Three Actions to Expand Access to High-Quality CTE and Work-Based Learning: Exploring CTE Without Borders Webinar Recap

October 30th, 2023

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) puts forth a bold vision for a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem that will close equity gaps in educational outcomes and workforce readiness, and leverage Career Technical Education (CTE) as a catalyst for ensuring each learner can reach success in the career of their choice. Principle 5 of CTE Without Limits calls for each learner to be able to access CTE without borders, and calls specific attention to meeting the needs of learners without access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning opportunities due to their geographic location. Advance CTE is helping states to actualize this vision principle by offering resources, examples and supports to expand access within and across state lines.

In September 2023, Advance CTE hosted a webinar to share more information about the CTE Without Borders initiative. The event also provided a deep dive into the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook and how it provides strategies, actions and resources to support expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning and elevated promising practices that have actualized expanded access to meet learner and industry needs in Rhode Island and Texas

The Exploring CTE Without Borders webinar featured the following speakers: 

  • Michael Gonzalez, Executive Director, Rural Schools Innovation Zone (RSIZ);
  • Christina Sedney, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Policy Analysis & Research, Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE); 
  • Spencer Sherman, Former Vice President of Policy and Partnerships, Linked Learning Alliance; and 
  • Dale Winkler, Senior Vice President, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

All speakers in the webinar supported the development of the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook and engaged the audience with the following key themes they gleaned from supporting expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning:

  • Implement a stakeholder-led approach to expanding access;
  • Leverage strong systems, structures and partnerships to sustain expanded access; and
  • Codify state policies to expand access within and across states.

Implement a stakeholder-led approach to expanding access

Sherman and Gonzalez shared various promising perspectives and challenges experienced when actualizing expanded access. One recurring advice includes implementing a backward approach to strategizing and actualizing expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning opportunities. Sherman noted that implementing a bottoms-up approach calls on leaders to begin this work by speaking with learners, industry and CTE educators to fully define the issue of CTE access. Leveraging the expertise of stakeholders to define the problem accurately supports leaders with the action planning stage to understand the infrastructure, policy, resources and capacity needed to actualize both in-state and cross-state access that meets learners’ and industry’s needs. Gonzalez reinforced this strategy and identified the need to understand the nuance across geographies to ensure that the labor and resource-intensive actions leaders design and implement effectively serve the regions.

Leverage strong systems, structures and partnerships to sustain expanded access

During the facilitated question and answer portion, Gonzalez and Sherman identified the value of leveraging strong systems, structures and partnerships to begin or enhance expanded access and ensure that the work is sustainable. They both emphasized the importance of strong executive leadership and distinguishing local champions to support the work. Strong executive leadership, like then-Governor Gina Raimondo who championed the Prepare Rhode Island initiative, signals importance and facilitates bringing together multiple agencies and partners to understand how all agencies can work together to expand access. Identification of local champions, like adults or leaders learners interact with day-to-day, allows leaders at the state level to capture a strong understanding of the issues learners experience in CTE programs. With strong executive and local leadership, leaders can then begin to implement systems, structures and processes that work across all partners contributing to expanded access. Establishing strong systems ensures that in the event of personnel or leadership transitions, expanded access sustains and continues to evolve to meet the needs of learners and industry. 

Codify state policies to expand access within and across states

Sherman and Gonzalez raised the importance of leveraging state policy to codify expanded access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning. Gonzalez shared examples of policies in Texas that incentivize expanded access within the state through increased funding like the Texas Partnerships Senate Bill 1882 that allowed the Rural Schools Innovation Zone to come to fruition. The legislation, which incentivizes school districts to partner with non-profit organizations like the RSIZ, provides districts engaging in the partnership to receive funding and accountability incentives. Implementing and codifying state policies is another opportunity to ensure the work of expanded access to high-quality CTE remains sustainable to meet labor needs and support learners in achieving their career goals. 

Advance CTE staff are available to support CTE leaders in this important work. Please contact Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, at for more information about this initiative.

To learn more about creating access to high-quality CTE for all learners regardless of geographic location, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center to access the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

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

October 30th, 2023

Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series features summaries of relevant research reports and studies to elevate evidence-backed Career Technical Educational (CTE) policies and practices and topics related to college and career readiness. This month’s blog highlights the impact of career-connected learning on learner engagement and hope. These findings align with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where each learner skillfully navigates their own career journey.

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

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

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

  • Engagement indicates the degree to which learners are involved in and are enthusiastic about school
  • Hope refers to the ideas and energy learners have for the future

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

  • Learners in fifth and sixth grades (37%) are the most likely to be engaged out of all learners in grades 5-12. Starting career exploration early could be more impactful when paired with high levels of engagement. 
  • The vast majority of learners (88%) report participating in at least one career-connected learning opportunity.
  • Career-connected learning opportunities that match learners’ interests are more likely to inform their plans.
  • Those who agree they have a mentor who supports their development are more likely to be hopeful about the future than their peers who do not have such a mentor (40% vs. 25%).
  • Those who agree they have a mentor who supports their development are more likely to be engaged than their peers who do not have such a mentor (37% vs. 16%).
  • This study found a strong relationship between engagement levels and whether a learner says “I know I will graduate from high school”. This connection is the most pronounced among learners who report receiving average or poor grades. For example, among engaged middle schoolers with average or poor grades, 86% of students believe they will graduate from high school, compared to 67% of not-engaged learners. 

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



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

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

    • Conduct climate surveys to understand the current state and availability of CCL-type activities.
    • Investigate the process for creating partnerships with local and regional industry leaders to ensure that CCL opportunities are aligned with career pathways.
    • Assess the current strategies for communicating the CCL that are available to learners and their families.
  • Creating opportunities for learners to engage in CCL during the school day in their core courses mitigates barriers presented by transportation, geography or conflicting school schedules.

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

Amy Hodge, Membership and Policy Associate

ECMCF Fellow Feature: Danny Sandoval

October 27th, 2023

In September 2022, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE) that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. 

This month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellows. ECMCF Fellow Danny Sandoval (CO) is already applying the skills he’s acquired in the Fellowship to build his team in meaningful ways.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

When I first saw the Fellowship advertised, I dismissed it because I wasn’t confident that I was the type of candidate they were looking for. Shortly after, I had a colleague at my institution share it with me, and then I had another colleague who had participated in the first cohort of the Fellowship reach out to try and recruit me. After talking with him, I decided to attend the information session with Dr. Johnson and that was the final nudge I needed to submit my application.

My initial hesitation was due in part to the fact that I didn’t feel like I had enough Career Technical Education (CTE) experience to be considered a good fit for the program. I’d done adjacent work with CTE programs but at that point, I hadn’t worked in CTE, but the Fellowship has allowed me to leverage this experience and it’s been great. 

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

I have learned a lot about the operational aspects of CTE, meaning the governance structures, program operation and funding. It’s almost like a conveyor belt humming along under postsecondary that is always moving, so understanding the policies and practices and building a knowledge base of CTE’s significance in the history of our country has been a huge piece for me. Through the Fellowship, I’ve gotten a national perspective of CTE, and how it looks in different states, and I’ve been able to zero in to gain a better understanding of the way programs are organized and interact with industry partners in my own state. This has definitely been an area where I feel like I’ve experienced significant growth over the past year.

Throughout my career, I’ve done a lot of work where I’ve partnered with different industries or different organizations outside of education. It wasn’t until this Fellowship that I made the connection that this work of partnering has been CTE work. Being able to name it and being able to see that my own career journey has also been like a CTE journey has been really reaffirming. Last year, our Pathways Conference in Colorado brought Joel Vargas who was one of the authors of Jobs for the Future’s (JFF) “The Big Blur” report, and his presentation really resonated with me. It is important for people to see that CTE doesn’t have to live in a separate box.  

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

I started a brand new job in the summer of 2020, and it was the first time in my career that I was required to get a CTE license for my role. Taking the steps to maintain my licensure and then continue to elevate my license for professional advancement was a crash course into the world of CTE. This was a brand new position, and the staff didn’t have a plan for what this was going to look like, but I’ve made a lot of connections from hopping into the different professional networks. Fast forward to the present day and I’m now overseeing a team of five people and preparing to hire two more. I went from having almost no budget to being awarded 2.8 million dollars for competitive grants I’ve written. I’m managing multiple grant initiatives and programs and collaborating with external partners to continue to develop additional systems. I’m directly applying the skills and knowledge gained through the Fellowship to execute my vision for my department and even my hiring practices. I’ve been able to see the ways that I can tap the diverse talent in my community. Without the Fellowship, I don’t think I’d have as much clarity around this vision.

When asked about how I’ve managed to acquire these grants, I just say that it comes down to the clear commitment our office has to upskilling and reskilling people of color in our community. We know exactly how to leverage these funds to bring enhanced experiences and opportunities to disadvantaged populations. Marginalized populations can encounter issues – falling flat in leadership roles, or encountering other barriers that keep the momentum from building. The plateau is by design. In order to fight back against that, I have taken the confidence built by the Fellowship and applied these skills to this work. There’s a real purpose driving our implementation and the Fellowship was very instrumental in helping to establish and refine that vision to keep it focused so we aren’t tempted to deviate from it.

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

I feel like the skills I’ve developed through the Fellowship have prepared me for a lot of different roles and expanded my understanding of what type of opportunities would align with my interests.

I’ve been able to attend different conferences in my state and talk with leaders to learn more about their roles in the state CTE landscape. This fellowship has opened doors for me to meet people across the state and beyond and helped me reframe my thinking about what my career trajectory might be. I’ve been able to build up my current role and that momentum excites me. As I continue to build my network by interacting with different folks in state leadership, industry and those working on national initiatives, I feel like the next step will present itself when the time is right.

How has the Fellowship expanded your network?

The Fellowship has expanded my network in a few important ways. I’ve learned a lot from my cohort-mates, attending conferences and hearing from guest speakers during the workshops. I’ve also been able to join Advance CTE’s Kitchen Cabinet on Apprenticeships. This group is advising national policy and it has been a fascinating experience. I’ve been working with my mentor Sonja Wright-McMurray, and I’ve also been able to connect with Dr. Laura Maldonado at Advance CTE. The network is limitless. 

You can contact Danny at

ECMCF Fellow Feature: Jomarie Coloriano

October 27th, 2023

In September 2022, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE) that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. 

This month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellows. ECMCF Fellow Jomarie Coloriano (WI) is using her new position to design and implement policies that are already improving outcomes for learners in her community.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I would describe my journey to the Fellowship as a happy accident, but one that has been profoundly meaningful. An email about the Fellowship came across my inbox, and it was at a time in my life when I was seeking opportunities to further challenge myself within Career Technical Education (CTE). I went to the website to learn more about the experiences of the first cohort, but I didn’t think I’d had enough relevant experience to be a competitive candidate for the second cohort. I was elated when I received my offer to join the Fellowship, but was immediately anxious about balancing working full-time, my doctoral coursework and this Fellowship. Looking back now, I am so thankful that I took the leap to apply and accept my offer. Being able to connect with so many other professionals who share my passion for this work is proof that I am in the right place at the right time. Learning from national leaders during workshops or at convenings and having critical discussions within our own cohort of Fellows has been invaluable. I think it requires a lot of courage to show up for these conversations, especially for those who are doing this work in states hostile to topics of equity.

I’ve also been able to reflect on how my experience of balancing working full time, my doctoral coursework and navigating the Fellowship reflects the reality our learners have as well when we think about CTE. I know this work is important and answering the call to make an impact for learners should be considered as an issue of national [economic] security. Without a skilled workforce to meet the demands of a changing economy, we’re leaving gaps that will have an adverse impact on generations to come. 

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

Prior to this Fellowship, I would classify myself as an “emerging data embracer” but I don’t think I was informed at the level that I needed to be. This Fellowship has provided the space and opportunity for me to develop the skills to approach data with an equity lens. Becoming data literate to inform our practices and our work is important as these skills allow us to present a more complete story, and without this, you would not have the entire picture of why we’re seeing certain programs and outcomes. An institution or program is only as strong as the learner with the greatest need, and we cannot allow ourselves to ignore these gaps. 

I also had the opportunity to identify other blind spots in my abilities through our workshops and working closely with my coach.

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

I began the Fellowship as a student support specialist for the multicultural program. In this role, I handled case management for our first-generation college students, multicultural program students, and students from immigrant backgrounds whether they’re DACA or recent arrivals to the U.S. Through the Fellowship, I’ve built the confidence and become more informed about CTE and as a result, I applied and was selected to be the Director of Inclusive Excellence. In this role, I oversee the complete suite of student supports offered by my institution, expanding the populations of learners that I support to include veterans, single parents, non-traditional occupations and the mentoring program. Without the Fellowship, I don’t think I would have had the requisite skills to be invited into these spaces to have a larger impact.

I am more confident talking about policy and strategic implementation, identifying friction points for students and developing relationships with internal stakeholders across different departments. Within my institution, I co-led the development of a policy to support learners with limited English proficiency. From there, we went on the develop a language access plan which allowed us to provide accountability for the implementation of this policy. We worked closely with other departments across campus to better understand the climate for learners with limited language proficiency. This work has been fast-tracked after presenting our work to the Wisconsin Technical College System and we’ve received requests for other institutions wanting to replicate our work on their campuses as well as external nonprofit organizations looking to partner with us. 

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

The Fellowship has afforded me the opportunity to look at CTE beyond my institution. The collaboration that happens across Wisconsin’s technical colleges is certainly a bright spot and having these touch points has allowed me to look at CTE through a regional lens and the Fellowship has provided a national context as well.

Embracing data literacy and being more data-informed in my approach to this work has shown me how to be a truth seeker and listen to the learners and constituents of our institution. This Fellowship has pushed me to ask more critical questions and challenge the status quo to understand how to find alternative solutions. I’m asking myself what it truly means to be an advocate for CTE and how to ensure our policies and practices align with this vision. 

How has the Fellowship expanded your network? 

The Fellowship has expanded my network in a number of meaningful ways. My relationship with my mentor has been incredible! At first, I was worried that it would feel transactional or based on checking a box for compliance’s sake, but Dr. Jeanne Arnold is amazing. As a mentor, she is highly supportive and highly encouraging, and our conversations are not limited to CTE. We’re looking at things in an intersectional way to understand how social work and social work policy impact CTE. I also appreciate the wealth of knowledge that is in the network of Fellows. This network with cross-functional dialogues allows us to look at problems in more complex ways and meeting members of the other ECMC Fellowships at the convening was very meaningful.

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

My new role as the Director of Inclusive Excellence is new to the college, and so I’m exploring how this position might evolve especially as I continue to build relationships with external partners. I want to consider the scope of this work beyond my institution to better understand how to bridge the gaps for the learner populations my office supports and help them navigate basic needs issues. 

My ideal role is one where I am able to shape policy and work closely with the implementation of that policy to ensure that it has the intended impact. My current position allows me to explore this space and I recently pitched an idea of developing a literacy program to our institutional research team. Last week was the launch of the project and I was pleased to see the number of people in attendance representing cross-functional areas. Our IR team developed the curriculum and the idea is that this would operate as a pop-up where folks can come and interact on demand. I really enjoy being at the college and being able to level set and bring everybody together to positively impact student success and have a sense of belonging and meaningful experiences. Through these efforts, we’re able to develop a common language to create impact and move it forward in sustainable ways.

You can contact Jomarie at   

Legislative Update: House Elects New Speaker

October 26th, 2023

After weeks without a leader, lawmakers in the House elected Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) to be the next Speaker of the House. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published new postsecondary regulations. 

Rep. Mike Johnson Elected Speaker of the House

After over three weeks without a leader, the House elected a new Speaker on Wednesday — Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA). Over the last several weeks a slew of earlier candidates failed to garner the necessary support for this role, including Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), and most recently, Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN). Following these failed candidacies, House Republicans reconvened late Tuesday night this week to conduct another informal straw poll to determine a new candidate for the Speakership. After winnowing a field of eight declared candidates, Johnson ultimately prevailed over Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) by a margin of 128-29. The next day, acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) reconvened the chamber to vote for a new Speaker where Johnson prevailed over current Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) by a margin of 220-209.

Speaker Johnson was first elected to Congress in 2016 and has served most recently on the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees. He has also Chaired the Republican Study Committee and was Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference prior to his ascent to the Speakership. Notably for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, Johnson has been a member of the House CTE Caucus. However, not much else is known about Speaker Johnson’s wider education or workforce development priorities. In the lead up to his candidacy, he has committed to an aggressive timeline to advance federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) spending bills over the next few weeks and months ahead. 

With the election of a new Speaker, lawmakers must now turn to a growing agenda that must be addressed this fall. This work includes determining a pathway forward on FY24 funding, with a new deadline of November 17 fast approaching. As the House determines its next steps, Advance CTE will continue to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure that the funding needs of the CTE community are met as this process continues to take shape. 

ED Publishes New Postsecondary Regulations

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published final regulations regarding oversight and accountability for postsecondary institutions. The final rules package includes components related to institutional financial responsibilities, related administrative capacity, certification procedures, and changes to ability to benefit requirements – efforts aimed at afforded postsecondary access to learners who have not yet attained a high school diploma or equivalency. Advance CTE provided comment during the initial publication of these rules and is continuing to analyze them for implications for the wider CTE community. More information on the rules package can be found in this press release

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Advance CTE Fall Meeting Fellowship Panel Illuminates Impact of Structures to Cultivate Diverse Leadership Pipelines

October 26th, 2023

During Advance CTE’s 2023 Fall Meeting, four members of the second cohort of the 15-month Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation participated in a panel discussion to share their experiences and knowledge gained from the Fellowship, as well how state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders can remove barriers for diverse aspiring postsecondary leaders.

Jomarie Coloriano – Inclusive Excellence, Director | Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Wisconsin


Dr. Crystal Gardner – Program Director | Workforce Instruction, Workforce Research and Development | Houston Community College, Texas


Dr. Angela Lawhorne – Director of Career Education Programs & Workforce Partnerships | Virginia Community College System, Virginia


Caleb Perriton – Program Director | Trades and Technical Studies | Laramie County Community College, Wyoming


Fellows shared their reasons for applying to the Fellowship, which ranged from seeking out leadership opportunities to advance at their current institution to being forwarded the application by a colleague or a supervisor who believed and supported their leadership aspirations. A common theme shared by each was the desire to address a specific concern related to policy and processes within postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE). The application for the Fellowship included a question on future goals and a challenge related to equity and a population of learners applicants wanted to research and develop an intervention for while completing the Fellowship. The Fellows pointed to the intentionality of explicitly requiring applicants to reflect on and consider CTE leadership opportunities and the inclusion of an equity-based real-world project made the decision to apply an easy choice. 

Fellows were also asked to share the key event or events that reinforced their decision to apply to the Fellowship, in other words – when they knew they made the right decision. Dr. Gardner shared that in CTE she rarely has an opportunity to work with or collaborate with other leaders of color across the nation and view the entire landscape of leadership possibilities in postsecondary CTE. The Fellowship offered an opportunity to build a network consisting of her peers, guest speakers invited to the Fellowship workshop and most importantly her coach whom she felt she was perfectly matched with based on their commonalities and interests. She recognized the level of thought the Advance CTE staff dedicated to finding the right mentor for each of the Fellows. Caleb discussed being paired with a postsecondary administrator with an automotive background and how the monthly coaching meetings inspired him to begin seeking the director position he currently holds at his institution. 

Each of the Fellows discussed the impact of their real-world project and the effect of completing the project has had on their current work and aspirations to continue climbing the postsecondary CTE leadership ladder. Dr Lawhorne’s project focused on improving access to justice-involved learners in Virginia and the state’s current efforts to expand, through the community college system, access to high-quality CTE programming. In the process of completing her project, an award of $70,000 was granted to support the project which allowed for the inclusion of other correctional facilities in the intervention strategy being implemented at a few select sites in the state. 

As part of Jomarie Coloriano’s project research on providing information on and access to wrap-around services for economically disadvantaged learners in her region of the Wisconsin Technical College System, she conducted a focus group which led to the identification of learner needs. This work led to an advancement to director as she continues to complete her doctoral program and the continuation of her research on increasing the postsecondary outcomes of economically disadvantaged learners. Jomarie shared during the panel discussion, “my mentor has really pushed me as a college student, first generation professional, now a doctoral student and pioneer for my family.”

This panel allowed CTE leaders to see the impact and influence of leadership development programs. Caleb shared with the state leaders that “there’s work that needs to be done in your state, and this Fellowship was the catalyst to complete a project that was needed in my community.” State and local CTE leaders can use Advance CTE’s new Building a Diverse CTE Leadership Pipeline Toolkit, to assess and build leadership development structures in their own institutions. The resource includes an overview of lessons learned from the Fellowship as well as a guidebook and accompanying workbook to assess and build leadership development structures. 

Dr. Kevin Johnson, Senior Advisor 

Maine’s Early College Programs: Empowering Local CTE Choices for Early College Options

October 25th, 2023

Providing equitable access to programs and opportunities by removing barriers to access based on location, socioeconomic situation or other factors is a key component of ensuring each learner can access Career Technical Education (CTE) without borders. This blog shares two programs as promising practices in Maine that allow all learners, regardless of location or socioeconomic situation to access dual-enrollment and early postsecondary learning opportunities. 

Maine offers two primary programs within their early college program offerings: the Dual Enrollment Career Technical Education Program and the Aspirations Program. A promising practice and important aspect of these programs is empowering local districts and CTE centers to choose the program and partner institution that best fits the needs of their learners.

The Dual Enrollment Career Technical Education Program (Title 20-A, Chapter 229) focuses on fostering a cohort-based approach to provide students in their junior and senior years with access to college credit-earning CTE courses. This program is only open to the state’s CTE centers and to be eligible for the program a CTE center must meet the following requirements:

  • Programming begins with the student’s junior year in secondary school
  • Includes up to 3 years of summer career academies
  • Includes a college freshman seminar experience 
  • Meets national concurrent enrollment standards 
  • Concludes at the end of summer following the student’s senior year in secondary school
  • Includes college course work that provides the opportunity to earn a general associate’s degree allowing students of many diverse interests the opportunity to transfer credits earned to postsecondary education programs of their individual choosing

Additionally, CTE centers must include individual learning plans, academic and career assessment, college and career advising, career exploration, and job-shadowing opportunities matched to achieve the learner’s individual academic and career goals. 

The Dual Enrollment CTE Program is optional, allowing schools to choose to participate if the program meets their needs and the needs of their learners. Maine’s 27 CTE centers and regions can partner with the University of Maine system, Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy or approved independent institutions like the Bridge Academy Maine. The Bridge Academy Maine specifically works to offer college-level courses to Maine’s CTE centers providing hands-on experience. Offering programs that provide both career and college-readiness CTE opportunities enhances the options available to learners within the state. 

Understanding that there are costs outside of just tuition, the Dual Enrollment CTE program also covers additional related costs to further enhance access and better support equity of the program. Some of the costs that centers can be reimbursed for are professional development, learning management systems, transportation costs, books, and work-based learning summer academies. CTE centers are able to utilize the reimbursement funds both for initial program startup costs as well as for the continuation of programs. The Dual Enrollment CTE Program is managed by the Office of Workforce Development and Innovative Pathways. 

Promising practices:

  • Empowering schools and districts with the option to participate and to partner with the institution that best fits their needs
  • Reimbursement of costs outside of just tuition that can apply for both program startup and continuation costs

Since 1997 the Aspirations Program (Title 20-A, Chapter 208-A) has provided eligible learners the opportunity to receive academic credits towards a high school diploma and an associate or baccalaureate level degree through dual-enrollments and successful completion of college-level courses at approved Maine institutions. As a part of the Aspirations Program, learners may earn up to 12 free credits per academic year with a maximum of six credits per semester. This program is available to all Maine secondary schools and is also available to learners who are homeschooled. 

The Aspirations Program allows learners to take courses during the summer, providing flexibility for learners and families. Summer programming has proven to be very successful with strong enrollment and completion rates showcasing the importance of not only empowering schools and districts but also empowering learners. 

Understanding that there are transportation barriers, including those living in rural and remote populations in the state, programs can also apply for remote instruction hosted by the approved institutions. This open access, regardless of the type of institution or location, provides greater access to a larger population of learners. The Aspirations Program is funded through the Department of Secondary Education’s general budget. State funding of dual and concurrent enrollment is an important aspect of supporting the ability of learners to access this opportunity.

Promising practices:

  • State funding for up to 12 credits per learner
  • Providing flexibility for learners to take courses in the summer
  • Empowering schools and districts to partner with the institution that best fits their needs
  • Programs can apply for remote instruction to increase access for learners in rural and remote areas

To learn more about the impact of state funding on dual enrollment, read Dr. Kristin Corkhill’s research on The Impact of State Funding on Dual Enrollment Participation in Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Programs. An alumnus of the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation, Dr. Corkhill’s research was conducted as part of the Real World Project capstone project

For more information on helping learners access high-quality CTE and early postsecondary opportunities without geographical barriers, read the CTE Without Borders Policy Playbook in the Leaning That Works Resource Center.

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

2023 Fall Meeting Keynote and Awards Dinner Celebrates CTE Leaders of Today and Tomorrow

October 24th, 2023

This year, we welcomed over 200 attendees for the Advance CTE Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland to make meaningful connections and ignite innovation to Elevate Career Technical Education’s (CTE) Impact. Our general sessions featured leaders from across the CTE community who are going above and beyond to ensure each learner can achieve CTE without limits.  

Keynote: The Work Ahead – CTE and the Future of Work 

Our keynote speaker was Chike Aguh, an education and workforce development innovator who is a former Chief Innovation Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor and currently a Senior Advisor for the Project on Workforce Harvard. Chike set the tone for Fall Meeting early by sharing how his parents, first-generation immigrants to the U.S., had CTE-connected careers, which paved the way for his own success which included serving the President of the United States. Chike knows that more remarkable stories like this are made possible because of the work that CTE leaders do. His presentation explored the question:

What world are we preparing our learners for, and how does Career Technical Education prepare them for it?

Chike’s message was clear – the world of work is changing dramatically and CTE needs to meet the challenge. Some changes have already happened, such as automation and remote work from industries ranging from loan administration to transportation. Other changes are yet to come, and they continue to profoundly change and in some cases put at risk jobs that Americans rely on. 

The way CTE responds to these challenges, according to Chike, is by equipping learners with both “timeless” skills and “just in time” skills. These skills don’t just make learners prepared for the workforce, they make them economically indispensable. 

One resonating message from Chike is that “‘Career Technical Education’ is too small a term for what CTE leaders are doing and what they need to do”. He applauded CTE leaders and educators for the work that they do every day, yet stressed the hard work that lies ahead for CTE in empowering the workforce of the future. 

Star of Education Awards 

Fall Meeting also served as an opportunity to celebrate state CTE leaders who are making significant contributions to elevating CTE’s impact in their state. 

The State CTE Leadership Rising Star Award, awarded to Amy Miller, recognizes new CTE leaders who are actively engaged with and dedicated to advancing a vision for CTE that is committed to quality, equity and access within their state. Miller began her role as Assistant Director of CTE at the South Dakota Department of Education in 2020 following a career as a family and consumer science teacher, CTE director and high school principal.

The State CTE Distinguished Leadership Award, awarded to Dr. Sarah Heath, recognizes current and former state CTE leaders who have a distinguished and tenured history of service and have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to advancing a vision for high-quality and equitable CTE at the state and national levels. Dr. Heath, who served as President of the Advance CTE Board of Directors from 2020-2022, has held the title of Associate Vice Chancellor for CTE and State CTE Director in Colorado since 2015 following positions as a computer science and business educator, state program director and local system administrator.

In their acceptance remarks, both leaders emphasized the importance of their state and local partners’ shared commitment to innovation and the needs of learners as central to their success. Dr. Heath in particular elevated the unique community of the “CTE family” that connects leaders across the country. 

Preparations are already underway for the Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting in Arlington, Virginia from April 29-May 1, 2024! Visit the event page to mark your calendar and learn more.

Layla Alagic, Digital Communications Associate
Stacy Whitehouse, Associate Director, Communications

Legislative Update: House Remains Without a Speaker

October 20th, 2023

This week, House Republicans continued to struggle to identify and advance a new Speaker of the House following the surprising ouster of the former House Speaker last week. Since that time no clear contender has emerged after disagreement within the House Republican conference persisted this week.

House Republicans Struggle to Find Consensus on New Leadership

House Republicans continued to struggle this week to elect a new Speaker of the House. As shared previously, a group of House Republicans successfully removed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from this leadership role in recent weeks. Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has been serving in an acting capacity since that time. However, McHenry’s role is limited in scope and authority meaning that the House, and as a consequence much of Congress, is presently unable to advance and enact legislation. Last week, current Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) won an internal Republican conference vote to be the House Republicans’ new Speaker-designate. Yet, his nomination was short-lived lived and Scalise pulled out of consideration after it became apparent that he would not have the requisite support within his own party to win a formal vote for the Speakership on the House floor.

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), who was the runner-up in this earlier internal conference vote, has since been nominated by his party to be the new Speaker Designate — an informal first step that Republicans have taken to ensure that a candidate will have the necessary support to win the 217 votes necessary to become the next Speaker of the House. Since that time, however, Speaker-designate Jordan has lost two House-wide Speakership votes, and it remains unclear if he will be able to garner the necessary support within his conference to lead the chamber. A third vote was scheduled earlier today which resulted in Jordan losing additional support within the Republican conference. At the time of this writing, the situation remains extremely fluid.

Advance CTE is continuing to monitor this process closely and will continue to provide analysis on potential implications regarding federal funding and other issues of importance for the Career Technical Education community.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: House Republicans Struggle to Find a New Leader

October 13th, 2023

This week, House Republicans continued to struggle to identify and advance a new Speaker of the House following the surprising ouster of the former House Speaker last week. Since that time no clear contender has emerged after disagreement within the House Republican conference persisted this week. 

House Republicans Continue Leadership Deliberations

Last week a group of House Republicans successfully ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from this leadership position. Since that time, Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has been serving on an acting basis in this role until the House formally elects a new Speaker. Following this surprising turn of events, Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) announced that they would both seek the support of the House Republican caucus to serve as the next Speaker. Earlier this week, House Republicans hosted a candidate forum for both Scalise and Jordan to make their case to colleagues regarding their respective candidacies. 

Following this forum, House Republicans reconvened to conduct an informal internal vote for a new Speaker before bringing this candidate to the full House for formal consideration. This effort was intended to facilitate broader consensus regarding a candidate before calling the House back into session and beginning the formal process of electing a new Speaker. Majority Leader Scalise narrowly won this internal House Republican caucus vote by a margin of 113-99 — making him the new Republican nominee to be the next Speaker of the House. However, with a slim margin of control in the chamber and a reluctance to rely on support from House Democrats, Scalise needed to secure at least 217 of the 221 House Republican members to formally become Speaker. 

Following this informal vote on Wednesday, Scalise continued to struggle to secure the support needed within his own party to move forward with a formal vote for Speaker. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) is now the leading candidate for this leadership position. However, it remains unclear whether and how Jordan will be able to secure the votes necessary to be elected to this role. A formal vote for Speaker has not yet been scheduled at the time of this writing. Advance CTE is monitoring this process closely and will continue to provide analysis regarding potential implications regarding federal funding and other issues of importance for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community.  

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor