoke model and distance learning for concurrent and dual enrollment programs. 

The session included a rich attendee discussion on models in other states, including Hawaii’s hub and spoke model and Nevada embedding work-based learning into Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) award programs. 

Quality Breakout: Promising Tools, Strategies and Research Findings to Improve the Quality of CTE Programs

MDRC Senior Associate Dr. Rachel Rosen shared insights on the models and research structures that allow for ethical and impactful CTE research. She noted that significant strides have been made to improve research quality, and that recent studies show significant value of CTE for male learners and learners with disabilities. ExcelInEd’s Adriana Harrington walked attendees through their Pathways Matter website that consolidates state case studies, best policy practices, and sample learner stories of pathway navigation to enhance quality and alignment of career pathways. 

Indiana State CTE Director Anthony Harl shared his state’s dedicated program quality initiative, Next Level Program of Study that allows high school students to earn up to 30-hours of college credit (a technical certificate) while in high school in 65 programs of study. Course design in this initiative focuses on more intentional sequencing of skillbuilding and a longer runway for early postsecondary opportunities paired with work-based learning. 

Systems Alignment Breakout: Linking Workforce to Education through Strategic Goal Alignment

“Our role is to connect the fire hose to the garden hose.” – Joy Hermsen

Washington State’s State CTE Director Eleni Papadakis, whose Perkins designated agency is the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, provided details on how the state’s workforce agency leveraged a strategic plan and data to improve learner outcomes, including energized local youth council and work-based learning that is more responsive to local needs due to partnerships led primarily by employers rather than led by government.  

Futuro Health DIrector of Innovative Partnerships Joy Hermsen provided a national perspective on efforts to connect health employers to talent pipelines. She shared how the organization is bridging the gap between education leader and employers through resources that map responsive career lattices and ladders and customized data reports to help learners successfully connect to health careers. 

What’s Ahead 

The final event of the June Meeting Series is scheduled for June 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET, respectively. This session will center around the theme ELEVATE: Building Awareness of and Support for High-Quality and Equitable CTE. Visit the June Meeting Series event webpage to view the event agenda and to register. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Spring Meeting
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Making Good on the Promise: Addressing Three Major Challenges for English Learners in CTE

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) calls on each level of leadership to create systems and structures that offer every learner access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities that lead to career success. This requires dismantling systemic and institutional barriers that limit equitable access to and success in CTE for learners from special populations. 

In support of the CTE Without Limits vision, Advance CTE recently released the Improving Equity and Access to Quality CTE Programs for English Learners brief. This resource explores English Learner (EL) enrollment in CTE and three major barriers that English Learners face in accessing and succeeding in CTE programs, concluding with recommendations on how state leaders can take the lead in addressing these barriers and expanding access to high-quality CTE opportunities. 

1.Barrier: Irrelevant or Impersonal Curricula and Assessments

In both general education and CTE courses, English Learners are frequently exposed to one-size-fits-all curricula that are not personalized to their unique interests, career goals and learning needs. Additionally, ELs may need to take remedial classes that take time away from credit-bearing courses that lead to certificate or degree program completion or limit opportunities to enroll in CTE courses. Finally, many forms of assessments, including entrance and placement exams and state standardized tests, place ELs at a disadvantage by simultaneously testing both content knowledge and language skills. These assessments typically do not recognize the unique value that ELs offer as emergent bilinguals with a wealth of cultural and linguistic knowledge. 

Addressing the Barrier: Providing adaptive instruction and relevant skill-building opportunities are critical for ELs. The state of Washington’s Integrated Basic Education Skills and Training (I-BEST) team-teaching instructional model supports these learners by teaching both basic language skills and career readiness skills. Studies from the Department of Health and Human Services have confirmed the effectiveness of I-BEST at improving educational outcomes. Additionally, states should make an effort to make assessments more accessible. Virginia created a catalog of industry credentials with testing accommodations for ELs, with direction on how districts and schools should notify ELs about these accommodations prior to taking tests. 

Another avenue for addressing the educational needs of ELs is leveraging federal funding – a program provider in Ohio utilized funds from Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act to expand culturally responsive career counseling and career exploration opportunities for ELs. Finally, professional development for CTE educators is necessary to ensure that instruction is culturally responsive and adaptive. Arizona’s Department of Education has initiated a collaborative interagency project to develop professional learning opportunities for instructors across the state, centered on identifying and deploying strategies to address barriers for special populations in the classroom.

2.Barrier: Competing Priorities and Time Demands

Many ELs have family and work demands that often result in class scheduling conflicts. ELs disproportionately experience low-income, and many work in jobs with demanding, unpredictable work schedules and low wages. Further, ELs may face additional barriers to accessing child care and transportation to get to class. 

Addressing the Barrier: Wraparound services are essential for this population to access and succeed in CTE programs. States and local leaders can work together to braid different funding streams and leverage federal grants to coordinate community services and address barriers to accessing CTE. Local education agencies must also provide timely interventions and long-term supports. Georgia provides targeted guidance for ELs and other special populations at risk of dropping out of high school through the Coordinated Career Academic Education and Project Success support services. Additionally, Georgia’s technical colleges employ Special Populations Coordinators to support these learners.

3.Barrier: Few Avenues for Elevating Learner Voices and Outcomes

While K-12 schools are required to collect and report data on learners’ language proficiency, guidance for collecting and reporting these data at the postsecondary level is extremely limited. States typically do not provide any direction on how postsecondary institutions can best serve ELs. Additionally, there are few mechanisms for elevating the voices and lived experiences of ELs within decision-making processes, exacerbating the lack of knowledge on learners’ participation rates and outcomes in CTE programs. In order to truly understand the scope of institutional barriers and create meaningful solutions, state CTE leaders must find ways to access crucial data on this learner population.

Addressing the Barrier: The Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process required under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) can be a critical avenue for collecting and reporting data on ELs. Special populations are a required stakeholder to consult when developing CLNAs, and state plans must address learners’ access to CTE programs, as well as their performance levels. The Illinois Community College Board developed a CLNA template with specific fields for describing how the equity needs of each learner group are being met at every stage of the process.

This resource is part of the Making Good on the Promise series, which defines key challenges that different learners face and explores solutions that State CTE Directors can implement to help close equity and opportunity gaps in CTE. For more resources on supporting special populations in CTE, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Stacy Whitehouse in Publications
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GAO Report Highlights Strategies to Support CTE Programs and Ongoing Challenges

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

On March 30th, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report reviewing Career Technical Education (CTE) programs funded by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Following a congressional authorization of $1.3 billion for Perkins V in fiscal year 2021, GAO conducted a series of interviews with state education officials and representatives from CTE program providers in Delaware, Georgia, Ohio and Washington, as well as additional CTE stakeholders including business representatives, in order to study service and funding strategies and challenges. 

According to the study, state officials, program providers and stakeholders reported a variety of strategies to support different learner populations in CTE:

Despite these successes, however, respondents highlighted challenges related to the delivery of CTE programs, the replication of effective models and program accessibility for learners.

Challenges for program delivery revolved around limited funding and capacity, troubles with attracting and retaining racially diverse CTE educators, and negative perceptions of CTE programs, largely due to a lack of shared knowledge on program purposes and outcomes. The report highlighted outreach activities such as reaching out to school counselors as beneficial for raising awareness of the benefits of CTE, as well as the creation of Grow-Your-Own (GYO) teacher programs to recruit underrepresented educators from the community.

State leaders and program providers also reported that it can be a struggle to replicate effective models due to insufficient data on long-term outcomes, as well as a lack of information on evidence-based strategies. These limitations, combined with funding constraints, make it hard to scale successful programs such as Washington’s I-BEST model, which provides additional support services and a team-teaching model that requires hiring two teachers per course. The state of Delaware is attempting to address data limitations by developing a postsecondary data system that connects different sources of information in order to develop a better understanding of learner needs and outcomes.

Additionally, learners experienced two major challenges in accessing high-quality CTE. First, many learners are unable to participate in work-based learning opportunities, often due to a lack of communication between schools and employers, as well as transportation barriers that make it difficult to travel to work sites. The GAO report suggests business and industry engagement as a key strategy to address these issues. Second, learners may lack support services they need to succeed, including language accommodations, child care, flexible scheduling and financial aid. Tests are a barrier to entry for many learners, and accessing financial assistance for postsecondary non-degree programs can also be difficult. The report emphasized efforts to hire translators and provide flexible online instruction as possible methods for making CTE more supportive and accessible for learner populations.

With the shared commitment to Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) and a continual effort to meaningfully collaborate across workforce and education systems, state CTE leaders can create innovative approaches to program outreach to build support for CTE programs among diverse constituencies, as well as advocate for expanded investment in additional services and supports that allow each learner to reach career success.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By Brittany Cannady in Research
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State Policies Impacting Access and Equity

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

State education agencies, legislators and educators faced significant challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, including adapting to remote and hybrid delivery of hands-on learning, and responding to local and national skilled labor shortages.  The number of state-level CTE policies enacted that affect Career Technical Education (CTE) fell to the lowest number in 2020 since Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) began publishing these annual Year in Review reports.

However, with a new commitment to upskilling and reskilling American learners and a CTE without limits, 41 states enacted 138 policies impacting CTE and career readiness in 2021. Advance CTE and ACTE have witnessed the return of pre-pandemic numbers in state policy actions in 2021 with policies affecting the secondary, postsecondary, adult and/or workforce systems, and including legislation, executive orders, and budget provisions that significantly changed funding.

Each year, Advance CTE and ACTE publish a yearly state policy tracker and categorize each state policy action by topic. In 2021, the top five topics that state policy most frequently addressed were:

Access and Equity

Policies that address each learner gaining access to and being successful in high-quality CTE programs have been categorized by this topic. Twenty-seven states enacted 45 policies related to access and equity that implement changes aimed to expand access to CTE for historically marginalized learners, including learners of color and learners with special population status such as learners with disabilities, learners who are economically disadvantaged, participants in fields of study that are non-traditional for their gender, single parents and out-of-workforce individuals. This category also includes middle school CTE programming and diversity in the CTE educator workforce. Below are a few state policy actions aligned to access and equity:

State Policies Impacting CTE: 2021 Year in Review marks the ninth annual review of CTE and career readiness policies from across the United States conducted by Advance CTE and ACTE. This report does not describe every policy enacted within each state but instead focuses on national policy trends. 

View the full report and 2021 state policy tracker here

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate 

By Brittany Cannady in Advance CTE Resources, Resources
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Legislative Update: Government Shutdown Avoided, New ARP State Plan Approvals and Connectivity Funding

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

This week Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown after passing an additional short-term legislative measure extending current funding levels for federal programs and operations through February 18, 2022. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved more American Rescue Plan (ARP) state plans while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new connectivity funding. 

House Passes Short-term Funding Measure

Earlier this fall, lawmakers in Congress were unable to come to agreement on full-year funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). As a result, Congress passed a short-term funding measure to continue government operations past the formal start of FY22 on October 1, 2021. This measure was set to expire today, December 3. Lawmakers hoped to come to an agreement on full-year FY22 funding during this period, but up until late last night had been unsuccessful. To avert a government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for laws like the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), lawmakers have been working furiously this week to pass another short-term extension of current federal funding. This measure, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), extends current funding levels for a predetermined amount of time to provide Congress more time to work out a longer-term agreement for FY22. 

Yesterday, December 2, the House passed a CR to extend current funding levels for federal operations and programs through February 18 with these aims in mind. This measure passed the chamber narrowly, mostly along party lines, by a margin of 221-212. Shortly following House passage, the Senate began consideration of the legislation. The Senate quickly took up the measure after the House, working late into Thursday evening to consider and formally approve it by a much wider and bipartisan margin of 69-28. As these efforts on FY22 unfold further, Advance CTE is continuing to champion robust levels of funding for the Perkins V formula state grant program and is urging Congress to provide longer-term certainty regarding federal funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year. 

ED Approves Four More State ARP Plans

Following the ARP passage earlier this spring, ED distributed two-thirds of this funding to states via a prescribed formula. ED held back the remainder of these funds until states, territories, and outlying areas submitted plans detailing how they would make use of these resources to support learners as they recover from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Over the past two weeks, the Department approved four more of these plans, releasing these additional funds to those states and territories. Those receiving approval this week include American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Washington. Only a handful of states have outstanding ARP plans awaiting departmental approval. The most current status of all state ARP plans, including highlights of plans already approved, can be found here. Additional coverage of how states are making use of these federal aid dollars can be found here.  

FCC Unveils Fifth Round of ECF Dollars

Last week, the FCC announced that it has committed nearly $170 million in new funding as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The ECF program was first established by ARP and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet connectivity needs of learners, school staff, and library patrons at home during the coronavirus. —a key Advance CTE advocacy priority. This most recent funding round is expected to support 492 schools, 70 libraries and 10 consortia to receive 380,000 connected devices and over 135,000 broadband connections. More on the announcement can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

By Brittany Cannady in COVID-19 and CTE
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Getting to Know: Stakeholder Engagement at Advance CTE

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

The “Getting to Know” blog series features the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Dan Hinderliter! Dan is a State Policy Associate at Advance CTE and supports a number of different national projects. As a site liaison for the New Skills ready network, Dan works with two sites (Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana), providing resource and research support while also serving as a direct link to the national project team. He also works on site snapshots, the annual report and quarterly newsletters, as well as major publications that highlight promising national, state and local practices aligned with the principles of the New Skills ready network

Dan also supports the modernization of the National Career Clusters® Framework and spearheads the Year in Review, the annual aggregation of state policy impacting CTE. As part of the Year in Review process, Dan regularly tracks state-level legislation and other policy actions.

Q: Considering your work on the New Skills ready network initiative, how are the six sites leveraging stakeholder engagement to advance career pathways? 

A: Each of the six New Skills ready network sites is working to leverage stakeholder engagement in some capacity to advance career pathways. First, because each of the sites is composed of a variety of stakeholders, engagement with business and industry, postsecondary partners and K-12 institutions has to happen to ensure each voice is involved in and buys into the work of the site. Outside of the project teams, however, most sites are doing some level of stakeholder engagement involving learner and family communications practices. Some sites are surveying parents and learners to understand what resonates with them about available career pathways, while others have done focus groups to understand where there are gaps for learners in specific programs. Columbus, Ohio’s project team hired a minority-led communications firm, with roots in Columbus, to help share consistent messaging and work to understand how each stakeholder can be better supported.

View the 2020-2021 site snapshot for Columbus, Ohio here

Q: Earlier this year, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released State Policies Impacting CTE: 2020 Year in Review where industry partnership was a frequently addressed topic area. Are there any states that can serve as a model for policy actions around stakeholder engagement? 

A: Every year, states enact new legislation that impacts how each state engages with stakeholders, either through input gathering or through information sharing. Many states, including Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho and Missouri (among others), passed legislation this year requiring a state agency to collect and disseminate information that allows learners to make more informed decisions about their futures, including information about in-demand jobs or industry recognized credential attainment. Other states are using legislative action to improve equity and access in part through stakeholder engagement; Oregon and Washington, for example, now require institutions to collect feedback or input from diverse or historically marginalized stakeholder groups to inform new practices and strategies that will increase access to high-quality CTE programs for those groups. At the beginning of 2022, we will release our state policy tracker for 2021 which includes the above legislative actions and others.

Q: One of the foundational commitments within CTE Without Limits is based on stakeholder engagement. How can states, through such partnerships, ensure each learner reaches success in a career of their choice? 

A: Advance CTE’s shared vision, CTE Without Limits, calls for CTE to be incredibly learner-centric and for programs to ensure that the learner voice is incorporated into each decision about career pathways or programs. As states continue to expand access and equity in their CTE programs and work toward dismantling systemic barriers in CTE, the learner voice must be an integral part of these conversations, as only the learner who participated in the program can fully understand the consequences of decisions made at each level. At the same time, states and local institutions can continue to expand offerings by building partnerships with community based organizations to offer learner supports or with business and industry to offer new or improved work-based learning opportunities. By including opportunities for stakeholder groups like learners, their families and local businesses to provide input into decisions surrounding CTE, states can ensure that their career pathways and CTE programs are truly aligned with the needs of their communities.

Q: Lastly, Advance CTE announced the modernization of The National Career Clusters® Framework. How has Advance CTE prioritized stakeholder engagement and the voices of the field in this work? 

A: Though we don’t yet know what our end product will look like at the conclusion of these modernization efforts, we did know the process had to be highly collaborative to ensure everyone buys into whatever the outcome happens to be. As such, we have included a lot of opportunity to incorporate feedback from the field; we convened an expert kitchen cabinet to provide insights about the purpose and uses of the Framework, opened a crowdsourcing portal to collect feedback from the larger field about critical changes they’d like to see, and held workshops to assist in the prototyping of a new Framework. In this next phase of work, we’re hoping to hold focus groups to discuss the future of the Framework. As we near a model for a new, modernized Framework, we are hoping to have many more conversations with stakeholders about how they can implement the Framework in their own state and community to ensure that the modernized Framework is implemented with fidelity.

For resources and tools to increase stakeholder engagement in CTE, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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Leveraging Federal and State Talent Pipeline Investments to Achieve a CTE Without Limits

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

In March 2021, Advance CTE, with the support of over 40 national organizations, released Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). The shared vision challenges local, state and national CTE practitioners to boldly close equity gaps in educational outcomes and workforce readiness and leverage Career Technical Education (CTE) as a catalyst for ensuring that each learner can achieve success in the career of their choice. 

Advance CTE released Leveraging Federal Investments to Advance a Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education. This new implementation resource will help state CTE leaders fully realize the ability to design a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystem that works across state systems for the full continuum of learners and is aligned to federal and state talent pipeline investments and overall strategies.

Some states have lead the charge in providing promising practices that strategically connect the five vision principles and existing allowable activities under the following funding streams:

PRINCIPLE 3: Each Learner Skillfully Navigates Their Own Career Journey 

The Washington state Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board created Career Bridge as Washington’s one-stop source for career and education planning. With the collaboration of multiple state agencies and supported by braided funding, the site allows the full continuum of learners to explore careers, view job trends and find education.

PRINCIPLE 4: Each Learner’s Skills Are Counted, Valued and Portable

Two- and four-year faculty and administrators from across Colorado came together in 2018 to propose changes to the Credit for Prior Learning policy established in 2015 that guaranteed acceptance of credits earned through Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams and course challenge options when a learner transferred. This group advocated for the inclusion of Prior Learning Assessments such as the College Level Examination Program, DANTES Subject Standardized Tests and portfolio reviews in the transfer agreement. For more information and additional state examples check out, Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner

Leveraging and focusing the combined influence of the assets provided through the above funding streams will increase a state’s ability to provide the full continuum of learners access to equitable, skills-based education and preparation for the ever-evolving future of work. View more action steps and exemplars by reading the full implementation brief here

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

By Brittany Cannady in CTE Without Limits, Legislation, Resources
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Communicating CTE: Washington’s Statewide Initiative for Secondary Career Exploration Empowers Educators and Learners 

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

The third post in the Communicating Career Technical Education (CTE) series will focus on creative initiatives for career exploration for secondary learners by highlighting Washington’s State of Innovation Challenge. This is particularly timely as states continue to grapple with the difficulties of supporting long-term career exploration experiences in an environment of sustained uncertainty and student disconnect in virtual learning environments.

Background 

The State of Innovation Challenge, launched in November 2020 and open through March 2021, is a statewide initiative led by the Washington’s STEM Education and Innovation Alliance in partnership with the Office of Governor Jay Inslee, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Career Connect Washington. The initiative invites learners to offer solutions to policy issues related to hunger, mental health and community resilience that have emerged from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic while also exploring pathways to careers and postsecondary education. 

Becky Wallace, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education at the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, shared that her office was inspired to join this initiative because of the widespread evidence that instructors were overwhelmed with the transition to virtual learning and did not have the capacity to fill the void of a lack of hands-on learning. The things that make CTE unique including work-based learning, real-world skill attainment and application have been challenging to replicate in a hybrid and virtual environment. As such, the Office saw this as an opportunity to elevate project-based and experiential learning for learners in all types of programs, empower the learner voice and leverage statewide resources to expand the career path students can name and see as a possible passion.  

The initiative proposes challenge cases covering three major policy areas questions: 

More detailed subtopics are given for each challenge case that can be aligned to CTE programs. For example, learners that choose the Food Chain case can develop projects addressing school nutrition, food waste, food production or restaurant and hospitality impacts that connect to the associated career pathways. 

Learners in middle school, high school, alternative education and out of school youth programs are able to participate. The initiative is also accessible for programs beyond the traditional classroom setting such as Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), community organizations such as 4-H Washington and Junior Achievement, and specialized programs like the Road Map Project that supports homeless and foster youth. 

Julia Reed, Senior Consultant for social impact consulting firm Kinetic West that guided the formation and implementation of the initiative, shared that the biggest concern was convincing educators that this initiative could enhance, not burden, their virtual instructional goals. Flexibility and variety in lesson plan offerings were prioritized to make sure the initiative was easy to participate in and would enhance student engagement in their classroom.

In the Classroom 

After choosing a challenge case, students and educators take several steps to develop a policy solution: viewing videos created by teen filmmakers connected to each policy question; selecting one of the provided subtopics for their chosen challenge case; exploring careers associated with the policy area; and executing a lesson plan and policy tool that can range from one day to one or more months in duration. 

The project solutions themselves encourage exploration and skillbuilding across a variety of career pathways, as students are allowed to record videos, create apps, design websites and computer programs, write business plans and more as part of a proposed solution. Educators are provided instructional guides for each challenge to assist building lesson plans, and are able to share their lessons through a group lesson bank and submit final projects for state recognition.  

Students are able to directly interact with employers and learn about career pathways within industries through virtual weekly industry engagement webinars. Past employer engagement sessions include interactions with high-tech manufacturers, firefighters and government agencies all based within Washington. 

Exploring Postsecondary Pathways 

Students are able to build on their exploration of policy, skillbuilding activities and careers by researching postsecondary opportunities for further education. Rather than recreating the wheel, this initiative elevates pre-existing state college preparation and financial aid resources, including Career Connect Washington’s Career Launch paid learning program, Washington College Access Network’s College Knowledge Materials with handbooks in five languages for grades 9 to 12 on planning for a postsecondary education path, and Washington Student Achievement Council’s Ready, Set Grad step by step online portal. 

Marketing and Equity Considerations 

Reed emphasized that marketing this initiative focused on building sustainable partnerships and reaching underserved populations by utilizing existing peer-to-peer networks. More than 40 organizational partnerships were established with additional intentional outreach to underserved communities, particularly learners of color, learners in rural communities, and Native American learners. 

Equity was a major consideration not only in marketing but the design of the initiative itself. Several strategies pursued include: 

This initiative reflects the enormous potential of states to scale up local efforts to connect learning to work and bring these experiences to more learners. Additionally, the inclusion of lesson plans and engagement opportunities provides timely support for educators and local systems that face unprecedented burdens in coronavirus response. 

Additional information and resources for this initiative can be found on the State of Innovation website

Communicating CTE is a new series where Advance CTE is exploring how states are leading the way in communicating about the value and benefit of CTE to key stakeholders. Read the previous posts in this series. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Communicating CTE
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Voices of the Workforce: Navigating Career Change in a Crisis

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

COVID-19 (coronavirus) has affected our workforce systems drastically, forcing unemployment rates to soar and industry sectors to rapidly transition to new ways of seeking and retaining talent. The nation is grappling with how to resolve the economic downturn, while also ensuring that the unemployed, which has disproportionately affected women, Latinx, and Black Americans – are able to get back to work and on track to receive opportunities that advance their livelihoods. 

Some job losses resulting from the pandemic may be permanent causing many American workers to look for ways to reskill and upskill as they reenter into the workforce. The Strada Education Network has committed to building the space for collaboration between industry leaders, state leaders and American adult workers, preparing solutions that are lasting for both. Last week, the Strada Education Network held The Voices of the Workforce: Navigating Career Change in a Crisis webinar, intentionally focusing on sharing the voices from workers displaced from their jobs, navigating a new normal while enrolled in reskilling and upskilling courses. Below are a number of findings from the webinars, and how states have tackled some of these important issues in the past.

Time is a Major Factor

Data shows that 38 percent of workers who lost employment during the pandemic are more likely to now further their education. However, time is posed as a major barrier to enrolling and completing courses. Knowing that 86 percent of adult learners who complete postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) courses are employed within six months of completing a program – CTE is a safe bet for those looking to reskill or upskill in order to gain in-demand and living-wage careers. However, postsecondary institutions must create partnerships with the workforce and industry leaders to attract learners seeking programs that have reduced completion times and offer earn and learn programs to support family-sustaining careers. 

Earn and learn programs, such as apprenticeships, paid internship programs and other work-based learning arrangements play a critical role in supporting workers that need to obtain some income while in school. View Quality Pathways: Employer Leadership in Earn and Learn Opportunities in our Learning that Works Resource Center for core design elements and steps stakeholders can take to ensure their pathways meet the voices of American workers.

Supporting Learners in Postsecondary Programs 

The webinar identified a number of areas that postsecondary institutions may want to focus on to best support learners enrolling in programs including financial assistance, hands-on opportunities and help with finding employment upon program completion. Additionally, some adult learners returning back to school have not been in a school setting in many years and may struggle with basic academic schoolwork. States can play a vital role in implementing policies to help support learners in their transition, such as Washington’s Integrated Basic Education Skills Training (I-BEST), which aims to help adult learners obtain academic and technical skills to better prepare for college-level work.

To tackle the financial burden that many learners likely face, states can learn from North Carolina’s Finish Line Grants program. The grants are operated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce and are administered locally through a partnership between community colleges and local workforce development boards.

Continued on the Job Training

CTE programs prepare learners for high-skill jobs in professions that require regular upskilling due to new technology or shifts in the industry. In many cases, this has been accelerated due to the pandemic as companies have moved to fully and partially-virtual workplaces. However,  the coronavirus has limited many opportunities for hands-on job training experiences to continue. American workers encourage employers to continue skills training and certification attainment for newly hired employees. American workers share that they’re not only looking for a job that meets their interests and talents, they are also looking for companies that will invest in them. Companies and industry leaders can sit down with their employees and help to guide them in the direction of upward mobility within the company and within the industry. 

The most important factor in designing programs, supports and policies that the webinar drives home is the need to include and center the people that you are trying to best serve in order to lead to a more equitable path toward upward mobility for all American workers. The full recording of The Voices of the Workforce: Navigating Career Change in a Crisis webinar can be viewed here

Other resources for state leaders, policymakers, employers and other key stakeholders:

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Resources
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This Week in CTE

Friday, September 11th, 2020

We have compiled a list of highlights in Career Technical Education (CTE) from this week to share with you.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

CTSO OF THE WEEK

McAllen Independent School District in Texas is gearing up for recruitment week for one of their Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). Check out the fun activities planned to bring in new Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) members next week!

NEWSLETTER OF THE WEEK

Cass Career Center, a public technical school located in Missouri, published their September newsletter this week. Read how the culture at the technical center has shifted to, “learn by unlearning.” The newsletter also shares how learners and the technical center staff are doing their parts to keep the campus safe during the pandemic.

STATE PROFILES OF THE WEEK

The College in High School Alliance (CHSA) and the Level Up coalition published Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs. State CTE leaders can leverage this resource as they design and implement policies that drive meaningful change in access, equity, and quality for college in high school programs. CHSA newly released three state profiles of recommended policies already in place in Colorado, Indiana, and Washington. View the state profiles here

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE OF THE WEEK

Co-Chair of the House CTE Caucus Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) published an article about how the pandemic underscores the demand for CTE. In this op-ed, Representative Thompson discussed the need to support CTE learners, and the role that CTE has in economic resiliency.  

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

In 2018, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced the Finish Line Grants program, a wraparound program to help learners in North Carolina navigate financial emergencies. The program was designed to improve credential attainment rates by limiting unexpected financial burdens that may prevent a student from completing a postsecondary degree or credential. 

View a full profile on this policy in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

By Brittany Cannady in Uncategorized
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