Research Round-up: Building and Expanding Registered Apprentice Programs through Community College Partnerships

November 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 elevates state examples of how federal funding might be used to administer youth apprenticeship. These findings align with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable. 

Overview

In celebration of Apprenticeship Month, we’re elevating two reports from New America that provide state CTE leaders with helpful information about opportunities to leverage (or braid) funding to support youth apprenticeship or registered apprenticeship (RA) programs.

Background

Earlier this spring, New America published a blog, “Leveraging Existing Federal Funding Streams for Youth Apprenticeship,” in response to memos from the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) outlining how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) can be applied in more flexible and innovative ways to support youth apprenticeship. New America then published a research study in early November on the challenges and opportunities facing community colleges that want to expand apprenticeship opportunities to their students. This report, “Community Colleges and Apprenticeship: The Promise, the Challenge” expands on key blog recommendations; notably, that state CTE leaders should consider using federal funds to partner with an experienced intermediary organization to build out RA programs statewide

Apprenticeship Intermediaries

An apprenticeship intermediary is similar to “workforce intermediaries” in the public workforce system, which has a long history of facilitating connections between public and private services and workers. Unlike Registered Apprenticeship, which is well defined and regulated by the DOL, there is no definition of an “apprenticeship intermediary” in federal statute. In their study, New America utilizes the definition coined by the federal government, “An apprenticeship intermediary helps to build, launch, and run apprenticeship programs in collaboration with other apprenticeship partners. Just as many organizations may participate in apprenticeship partnerships—including employers, and often also labor organizations, secondary and postsecondary institutions, community-based organizations (CBOs), and industry organizations or associations—an equally wide array of organizations may perform intermediary functions.” 

Intermediaries typically support program development and delivery; stakeholder engagement; monitoring, evaluation, and support services; and strategy and field building. These responsibilities make community colleges a strong contender to serve in this role as many of these services are already built into the institution.

Findings

This study found that community colleges are uniquely positioned to support the expansion of apprentices by acting as apprenticeship intermediaries”

  • Community colleges successfully balance the needs of employers and apprentices because of their overlapping missions in training, workforce, and economic development as well as their experience serving diverse students.
  • Nontraditional apprenticeships—like nursing and cybersecurity—can warrant a more active community college intermediary role because the occupations require academic credentials to get and keep a job.
  • Community colleges acting as intermediaries can reduce the financial burden on students who want to train by tapping into a range of public funding options.

Recommendations

State and system policy plays a key role in supporting community colleges as apprenticeship intermediaries. State CTE leaders seeking to leverage community colleges to expand apprenticeship participation can:

  • Create a last-dollar scholarship or tuition waiver policy.
  • Integrate apprenticeship models into the funding formula.
  • Adjust licensure requirements to remove prohibitive cost barriers.
  • Brokering partnerships with universities to apply for DOL grants. 

For further reading

Leveraging Existing Federal Funding Streams for Youth Apprenticeship also addresses the use of federal funds for teacher preparation programs.

Please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources about the benefits of expanding apprenticeships and strategies for leveraging community college partnerships.

Amy Hodge, Membership and Policy Associate

Congratulations to the 2022-2023 Cohort of Advance CTE – ECMCF Fellows!

November 30th, 2023

On November 17th, Advance CTE held a celebration of completion for the 2022-2023 cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation.

Fellows received a special message from Advance CTE Executive Director, Kate Kreamer, echoing the importance of their voices and presence in CTE and congratulating them for their accomplishments and completion of the 15-month Fellowship.

Join us in recognizing the Fellows from the 2022-2023 cohort and their real-world capstone projects completed during the Fellowship.

 

New Skills ready network Highlight Blog: Career Connected Advising in the Middle Grades

November 22nd, 2023

The New Skills ready network (NSrn) is part of JPMorgan Chase’s substantial portfolio in support of an inclusive economy and workforce. This five-year commitment is part of the New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work and their $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity. With a dedication to building equitable career pathways, the New Skills ready network connects six sites —  Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee — with local partners with the intentionality necessary to build a strong workforce ecosystem for all learners.

For this highlight blog, Advance CTE Senior Policy Associate Haley Wing met with Erin Jacques, MyCAP District Coordinator, and Marsha Innis-Mitchell, Executive Director of Postsecondary Initiatives for Boston Public Schools to discuss career-connected advising in middle grades. Erin and Marsha are both partners of the New Skills ready network Boston, Massachusetts, project team.  

The Boston, Massachusetts project team for the New Skills ready network believes in a city where all young people can engage in high-quality career learning that supports exploration, informed decision-making and preparation for the future. The team aims to dramatically increase the number of Black, Latinx, special education, and English Learner students who participate in and persist through engaging, relevant, and equitable career pathways and are prepared to enter meaningful careers. 

 



 

Overview

Over the past three years, the Boston, Massachusetts, project team has been transforming systems to drive equitable education and career outcomes for all learners. The project team has achieved significant milestones in the development of high-quality, equitable career pathways including addressing structural and institutional barriers to equitable career pathways and creating a holistic and seamless advising system to support learners. In year three of the New Skills ready network initiative, the project team prioritized expanding access to coordinated, holistic and equitable college and career advising. The 2022-2023 school year was the first of college and career-connected advising in the middle-grades and project team members from Boston Public Schools shared how they leveraged cross-department collaboration, offered supports to identified priority schools for the rollout and lessons learned throughout the process.

Leveraging Cross-Department Collaboration to Support Expanded Access to Career-Connected Advising 

In expanding access to college and career advising, Boston Public School members of the initiative’s project team strengthened their implementation of the My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP). MyCAP is a learner-centered, multi-year planning tool designed to provide learners with ongoing opportunities to plan for their academic, personal, social and career success. Additionally, because MyCAP is student-centered, there is a large focus on anti-bias and equity to inform, advise and mentor learners. This includes expanding learners’ thinking about what is possible and positioning them to move forward in ways they envision future success. 

Implementing MyCAP with fidelity across Boston Public Schools requires sustainable and deepened staff capacity at the district’s central office as well as at the school level. Marsha and Erin both support cultivating and maintaining strategic partnerships across the district to align with MyCAP priorities. The collaboration and partnerships during this first year of expanded access to middle-grade learners included leveraging family liaisons who support informing learners and families of opportunities within Boston Public Schools and activating counselor teams that support caseloads of learners in the middle grades. The project team also expanded its reach to include community partnerships that operate in the college and career areas to better serve middle-grade learners. The advantage of bringing these partnerships into the fold allowed greater support for learners with exposure to skills and experiences that support college and career readiness and success (see image). 

To actualize expanded access to MyCAP, the project team identified a cohort of schools with grade configurations in the middle grades (grades 6,7 and 8). The team then worked across departments within the school district to increase the capacity to deliver training, guidance and resources to the identified priority schools. Training for school-level staff includes step-by-step instruction on using the tool and leveraging the accompanying resources to draw connections between learners’ interests and college and career opportunities.

To support schools in their efforts, the district staff recommends schools leverage formalized MyCAP plans that articulate how schools will accomplish MyCAP implementation and the set of experiences they will provide for learners over the course of the school year. Due to the intentionality of the district leadership, plans include support systems like additional counselors pushing in, leveraging collaboration with partners and additional guidance from the district team to support the work.

Impact of Expanded Access to MyCAP

As a result of the Boston, Massachusetts project team expanding access to high-quality college and career advising through MyCAP, 45% of 7th-grade learners and 42% of 8th-grade learners in the identified priority schools have completed at least one MyCAP task in the first year of expansion. Additionally, the number of district and school-level staff that are being trained on MyCAP continues to increase; in the first year 150 staff were trained and over 200 individuals have been trained as of October 2023. The group of 200 includes staff representing all of the district’s secondary schools and a dozen of lower-elementary schools. 

The district team and school-level staff are also making greater connections with MyCAP to other bodies of work such as transition planning and special education efforts. MyCAP supports the development and implementation of efforts to support learners’ postsecondary readiness and transitions; these components are also in alignment with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Transitional planning is integral to IEPs and MyCAP is transition planning for learners.

Lessons Learned from Launching Expanded Access to MyCAP

Additional capacity building: A key component of the expansion of MyCAP includes additional capacity building. The project team explicitly highlighted that this work is not possible without a district-level staff member dedicated to serving and supporting school-level staff to implement MyCAP. Erin’s role allows the capacity to sit down with school-level staff to increase counselors’ leadership abilities and competencies. As mentioned earlier, the district provides resources to support this work, however, resources and guidance documents are only useful if there is a staff member to support walking through the planning and implementation process.

School counselor involvement is critical: At the school level, school counselors are needed to support the planning, collaboration and implementation of MyCAP. In schools where the expanded access efforts have been implemented, there is a counselor who has built their team within the school, trained their team and teachers, and informed administrators of the planning and implementation process. This is especially important considering scheduling within school buildings and ensuring that MyCAP is integrated into and across advisory blocks within schools.

Adequate training is essential to advocacy: In addition to better serving learners in their career and college planning, the project team has also noted the increased advocacy efforts of counselors within schools that are implementing expanded access to MyCAP. The project team has noticed when school-level counselors are adequately trained and supported, they take ownership of the implementation process and leverage their leadership to mobilize their peers. This can include accurately communicating the vision of MyCAP, identifying how and when it connects to other school-level staff’s work, offering support to leverage MyCAP and advocating for systems within the school that support learners’ postsecondary success. This is especially exciting to witness given there is no mandate to implement or leverage MyCAP in Boston Public Schools, and signals to the district that in the sea of competing priorities, school counselors, administrators and staff are identifying MyCAP as foundational to learners’ transitions to and through college and careers.

Replicating Expanded Access to College and Career Advising

Providing learners access to high-quality college and career advising is a critical component of supporting learners’ transitions, readiness and preparation for the workforce. Leaders who are interested in replicating the efforts of Boston Public Schools should:

    • Prioritize cross-sector capacity building: identify who in the community can come together to help make the effort a shared responsibility.
    • Leverage a relationship-centered approach: build the capacity and system to respond to school-level staff’s needs with grace, flexibility and transparency.
    • Center learners and their experiences: focus the work of the initiative to implement systems and processes that are most impactful for learners and their communities.

Looking Ahead

As the project team looks forward, they plan to continue the momentum of expanded access to MyCAP and plan to bring in more schools with earlier grade bands like elementary schools in the district. As MyCAP training and implementation expands, the team continues to have a deep focus on equity, aligning inclusive education goals and activating MyCAP at points of transition within learners’ journey. 

To learn more about Individual Career and Academic Plans, read Implementing Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP) at Scale in the Learning that Works Resource Center. This brief highlights promising practices for ICAP implementation at the state and local levels in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin and provides recommendations for further state and local work to scale ICAPs.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

Read our other New Skills ready network Highlight Blogs from 2023:

Welcome Marie Falcone to Advance CTE!

November 21st, 2023

My name is Marie Falcone and I am incredibly excited to join the Advance CTE team as a Policy Associate. In my role on the Data and Research team, I will support and contribute to Advance CTE’s data quality and initiatives to promote data-driven decision-making among state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders and within the organization.

I completed my undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and participated in a public policy minor program in collaboration with the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution. Through the program, I worked on policy advocacy and research relevant to the Mountain West region at my university’s think-tank, specifically in education policy. After interning at the Brown Center on Education Policy, I was confident that educational research and its impact on learner outcomes was the space I wanted to be in for years to come.

Emboldened and excited by the work, I moved to Washington, D.C. to complete a master’s in education policy studies at The George Washington University. Throughout this experience, I worked on a research evaluation team for a federal grant and in Fairfax County Public School’s Office of Research and Strategic Improvement, helping to produce the district’s annual Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III data report. I am thrilled to continue my journey in educational research at Advance CTE to support learners in career and growth opportunities through CTE!

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, home to some of my favorite hikes and the best hockey team. I am a big reader, love running and always look for new places to eat in DC!

Legislative Update: Congress Extends Funding Through Early Next Year

November 17th, 2023

This week, Congress passed another short-term extension of current funding for all federal programs and operations through early 2024. The measure maintains current funding levels for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) along with other critical investments in education and workforce development. 

Congress Approves Funding Extension

After weeks of uncertainty, newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) announced plans over the weekend to advance legislation that would temporarily extend current federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funds through early next year. The legislation bifurcates the 12 individual spending bills that compose the federal government into two separate tranches — known as a “laddered” continuing resolution (CR) — with two separate expiration dates of January 19 and February 2. Of note for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations component of this legislation would extend funding for programs like Perkins V and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) through the February 2 deadline.

The laddered CR approach was initially met with skepticism by some lawmakers, as the strategy does not appear to fundamentally change the underlying dynamics of Congress’ current challenges in finding common ground on full-year FY24 spending. Nonetheless, the measure was introduced in the House this week and passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority by a margin of 336-95. Notably, 93 Republicans and two Democrats voted against the measure—a dynamic that, just a few months ago, led to the surprising ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this fall. The laddered CR was quickly taken up by the Senate where it was passed on a bipartisan basis by a margin of 87-11. The bill was just recently signed into law by President Biden before current funding legislation was set to expire later today (November 17).

Ostensibly, the passage of a CR is intended to provide lawmakers more time to negotiate FY24 appropriations legislation. However, both chambers have struggled to make progress on their respective slates of appropriations legislation. Meanwhile, in the House, Republican leaders were forced to pull the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill from further consideration after it became clear the measure would likely not have the necessary support to clear the chamber. House leaders were forced to pull other spending measures from consideration for similar reasons the last few weeks as well.

While the passage of the CR will avoid a government shutdown for the remainder of this calendar year, it remains unclear how Congress will use this additional time to either pass additional individual appropriations legislation, negotiate a larger full-year FY24 package or take an alternative route altogether. Advance CTE is continuing to engage with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure that the funding needs of the CTE community are realized as part of this wider process. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Welcome Velie Sando to Advance CTE!

November 17th, 2023

I am super excited to join Advance CTE as a Policy Associate. I will be supporting the state policy team in a multitude of projects including the New Skills ready network and the state policy Year in Review. I have a keen interest in the intersection of policy and advocacy, and my experience serving marginalized populations in the fields of education and transportation drives my interest in Advance CTE’s mission.

Having understood that industry-recognized credentials are seldom enough to secure well-paying job opportunities in my home country, Cameroon, my parents migrated to the United States in 2005 to secure a brighter future for their children. This brave decision shaped my perspective from a young age, and has influenced my desire to support individuals in manifesting a stable and optimal quality of life.

I was immersed into the world of policy in 2017 as a Policy and Advocacy Fellow in San Antonio, Texas, where I researched methods to reduce recidivism in the region. I interviewed many Previously Incarcerated Individuals (PIIs) and created a framework to facilitate their access to reliable transportation and stable job opportunities. This experience exposed me to the varied components necessary for any individual to successfully engage in a society, and sparked my interest in education and transportation policy.

Upon the completion of my master’s degree, I began working as a Project & Policy Leader for Mobilify Southwestern Pennsylvania, a non-profit that promotes multi-modal transportation choices through advocacy, education, coalition-building and technical assistance services. I learned just how important it is to have the right people in the right positions who will do the right thing. Since then, my approach to policy and advocacy has been centered on utilizing innovative methods to encourage people in positions of power to promote policies that directly impact underserved populations. The membership lens through which Advance CTE advocates for equitable access to Career Technical Education speaks directly to my approach to this work, and I am thrilled to be part of the team!

Beyond my professional career, I wear many hats. I am a professional Afrobeats dancer, a self-proclaimed singer, a loving sister and a dear friend. My superpower is my adaptability, I thrive in fast-paced environments and a fun fact about me is that “je parle francais!”

I look forward to working with the Advance CTE staff, contributing to the work and soaking up the wealth of knowledge in the organization. 

Velie Sando, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: FY24 Funding Deadline Approaches

November 9th, 2023

This week, lawmakers struggled to find common ground on a path forward on federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) funding as a new deadline next week quickly approaches while the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance regarding federal civil rights obligations. 

Agreement on FY24 Funding Remains Out of Reach

This week, lawmakers continued to struggle to find consensus on a pathway forward on FY24 funding. As a reminder, the short-term extension of current FY23 funding levels, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is set to expire next week on November 17. Since neither chamber has made significant progress on individual FY24 appropriations legislation this week, lawmakers must now find consensus on another approach before this fast-approaching deadline.

Earlier this week, House Republicans met to consider several possible strategies, including a “laddered CR” approach, which would stagger deadlines of various appropriations bills over the next several weeks. However, House Republicans did not reach consensus on this, and it remains unclear how Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) plans to proceed. Recent reports indicate that the House may try to consider an extension of funding sometime early next week. Meanwhile, in the Senate, leaders are reportedly working on a forthcoming proposal to extend current funding levels. However, most recently, Republican Senate leaders have called for additional funding for issues at the southern border, which has complicated progress in the chamber. 

With only five legislative days until next week’s deadline, lawmakers appear to be no closer to finding agreement on FY24 funding due to these outstanding differences. Advance CTE is monitoring this process closely and engaging with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure that the funding needs of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community are met through this wider process. 

ED Issues Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Obligations to Address Discrimination

Over the last several weeks, several hate-based or bias-based incidents across the nation have occurred with increasing frequency following rising tensions in the Middle East. In response, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter to schools and institutions re-emphasizing their responsibilities and obligations under the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to provide students with environments free of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. In addition, the House Education and Workforce’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development is holding a hearing on the same topic next week while members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee are holding a roundtable drawing attention to this issue. 

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Legislative Update: Consensus on FY24 Remains Elusive as Artificial Intelligence Comes into Focus

November 3rd, 2023

This week, Congress has continued to make modest progress on appropriations legislation for the federal government while lawmakers and President Biden have begun to consider how to manage the coming use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. 

Congress No Closer to Agreement on Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Education Spending

With new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) in place and another possible government shutdown only two weeks away, a new sense of urgency has swept Capitol Hill as lawmakers worked to pass several appropriations measures in both chambers this week. In the House, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations bill — legislation that provides funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) and other important Career Technical Education (CTE) related investments—has been moved directly to the House floor for consideration and a vote is scheduled sometime the week of November 13. As a reminder, if enacted, this proposal would reduce funding for Title I of the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) by 80 percent and would substantially cut funding or entirely eliminate many other education and workforce development programs like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

The Senate has not yet scheduled further consideration of its own version of this legislation which most recently advanced out of the Appropriations Committee and is awaiting consideration by the upper chamber. Unlike the House version of this legislation, which would freeze current funding for Perkins V’s basic state grant program, the Senate’s proposal would provide a much-needed $43 million increase in support for the primary federal investment in CTE. 

Under the new leadership of Speaker Johnson, the House has continued to pass other spending proposals that would drastically cut federal funding for a variety of programs, falling well below the topline spending targets outlined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) — a bipartisan agreement that was passed by Congress earlier this year which avoided a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt obligations. At the same time, the Senate has continued to advance spending proposals that conform to the FRA agreement. With both chambers proposing wildly different visions for FY24 funding, it remains unclear how lawmakers will move forward by the middle of this month. Unless agreement can be reached by the beginning of 2024, an across-the-board sequester cut to all federal programs, mandated by the FRA, will come into effect. As these efforts continue to unfold, Advance CTE is continuing to work with partners on Capitol Hill to ensure the funding needs of the wider CTE education community are met as part of this process. 

Biden Administration Unveils Artificial Intelligence Executive Order

On Monday, October 30, President Biden issued a wide-ranging Executive Order regarding the “Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence” (AI). The measure has several components of note for the CTE community including how to support workers displaced by AI, strategies for attracting and retaining AI talent and directing federal agencies to explore how to strengthen or expand pathways programs leading into AI or adjacent occupational fields. The Executive Order also directs the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to develop resources, policies, and guidance on AI in education within one year and similarly directs the Departments of Labor, Commerce and others to produce similar recommendations on legislative and regulatory actions that can better support workers and learners navigate a world changed by the implementation of AI and related technologies. Learn more about these efforts in this factsheet.

Senate Examines AI’s Impact on the Workforce

Earlier this week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions’ Subcommittee on Employment and Workforce Safety held a hearing titled, “AI and the Future of Work: Moving Forward Together.” The hearing featured testimony from witnesses representing the private sector and explored the potential impacts that AI will likely have on work as well as potential strategies to mitigate negative effects. A key theme of the hearing centered on the growing importance of lifelong learning, including the need to reform ways that the federal government supports learners pursuing postsecondary education. To that end, Senator Kaine (D-VA) highlighted the importance of Congress passing the JOBS Act – legislation that would expand Pell Grant eligibility for high-quality, shorter-term CTE programs. 

ED Distributes New Funding for Educator Diversity and Compensation Efforts

Late last week, the U.S. ED announced that it was awarding $115 million in new funding via the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program — an initiative authorized by ESSA. These funds will support nearly 30 projects that aim to address teacher shortages while also increasing instructional staff diversity. This investment “… will help states and school districts recruit and retain new talent, increase compensation, and address educator shortages that we know disproportionately impact students from our communities of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities and English learners,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, in part, as part of the announcement

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

2023 Advance CTE Fall Meeting Vision-Focused Workshops: Staff Reflections

November 2nd, 2023

Advance CTE’s 2023 Fall Meeting featured two rounds of interactive workshops based on the five foundation commitments of our vision, CTE Without Limits – equity, quality programs and instructors, public-private partnerships, and data and collaboration. These sessions allowed attendees to collaborate together to incubate innovative ideas in these specific topic areas and elevate Career Technical Education (CTE)’s impact in each state. Read our staff’s recaps and reflections on each workshop:

Foundational Commitment 1: Removing Geographic Barriers for Learners Through CTE Without Borders

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

The Foundational Commitment 1 Workshop: Removing Geographic Barriers for Learners Through CTE Without Borders led participants through small and large group discussions and analysis to expand access within and across state borders.

Jennell Ives, Director of the Secondary-Postsecondary Transitions Team at the Oregon Department of Education, offered a strategy for state teams working to expand access that includes an intensive two-day workshop. In this two-day workshop, she recommended states bring together cross-sector teams and champions across agencies to flesh through an action-planning process that addresses expanding statewide access to high-quality CTE and work-based learning opportunities across secondary and postsecondary institutions. Narrowing the time and space to solely focus on expanding access within and across state borders is a strategy to jump-start the work of expanding access and ensuring all partners, actions and responsibilities are aligned and actionable.

Foundational Commitment 2: Creating Opportunities with Stakeholders to Ensure Quality and Impact

Tunisha Hobson, Director, State Policy Implementation

Marcette Kilgore, Texas’ State CTE Director, introduced the process of engaging stakeholders in a program of study refresh which served as a catalyst for an implementation tour to ensure regions in the state were aware of changes to the state’s approved list of programs. The development process included the completion of a skills gap analysis, conducting listening tours, establishing statewide CTE advisory committees and offering and processing public comments through digital submissions. Participants learned about the use of a piloted software, Calibrate, a Skills Engine product created by the Center for Employability Outcomes within the Texas State Technical College System. The Calibrate system allowed employers to enter preferred skills by individual job profiles developed in alignment to the Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes.

The Texas Education Agency uploaded the course standards for every program of study which were created by grouping occupations by SOC code. An analysis of the alignment between course standards and industry-identified valuable skills was conducted to determine the gaps the agency needed to address as a priority and to schedule course reviews and rewrites/updates. The remainder of State Director Kilgore’s presentation focused on how this input was not limited to the pilot software but also included steps taken to engage the state’s CTE advisory committee, visit regions in the state and offer public comment opportunities which provided a more structured approach to supporting the redesign.

Yolanda Flores, a member of the Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE – Sponsored by ECMC Foundation,  presented her real-world project focused on increasing adult learner awareness of opportunities available in manufacturing programs and subsequent in-demand high-wage jobs in Florida. She included an analysis of English Language Learners (ELL) and their access and supports while participating in the program. Her project includes an intervention through hosting a one-day exploration event for adult learners inclusive of ELL. The event not only increased awareness for the learner population, but it also identified for educators and industry partners other necessary interventions for addressing the needs of many more industries and learner groups. Flores was awarded a $170,000 grant to continue the work highlighted in her project to continue expanding access for learners.

Foundational Commitment 3: Advancing the National Career Clusters Framework

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

Sheri Smith of Indigo Education Company and Alexandria Wright of WestEd’s Center for Economic Mobility provided an update on the National Career Clusters Framework Revision Project. The National Career Clusters® Framework is undergoing a modernization effort to ensure it remains responsive and relevant to both the world of work and learner needs for decades to come.

Participants in the workshop learned about the mixed method approach utilizing quantitative and qualitative methods for a data-informed process in updating the Framework. Additionally, participants learned of the progress that has been made recently with the Industry Advisory Groups and about the National Implementation Survey to gain knowledge about current and desired future use of the Framework and further support the engagement with those that use the Framework. During the group activities, attendees identified the most important uses and biggest challenges of utilizing the Framework for a variety of stakeholders.

Foundational Commitment 4: Data Dashboard Confessional – Ensuring Data are Actionable, Transparent and Trustworthy

Dan Adams, Associate Director, Data & Research

Dr. Jeffrey Fletcher, Lead Education Consultant at Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Community Colleges and Postsecondary Readiness framed Iowa’s success with building and using Data Dashboards as involving three specific benchmarks: collaboration with grant recipients; collecting complete/correct data; and limitations such as data matching. The resulting data dashboards are allowing Iowa to monitor student outcomes from enrollment, through different levels of education, successful completion of education, and gainful employment.

Donna Lewelling, Director at the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development at Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission described Oregon’s work standing up a postsecondary data dashboard. Critical to Oregon’s success has been building data literacy among those collecting and those using postsecondary CTE data. Oregon’s work is relational, and resources have been devoted to building and sustaining the relationships necessary to create useable data dashboards, as well as providing technical assistance to the field in using data to identify opportunities and obstacles to student success.

Foundational Commitment 5: Seamless Transitions: Continuously Improving Alignment Across Sectors 

Eliza Fabillar, Senior Advisor

Alex Perry, Policy Advisor, Foresight Law and Policy, introduced the College in High School Alliance, a national partnership to advance dual enrollment and early college policy. Dual enrollment is growing nationwide, but more work is needed to develop consistent policies to achieve access to dual enrollment for all learners. States need to develop a common vision across sectors, expand the equity mission tied to dual enrollment by focusing on special populations, and be intentional about implementing policies that will advance dual enrollment. At the national level, policymakers and practitioners need to establish common definitions and examine policies and practices that support or hinder progress. 

Nancy Ligus, Advance CTE-ECMCF Fellow and Director of Workforce, Continuing Education and Economic Development at Pierpont Community College shared her work on a local workforce system. She differentiated systems versus ecosystems and provided a successful example from West Virginia. She also defined team characteristics that can ensure scalability and elaborated on strategies to form an ecosystem approach as a viable solution toward workforce and economic development goals.

Read our other blogs in the 2023 Fall Meeting recap series: 

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 hwing@careertech.org 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

 

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