Posts Tagged ‘CTE Data’

Advance CTE 2024 Spring Meeting Sponsor Blog – Diamond Sponsor iCEV | Five Challenges Facing CTE Data Management and How to Solve Them

Thursday, April 25th, 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.

As a State CTE leader, you’re responsible for ensuring that essential information is properly collected, stored, and communicated to relevant agencies. However, many educators find data management difficult and time-consuming.

Below, you’ll discover five of the most common problems associated with CTE data management.

When left unaddressed, these issues can become overwhelming. But with the right system in place, you can overcome these challenges and put CTE at the Forefront.

1. Manual Data Entry 

Tracking data manually comes with a high chance of error. When you enter data by hand, you may end up double-checking your work and even entering the same data multiple times!

This inefficient process costs time and often leads to inaccurate reports.

 2. Difficulty Managing Spreadsheet Data

Properly dealing with spreadsheet data is easier said than done. Using spreadsheets requires correctly setting up different fields and conditional formats. Without proper formatting, even the best-designed spreadsheet can become a confusing mess.

Importing and exporting data can lead to more issues, making data analysis difficult.

Finally, different team members may have separate documents, challenging your efforts to keep a clean data set.

3. Lack of Data Transparency and Insight 

Especially when records are kept in various places, it’s common for CTE teams not to have an authoritative database to make critical decisions. Without data transparency, administrators are forced to fill in gaps or even resort to guesswork.

When you don’t have a full picture of what is going on in your CTE program, the insight you can gain from analyzing data is limited. Programs that lack confidence in their data risk falling behind in obtaining funding and complying with regulations. 

4. Inability to Track Performance Across Multiple Schools

States with a large volume of CTE offerings often struggle with tracking performance across multiple schools. When each school measures data differently, it’s up to CTE directors to reconcile these differences.

Often, the solution that works best is a data management system that ensures every school is using the same measurements to quantify success. 

 5. Your Data Is Not Focused on CTE

Finally, many administrators use data management solutions engineered toward the traditional classroom experience that don’t show the complete picture of a CTE program.

But a CTE-specific solution can track completers, CTSOs, certifications, and more. This gives you a full picture of the value of a program to learners and communities.

The Importance of Quality CTE Data Management

In ensuring learners have an ideal CTE experience, quality data management makes all the difference. When you have an effective system in place, state and local CTE leaders will be able to use program data to make key program decisions benefiting everyone, expanding program offerings and providing certification opportunities that will open doors for learners in the future.

Solve Your CTE Data Management Problems 

Each of these data-related complications can challenge CTE directors and administrators and leave with only part of the story. But when you adopt a CTE-specific data management solution like Eduthings, you can track and report on program performance and put CTE at the Forefront.

Visit the iCEV booth during the Advance CTE Spring Conference to learn how Eduthings can be your CTE command center and improve your data management with a custom solution.

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Spring Meeting
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Welcome Marie Falcone to Advance CTE!

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

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

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

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

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

By Layla Alagic in Our Staff
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2023 Advance CTE Fall Meeting Vision-Focused Workshops: Staff Reflections

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

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

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

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

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

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

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

Tunisha Hobson, Director, State Policy Implementation

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

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

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

Foundational Commitment 3: Advancing the National Career Clusters Framework

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

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

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

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

Dan Adams, Associate Director, Data & Research

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

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

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

Eliza Fabillar, Senior Advisor

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

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

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

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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Research Round-up: Leveraging Data for Equitable Education and Workforce Alignment

Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

Advance CTE’s “Research Round-Up” blog series features summaries of relevant research reports and studies to elevate evidence-backed Career Technical Educational (CTE) policies and practices and topics related to college and career readiness. This month’s blog highlights the different data sources that can be leveraged to identify and address any inequities that are present in postsecondary CTE programs. These findings align with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where each learner feels welcomed and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem.

Credential Engines’ Equity Advisory Council (EAC) report, and the subsequent recommendations, present a tiered approach for using data to ensure that CTE programs are equitable for all learners.


The primary questions that this report sought to address were twofold:

This report groups data into three tiers based on the complexity level to analyze or publish the data.

These “critical equity data points” are important to track in order to advance understanding and action about equitable pathways, transfer and recognition of learning. While each consecutive tier may require more in-depth analysis, this work will be critical in building a complete understanding of the learner experience and learner outcomes in these pathways.


In their report, the EAC also identified key principles to help maintain equitable data practices. These included: 

  1. Adopt data practices to foster an environment where outcomes are improved for every learner
  2. Disaggregate data (such as program’s earnings and employment outcomes) through publically available channels
  3. Emphasize credentials of value that are relevant for learners
  4. Consider learner voice and need when designing tools to ensure data is accessible and inclusive
  5. Provide professional development for those interacting with the data, and leveraging the value of linked open data


These principles rely on a statewide commitment (inclusive of workforce, industry, educational institutions, and government leadership) to making data accessible to ensure that every learner has the opportunity and information required to make the best decision about their career trajectory.

Advance CTE’s Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool also supports state leaders’ use of accurate, timely, and disaggregated data to investigate barriers to access and take action to ensure equity, access and success for historically marginalized learners.

To access additional resources on data quality and use, please visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Amy Hodge, Membership & Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Research
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Dr. Crystal Gardner

Tuesday, June 20th, 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. For this blog in the ECMCF Fellow Feature series, we interviewed  ECMCF Fellow Dr. Crystal Gardner (TX) who entered the Fellowship with experience spanning PK-12, higher education and adult education.

Dr. Crystal Gardner currently serves as the Instructional Supervisor for the Houston Community College (HCC) Alternative Teacher Certification Program (ATCP). In this role, she oversees instructional operations, program development, quality control, and compliance management. Joining the Fellowship was an exciting opportunity to fully immerse herself in the world of career and technical education (CTE) through equity-aligned learning and real-world practicum.

She was first exposed to the world of workforce development through her work in ATCP. This proximity allowed her to work in professional learning communities and connect with other workforce stakeholders. The Fellowship was recommended to her by a colleague who knew about her previous experience and passion for program outcomes.

“My goal is to pull others up through my work. Whether my role is in grant writing, administration or as an educator, my goal is always to prepare and provide high-quality educators, high-quality employees, and high-quality people.”

Dr. Gardner’s work in institution improvement has always been data-driven. She has experience using data to turn around PK-12 campuses and the successful re-accreditation of the Alternative Teacher Certification program at HCC upon its initial re-accreditation audit. As a Fellow, she’s eager for the opportunity to further develop her knowledge and skills around using CTE datasets and Perkins accountability to close gaps in the programs she oversees. One of her long-term goals is to expand alternative certification programs to include CTE educator preparation to increase the availability of high-quality CTE instructors in Houston.

“This Fellowship has given me the skills to analyze our institutional data through an equity lens and identify those areas of need. I’m able to narrow in on key areas like sustainability and retention in an impactful way.”

Dr. Gardner’s role has shifted in exciting ways as she’s been tapped to take on additional projects and speaking engagements. She has had the opportunity to present on accountability at numerous conferences, including the Texas Association of CTE (TACTE) and the Learning Resources Network (LERN) conferences. Dr. Gardner is also proud of the work that she’s led around expanding the eligibility of Veterans Benefit to cover clock hour programs for Veterans wishing to pursue Alternative Teacher Certification at HCC, in addition to completing the process of garnering the approval of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the Alternative Teacher Certification CE Certificate, beginning Fall 2023.

“Participating in the Fellowship has increased the quality and capacity of my professional network exponentially. I feel renewed and invigorated finding myself surrounded by a group of people of such caliber and similar-minded passion for moving the needle to improve systems.”

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Crystal Gardner by email at [email protected] 

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Dr. Tempestt Adams

Monday, June 12th, 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. For this next blog in the ECMCF Fellow Feature series, we’re excited to feature ECMCF Fellow Dr. Tempestt Adams (NC) whose own experience in the classroom served as the inspiration for her Real-World Project topic. Dr. Adams is passionate about improving educator preparation programs and finding solutions that integrate learner voices into discussions about how institutions can increase retention rates. 

“As a lifelong learner, I’ve always been intentional in my pursuit of professional development and growth in my career.”

Dr. Adams found the Fellowship through the recommendation of a colleague who saw the thread of equity throughout the curriculum and workshop topics as an opportunity for her to build upon her previous work in this space. Through the Fellowship, Dr. Adams has had the opportunity to engage with Career Technical Education (CTE) specific knowledge that she had not previously been exposed to. As a result, she feels more equipped and confident to use language and tools to support her ideas about becoming a more effective leader.

“Any researcher would say that you build confidence as you read and increase your exposure to new ideas. This is particularly true for learning about using an equity lens in CTE, and I’m grateful as this isn’t always the reality of my everyday work.”

Dr. Adams has seen the ways in which her participation in the Fellowship has helped her advance in her current role as an Assistant Professor at Appalachian State University and she’s interested in exploring additional opportunities to increase her leadership to expand her impact. Specifically, she’s learning more about programs that directly address issues impacting student success in undergraduate CTE or graduate certificate programs. The Fellowship has also piqued Dr. Adams’s interest in learning more about community colleges and how postsecondary CTE programs are leveraging learner data. As a transfer-friendly institution, data-sharing partnerships with community colleges would provide a more complete understanding of where students are coming from before they transfer. Dr. Adams sees an opportunity to use this data to better equip her instructors in their class preparation.

Dr. Adams became enamored with data during her doctoral program when she was exploring the national challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers of color. She noticed that there was more racial diversity among the second-career individuals entering the graduate certificate program than those choosing to enroll in her program. At the same time, she noticed that the retention rates of those enrolled in the graduate certificate program were much lower, and as a result, fewer teachers of color were completing the program. Through her Real-World Project, Dr. Adams is exploring the reasons for this drop in learner retention with the goal of improving institutional awareness of the challenges that learners are facing so that they can be addressed.

 “Looking ahead, I’m interested in taking this work and the outline I’ve created to pursue a Spencer Foundation Grant. Additional funding would provide the opportunity to expand the number of students that I’m surveying in my Real-World Project and look more whole scale at black teachers and CTE in the state.”

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Adams by email at [email protected] 

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Uncategorized
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ECMCF Fellow Feature: Leisa Mathews

Thursday, May 25th, 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. For this next blog in the ECMCF Fellow Feature series, we interviewed ECMCF Fellow Leisa Mathews who shared how her life experience drives her passion for creating opportunities for learners.

Tell us about your journey to the Fellowship.

Being from a very small town in Wyoming, I never thought that I could be a part of something so impactful.  I may have never applied for this Fellowship without the encouragement of Dr. Michelle Aldrich, the Wyoming State Director of Career & Technical Education and Perkins Funding.

We worked together when I worked as the Workforce Development Coordinator and Perkins Coordinator for Western Wyoming Community College. Dr. Aldrich was a great resource for me when I was completing the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNA) and managing the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) Grant. After working together, she got to know me, and she suggested that I apply.

I’m here because I’ve seen the gaps in achievement and access through my work, and this Fellowship presented an opportunity to make a change. As a product of the system, as a mother, and as someone who has worked in both academics and the workforce, I know how to approach this work to serve those learners that fall through the cracks. 

What are the skills or areas where you’ve experienced the most growth in the program? 

My experience in the Fellowship is helping me change the culture of the workplace. Through networking with others in the Fellowship and attending the ECMC Convening, I’ve been able to listen and learn from others’ perspectives, and it helped me consider new ways to approach this work. Working with Perkins Grants, I recognized the gaps between groups of learners and the huge differences in representation. As a proud Asian woman, I can literally see myself represented in this data and understand the consequences when we don’t see or reach those small percentages of learners.

We have an influx of immigrant families entering this area, and high school counselors have difficulty going after them to let them know about the different career path options available. Without these relationships and awareness of their options, learners are missing out. I saw this play out with my own kids and witnessed how they had different opportunities offered to them; my younger daughter was in an energy academy program and due to that was encouraged to take dual and concurrent enrollment courses, but my other kids weren’t given that same support or options. Unless changes are made, this will continue to occur. Career counseling and the messages that our kids receive, whether implicit or explicit, can significantly impact their trajectories.

To be a change agent- I’m thinking about how we can implement changes that aren’t only addressing the problems, but that are also sustainable. This Fellowship is giving me the opportunity to learn so much more about how I can reach learners and leverage data to make sustainable change. 

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

Since participating in the Fellowship, I have made career changes. While I am currently no longer in the field of education, I am fortunate enough that my employers in my current position, support my continued involvement and see the value in the Fellowship. I’ve been able to steer my organization to market new career opportunities for training for students. I want to visit the high schools and local technical schools to recruit students and emphasize the high-quality instruction and training programs that are available to them. As a small town, we’re invested in retaining talent, and this is an opportunity to reach students early and let them know about the great career options available to them.

I’ve been able to show that I have the confidence to approach these partners and find creative ways to engage our future workforce. After being in the Fellowship and learning about what folks are doing elsewhere, I started to ask, “Why can’t we do that here in our town?” and I’ve been able to make things happen. I recently received a shoutout at our company’s quarterly meeting for bringing innovative practices to connect young people to our work. I’m passionate about creating pathways for learners because they don’t currently exist outside of traditional academic programs. They need to know that these opportunities for continued education exist and that employers are excited to invest in them.

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

I want to make a difference. Working at the state level, such as in the Wyoming Department of Education, would provide me with the resources and contacts to make a significant impact. My current organization is incredibly supportive of me being in the Fellowship and they share my passion for growing our community. My strengths lie in finding the right person or resource and positioning them to have the biggest reach for the community, whether it’s students or families.

How has the Fellowship expanded your network? 

I wish I’d known what I know now about analyzing data or about different templates that states are using for their CLNAs. The Fellowship is giving me the missing context for connecting all of these dots, and everything started clicking together in my head.  The ideas for change have always been a part of me, but I now have the network and resources to bring those ideas to reality. 

This national lens has been incredibly valuable, and certainly, the amount of knowledge at my disposal through the other Fellows isn’t something that you can get anywhere else.

If you have any questions, contact Leisa Mathews by email at [email protected]     

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Looking Back to Look Forward and the Implications for Career Technical Education

Thursday, May 11th, 2023

Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosted a webinar to release their new report, The Future of Data, Assessments, and Accountability in K-12 Education, which offers a comprehensive analysis of the landmark education policies of the past two decades, from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The event featured a discussion among Maya Martin Cadogan (Founder & Executive Director, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education), Dr. Ivan Duran (Superintendent, Highline Public Schools), Dr. Dan Goldhaber (Director, CALDER American Institutes for Research) and Dr. Chris Steward (Chief Executive Officer, brightbeam), on the report’s findings and future implications for the role of federal policy in the K-12 education system. The panelists also reflected on the perspectives and data they felt were absent from the report and the opportunities to leverage lessons learned.

Key Takeaways 


Next Steps for State CTE Leaders 

As states are considering their next round of Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) State Determined Levels of Performance, or perhaps broader changes to Perkins V plans, consider the following actions:

The full report, Looking Back to Look Forward: Quantitative and Qualitative Reviews of the Past 20 Years of K-12 Education Assessment and Accountability Policy can be found online and through Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center. You can also find the webinar recording on YouTube.

Dr. Laura Maldonado, Senior Research Associate and Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Pushing the Limits: Colorado

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) was released in March 2020 with the support of over 40 national organizations. In October 2021, Advance CTE launched a technical assistance opportunity called Advancing CTE Without  Limits, which sought to support states in a project to coordinate systems, improve equity goals, strengthen policy, or otherwise align with a CTE Without Limits principle. The year-long Advancing CTE Without Limits project ran from March 2022 to March 2023. This blog series shares the details, outcomes and lessons learned from projects across the three participating Pushing the Limits state teams – Colorado, Nebraska and South Carolina. 

Project Focus

Colorado has taken significant steps to improve equity in Career Technical Education (CTE), with a focus on ensuring that all students have access to high-quality CTE programs and opportunities. 

The Colorado State CTE team made a concerted effort to better align their CTE Strategic Plan with the CTE Without Limits vision principles by conducting a review of their strategic plan through the lens of Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by and has the means to be successful in the career preparation ecosystem. 

Colorado’s team focused on three key objectives:

  1. Needs Assessment: Conduct a needs assessment to identify strengths and gaps of the current CTE system and identify the CTE-specific actions that need to be taken to close gaps and remove barriers for learners. 
  2. Internal, Equity-Focused Professional Development: Elevate the commitment at the state level to ensure equity within CTE through convening an internal team to develop a plan and participate in professional development on equity utilizing the Brave Dialogues resources. 
  3. Building Local Leader Data Literacy: Leverage Advance CTE’s Opportunity Gap Analysis process to increase data literacy of local CTE administrators and educators and in doing so improve data-focused storytelling of learners’ outcome and identification of program participation and success gaps. 


Project Outcomes

Through technical assistance sessions with Advance CTE staff, Colorado developed an equity strategy to help bridge the current CTE strategic plan and work on their next State Plan for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (expiring in 2024). Colorado has shared their equity plan and progress with local CTE Directors at a kickoff meeting where the Opportunity Gap Analysis process and Brave Dialogues training was conducted. Colorado will continue to create spaces to execute implementation of the plan grounded in Principle 2 at their CTE administrators’ convenings during this year. 

Colorado established internal team-level goals around each action step within Principle 2 and embedded them into individual performance goals. The Colorado team elevated their focus on CTE program equity, access, and inclusion by settling on an overall goal that is connected to the state CTE strategic plan’s foundational elements and “job-specific” goals to promote a culture of shared growth around competency in equity. 

Colorado launched the Opportunity Gap Analysis Workshop training and the Brave Dialogues equity training at The Colorado Association for Career & Technical Administrators (CACTA) conference. Colorado had an overwhelming response from the field about how much they appreciated being “called in” to the conversation and supported through professional development.

Colorado state CTE leaders continue to work towards advanced implementation of Principle 2 and were able to meet certain benchmarks over the course of the year:

Lessons Learned

To address the identified gaps in CTE enrollment, Colorado is working on targeted marketing materials and campaigns to increase awareness about CTE to bolster the pipeline of interested learners. They have made tremendous strides with some school districts and colleges to address barriers to increase enrollment. Colorado is building a team of champions who can advocate for the importance of expanded access and equity for all learners in CTE and articulate the numerous benefits both for the state’s economy as well as for Colorado’s future workforce. 

Colorado stressed that the sustainability of this work will be achieved through the continued utilization of the Opportunity Gap Analysis tools as part of Colorado’s Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process and through building intentional linkages between Principle 2 work and the CTE strategic plan to further benchmark and establish goals tied to CTE data and local performance. Colorado’s team is also committed to work on their own language, implicit bias, personal and professional growth and development as equity-minded leaders. 

Stay tuned for future updates about Colorado’s continued efforts or for more information about other states’ Advancing CTE Without Limits projects. For more information about CTE Without Limits, visit  

To learn more about planning and implementing the principles of CTE Without Limits in your state, check out Pushing the Limits: A Roadmap for Advancing CTE Without Limits.

Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Advisor

By Jodi Langellotti in CTE Without Limits
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The Case for State Investment in Youth Apprenticeship Programs

Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Our newest brief, released in partnership with the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), explores the current landscape around state funding models to support youth apprenticeship (YA) programs. Equipping state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders with the knowledge and tools to advance YA programs aligns with Advance CTE’s vision for each learner’s skills to be counted, valued, and portable.

YA programs are an important component of a fully developed career preparation ecosystem. High-quality YA programs allow learners to explore career pathways and develop skills that are relevant to industry needs to improve the overall health of the local economy. State Funding Models to Support Youth Apprenticeships evaluates the landscape of state YA funding models and highlights practices in Georgia, Michigan, Utah and to equip states to adopt funding strategies that enable these programs to be fully embedded in states’ career preparation ecosystems. 

Benefits for State Investment 

States are uniquely positioned to invest in and implement high-quality YA programs, and in doing so can systematically expand access to and quality of growing YA programs. These investments allow learners to access a complete spectrum of work-based learning experiences to gain in-demand skills and credentials and enter the labor market prepared for the world of work.

Additionally, investment at the state level is a strong signal to industry to initiate or expand employer participation in these programs.1 Employers in IT, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, business, finance, education, and many other industries have found that YA delivers a positive return on their investment by helping them build a pipeline of young, diverse talent and fostering a culture of learning and innovation that attracts and retains employees.2

States have the power to align CTE programs of study with YA programs to create seamless pathways for learners and in some cases earn college credit simultaneously. For example: 

In State Funding Models to Support Youth Apprenticeships, we also share findings on how states are providing funding for work-based learning programs and make recommendations for how state investment in YA programs represents a critical part of the career preparation ecosystem. 

For more information about PAYA’s work and resources for building your own YA program, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center.

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Publications
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