Posts Tagged ‘CTE Without Limits’

Realizing CTE Without Limits: An Interview with Colorado State CTE Director Dr. Sarah Heath

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

This month, Advance CTE celebrates the 3 year anniversary of the release of Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), supported by over 40 national organizations. As part of the celebration, Advance CTE is highlighting the initiatives, outcomes and lessons learned of current and former states who have participated in technical assistance opportunities to conduct the challenging but necessary work to fully realize the vision in their state. 

Senior Director of Policy Nithya Govindasamy interviewed Colorado State CTE Director Sarah Heath to revisit the impact of technical assistance on realizing a more cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem. 

How has the CTE Without Limits influenced the mindset and priorities for CTE in your state? 

CTE Without Limits has influenced the mindset and priorities in Colorado in terms of alignment. Our team has examined our goals and determined how we can better serve learners and how we can get learners ready for things that are connected geographically. 

CTE Without Limits has also been central to goals and actions that can be taken to infuse the principles in the Perkins State Plan and strategic plan to ultimately support local leaders and educators. In Colorado, we are trying to connect the principles in the vision and the foundational commitments when evaluating our current goals and the gaps in our goals. We have used it to “check ourselves” and integrated it to support our stakeholder outreach and continue to use it as a bar and checkpoint.

What do you consider your state’s most impactful work in progress as a result of the CTE Without Limits vision? 

For Colorado, the most impactful work has occurred in our equity-centered work, specifically empowering locals through the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) and tying it to CTE Without Limits through the Opportunity Gap Analysis (OGA). In particular, we’ve focused on sub-populations indicators and “checking ourselves” to ensure we were not being too generic in measuring success. Principle 2: Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem, pushed us to identify tangible tools to help locals; it also pushed our state team to view data differently and get comfortable with data. Tools like the heat map ease people into the work without the “equity stigma”. 

We are also using tools to analyze local performance and to inform local decision making. For example the OGA data was linked to school performance frameworks and school finance to show the intersections. We are training principals and need to train middle-management leaders in our schools to help them to make data-driven decisions to help all learners be successful. 

In Colorado, working directly with locals to be more impactful has been a priority. We held a session about this work at CACTA (Colorado Association for Career and Technical Administrators, the Admin Division of ACTE in Colorado), where the designated CTE Directors attend for each district and they are empowered to engage the principals. Rural school districts are supported by Boards of Cooperative Educational Services or BOCES (typically fiscal agents for Perkins) and each have a Superintendent Council, so our team has taken the opportunity to use their meeting structure and support to offer more CTE services. 

Additionally, Colorado has taken a “near-peer approach” and is leveraging the relationships with the BOCES and helping the state team connect with local leaders who are not always the designated CTE Director. The Colorado CTE Team is also reflecting on their experiences to ensure the best presenter or connector is available to support these cohorts. For example, the state Program Director for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy was a principal in a rural school district prior to being on the Colorado CTE Team so it makes perfect sense to connect her to projects where we are expanding the knowledge of our local principals in how to connect CTE data to their school performance data and goal setting.  

Colorado participated in the inaugural cohort to provide vision-related technical assistance to states. What is one part of that work (highlighted here) that you have been able to build upon over the past year, and how?

Of the work highlighted in last year’s blog, we focused on Goal 3: “Building Local Leader Data Literacy: Leverage Advance CTE’s Opportunity Gap Analysis (OGA) 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.” In order to increase the data literacy of locals and teachers, we are offering professional development with a panel of local CTE directors. We are using the CLNA and OGA for action planning, and conducted needs assessment in-person during a statewide CTE roadshow. 

In terms of what is next for us, we are intentionally incorporating learner voice into our work. We are focused on “how are we empowering local leaders and their data literacy” and helping them with storytelling. For example, our CTE concentrator graduation rate is 98% while our overall Colorado high school graduation rate is 83%. Elevating these data points and integrating into our storytelling on the local level will assist in destigmatizing CTE. CTE is being seen all over Colorado as a new strategic move in high school education. We are seeing Designed Career and Technical high schools being built in school districts who market their four-year college going culture.  We are seeing most districts “up” their CTE programs and want to better serve learners across the board by offering multiple off ramps from industry credentials, Apprenticeship, and college credit.

We’ve been able to engage with families by going to the PTA conference and enhancing their data literacy. We are working with the entire ecosystem to empower local leaders, administrators, principals, parents/guardians, family members and learners and “empower” local communities by equipping them with better information to make more informed decisions. We are also helping connect education to the overall ecosystem through regional level conversations about industry needs and alignment. 

What resources or support has been most helpful in moving this work and mindset forward? 

For the Colorado team, the technical assistance and the actual resources, such as the Pushing the Limits Roadmap, has been the most helpful. We have used this resource to develop goals, to conduct an assessment of our current system, and develop an action plan. The tools were helpful in identifying the areas that need to be improved and we were able to use the tool to help locals assess their own system. 

Another helpful resource was the With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE. We walked through the toolkit and tackled issues such as not “tokenizing” learners by just having them on advisory committees. 

Having the tools, resources and support was definitely helpful when determining how to use the various pieces to help locals. 

What principles and areas of work connected to the vision are you planning to focus on this year? 

Colorado is currently focused on Principle 4: Each learner’s skills are counted, valued, and portable. We are centering this mindset in our work by leaning into Credit for Prior Learning (CPL), portable credit and policy change and matrix, faculty qualifications, and counting all learning that happens. In 2020, Colorado passed HB 20-1002, which enables students and adults to earn postsecondary credit for prior work experience, including work-based learning. A landscape report on CPL was released in 2021 that guides our work:

Through our team that supports concurrent enrollment as well as our work on the Colorado “Student Bill of Rights”, we are working to ensure learners are receiving the correct credit for earned Industry Recognized Credentials when they matriculate to an institution of higher education as well as their  CTE high school experiences, even if it does not include concurrent enrollment, and assisting learners with understanding how to link these experiences to their college credits through articulation.

Colorado’s Governor has set a Skills-Based hiring expectation and as a team, we are using this expectation to help our employers who serve on our CTE advisory committees better understand how to post jobs to ensure they are attracting talent based on their skills. 

Additional Resources

To learn about how to begin implementing CTE Without Limits in your state or community, read Colorado, Nebraska, and South Carolina’s origin and impact journeys so far.. Resources to learn about and implement the vision can be found on our CTE Without Limits webpage

Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Director of Policy

By Stacy Whitehouse in CTE Without Limits
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Amplifying Learner Voice: How WisCORE Champions Equity Through Learner-Led Conversations

Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

Five states, including Wisconsin, took part in the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE technical assistance cohort hosted by Advance CTE and ACTE. Inspired by CTE Without Limits: a Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education, they’re using the With Learners, Not for Learners toolkit to involve learners in the design, delivery, and implementation of CTE programs and policies. This post focuses on Wisconsin’s “WisCORE” conference, where learners lead conversations and drive change in diversity, equity, and inclusion across the state’s technical colleges. For this post, Haley Wing, senior policy associate with Advance CTE, interviewed Colleen Larsen, education director for student success at Wisconsin Technical College System, a member of the Wisconsin state team for the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE technical assistance cohort and the coordinator for the state-wide WisCORE Conference planning and execution committee.

WisCORE: Where Learner Voices Spark Change in Race and Ethnicity Conversations

In October 2023, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) convened learners, staff, and faculty from across the System for the Wisconsin Technical College System Conference on Race and Ethnicity (WisCORE), a transformative conference dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the system’s colleges.

The WisCORE conference facilitates collaboration among WTCS colleges, enabling shared effective DEI strategies and building system-wide capacity for creating more inclusive campuses. By emphasizing the voices and experiences of learners, employees, and community members, the conference ensures that DEI efforts are informed by the perspectives of those most impacted, leading to more equitable and sustainable practices.

The WisCORE event and the Wisconsin state team’s work in the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE technical assistance cohort align seamlessly with the principles of CTE Without Limits, ensuring that every learner feels welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed within the career preparation ecosystem. The conference and its outcomes elevate learners’ voices, prioritizing inclusion and equity, while establishing accountability and continuous improvement processes.

Student Caucus from WiSCORE

LEARNER TESTIMONIAL

“WisCORE 2023 was my first experience, and it was a pleasant experience. Being able to attend and be involved meant a lot for me as a student. I got to hear other students share their personal stories and experiences within the college setting, as well as within their community. It was reassuring to hear students share similar thoughts and possible solutions on how colleges can improve on how they can create a welcoming space of diversity, equity, inclusion, self-advocacy, and cultural competency to better serve their student population. It’s nice to know that I was not the only student who wanted to advocate in those DEI areas and that the attendees, both staff and student, have a similar inspiration, which is to hear student voices for a sense of direction on how colleges can improve and better serve their students.”

Building Bridges, Brick by Brick: The Collaborative Journey to WisCORE

The idea for the WisCORE conference was borne out of multiple leaders and learners in the Wisconsin Technical College system attending The National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE). Attendees of this conference reported rave reviews, and the requests for additional participants from each technical college quickly increased. During the NCORE 2018 conference in Portland, Colleen attended with others from her state and requested a Wisconsin-dedicated room for their state team. During their debriefing and unpacking the learning from the conference, she asked, “What would you like to do to  bring this learning back to our state?”

From that conference room, the team, which included learners, staff and faculty, insisted that Wisconsin needed a dedicated convening to center belonging, connections and solutions to challenges learners frequently face. Leveraging a grant from Jobs For the Future centered on equity, the planning committee, which included learners, created the first WisCORE conference. Leveraging the demand from learners and support from faculty members, the collective advocacy across the state resulted in all 16 technical college presidents agreeing to submit $1,000 from each college budget to support the development and execution of the WisCORE conference. After the second conference, more faculty and learners took an interest in the event and requested that the conference occur annually, which the presidents agreed to support. This sustainable funding ensures the event is possible each year.

Grit and Grace: Lessons from WisCORE’s Road to Success

Planning and successfully executing an event like WisCORE comes with several benefits: learners are in the driver’s seat to lead meaningful change; faculty are made aware of learners’ experiences and opportunities to improve their supports in programs; and learner feedback and input are actualized in changes to policies, practices and more. Understanding these benefits is helpful when navigating the challenges and barriers that may come up when replicating a similar event. Colleen shared the following tips to support this work in Wisconsin and beyond:

LEARNER TESTIMONIAL

“I learned the value of advocating for yourself and for others and that there are many out there who are likely facing the issue like us. And how important it is for each individual to be responsible and respectful.”

Beyond Conversation, Beyond Collaboration: WisCORE’s Tangible Impact

As a result of the WisCORE conference, learners and faculty members across the state report the impact of the conference:

Looking Ahead: Amplifying Learner Voices Beyond the Conference Walls

As the Wisconsin team looks forward, they continue to leverage learner voice to strengthen CTE. In addition to their work with the WisCORE conference, the team continues to share and elevate promising practices and approaches related to their learner engagement work in the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE technical assistance cohort. With all learner engagement work across secondary and postsecondary systems, the team continues to center learners and their experiences, support learners as they engage to improve their educational experiences and create sustainable structures to help shift mindsets and practices as it relates to learner engagement work. 

For additional information about leveraging learner voice, please visit the following pages on the Advance CTE website:

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, Advance CTE

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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Funding Career Technical Education: Making State-Level Investments to Support Unique Elements of CTE

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

Advance CTE released the 2023 State of CTE: An Analysis of State Secondary CTE Funding Models to highlight how states and the District of Columbia provide high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) through various secondary CTE funding models and approaches. This blog, the fourth in a series, describes ways states invest in CTE programs through line item appropriations to support unique elements of CTE. This blog unveils new information not available in the State of CTE Funding release.

Overview

States make significant contributions to CTE programs through non-categorical, line item appropriations. Programmatic funding is distributed through periodic, legislatively established authorizations that are contingent on the availability of funds. States often place conditions on how money should be spent or used to promote state priorities. Additionally, a programmatic line item appropriation can be a recurring or a one-time investment. This blog highlights appropriations in industry-recognized credentials, Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), career advisement, and educator preparation for fiscal year (FY) 2022. You can read more about categorical funding in the first blog in this series, Funding Career Technical Education: Secondary CTE Funding Basics

These key state investments often pilot new programs, sustain existing programs, provide training to educators and professionals, or allow purchases for needed equipment and supplies. These investments certainly allow Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to scale and improve program quality, which aligns with Advance CTE’s vision for the future of CTE where continuous improvement is needed at all levels within systems.  

Investing in Unique Elements of CTE

State funding through non-categorical, line item appropriations is incredibly common; 80 percent of state leaders surveyed in summer 2022 reported some line items for CTE programs. 

Industry-recognized Credentials

Helping learners have access to and earn industry-recognized credentials can make them more competitive for future work and educational opportunities. States may offer reimbursements to the learner, educator, or local institutions for the completion of credentials. There are expenses associated with industry-recognized credentials such as exam fees, materials, books, or supplies. 

Thirteen state leaders reported appropriations for industry-recognized credentials in FY 2022. 

CTSOs

CTSOs allow learners to gain academic, workplace, and technical skills, build networks, and pursue leadership experiences that are needed to succeed in today’s global workforce. 

Twelve state leaders reported line item appropriations for CTSOs, with appropriations ranging from $125,000 to $2.52 million per year in FY 2022. Most states allocated the funds toward one or more of the 11 CTSOs specifically authorized in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). 

Career Advisement

Offering comprehensive and connected career advisement systems helps all learners get the support and guidance to gain skills and explore future careers. 

Nine state leaders reported line item appropriations for career advisement in FY 2022. 

Other states have made one-time investments to help pilot programs and offerings. 

Other states focused on providing resources for professionals who help with career advisement and planning. 

CTE Educator Preparation

There remains room for improvement in CTE educator preparation as only Georgia, Minnesota, and Virginia reported line item appropriations for CTE educator preparation in FY 2022. 

You can learn more about identifying funding streams that support CTE educator diversity by reading Advance CTE’s State and Local Strategies for Diversifying the CTE Educator Workforce

Recommendations

Programmatic line item appropriations are additional sources of funding to leverage to support important components of career preparation ecosystems. State leaders should take the following action steps:

Additional Resources

Be sure to read the other blogs in this series: 

We also encourage you to watch the Exploring State Secondary CTE Funding webinar.  

Dr. Laura Maldonado, Senior Research Associate

Dr. Laura Maldonado is a Senior Research Associate with Advance CTE. In this role, Laura directly supports Advance CTE’s policy research and technical assistance initiatives, data quality initiatives and internal data strategy.

By Layla Alagic in Public Policy, Research
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State CTE Policy Spotlight: 2023 Policies Expanding Accessible CTE for Special Populations

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

While policies grouped under “Funding” and “Industry Partnerships/Work-based Learning” categories have consistently remained in the top five key policy trends for the past ten years, the “Access and Equity” grouping has steadily moved up the ladder, ranking from 10th place in 2017 to 3rd place in 2022. In this blog, we will review four policies enacted in 2023 that are founded in improving access to high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

As explained in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career and Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), CTE plays a vital role in creating an inclusive and equitable future, providing learners with the education and training necessary for success in financially secure and self-sufficient careers while meeting industry talent demands. Advance CTE is committed to supporting states as they tackle the various barriers–program costs, transportation, and eligibility among others–that continue to exacerbate the access and equity challenges special populations face when accessing CTE programs.

In 2023, CTE leaders adopted innovative strategies to expand access to CTE in their state. Examples of such strategies can be found in the following policies enacted by California, New Hampshire, and Virginia

California

In October 2023, California enacted A.B. 368 which expands eligibility for learners who are “underrepresented in higher education” in the state’s College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) dual enrollment partnership grant opportunity. The CCAP Grant awards $100,000 to local education agencies who are interested in establishing or expanding a partnership with a community college to enable learners at participating high schools to access dual enrollment opportunities. A.B 368 expands access to now include first-time college learners, learners experiencing low-income, learners who are current or former foster youth, learners experiencing homelessness or learners at risk of being homeless, learners with disabilities, learners with dependent children, and undocumented learners. By expanding which populations are considered underrepresented, this policy better aligns with learners identified as special populations in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V).

In the same month, California also enacted A.B. 91 which exempts qualifying learners from paying the nonresident tuition rate. Learners who qualify for this exemption are nonresident learners who: experience low income, reside in Mexico, are registered in lower division courses at a qualifying California college, and reside within 45 miles of the California-Mexico border. This policy aims to decrease the financial burden that may hinder nonresident learners from participating in California’s CTE programs by reducing the cost of participation in CTE.

New Hampshire

In October 2023, New Hampshire passed H.B. 364 which authorized the Department of Education to reimburse the full cost of transportation to learners classified as “at-risk learners” who attend alternative education programs at a regional career and technical education center. This policy aims to mitigate the transportation barrier that may prevent learners from participating in New Hampshire’s CTE programs by covering the cost of transportation to CTE centers.

Virginia

In March 2023, Virginia enacted S.B. 1430 which required the Department of Education to convene a “stakeholder workgroup” to offer recommendations on improving access to paid work-based learning experiences for English Learners. The workgroup was directed to submit their recommendations to the Governor and the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and Health by November 1, 2023. No information is available yet on the outcome of the working group, but their recommendations are expected to be published in early 2024. This policy aims to analyze barriers that hinder English Learners from participating in CTE by creating a workgroup tasked with providing strategies to mitigate these barriers.

For more strategies to expand access to CTE for special populations, check out the “Maximizing Access & Success for Special Population” briefs prepared by Advance CTE and ACTE for:

Coming in February 2024: Advance CTE and ACTE’s eleventh annual State Policies Impacting CTE: 2023 Year in Review and Advance CTE’s 2023 State Policy Tracker, which will examine CTE and career readiness policies across the nation. While the report focuses on policy trends, the tracker comprises every CTE-related policy enacted within each state.

View the 2022 state policy tracker here.

Velie Sando, Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE, Public Policy
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The Future of Dual Enrollment Policy and Programs

Monday, January 29th, 2024

Late last year, the College in High School Alliance (CHSA) released “The Next Phase of Dual Enrollment Policy: A Vision for the Field,” laying out a set of critical priorities to ensure all learners get the full benefit of early postsecondary opportunities. As a member of CHSA’s Steering Committee, Advance CTE is excited about the potential—and ambition—of this new vision and what it can mean for learners, in Career Technical Education (CTE) and beyond, across the country.

The vision starts with a goal: states eliminating access gaps for participation and success for historically marginalized students in college in high school programs by 2030. To achieve this goal, it will take a mix of critical state- and national-level imperatives and commitments, including:

Importantly, this vision was not developed in a vacuum. Rather, it is the result of a year-long strategic planning process that engaged CHSA’s steering committee members (Achieving the Dream, Advance CTE, Bard Early College, JFF, KnowledgeWorks, The Middle College National Consortium and The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships) as well as policymakers and practitioners from across the nation. It builds on years of policy adoption and implementation—elevating what has worked and where more attention is critically needed. That is key as it will take individuals at all levels working in concert to advance and achieve this new vision for dual enrollment. 

Going forward, CHSA is committed to making this vision a reality at the state and national levels by publishing new resources that elaborate upon the various components of this vision; providing direct technical assistance to states to help them develop visions that promote equity, set inclusive goals and expand intentional dual enrollment; and convening policymakers to support ongoing collaboration in this space.

As noted in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for Career Technical Education, “the current landscape of college in high school and postsecondary transfer policies and programs is overly complicated, often results in loss of credit and does not consistently support equitable access and success.” As dual enrollment rates continue to rise and more learners, including CTE learners, participate in college in high school opportunities, it is more important than ever that we ensure our systems are designed to be equitable, meaningful and intentional. Advance CTE is excited and proud to be part of this work.

Relevant Resources

Kate Kreamer, Executive Director

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE, Public Policy
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Setting Sights on the Future: Opportunities and Supports for Perkins Plan Revisions

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023

As we approach the end of 2023, many of us are thinking about the road ahead for 2024, celebrating with our families and creating resolutions for the new year. While December and January are often an opportunity for personal reflection, 2024 offers an additional opportunity to reflect on the intentions for Career Technical Education (CTE) set out in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) via the state plan process, and the impact those plans have had on our systems and learners. 

While most states are primarily updating state-determined performance levels (SDLPs) as required every four years by law, others are using this opportunity to make larger, substantive changes or write a new state plan. This post offers some insights on what we are hearing from state CTE leaders so far about their goals for state plan updates, and the spaces and resources Advance CTE is providing to support this process. 

As the Office of Career Technical and Adult Education of the U.S. Department of Education reminded us with their program memo earlier this fall, Perkins state plans are a powerful strategic lever to align CTE policy and implementation with a state’s broader vision for education and workforce. A strength of Perkins V is the periodic, coordinated opportunity for states to evaluate and refine their targets and strategies in concert with one another. This coordinated cycle allows state leaders to learn from and alongside one another while also designing Perkins state plans that meet the specific needs of their state and learners. 

As a former State CTE Director myself, I regularly considered how well our state plan aligned with and reinforced our strategic priorities of expanding access to CTE, improving the quality of CTE programs of study and continuing to intentionally align the secondary and postsecondary CTE system with the needs of employers. Reviewing the state plan against our progress and goals helped us ensure that the plan served as a progress-centered north star, rather than a reflection of the status quo. We leveraged everything from the performance indicators we chose, to the way we defined those metrics, to our size, scope and quality definitions as levers to continually drive towards serving more learners in high-quality programs that served as launchpads for future success. While the process of reviewing and updating state Perkins plans can be time-consuming, it is time well spent, and framing the opportunity as something state leaders get to do rather than something they have to do helps keep the focus on what matters most – continually improving the CTE experience for learners. 

As state leaders work through this process in 2024, Advance CTE is here to be a partner not only through spaces for states to learn from each other, but through resources that recenter and challenge state leaders to consider and address challenges facing our systems and learners.  The conversations began at Advance CTE’s 2023 Fall Meeting in October with sessions on translating Perkins plan to system-wide culture change and lasting impact, ranging from, accountability to reserve fund usage seeded great cross-state learning opportunities. 

To keep these conversations going, this month Advance CTE launched a suite of supports designed to ensure your Perkins state plan serves as a powerful lever to achieve your state vision for career technical education, and more broadly CTE Without Limits. These supports include: 

In our first Perkins Planning Office Hours, we heard great discussions on setting meaningful and achievable SDPLs and the impact of setting all local recipient targets at the state target versus engaging in a process to negotiate targets locally. State leaders also discussed stakeholder engagement and messaging substantive plan changes to impacted audiences to maximize relevant feedback. Visit Advance CTE’s event page to register for future office hours.

Just like many of us set intentions and resolutions at the start of the new year, the Perkins state plan allows us to do just that for our CTE systems, educators and learners. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going and we look forward to continuing these conversations with you in the new year!

Emily Passias, Deputy Executive Director

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Resources, Public Policy
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Delaware CTE Youth Leaders Take the Mic

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Last month, I had the privilege of attending a briefing at the U.S. Department of Education, led by a group of Career Technical Education (CTE) learners from the state of Delaware. Their expertise and passion demonstrated the true power, inspiration and innovation that can come from centering learners in matters of policy and practice within CTE.

Over the last year, Delaware participated in Advance CTE’s Leveraging Learner Voice to Strength CTE’s technical assistance cohort and this visit to Washington DC was a culmination of this effort. Over the year, Delaware recruited CTE youth leaders to participate in two cohorts:

To prepare these learners to serve as leaders at both the state and local levels, Delaware worked with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago to provide training around culturally responsive instruction and practices. 

Presenting to senior leadership within the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), including Assistant Secretary, Dr. Amy Loyd, learners explained the construct of culturally responsive teaching practices that they collectively developed and refined as the CTE Youth Leadership Team and how they are individually committing themselves to the implementation of culturally responsive teaching in their roles as CTSO leaders and CTE peers. Jennae Overton, state president of Business Professionals of America (BPA), led the presentation and Ahmad Edwards, who participates in Future Health Professionals (HOSA), offered thoughts on what culturally responsive teaching means to him as a CTE youth leader, noting “I will implement culturally responsive practice [by] honoring each student’s voice. I want every student to be able to open up and express how they feel about a certain topic.” 

Armed with a greater understanding of culturally responsive practices and the ins and outs of CTE in Delaware, the learners are now engaging their school-level leaders and teachers on how they can improve access and equity at the district, school and classroom levels. Dr. Wickert reflected that “As a result of this work, we have become more thoughtful on local engagement,” adding that even though the state has invested dollars to encourage a greater focus on equity at the local level, it wasn’t moving the bar as quickly or as far as they had hoped. “With the learners driving this mission and work, I believe it will have a greater impact at the classroom level,” said Dr. Wickert.

As Dr. Michael Hill-Shaner, the Education Associate/Culturally Competent Workforce Lead at the Delaware Department of Education regularly says, “It’s our job to build the stage, turn on the lights and pass the mic.” This briefing and the arc of the last year demonstrate the true power of passing the mic. I personally cannot wait to see what these learners do next and how Delaware and other states continue to live up to the promise of the second principle of CTE Without Limits so that each learner can truly feel welcome in, be supported by and have the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem.  

Additional Resources:

Kate Kreamer, Executive Director

By Layla Alagic in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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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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Three Actions to Expand Access to High-Quality CTE and Work-Based Learning: Exploring CTE Without Borders Webinar Recap

Monday, October 30th, 2023

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

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

The Exploring CTE Without Borders webinar featured the following speakers: 

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

Implement a stakeholder-led approach to expanding access

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

Leverage strong systems, structures and partnerships to sustain expanded access

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

Codify state policies to expand access within and across states

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

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

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

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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Maine’s Early College Programs: Empowering Local CTE Choices for Early College Options

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promising practices:

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

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

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

Promising practices:

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

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

Paul Mattingly, Senior Policy Associate

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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