Posts Tagged ‘career pathways’

Learning From New Skills for Youth to Move Career Pathways Forward

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

Advance CTE recently released Moving Career Pathways Forward: Learning From the New Skills for Youth Initiative, with support from JPMorgan Chase and in partnership with Education Strategy Group. The report shares the successes and challenges of six states as they sustained career pathways development after the conclusion of a major philanthropic investment and the coronavirus pandemic. The report also features recommendations from state leaders to move career pathways development forward. In this blog, Senior Research Associate Dr. Laura Maldonado provides highlights of lasting legacies and recommendations from the report. 

Overview

While receiving a major grant from a funder to support career pathways development is exciting, it is important to develop sustainable systems and processes while leveraging the funding to continue the work beyond the conclusion of the grant. New Skills for Youth (NSFY) was one of the earliest and most impactful philanthropy investments in career pathways and career readiness in recent history. Launched in 2016, and supported by JPMorgan Chase, NSFY was a $75 million, 5-year initiative to strengthen and expand high-quality career pathways for youth.1 Advance CTE, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Education Strategy Group served as the national partners in NSFY to transform career readiness education in 10 states across the United States. Ultimately, the grant concluded and states had to determine the transition of resources and supports to provide continuity of services.

As states and communities continue to prioritize career pathways policies and programs, it is useful to review insight from NSFY states around scale and sustainability given what they accomplished and what their systems look like today. Advance CTE’s vision for the future of Career Technical Education (CTE) calls on states to ensure each learner engages in a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem.2 Thinking upfront about the management of a grant end date helps keep learners at the forefront of high-quality career pathways. 

Background

To help address sustainability concerns, Advance CTE identified state leaders from six NSFY states who were willing to share how they sustained growth and progress of career pathways nearly 4 years after the end of the initiative. Moving Career Pathways Forward: Learning From the New Skills for Youth Initiative helps current leaders build on lessons learned and recommendations from past leaders. 

Lasting Legacies From the NSFY States

One feature of the report is the highlight of lasting legacies, or systems and structures started during NSFY that are still in existence today. 

Kentucky has improved training and support for CTE teachers, collaborates more with industry partners, and has seen changed attitudes regarding regional approaches.

NSFY enabled the Louisiana Department of Education to pursue cutting-edge entrepreneurial initiatives, such as wraparound supports, virtual work-based learning, and other activities that would have taken a long time to be approved for state funding. 

Massachusetts has a comprehensive approach to pathways, a common language, and additional capacity support at the district level. 

Cohesiveness of college and career readiness efforts in state programming and a strengthened commitment to equity continues to be a statewide focus in Ohio

Engaging with employers, using data to address equity gaps, and elevating career education to learners, families and key partners were key efforts sustained in Rhode Island

And finally, efforts launched in NSFY that have been sustained in Wisconsin include Regional Career Pathways and assessment practices for regional pathway work. 

Recommendations From the NSFY States

Another feature of the report is recommendations and action steps to sustain career pathways across multiple partner groups. These recommendations come from the learned experiences of state leaders and provide additional examples from states. 

State Agencies and Intermediaries

 

Local Leaders

Learners

Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group are currently helping six states and local sites think through the sustainability and scaling of career pathways systems after the conclusion of JPMorgan Chase’s current major career pathways initiative—New Skills ready network.5 The New Skills ready network sites are working to improve learner completion of high-quality career pathways as part of a 5-year initiative, which will end in 2025. 

Advance CTE, Education Strategy Group, ExcelinEd, JFF, and New America are also working with 11 states over two cohorts in another initiative focused on scale and sustainability—Launch: Equitable & Accelerated Pathways for All.6 Within Launch, sites are building sustainability plans to address long-standing barriers and achieve scale in their career pathways efforts. 

Starting or sustaining statewide initiatives with multiple agencies and partners is a major undertaking. The Moving Career Pathways Forward: Learning From the New Skills for Youth Initiative report helps state leaders use lessons learned from NSFY to replicate promising practices in their state for high-quality career pathways.

Additional Resources

Please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources about career pathways. 

Dr. Laura Maldonado, Senior Research Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Advance CTE Resources, Publications
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The Top 5 Policy Trends in Connected to Career Technical Education in 2023

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

February marks the release of the 2023 Year In Review, the 11th edition of this comprehensive report developed by Advance CTE in collaboration with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Dedicated to providing a thorough overview of state Career Technical Education (CTE) policies, this report is valuable for state and local administrators and practitioners to better understand national trends and specific policy actions taken by individual state legislatures in 2023. 

The policy tracking conducted for 2023 Year In Review totaled 115 policies implemented in 47 states. The report highlights innovative and practical legislation and emphasizes common policy themes. Notably, clean and renewable energy emerges as a prominent focus among policymakers, reflecting the emerging workforce demands of this sector while highlighting the dynamic landscape of CTE. Building upon the legacy of previous reports, the 2023 Year In Review offers insights into the top five policy areas in 2023: 

“Industry Partnerships and Work-Based Learning” was the predominant policy category in 2023, with 48 policies enacted under this topic. This category first took the top spot last year after multiple years of the funding category being the most popular. Many policies in this category focused on engaging industry to drive student learning that addresses workforce needs. The following policies illustrate strategies that address labor shortage by fostering industry engagement and enhancing the learner experience through work-based learning opportunities:

Arkansas

S.B. 294 mandates the Division of Elementary and Secondary to establish career-ready pathways for high school diplomas. These pathways include rigorous academic courses and modern career and technical studies aligned with labor market needs, leading to industry credentials. These initiatives address labor shortages by ensuring that students are equipped with skills that meet industry demands through practical work-based learning experiences, thereby bridging the gap between education and employment. 

Maryland 

S.B. 104 creates the Apprenticeship 2030 Commission to expand registered apprenticeships in sectors with skill shortages. The goal is to increase registered apprenticeships to 60,000 by 2030 and have 45% of high school graduates complete high school-level apprenticeships. By fostering apprenticeships, the policy aims to provide career pathways for young people while addressing industry needs through hands-on training and mentorship, thereby reducing skills shortages. 

Vermont 

H.B. 452 establishes the Vermont Registered Apprenticeship Program to regulate apprenticeship programs aligned with industry demand. This program oversees apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and youth apprenticeship initiatives. The policy directly addresses labor shortages through structured apprenticeship programs by preparing individuals with the specific skills demanded by industries, ensuring a better alignment between workforce supply and industry demand.

For a comprehensive exploration of the policies enacted this year, Advance CTE offers an accompanying online tracker. This tool empowers users to search and filter for specific legislation, providing a more in-depth understanding of the enacted policies.

The 2023 Year In Review strives to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on CTE, showcasing successful strategies, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders in the field. CTE leaders are encouraged to utilize the tracker and state highlights in their respective states and communities for more strategies to implement potentially innovative policies. 

Velie Sando, Policy Associate

As a Policy Associate, Velie conducts research and develops resources to support Advance CTE’s state policy initiatives, including the New Skills ready network, the annual Year in Review, and the Green Workforce.

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Resources, Public Policy
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New Skills ready network Highlight Blog: Career Connected Advising in the Middle Grades

Wednesday, 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:

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:

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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Advance CTE 2023 Fall Meeting Sponsor Blog: Diamond Sponsor, CompTIA – The DNA of a Winning CTE Program

Monday, October 2nd, 2023

Tech organizations are in a constant race to find skilled and qualified workers who can keep up with ever-evolving demands. Skills and confidence gaps can throw a wrench in the works, making it tough for companies to meet their needs and for individuals to reach their full potential. That’s why addressing and tackling these gaps requires a well-thought-out plan that sets everyone up for success.

Angel Piñeiro, vice president of strategic academic relationships at CompTIA, shares a case study about how a technology company solved a skills and confidence gap problem by building a diverse future workforce pipeline with the largest school district in the country.

The Problem

In 2013, a large public school district, encompassing 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools, put out a contract to support their entire infrastructure. At the time, Piñeiro was the senior vice president of a national technology firm that won the multi-million-dollar contract. The problem was that they had two months to accomplish the following:

•         Hire 200-230 professionals, including technicians, engineers, dispatchers and more

•         Provide personnel with security clearances

•         Integrate the school district’s service desk into their firm’s service desk

“We managed to do it, but I will never, ever be put in that situation again,” Piñeiro said. To avoid running into the same problem in the future, Piñeiro needed a program in place that would create a pipeline of skilled and certified workforce.

The Solution

Faced with the challenge of rapidly recruiting skilled IT professionals, the initial solution was to work with local training providers, talent recruitment companies and college graduates. However, Piñeiro’s team realized that these approaches were not only expensive but also lacked the scalability needed to meet the demands of large-scale contracts. They also needed a solution that was efficient and repeatable – it needed to work for everybody.

Then, it clicked.

“There are schools in the cities. There are schools in the suburbs. There are schools in the rural areas. There are schools everywhere. So why not work with the schools?” Piñeiro said. After determining the key stakeholders they needed to work with, Piñeiro’s team came up with the DNA of a successful CTE program.

Innovation

The company adopted a visionary approach to address a significant hiring issue prevalent in the information technology sector. By collaborating closely with public schools, it ensured the program would be scalable, repeatable, and sustainable. The company recognized the program as a return on investment that directly influenced its bottom line. Today, the program tackles the well-known challenges in suburban and rural areas where resources might be scarce.

For more information, reach out to the CompTIA Workforce Solutions Team, Angel Piñeiro at apineiro@comptia.org

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Yolanda Flores

Friday, September 29th, 2023

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

This month, we’re excited to highlight two members of Advance CTE’s second cohort of Postsecondary State CTE Leaders Fellows. In our interview with ECMCF Fellow Yolanda Flores (FL), she talked about how she’s already leveraging what she learned in the Fellowship to create more cohesive and industry-aligned programs.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I discovered the Fellowship by accident. The Florida Association for Career and Technical Education included the call for applicants in an email, and as someone who is constantly searching for opportunities to grow my skills to serve my students, I was immediately interested. I met Dr. Kevin Johnson during the informational webinar, and I felt like the Fellowship’s focus and curriculum topics were aligned with my professional goals.

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

The number one thing that I’ve learned is the value of mentorship and working with my coach. Advance CTE staff provided some suggestions for our monthly meetings, such as sharing updates on the real-world project and the workshop topics, but then my coach and I would also talk about things that are going on outside of the Fellowship and the work that my coach is doing. In a lot of ways, we were able to bounce ideas off each other and this thought partnership has been critical in my professional development. 

This relationship also allowed me to travel to Seattle for Jobs for the Future’s convening. All of the attendees and participating organizations were exploring different models of career pathways. I discovered an apprenticeship model that operates as a third-party entity, coordinating the various providers involved with implementing the program. This model was developed to be very flexible and prioritized accessibility for all students. I walked away feeling inspired with knowledge about how I can recreate and replicate these best practices for my students back in Collier County.  

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

The national focus of this Fellowship has been incredibly valuable. I’m learning an immense amount during workshops from leaders from across the nation and the perspectives of my colleagues in the Fellowship. I am eager to take this momentum and find additional opportunities to leverage my experience in a way that continues to make a meaningful impact for learners. Coming from the district level, this experience and knowledge are crucial because, without it, I’m worried that I would not be considered for more advanced roles.

I’ve set up my LLC, Workforce Wise Solutions, to take on additional consulting work to continue to develop my skills and build my portfolio of work. I am working closely with the Florida Institute for Professional Development for Adult Educators. This work is closely aligned with my real-world project topic, of increasing access to CTE for adult learners particularly those for whom English is not their first language.

The topic of my real-world project is about increasing access to high-wage, high-skill, in-demand CTE career pathways in manufacturing for adult education participants. Through my project, I’ve been able to engage more with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Perkins and Florida Blueprint 2030 and understand how adult education programs interact in these spaces. I’ve been able to review our Perkins data, which includes data on our underserved populations and English for Speakers of Other Languages population, and the progress that we’re making in supporting these learners as they transition from adult education to CTE programs. I coordinated a professional development group where staff from the CTE programs, adult education, and business partners came together to learn about how they could better align their programs. As a result of this process, I was able to write a grant proposal that identified the ways in which our local providers are prepared to work and design their programs in alignment with industry needs. My proposal for this Equitable Pipeline Grant would allow us to propose a manufacturing IET, integrated education and training program. This program will then help prepare our adult education learners with a foundation for understanding manufacturing concepts with the goal of eventually transitioning into one of our full-time programs or going into a position where they can be upskilled. I did receive the Equitable Pipeline Grant for $122,000 and another $60,000 to provide scholarships to adult education students enrolled in Nursing Assistant and ParaPro.

Another benefit of this Fellowship has been learning more about the wealth of organizations that exist in this space and the work they’re engaged in around CTE. I would love to learn more about best practices for communicating the findings from this work to local practitioners. How can we, as directors or program leaders, ensure that our programs are being developed with the knowledge of what has worked elsewhere. Building this awareness is a huge opportunity to lean in, and I believe the impact could be significant.

How has the Fellowship expanded your network? 

I have a great group of Fellows that are helpful for bouncing ideas off each other. Also, I’ve found that the assigned accountability buddies have given us permission to reach out and have conversations about our work and the challenges we might be experiencing. My buddy has been a source of encouragement, and I’m not sure we would have independently taken steps to make those connections. 

I’ve also enjoyed the relationship and support I’ve received from the Advance CTE staff. Dr. Stephanie Perkins’ feedback has been so helpful and available to meet as needed for additional support to complete my real-world project. 

The opportunities to engage with state leaders and national organizations have been great. I’m eager to take advantage of these platforms, such as the ECMCF Convening in Denver, to elevate my work. 

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Welcome Kevin Imes as the new State Director of Career and Technical Education for Arizona!

Monday, August 14th, 2023

The Arizona Department of Education recently named Kevin Imes the Deputy Associate Superintendent for Career Technical Education (CTE). 

Kevin Imes’ 36-year career in public education covers a diverse range of experiences. From the beginning of his career as a Biology teacher in downtown Phoenix schools to his role in opening a magnet program, an alternative school, a comprehensive high school and a public CTE district from the ground up, Kevin’s expertise in program development lends itself well to his new position as State CTE Director.

In the year ahead, Kevin is focused on strengthening the relationship between secondary and postsecondary institutions in Arizona to improve the transition experience for learners. Kevin would like to eliminate the preconceived stigma around CTE and to promote the benefits of CTE for learner success and its role in social, economic and career mobility.

Kevin is most excited about introducing learners and families not familiar with CTE to the programs and benefits CTE offers. He sees CTE as a solution for eliminating poverty by helping learners of all ages acquire economic independence through CTE program completion.

“I believe we are at the start of a new paradigm where there is truly a collaborative effort between industry and education, both depending on the other, accepting their shared responsibilities in preparing students for their entry into the talent pipeline,” Kevin shared. “We are standing at the edge of educational reform! Looking over the edge. For some, it is frightening to only be able to see the abyss below. But for others, it is a necessary launch pad to reach the new horizon.” 

A lifelong learner, Kevin looks forward to learning and growing with his colleagues in Arizona and across state lines.

When he is not in the office, Kevin enjoys spending time with his family.

Welcome Kevin to Advance CTE!

By Layla Alagic in Uncategorized
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Dr. Angela Lawhorne

Monday, July 31st, 2023

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

This month, Advance CTE sat down with veteran and ECMCF Fellow, Dr. Angela Lawhorne (VA), whose decades of experience in CTE and workforce development sparked her desire to promote more effective pathways for some of the most vulnerable learner populations. Through the Fellowship’s emphasis on developing equity minded leaders, she has been able to empower the community colleges she works with to refocus on how they are engaging and serving justice-involved learners. 

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I’ve been working in CTE for about 10 years and in workforce development for 20 years. I was really excited to join the Fellowship because I saw an opportunity to learn more about what CTE looks like in other states and the best practices that I could replicate and bring to Virginia. I was especially eager to learn about strategies for expanding access to learners.

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

Participating in the Fellowship has allowed me to grow my ability to apply a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens in my work as the Director of Career Education Programs and Workforce Partnerships. I’ve been able to build a more comprehensive understanding of the  barriers that different groups of learners face, and the importance of not just recruitment, but the continued support that they receive once they enroll to complete their programs. I know that there are steps we can take to improve outreach to learners that have been minoritized, or those that come from low income or rural communities. Through intentional support structures, we can increase awareness about career pathways, stackable credentials, and get them into a career.

I’ve learned a lot about how to provide intentional support for special populations and the different nuances of the obstacles that these groups of learners face.

Do you feel like the topics and experiences in the Fellowship have helped you advance in your current career/ at your current organization? 

Absolutely. In my current role as the  Director of Career Education Programs and Workforce Partnership, I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be to make a major impact on CTE programs, both the credit and on the workforce (credential) side. Virginia has a ‘one door effort’ which allows students, no matter where they come into the college, to access information on both workforce and academic programs. This means that we’re able to give them a more complete picture of the different certifications or licenses that they can earn on their path to completing a certificate or a degree.

I support our 23 colleges and provide guidance and resources about how to establish and expand programs. Most recently, I helped write a large infrastructure grant application, and the knowledge that I’ve gained through the Fellowship allowed me to present a thorough background on and explanation for how this project will provide specific wraparound services and supports to make our learners successful.  I know that I’m able to have an impact in my role because I can broker connections between workforce and our colleges to design high-quality curriculum and programs that connect learners with employers.

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

The Fellowship has helped me gain a more holistic view of our population of learners and their needs. The workshop speakers were incredible, and I’ve been able to push myself beyond just the cycle of outreach and recruitment to focus more on the reasons that learners persist and complete their programs. My dissertation is on the topic of student success coaching, and I believe that this is an area where we should be doing more to ensure that learners have the help they need to be matched with program options that are best for them.

How has the Fellowship expanded your network?

I’ve made some amazing connections through the fellowship. My coach has been incredibly supportive in connecting me with a network for both my professional and personal development. She’s also provided guidance in my process for completing my real-world project for the Fellowship.  My real world project topic is on expanding higher education for justice impacted individuals in Virginia. We created a Canvas course that serves as a resource repository for the colleges to connect them with everything they need to know to launch a new program. This includes information about  Pell Expansion, contacts at the prisons or jails, and then best practices from other colleges.

We’ve also created a resource page on the website, credits2careers.org (C2C), which was launched specifically for former military who want to determine their eligibility for credit for prior learning. We’ve included a page on the site for justice-involved learners. The website allows them to go in and plug in any certifications or other education they’ve completed, and it will show the equivalent credit for prior learning programs at each of our colleges. If they were enrolled in a CTE program while incarcerated, they can use this tool to find the colleges that offer their program and continue with little disruption.

Our next steps will be to survey the 23 colleges to collect data on the training of justice involved learners and their current program offerings.

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

I definitely look forward to advancing my career. I would love to expand my reach and have a larger responsibility for expanding CTE and workforce development programs across the state. We’ve established a consortium with over 100 members made up of colleges, representatives from the programs at the prisons, the Vera Institute of Justic, and the Laughing Gull Foudnation to name a few. I’ve been leading monthly, virtual community of practice meetings as well as two in person convenings per year. Our new Chancellor is excited to continue to build on the positive momentum we’ve seen with our new Canvas and C2C initiatives. He’s eager to make these a part of his mission to expand the services that our justice-involved learners receive. 

To connect with Dr. Lawhorne, contact her at alawhorne7457@email.vccs.edu 

 

By Jodi Langellotti in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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New Skills ready network Highlight Blog: Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen Career Pathways

Wednesday, July 26th, 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.

Denver, Colorado’s vision for the NSrn initiative, aims to “dramatically increase the number and diversity of students who complete selected high-quality career pathways that start in high school, continue into and through higher education, and lead to good jobs in Denver’s labor market.”

Over the past three years, the project team has achieved significant milestones in the development of high-quality, equitable career pathways including building a shared data framework, aligning work-based learning opportunities within high-quality career pathways and enhancing the learner experience when transitioning from secondary to postsecondary institutions. Under the leadership of the site lead, The Attainment Network, the project team leverages strategic cross-sector partnerships while centering equity and learner voice to enhance and improve their career pathways work. 

A critical component of the Denver, Colorado, site work includes centering and leveraging the voices of learners to understand their experiences, barriers and opportunities and shaping career pathways aligned with their needs.In April 2023, The Attainment Network held their second annual Learner Voice Symposium which brought together an audience of educators, employers and policymakers to hear directly from Colorado learners what they seek in career-connected pathways and how they define success.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, Advance CTE, interviewed Rana Tarkenton, Chief Operating Officer, The Attainment Network to discuss the importance of leveraging learner voice in career pathways and how others might replicate their efforts to meaningfully engage learners in the design and implementation of career pathways.

Overview of the Learner Voice Symposium Event

The purpose of the Learner Voice Symposium is to elevate highlights from learners’ diverse perspectives and backgrounds and provide actionable insights to improve and expand pathways for all learners. The Symposium serves as a reminder to partners of the reason why they engage in this work and elevates the voices of learners who are not always invited to the table when developing and implementing career pathways. Learners, who are not simply the receivers of the work of career pathways, but rather the experts in their experiences, provide critical feedback to leaders. 

The Symposium fills a gap in the career preparation ecosystem in Colorado; leaders developing career-connected pathways are continuously striving to improve the system and learners are disconnected from the leaders who need to hear their voices most. The Attainment Network identified this gap and provides career pathway partners the space to listen to and reflect learner voices in their work in the form of The Symposium. 

The Symposium held virtually on Zoom, included a keynote speaker who is a practitioner that engages with learners frequently and specializes in community engagement, and breakout sessions that are co-led by learners who are compensated for their time and expertise. The Symposium is attended by a wide audience including practitioners in secondary and postsecondary education, college and career advisors, state agency providers, policymakers and employer partners.  

Participants have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions of their choosing covering topics like authentic youth engagement in career pathways, immigrant and undocumented learner experiences, non-traditional learners and pathways and more. Presenting organizations that support the sessions include Ednium, The San Luis Valley Boys & Girls Clubs, Emily Griffith Technical College, MSU Denver and more.

All of the information shared during The Learner Voice Symposium is centered on elevating the experiences of learners and incorporating their voices in the development of career-connected pathways. At the close of The Symposium, The Attainment Network announced their Learner Voice Grants that organizations and institutions can apply for to support and enhance their meaningful learner engagement efforts. 

Impact of The Learner Voice Symposium on the New Skills ready network 

The learner engagement in The Learner Voice Symposium supports the Denver, Colorado, New Skills ready network team in their communications strategies as they develop materials and messaging to better connect learners and families to career-connected pathway opportunities. Additionally, Denver Public Schools (DPS), a secondary partner for the New Skills ready network site, and the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) are two of the grantees for the Learner Voice Grant. DPS and CDHE leverage the grant funding to support their learner engagement work in the development of local and state-level career pathways. 

With more than 175 attendees of The Symposium, The Attainment Network models meaningful learner engagement for its system-wide network. The Network, being a statewide intermediary, supports strengthening the career pathway ecosystem and strengthens relationships with system partnerships that impact learners. 

Further, the Denver, Colorado, project team also elevates the voices and feedback from learners in state-level policy. The Attainment Network, alongside the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Community College System, led an effort to design, collect, and report on community input to inform the HB22-1215 Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-Based Learning Integration Task Force (Study of Expanding High School Programs).

Recommendations delivered to the Task Force focus on equitable access to and successful expansion of high school programs across all regions of Colorado with a focus on traditionally underserved populations and those who have not accessed relevant programming in their educational experience. The discovery process of community feedback collection leveraged community organizations, educational organizations, and local partnerships.

Replicating Meaningful Learner Engagement

Leveraging learners’ input and feedback in the development of career pathways, CTE programs and policies is a valuable component of program improvement. Leaders who are interested in replicating The Learner Voice Symposium should prioritize including learners whose voices are historically underrepresented, leveraging partners who can support recruiting learners to bring them to the table and co-creating the event with partners and learners to ensure the content fills the needs for the ecosystem.

The Attainment Network engages in the planning and execution of The Symposium with an equity lens to ensure a diverse representation of learners, speakers and attendees. The Network also backward plans by prioritizing the outcomes they want the event to achieve from the start of the planning process to ensure there are sessions with meaningful outcomes and takeaways for attendees. 

The planning and execution of an event of this size includes a lot of logistics and leaders should consider adequate staffing, preparation that helps to keep audiences engaged and ensuring the videos and notes from the event are accessible once the event is over. The addition of a visual scribe enhances the experience for attendees throughout the session, as well as providing engaging artifacts to further share learnings after the event and marketing for future events. 

Looking Ahead

As The Attainment Network enters year four of the New Skills ready network, the project team is working towards holding more learner and community engagement events to continue the work of leveraging learner voices, input and feedback in the design and delivery of career pathways. The Network team is currently working on analyzing themes from The Learner Voice Symposium to inform the design of their Colorado Pathways Conference on September 19 – 20. The two-day conference will focus on pathways-focused education-to-workforce systems across the state and country. 

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

 

By Jodi Langellotti in CTE Without Limits
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Enhanced Collaboration Towards Implementation of High-Quality Career Pathways in Year Three of the New Skills ready network

Tuesday, July 11th, 2023

Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group (ESG) recently released an annual report and site snapshots for year three of the New Skills ready network initiative. The five-year initiative, part of JPMorgan Chase’s $350 million global New Skills at Work program and $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity, aims to improve student completion of high-quality, equitable career pathways to gain skills needed for the future of work, particularly among learners of color and other historically marginalized learners. 

As a partner in the New Skills ready network initiative, Advance CTE elevates the successes and lessons learned across the six sites as they work towards the implementation of high-quality, equitable career pathways. Over the course of the three years of the initiative, sites have made significant progress in the development and implementation of career pathways from defining the core elements of high-quality career pathways to improving the access and equity of high-quality career pathways. The policy and programmatic changes adopted across the six sites in the initiative are promising approaches and strategies that can be leveraged in other states and areas to enhance the design, delivery and implementation of high-quality, equitable career pathways.

Throughout year three of the New Skills ready network initiative, several key priorities emerged as trends for the six sites:

Across each key priority area, sites have leveraged cross-sector networks and partnerships to deploy promising practices that support their sites with the successful development and implementation of high-quality career pathways that meet the needs of learners and industry. Examples of achievement across the sites include the Columbus, Ohio, site leveraging an employer toolkit, created by the Ohio Department of Education, to help industry partners better understand the opportunities and challenges associated with work-based learning. 

The Indianapolis, Indiana, site expanded learner access to college and career advising by developing resources and supports for learners and finalizing frameworks that align career advising practices. For example, postsecondary partners published program maps for learners participating in agreements between Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Ivy Tech Community College. 

The Nashville, Tennessee, team has supported increased access to career pathways in HVAC and IT by engaging postsecondary partners like the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Nashville (TCAT-Nashville). The engagement with TCAT-Nashville has increased learner participation and interest in dual enrollment, and the site now has more than 300 learners enrolled in these opportunities.

Sites like Boston, Massachusetts, and Dallas, Texas, are expanding access to career exploration, advising and high-quality career pathways opportunities to middle grades learners. In year three, the Boston, Massachusetts, team expanded the rollout of their My Career and Academic Plan to middle grades learners to better prepare learners for career pathways, dual enrollment and early college experiences. The Dallas, Texas, team is currently designing a cybersecurity career pathway that will connect all partner institutions with learners and provide lab experiences at the University of North Texas – Dallas. Learners in Dallas, Texas, will be exposed to this high-wage, high-demand career pathway as early as middle school with opportunities to earn credentials. 

Project team partners in Denver, Colorado, are improving the learner experience when transitioning from secondary to postsecondary institutions. In year three, the site lead, The Attainment Network, supported secondary and postsecondary institutions with solutions to longstanding challenges in learner transitions including lack of data sharing, erroneous dual enrollment rosters and incorrect schedules for learners. The institutions are now leveraging IT automation to ensure each institution has access to timely information on learners’ schedules, enrollments and more. 

In addition to diving more into the aforementioned exciting developments, the site snapshots and year three annual report preview the work for year four in the New Skills ready network initiative. Each site has ambitious goals for year four including exploring new pathways sectors, engaging families and learners in the design and implementation of career pathways, sustaining and scaling career pathways as sites near year five of the initiative and more. 

Visit Advance CTE’s New Skills ready network series page to read the full annual report and a snapshot of each site’s innovative partnerships and early accomplishments across the four project priorities. Our New Skills ready network collection page provides additional resources for strengthening career pathways.

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Publications
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College in High School Series: Using Perkins Reserve Funds to Support Dual Enrollment CTE Programs

Thursday, June 22nd, 2023

Montana is looking at innovative ways to support its career technical education (CTE) early post-secondary opportunities by giving learners earlier access to dual enrollment offerings. This blog features Montana and the use of Perkins funding to expand access to dual enrollment opportunities for all CTE learners.  

Using Perkins Reserve Funds to Support Dual Enrollment CTE Programs

In 2018, the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) increased state reserve funds from 10 to 15 percent. Reserve funds must be used to foster innovation in Career Technical Education (CTE) and promote program alignment with high-skill, high-wage or in-demand careers. States have flexibility with how they allocate reserve funds and there is opportunity for local and regional areas to develop and expand early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs) and invest in enhancing secondary to postsecondary transitions to ensure credit transfer or articulation for more learners.

Montana under the Montana Board of Regents, has used reserve funds to drive college acceleration through early postsecondary CTE opportunities in the state and increase secondary to postsecondary articulation agreements. As a result, Montana saw significant increases in dual enrollment participants and their program success rates. According to the Montana Perkins V State Plan, the number of learners taking dual enrollment courses doubled from 2014 to 2018, while the number of dual enrollment learners matriculating into a Montana University System institution tripled.

The state uses a competitive Perkins Reserve grant process to support the Montana Career Pathways (MCP) initiative – to increase awareness of secondary CTE programs and activities, as well as options for postsecondary degrees and credentials that align to the learner’s pathway. Competitive grants are available to tribal colleges, two-year colleges, community colleges and consortia.

Recipients can use Perkins Reserve grant funds to employ full-time dual enrollment coordinators and CTE dual enrollment exploratory activities. The coordinators serve as liaisons between secondary and postsecondary institutions and work closely with learners in helping them identify a pathway related to a career in a program their institution offers. In addition, coordinators serve as liaisons between faculty and staff and create collaborative spaces for secondary and postsecondary faculty by facilitating meetings to discuss articulation agreements and course transfer as well as collaboration with business and industry. Grant funds also allow for recipients to create CTE career exploration activities that connect secondary (middle and high school learners) with postsecondary learners, and staff to local industry partners for hands-on and meaningful CTE experiences.

Since the initial allotment of Perkins Reserve funds (under Montana’s previous state plan) has been hugely successful statewide, the Department has decided to continue the allotment into their updated Perkins V State Plan, strengthening and scaling its offerings while specifically committing to work with tribal colleges and special population learners. As such, the state continues to prioritize funding activities related to career exploration, CTE dual enrollment, and promotion of state-level CTE programs of study such as Montana Career Pathways, industry-recognized credential attainment and work-based learning opportunities. 

To learn more about how CTE early postsecondary opportunities such as dual enrollment serve learners, check out Advance CTE’s resource on Intentional Acts of Dual Enrollment: State Strategies for Scaling Early Postsecondary Opportunities in Career Pathways.

For more in-depth information on Montana’s work, please visit the following resources: State of EPSO, Montana Perkins Plan, Montana State Plan

Suela Cela, Senior Policy Associate

 

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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