Posts Tagged ‘Career Exploration’

State Innovations in Career Technical Education: Building a Clean Energy Workforce

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

To solve pressing climate-related challenges including droughts, forest fires, sea level rise and others, the nation needs a workforce prepared to address those challenges. The clean energy sector, in particular, helps provide solutions for the future of the planet, and the economic case for expanded investment in clean energy jobs is clear: in 2022, clean energy jobs grew in every state and, with a national 3.9% job growth, outpaced national employment growth.1 To prepare young people for the future of this emerging economy, states and local education agencies are turning to Career Technical Education (CTE) to develop both the technical and academic skills needed while providing specialized training to ensure learners are environmentally aware and can enter into environmentally-focused careers.

Some states focus on a broad strokes approach that expands access to the sector as a whole. Last year, Massachusetts created a Clean Energy Innovation Career Pathway, to “inspire the next generation of clean energy experts in Massachusetts by providing students experiential learning opportunities in the field.” In September 2023, six high schools began piloting this pathway. The state also announced multiple financial investments in the development of training opportunities, including a $2.5 million grant to Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology to create their Center for Energy Efficiency and the Trades and achieve a goal of connecting 50% of graduates to climate-connected occupations by 2026.

Other states developed more focused career-specific pathways in close collaboration with industry partners. Georgia, for example, developed an electric vehicle career pathway in response to a $5 billion investment from electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, who seeks to hire 7,500 workers across four counties in Georgia. This type of approach reveals the importance of employer partners who can demonstrate and speak to the value of CTE training programs for the clean energy sector.

Local education agencies are also adopting hyperlocal programs in response to hyperlocal need. The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School focuses on preparing learners specifically for maritime careers, and is focused heavily on careers centered on the clean workforce, including in marine biology research, aquaculture, and ocean technologies, among other pathways. They have partnered with the Billion Oyster Project to provide learners with hands-on experiences and direct connection to mentors in the industry, in turn developing young practitioners eager to engage in this space. The Billion Oyster Project reports engaging with over 11,000 New York City students since 2014.

Environmental education, climate literacy, and exposure to workforce opportunity are vital to recruitment and retention of young people in the clean energy space. To prepare for the economic future of this emerging space, high quality and equitable CTE needs to remain at the forefront to ensure that all young people can find, decide on and engage in these types of future careers.  


Advance CTE is currently doing work in environmental education by partnering with the Delaware Department of Education to explore the future environmental literacy competencies within and across Delaware Pathways. Read about the project

Read more about policies enacted in CTE Clean Energy and Renewables and other CTE-related policy trends of 2023 in State Policies Impacting CTE: 2023 Year in Review.

Dan Hinderliter, associate director, state policy

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog – Diamond Sponsor YouScience | YouScience leads the way in aptitude-enabled education

Friday, April 19th, 2024

The views, opinions, services and products shared in this post are solely for educational purposes and do not imply agreement or endorsement by Advance CTE, nor discrimination against similar brands, products or services not mentioned.

In the constantly evolving education landscape, YouScience® is revolutionizing how students discover their best-fit postsecondary education and career pathways with YouScience® Brightpath and aptitude-enabled education.

Brightpath is the only aptitude-based guidance platform that leverages data and artificial intelligence to help individuals identify their aptitudes, validate their skills, and get matched with educational and career pathways.

Brightpath is used in all 50 states and is offered as a state-wide contract in several. Here are five reasons educators and state CTE leaders should evaluate Brightpath:

Aptitudes: The key to unlocking potential

Aptitudes are an individual’s natural ability to learn or perform skills regardless of environment. Knowing aptitudes is one of the most powerful accelerators to help empower individuals to leverage their natural gifts and find success. They expand a student’s understanding of what’s possible beyond what they know and have been exposed to. By understanding their aptitudes, students gain invaluable insight into the paths that align with their interests and abilities.

How does Brightpath work? Students engage with a series of timed brain game exercises that are designed to reveal their aptitudes and interests while also identifying careers and educational opportunities that align with both.

Why interest-only career guidance falls short

Interests are self-reported activities someone wants to know or learn about. While interests are important, for career guidance they are limiting and have proven to reinforce biases and stereotypes because having an interest in a particular career relies heavily on a student’s direct exposure to that particular career field.

Collaborative planning: Empowering students for success

Empowering students goes beyond individual assessments; it involves collaborative planning among families, educators, and counselors. Together, they guide students in applying their aptitude knowledge to course planning, participation in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, and obtaining industry-recognized certifications. With this support system in place, students can confidently navigate the workforce transition or pursue postsecondary education tailored to their aptitudes and interests.

Interdisciplinary education: Creating personalized pathways

Interdisciplinary education takes aptitude-enabled learning to new heights by fostering collaboration among schools and districts. By viewing education through the lens of relevant Career Clusters, educators can create personalized pathways and integrated programs. This holistic approach not only enhances students’ academic experiences but also prepares them for the demands of the modern workforce.

YouScience: Leading the charge

The comprehensive Brightpath platform empowers students to discover their aptitudes and interests and provides them with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their future. By integrating collaborative planning and interdisciplinary education, YouScience ensures that students are well-prepared to embark on their chosen pathways with confidence through aptitude-enabled education.

To learn more about Brightpath, visit  www.youscience.com/brightpath.

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Spring Meeting
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Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog – Gold Sponsor American Student Alliance | Using CTE to Create Innovative Career Exploration Programs That Prepare All Learners for Their Futures

Thursday, April 11th, 2024

The views, opinions, services and products shared in this post are solely for educational purposes and do not imply agreement or endorsement by Advance CTE, nor discrimination against similar brands, products or services not mentioned.

In recent years, middle school career exploration has gained traction as a foundational element of Career Technical Education (CTE). As many State CTE Directors and leaders know, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V), signed into law in July 2018, for the first time permitted Perkins funding to be used on career exploration programming as early as fifth grade. Here are four strategic actions that states can take to expand and enhance career exploration programs that prepare learners for postsecondary education and career success, based on a recent nationwide study of middle school career exploration programs, commissioned by American Student Assistance® (ASA).

Clearly define middle school career exploration and ensure a unified definition is adopted across relevant agencies and partners, including K-12, postsecondary, workforce, and relevant community-based organizations. A quality definition clearly defines middle school career exploration as a strategy that will help learners build their understanding of career interests and expand awareness and understanding of career opportunities, including through hands-on, applied experiences. 

Once a clear definition is established, coordinate related and supporting efforts across state leadership, including departments driving academics and instruction, school counseling, CTE, and workforce training. Establish routines for collaboration between programmatic leaders who should be working together to support an overall vision for learner success with elements from each of their programs.

Integrate career exploration into your accountability and data collection systems. The last two years of high school are insufficient for dramatically increasing learners’ readiness for postsecondary and career opportunities. States can leverage program quality indicators in Perkins V and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plans to formally set measurable goals for middle school career exploration, integrating them into existing college and career readiness (CCR) targets. States can also utilize their data collection systems to not only identify middle school career exploration participants and determine their positive placement within high school CTE programs, but also to ensure the quality of programming through evaluations or learner-based software platforms.

The report also highlights seven states that have distinguished themselves by instituting formal accountability mechanisms to influence district and school focus on meaningful career exploration. Although federal changes made through the reauthorization of ESSA allowed states to exercise flexibility in the indicators used to assess districts and schools, only two states—Pennsylvania and Georgia—have used this flexibility to include career exploration as a component in their federal accountability systems. Five additional states—Missouri, Kansas, Utah, South Carolina, and Michigan—have incorporated middle school career exploration into their state accountability mechanisms to assess the quality of delivery of career advisement services or activities.

Assess and address state policies that have the potential to limit learners’ ability to access different career exploration opportunities, including restricting CTE course enrollment by grade level or grade point average minimums. 

It’s important to provide innovative and comprehensive career exploration that includes CTE. Only 33 states facilitate exploration via a course or set of courses that can serve as an on-ramp to a CTE pathway, according to ASA’s report. In contrast, the study highlights Utah’s College & Career Awareness Program, which requires a course that enables learners in grades 7-8 to explore high school, college, and career options based on individual interests, abilities, and skills. A team of CTE teachers, school counselors, and work-based learning coordinators teach the course and provide instruction in career development. 

This well-rounded, effective approach equips all learners with the information they’ll need to understand their options and make informed, confident decisions about their futures.

Julie Lammers is Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Corporate Social Responsibility at American Student Assistance® (ASA), a national nonprofit changing the way kids learn about careers and prepare for their futures. Julie leads ASA’s philanthropic strategy as well as ASA’s advocacy efforts on both the federal and state level. Julie has been at ASA since March 2010.

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Spring Meeting
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Maine’s Early College Programs: Empowering Local CTE Choices for Early College Options

Wednesday, 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:

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:

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:

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

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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Advance CTE 2023 Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Diamond Sponsor, YouScience – The Power of Career-Connected Learning: How YouScience® Brightpath Leads the Way

Wednesday, October 4th, 2023

When you ask executives of both large and small companies all throughout the United States, “What is your number one problem that you’re facing as a business?” The answer is inevitably “employees!” They simply can’t find enough employees.

When you ask them whether the school system is producing enough employees, 90% of business leaders don’t believe that schools are producing students of the right caliber.

In an ever-evolving job market, equipping students with the right tools for success has become more critical than ever before. Career-connected learning is a powerful educational approach that bridges the gap between classroom knowledge and real-world application.

Preparing for Tomorrow’s World

The world of work is changing rapidly, with new industries emerging and existing ones transforming. Students need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in this dynamic environment. Career-connected learning helps them do just that by providing practical experiences and insights that prepare them for the future.

Relevance and Engagement

Traditional classroom learning can sometimes feel disconnected from the real world. Career-connected learning bridges this gap by making education relevant and engaging. When students can see the direct application of what they’re learning, they become more motivated and invested in their education. As a result, they are more likely to excel academically and develop a genuine passion for their chosen fields.

YouScience® Brightpath: Guiding the Way

One remarkable platform that facilitates career-connected learning is YouScience® Brightpath. This innovative tool helps students discover their unique strengths and interests, guiding them towards suitable career paths. By using a combination of aptitude assessments, career exploration, and certifications, Brightpath provides personalized insights that empower students to make informed educational and career decisions.

Unlocking Potential

Brightpath recognizes that every student is unique. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution but rather a personalized journey toward discovering one’s potential. By identifying their inherent talents and interests, students can align their education and career choices more effectively, maximizing their chances of success and fulfillment.

Building Confidence

In a world where adaptability and innovation are key, career-connected learning is a crucial part of a student’s educational journey. It prepares them for the rapidly changing job landscape and instills a sense of purpose and passion in their studies. Brightpath takes this concept a step further, offering personalized guidance that empowers students to unlock their full potential and confidently pursue their dream careers. With career-connected learning and Brightpath, students are not just preparing for the future—they are actively shaping it, one well-informed decision at a time.

YouScience Brightpath is used in all 50 states and is offered as a statewide contract in several states. Implementing Brightpath at the state level provides several benefits to Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders and learners—it is easy to scale the program statewide with consistency and speed without adding headcount; results are data-driven through customized reports; and educators report improvements in CTE participation.

To learn more about YouScience Brightpath visit: https://www.youscience.com/brightpath/, and to schedule a 1:1 session to learn how this program can benefit your school, request a demo with one of our education experts.

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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Increasing FAFSA Completion Rates and Postsecondary Plans with Iowa’s College and Career Transition Counselor Initiative

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

Iowa’s College and Career Transition Counselors (CCTCs) are filling a need within school counseling and admission programs for learner-centered, one-on-one support for postsecondary planning and career exploration for Iowa’s learners. Providing learners with the skills to navigate their own career journey helps to ensure that each learner can have success in the career of their choice. The Iowa CCTC program is an example of how local-level innovation can lead to state-wide scale with positive impact on learner outcomes and success. This blog will present an overview of the structure and funding of the CCTC Initiative with considerations and recommendations for state leaders to take first steps towards implementation in their own state.

In 2015, David Ford, Future Ready Coordinator, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (MBAEA) and Director of the Area Education Agency Postsecondary Readiness and Equity Partnership (AEA PREP), was recruited to the Eastern Region of Iowa because of his research on secondary to postsecondary transitions. At the time, the region had the lowest postsecondary enrollments in the state and historically poor postsecondary outcomes. In partnership with Eastern Iowa Community College, Louisa-Muscatine and Columbus Community Schools and with support from the Future Ready division of MBAEA, the College and Career Transition Counselor (CCTC) position was created in 2017. Over the course of a few years, significant improvements were shown in Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates and college intention as well as overall positive postsecondary outcomes for the learners who were part of a CCTC’s roster.

Source: Partnerships that Work: College and Career Transition Counselors a Case Study from Eastern Iowa

Thanks to the success of the Eastern Iowa program, David was asked to present to college presidents statewide and when the demand for CCTCs across additional community colleges and high schools grew, David partnered with the Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Career Technical Education to scale the CCTC program. Using the Eastern Iowa program as a model, the Department of Education launched its statewide CCTC Initiative in the 2021-2022 school year.

The time and effort required to establish a CCTC program is well worth it; Iowa has seen continued improvement in FAFSA completion rates and postsecondary intention. For the class of 2022, the overall FAFSA completion rate for the high schools served by a CCTC was 59.3%, up from 41.5% for the class of 2021. David Ford states that the CCTC Initiative is “one of the few strategies that I’ve come across that is directly improving outcomes for first-generation students.” 

Read on to learn more about how the Iowa CCTC Initiative is structured and funded as well as for considerations and recommendations for implementing a similar program.

The Eastern Iowa Model

While districts and community colleges have flexibility in how they structure their CCTC position(s), the majority of the current programs in Iowa follow the Eastern Iowa Model. Within this model, a community college forms a partnership with two high schools within their local area to share a CCTC. The CCTC is an employee of the community college, however, they work within the high schools as well as on the community college campus. It is important to note that the number of schools sharing a CCTC can vary based on the needs of each specific partnership. A community college may form multiple partnerships with local area high schools, employing multiple CCTCs, to best meet learner needs. For the 2023-2024 school year over 50 CCTCs will serve learners in over 100 high schools employed across all 15 community college regions in Iowa. 

The Role of the CCTC

The CCTCs serve as a liaison between the secondary and postsecondary partners while providing direct support to the learners on their roster; they complement the school counseling department and can go deeper into postsecondary options and opportunities than school counselors are able to. Danielle Sampson, a former school counselor and CCTC, now Community Engagement Specialist with Iowa College Aid, part of the Iowa Department of Education and a CCTC initiative partner, explains that “the CCTC does things that school counselors don’t have the time to do.” Additionally, while school counselors are tasked with serving the entire student body, the CCTC can target learners who need more support in developing and pursuing a postsecondary plan.

The CCTC’s roster (caseload) is capped at 300 learners and is often generated by targeting first-generation college students, learners who are economically challenged and English learners (ELs). Danielle believes that most families have a need for additional support, however, as admission processes and post-secondary options have changed drastically in the last 20 years. Learners generally begin working with a CCTC in their junior year (11th grade) and continue working with the CCTC through their first postsecondary year. 

A typical week for a CCTC could involve a wide variety of activities including career exploration field trips, coordinating career expo events, college campus visits, apprenticeship tours, working with military recruiters, a parent FAFSA night, individual student meetings, teaching a “How College Works” class, paperwork for concurrent enrollment, connecting with Iowa Intermediary Network or work-based learning coordinators, helping learners with test preparation, small group meetings, and meetings with families which could include helping them to complete FAFSA or other paperwork.

State Role in Striving for Consistency in Scale

In order to create consistency and alignment with the general role and responsibilities of CCTCs across the state, the Iowa Department of Education brought on Erica Wood-Schmitz, a former school counselor who has first-hand experience working alongside a CCTC, to oversee the CCTC program as Education Program Consultant: Academic and Career Planning.

To further increase consistency and alignment across the state, the CCTC Steering Committee, which Erica oversees, was formed and is comprised of community college supervisors, representatives from the Iowa Department of Education, school counselors, representatives from local districts, Iowa College Aid and AEA PREP. 

The CCTC Steering Committee created a standard job description of the CCTC including clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Additionally, the CCTC Steering Committee created competency statements that would guide the training of the CCTCs. Realizing the need for a greater voice from the CCTCs themselves, a CCTC Leadership Team, comprised of CCTCs from the field, was formed to help create the training plan and to inform the competencies, roles and responsibilities.

Qualifications and Training

At the inception of the state-level CCTC Initiative, a CCTC was required to have a master’s degree with a license or endorsement in school counseling. This is still the preferred education requirement, however, in order to better meet demand, those with a related master’s or a bachelor’s degree are now eligible. If a partnership will require the CCTC to teach a college success course, they must have a master’s degree.

To best train and meet the individual learning needs of the CCTCs, the CCTC Initiative uses a cohort model. Currently, there are three cohorts:

CCTCs create their own Individual Learning Plan (ILP) relative to their districts’ needs and receive support from the CCTC Leadership Team and Erica. They attend a two-day training held in August for cultural competency development, data and goal setting. Iowa College Aid plays a large role in providing training and resources for the CCTCs.

Funding

To incentivize and help districts and community colleges create a CCTC program, the Iowa Department of Education has used its Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act Reserve Funds (Perkins Reserve Funds) to create a three-year tiered grant for which CCTC partnership schools can apply. The districts split the cost of the shared CCTC with the community college, estimated to be $65,000-75,000 annually with benefits. The tiered grant is structured as follows:

School districts may also be able to access operational sharing dollars and federal grants to help fund the CCTC program. To continue to scale the initiative the 15 community colleges across Iowa received federal grant funding to add 15 new CCTCs for the 2023-2024 school year bringing the state total over 50.

Challenges

There are some challenges that the CCTCs have faced that create additional barriers to serving the learners on their roster. 

Considerations and Recommendations

For states that may be interested in trying to create their own CCTC initiative, Iowa State CTE Director Dennis Harden emphasized the importance of building relationships between local districts and community colleges. Dennis shared that it is Iowa’s strong dual and concurrent enrollment programs that laid the foundation for these relationships and the early success of the CCTC Initiative.

Dennis along with Erica Woods-Schmitz, David Ford and Danielle Sampson have the following recommendations for those considering starting a CCTC program:

For more information on Iowa’s College and Career Transition Counselor Initiative, please visit the following resources:

Jodi Langelotti, Communications Associate

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy
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Advance CTE Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Diamond Sponsor, YouScience – Moving forward together: The Southern Oregon Education Service District aligns CTE programs with local job demands

Thursday, October 6th, 2022

The Southern Oregon Education Service District (SOESD) is taking a proactive approach to better align CTE programs with learners’ abilities and local economic needs. 

The SOESD covers 13 school districts in three counties. It set out to determine if area Careeer Technical Education (CTE) programs were aligned with labor needs. It found strong alignment with some of the area’s most in-demand jobs, for example, between CTE offerings and the area’s demand for truck drivers (via transportation CTE courses) as well as for advanced manufacturing. But it found a deficit between CTE programs and the need for healthcare and construction workers.

It set out to tackle how to fill programs with the most-interested learners. Previously, some courses were full while others had enrollments as low as 30 percent. 

Maximizing recruitment for CTE programs

To maximize recruitment and show learners they could excel at and enjoy careers they may have never pictured themselves in, the SOESD moved away from traditional interest-based college and career readiness solutions to YouScience Discovery, an aptitude-based solution.

Learners take the Discovery assessment — starting in the eighth grade — to uncover their work-based aptitudes, interests, and matching career pathways. The assessment revealed that learners in Oregon have more aptitude than interest in high-demand area careers.

Learners in Oregon have more aptitude than interest in high-demand area careers. Data based on anonymized internal YouScience Discovery results for 2,420 learners in Oregon from the 2021 school year.

Educators access reporting to see learners’ aptitudes- and interests- based career pathways and recruit learners into best-fit high school CTE programs. 

A sample YouScience Discovery Clusters Match report that shows educators a learners’ top three career cluster matches by aptitudes and interests and that can be used to recruit learners to CTE programs.

“We meet individually with each learner, and we can say ‘here’s what you’re good at and here’s what you’re interested in,’” said Adam Randall, CTE coordinator for Henley High School. “So, when the counselors come in, they can say ‘here are all the entry-level freshman classes you should sign up for and in this order, based on your aptitudes and interests.’”

The result of using aptitudes to guide CTE enrollments resulted in some entry-level classes filling past capacity at Henley High School where Randall is based. Area enrollment overall has increased up to 160 percent. 

A repeatable approach to driving CTE enrollment

The SOESD’s approach of driving CTE enrollment with aptitude-based guidance can be replicated anywhere. Discovery is available for schools nationwide. And a national student ability report points to a wide gap between learners’ aptitudes and interests that school boards and educators can leverage to ensure learners are on their best-fit educational and career pathways. 

Learn more about the SOESD using YouScience Discovery, request a demo, or contact YouScience.

Kelly McNulty, Content Marketing Manager, YouScience

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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New Skills ready network Site Highlight: Boston, Massachusetts Dual Enrollment Programs

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

In 2020, JPMorgan Chase & Co. launched the New Skills ready network across six domestic sites to improve student completion of high-quality career pathways with a focus on collaboration and equity. As a national partner in the New Skills ready network, Advance CTE strives to elevate the role of state capacity and resources in advancing project priorities and gain a unique perspective on promising practices to strengthen state-local partnerships across the country.

 

This blog post continues a series that highlights innovative tools and initiatives produced across Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee, that advance the initiative’s four key priorities and serve as a guide for state leaders in their work to create cohesive, flexible and responsive career pathways. 

For this post, Senior Policy Associate Haley Wing interviewed Nuri Chandler-Smith, the Dean of Academic Support and College Pathway Programs at Bunker Hill Community College, and Liya Escalera, the Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, who is also on the leadership team for the New Skills ready network. The interviews sought to learn more about the dual enrollment and early college programs within their respective schools, with a focus on learner engagement and cultural wealth.

Background

Dual enrollment programs at Bunker Hill Community College and UMass Boston enable learners within Boston Public Schools to earn college credit and gain early exposure to college experiences on campus while in high school, including during the summer months.  The partnerships are coordinated centrally through Boston Public Schools and extend learning from the school building to the university campus. The expansion of accessible dual enrollment programs in Boston helps to advance one of the project priorities of the New Skills ready network initiative to improve learners’ seamless progression from secondary to postsecondary education. Through supporting the expansion of dual enrollment opportunities and supporting policies and procedures that facilitate equitable access to these programs, Boston Public Schools, Bunker Hill Community College, and UMass Boston are ensuring learners have the tools and experiences to make fully informed decisions regarding their postsecondary coursework and path to career success. 

Dual Enrollment Programs at Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill Community College (Bunker Hill) dual enrollment programs stand out because of their commitment to improving access to and success in these programs through seamless communication and intentional program connections between secondary and postsecondary programs. Bunker Hill is working directly with guidance staff at high schools, especially Charlestown High School, to make sure learners are aware of the dual enrollment and early college programs that are available. Strategies to increase awareness include pre-recorded dual enrollment info sessions tailored explicitly for flexible use by practitioners with learners and families during workshops and advisories, and one-on-one course mapping exercises with learners to build their mindset for multi-year access to dual enrollment at Bunker Hill. Guidance teams work closely with teachers to utilize multiple measures in identifying learners for dual enrollment. This includes prior academic preparation, attendance, study habits, and willingness to take responsibility for their learning process. Charlestown’s practices are consistent with the district-wide open-access dual enrollment policy. This spring, they are working to cohort learners into advisories, based on their pathways,  to provide more targeted academic and career planning needed for increased persistence throughout the dual enrollment course experience.

Bunker Hill has a unique partnership with Charlestown High School. Charlestown High School has a program for learners that allows them to take an exploratory course in the ninth grade to expose learners to various pathways that lead to high-wage and high-demand careers as a prerequisite to dual enrollment courses. Through this course, school leaders strive for learners to make more intentional choices about their course selections in dual enrollment and feel more prepared to complete these programs. Launched in 2018,  learners in Charlestown High School can access designated pathways in technology and business. Access to a third early college pathway, allied health, opened a year later. For Charlestown’s graduating class of 2021, learners in the early college cohort completed with more than 300 combined college credits. 

Charlestown learners participating in these programs can also access expanded course options — this include 17 unique courses across the Bunker Hill catalog ranging from Principles in Engineering to Human Biology/lab.  Strong staff relationships between Charlestown and Bunker Hill have allowed the teams to re-envision supports for learners, including pivoting to a cohort model for learning that enables learners to more successfully participate in coursework. The New Skills ready network grant has facilitated increased communications and partnerships with industry partners, which has created the conditions for additional support structures where learners now have access to mentors practicing in fields aligned to the learners’ pathways.

Dual Enrollment Programs at the University of Massachusetts Boston

UMass Boston’s dual enrollment programs stand out for their focus on cultural wealth using place-based learning and intense learner support through an alumni-based mentorship program. UMass Boston has a collection of dual enrollment classes decentralized across the university – some classes are a part of precollegiate programs, while others are partnerships between UMass Boston’s individual departments and local high schools. UMass Boston utilizes this unique system because it allows faculty to focus more time on co-designing secondary and postsecondary coursework with partners in the Boston Public School system to better support learner transitions. 

UMass Boston has centered its program design on valuing cultural wealth. This includes creating culturally-sustaining programs that draw upon the strengths of learners, their families, and their neighborhoods, and taking into account the issues that are important to learners. Tapping into learners’ individual experiences within their communities is important to take seriously, emphasized UMass Boston Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies Liya Escalera. When learners’ place-based experiences and strengths are integrated into learning, they can use skills gained to be uniquely positioned to find solutions to challenges facing the city. Escalera also highlighted that enrolling in dual enrollment courses demystifies the content and rigor of postsecondary coursework and demonstrates to learners that they have the ability to succeed in college. 

Additionally, UMass Boston has piloted a program where mentoring and tutoring are embedded in dual enrollment spaces. UMass Boston utilizes graduates who are not only recent alumni but also participated in dual enrollment courses at the institution. In addition to providing one-on-one mentorship outside the classroom, UMass Boston alumni attend classes to ensure the assistance they are providing to learners parallels the material they are learning. UMass Boston has stressed the importance of ongoing support for learners’ continued academic success, especially considering the learner population they serve, including low-income, first-generation, and racially underrepresented learners.

Program Highlights, Successes and Lessons Learned

The New Skills ready network grant has enabled an expansion of dual enrollment courses, particularly within the emerging pathways of business, finance and environment science in the site’s focus schools. The New Skills ready network grant has also allowed postsecondary institutions in Boston to focus on learner flexibility. For example, UMass Boston has redefined what it means to be a successful learner aligned to their career goals. Boston partners are using resources available thanks to the New Skills ready network initiative to create a more uniform inclusion of career-specific skills into courses, including public speaking and leadership into the dual enrollment curriculum in addition to academic skill-building.

As the secondary and postsecondary partners in Boston, Massachusetts, continue to refine their dual enrollment opportunities for learners, they engage in critical reflection to ensure they are meeting learners’ needs. Since its early start in 2015, Bunker Hill has added career and pathway exploration opportunities aimed to offer learners multiple on-ramps to participation in early college and to provide learners with a foundational understanding of the options before selecting a pathway. Bunker Hill Community College replaced its original offering of college courses for first-year high school learners with an exploratory program for ninth-grade learners which was successful and provided learners and families with opportunities to understand the early college pathway option. If learners are still undecided about the pathways they want to pursue after tenth grade, they can continue to take classes at Bunker Hill Community College throughout high school to ensure the pathway they choose is one they are passionate about and prepares them for their careers.

At UMass Boston, dual enrollment courses that were too specific in their curriculum caused learners who transferred into different career pathways to experience a loss of credit, which prevented acceleration in their postsecondary experiences. Instead, UMass Boston has moved towards ensuring all pathways encourage learners to pursue coursework that interests them without fear of falling behind in coursework requirements. 

Visions for the Future

Looking forward, Bunker Hill is focused on sustainability to ensure learners will continue to have access to high-quality dual enrollment programs. This involves ensuring that all learners, regardless of their socioeconomic status and backgrounds, have access to wraparound supports and to remove barriers to success. There is an understanding that the racial disparities seen in dual enrollment programs and in higher education, in general, are not because learners are choosing not to access resources, or because they do not have the skills or ability to succeed, but rather because the institutions are not serving them to the level they need for success and they need to embody a new equity-minded and asset-based paradigm that can facilitate learners’ success. At UMass Boston, a priority for the future is flexibility. Learners should be allowed to make mistakes and change their career goals while still being ahead of the game. UMass Boston is embedding work-based learning into transferable general education courses. Additionally, creating a sense of belonging and community with an emphasis on cultural wealth within their dual enrollment programs is paramount. 

The Boston, Massachusetts team is committed to supporting policies and procedures that will enable learners to more readily participate across the district, beyond the focus schools. Within its Postsecondary transitions working group, partners across sectors have coalesced around priorities for strengthening systems and structures that will enable more effective dual-enrollment partnerships and increase access for all learners.

Tejas Shah, State Policy Intern

By Stacy Whitehouse in Uncategorized
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Communicating CTE: Washington’s Statewide Initiative for Secondary Career Exploration Empowers Educators and Learners 

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

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

Background 

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Classroom 

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

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

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

Exploring Postsecondary Pathways 

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

Marketing and Equity Considerations 

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

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

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

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

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

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Communicating CTE
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Can Afterschool Programs Help Address CTE’s Equity Challenges?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Afterschool programs can give students access to enriching career exploration opportunities outside of the school day, but many of these programs are not accessible to all middle schoolers. Last month, the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, organized a panel on making the most of middle school career exploration. This panel’s particular focus was the important role that afterschool programs can play in exposing students to career pathways. 

The panel included:

Afterschool programs encompass a wide range of activities that keep students engaged in their own learning outside of the regular school day. When students participate in an afterschool program in middle school, they are more likely to graduate high school. These programs offer opportunities for students to improve their skills in subjects ranging from computer science to agriculture. Learning these skills and interacting with professionals in a variety of fields allows students to explore and pursue different career paths of interest.

Expanding Access to High-quality Career Exploration After School

Despite all these programs have to offer, there are still major barriers to creating and expanding access to high-quality, career-focused afterschool programming in middle school. When panelists were asked about the largest barriers facing afterschool programming, their responses ranged from the difficulties of creating community partnerships to the lack of funding. Andrew Coy—whose organization, Digital Harbor, focuses on developing technology skills like computer programming, video game design and 3-D printing— summed up these issues as the need to have “formal support for informal learning.” This problem remains largely in communities of lower socioeconomic status, limiting access to enriching learning opportunities for students who could benefit the most.

The impacts that these programs have on middle schoolers make them worth the investment. Student panelist Jacob excitedly talked about the experiences he had with Digital Harbor—such as going to museums, participating in the White House science fair and learning to 3-D print—showing how important it is to give students a place to be creative. Jacob even earned certifications in Information Technology through the program. Having such a space outside of the classroom to encourage hands-on learning and career exploration allows students like Jacob to develop real world skills and get a leg up on both college and their careers. 

Afterschool programs can also help close equity gaps by equipping learners with skills that may not be offered in the regular classroom but are highly valued in the job market. Exposing learners to new and different career pathways allows for diversity in these fields as more students can see themselves inhabiting those roles. Panelist Daniela Grigioni discussed how her organization, After-School All-Stars, engages middle schoolers, predominantly students of color, to help them build skills through programs in business and STEM. Early introduction to career exploration can help promote more equity within these fields.

By expanding career exploration in and out of the classroom, state leaders can foster creativity and passion among middle school students. This opens a pathway for students to imagine careers for themselves by giving them a sense of their options and what they do and do not want to do at an earlier age. 

To read more about middle school CTE, check out Advance CTE’s report, Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learning Success

Jordan Dreisbach, Policy Intern

By admin in Uncategorized
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