Posts Tagged ‘Excellence in Action Award’

Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Sunrise Mountain High School, Fire Science Program

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Schools and postsecondary institutions must rely on partners, especially employers and community-based organizations, to augment and supplement learners’ experiences. A high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program requires partnerships that offer support and create authentic real-world experiences. One example of this type of program is the Fire Science program of study in Arizona, a 2018 Excellence in Action Award winner in the Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security Career Cluster®.

The program was started in 2004 due to Arizona’s critical need for employees in fire science. To meet this demand, the Peoria Fire Science Advisory Council worked with Peoria Unified School District to develop the program of study. The Fire Science Advisory Council whose members includes multiple educational partners, eight fire departments, representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, and Professional Medical Transport Ambulance staff, among others. Council members regularly offer work-based learning experiences, including mentorship, job shadowing and internships. The local fire departments are also key partners and their employees serve as mentors, offer internships and even teach in the classroom. For example, the City of Peoria Fire Department has been a partner for over 20 years and provided the first instructors to the Fire Science Department.

“These young men and women come in prepared both physically and mentally while possessing the necessary skills to become a professional firefighter. The Peoria Unified School District Fire Science Program is a huge asset in preparing our future firefighters and lays the groundwork for a successful career in fire service,” said Captain Tony Neely, Lead Recruit Training Officer, Peoria Fire Medical Department.

All learners are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of work-based learning activities, including internships, job shadowing, ride alongs and more. The hands-on skills the Fire Science students are gaining in workplace settings are complemented by their classroom instruction. Program instructors are an active-duty fire captain and a firefighter, each bringing decades of professional experience to the classroom.

The program prepares learners for postsecondary and career success by providing rigorous in-school instruction. Learners also earn college credit, and various industry certification offerings allowing learners multiple on and off ramps throughout their education and career. Specifically, students can earn up to nine dual enrollment credits, which articulate to an associate of science degree in emergency response and operations in fire science.

Learn more about the Fire Science Program at Sunrise Mountain High School and our 2018 Excellence in Action Award winners.

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Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Dauphin County Technical School, Building Construction Technology

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

In order for learners to make empowered career decisions, they need to explore their interests and be exposed to a variety of career options. Work-based learning is one way to open the door of possibilities to learners who may not have previous knowledge of the numerous careers available in a field. One example of a program doing using work-based learning as a career exploration tool, in addition to allowing learners to build valuable skills,  is the Building Construction Technology program of study in Pennsylvania; a 2018 Excellence in Action Award winner in the Architecture & Construction Career Cluster®.

In this program, learners gain numerous work-based learning experiences through local and out-of-state community service projects exposing them to various areas within a career in construction such as zoning, permits, customer service, quality control and contracts. Each learner is also encouraged to participate in a capstone project with a local business to further hone his or her skills. One business that has offered tremendous support, including serving as a capstone site and participating in curriculum development, is Dauphin Enterprises, LLC, a company owned by a former Building Construction Technology student.

Additionally, learners participate in the Building Construction Cares organization created by the program instructor to help with recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. “Learning is most notable when it is used to benefit others,” said Robert Brightbill, Building Construction Technology Instructor, Dauphin County Technical School. Learners have traveled to Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina and West Virginia. During these trips, learners have completed demolition; installed flooring, roofing and windows; and built decks, railings, ramps, sheds and playgrounds to help communities get back on their feet. Trips are planned yearly, and learners help raise the funding through pancake breakfast events and dodgeball tournaments.

A seamless transition is needed not only to career but also to postsecondary education. In this program, learners may also earn up to nine college credits per semester in the following courses: Introduction to Masonry, Carpentry Fundamentals, and Construction Print Reading. In the 2016-17 school year, 83 percent of learners earned postsecondary credit.

Here are a few quotes from learners in the program:

“The best part of my day was when I saw the smile of the homeowner when we finished her roof and the floors in her home. It was satisfying to see what a bunch of teenagers can accomplish in only two days.” – a student from the Fall 2018 cohort

“People just kept showing up, bringing us tools, offering help, expressing their gratitude. Work is more meaningful when we know the people we are trying to help are so supportive and appreciative.” a student form the Fall 2017 cohort

Even though it might have been easy work for most of the guys there, insulation was new to me.  It was great learning something new and feeling confident enough to do it on our own.” Fall 2015

Learn more about the Building Construction Technology at Dauphin County Technical School and our 2018 Excellence in Action Award winners.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate 

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Friday, May 3rd, 2019



House Appropriations Subcommittee Marks Up Spending Bill for Education, Labor Programs

On Tuesday, April 30, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies marked up their appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2020, which begins October 1, 2019. The bill passed out of the subcommittee on a voice vote.

Overall, the bill included a six percent increase for federal education programs and a 10 percent increase for labor programs above the amounts Congress allocated in Fiscal Year 2019. The bill proposed a disappointing increase of $37 million, or less than three percent, for Career Technical Education (CTE) State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants.

The bill includes some notable increases for key education and workforce programs:

Read our blog post to learn more.

To make sure you get the latest news and resources about federal policy that affects CTE, sign up for our Legislative Updates!

National Technical Honor Society in Flat Rock, Arizona, seeks an Executive Director

The National Technical Honor Society currently serves approximately 100,000 active members and has had nearly one million members since its inception in 1984. The Executive Director assumes a leadership role throughout CTE in partnering with collaborating businesses, other nonprofits, and supporters. The Executive Director works with the board and Executive Committee to establish vision, policies, strategic focus, priorities, and general scope of operations and services NTHS will deliver.

Learn more here.


Learn about Harmony Magnet Academy, Academy of Engineering program in California. This 2017 Excellence in Action award winner in the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Career Cluster® serves predominantly low-income and minority students in a rural setting and pairs rigorous coursework with meaningful work-based learning experiences in the engineering sector. Hear from employers, instructors, and learners in this video.

Read about this program here.


A new report, How Aligned is Career and Technical Education to Local Labor Markets?, developed by The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, examines whether learners in high school CTE programs are more likely to take courses in high-demand and/or high-wage industries, both nationally and locally.

By linking CTE course-taking data from the High School Longitudinal Survey to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study seeks to answer three research questions:

  1. To what extent do national CTE course-taking patterns at the high school level reflect the current distribution of jobs across fields and industries?
  2. To what extent is CTE course-taking in high school linked to local employment and to industry wages, as evidenced in ten metro areas across the country?
  3. How do patterns of CTE course-taking differ by student race and gender?

Findings include the following:

In addition to a more detailed look at these findings, the study also includes descriptive profiles of ten metropolitan areas. Read the report here.

Watch the webinar here, and a reaction from Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director of Advance CTE in Education Week’s article here.

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Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Anderson 1 and 2 Career and Technology Center, Automotive Technology

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

To ensure programs of study are high-quality, they must be comprehensive, rigorous and prepare learners for opportunities in high-skill and in-demand fields. Connections with local employers is also important so that learners participate in meaningful work-based learning experiences. Business leaders provide input on the curriculum and the benefit of participating is building a pipeline of high-wage, in-demand careers in their own community.

For example, the development of the Automotive Technology program of study – a 2018 Excellence in Action Award winner in the Transportation, Distribution & Logistics Career Cluster®, housed at Anderson 1 and 2 Career and Technology Center in Williamston, South Carolina – is the direct result of industry needs in the community.

“We believe in project-based learning, engaging businesses and industries, setting high expectations for all students and creating student-centered classroom environments. We have embraced the integration of academics into Career Technical Education. Our programs work closely with our home high schools and postsecondary institutions around career pathways that give students a head start on high-demand employment opportunities thought stackable credentials,” said Kale Fortenberry, Automotive Technology Instructor.

There are more than 200 major manufacturers and 20 international companies located in Anderson County, including a number of car manufacturers.The high industry demand for skilled workers has led to employers reaching out directly to the program of study to build a pipeline of qualified and skilled employees. For example, the BMW Performance Center continues to serve as a business partner. Product Specialists at BMW bring BMW’s newest vehicles to the school so learners can gain first-hand industry knowledge.

“The quality of this program, its equipment and the instructor set the standard in our area. During our visits, we are continually impressed with the quality of students this program produces. Students show a level of professionalism that indicates their readiness for higher education and the workforce,” said Jonathan Stribble, Product & Delivery Support Specialist, BMW Group.

In their junior and senior years, learners may participate in the cooperative education option. This paid work-based learning experience includes a written training and evaluation plan, developed with industry partners, that guides workplace activities in coordination with classroom instruction. Students receive course credit in addition to financial compensation with the ultimate goal of providing a seamless transition into the workplace or postsecondary education.

Through an articulated agreement with the Tri-County Technical College, beginning their sophomore year, learners can earn up to 15 college credits as well as 10 industry-recognized certifications in electrical and braking systems. In the 2015-16 school year, 99 percent of students earned an industry-recognized credential and 73 percent earned postsecondary credit.

Learn more about the Automotive Technology Program at Anderson 1 and 2 Career and Technology Center and our 2018 award winners.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

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Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, Veterinary Science Program

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

For all learners to experience success, the systems and stakeholders that surround them must work together. To accomplish this, there should be alignment across secondary and postsecondary education, workforce, community-based organizations, and business and industry. An example of what can be achieved when this cross-sector collaboration occurs is the 2018 Excellence in Action Award winner in the Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Career Cluster®, the Veterinary Science Program housed at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School, in Spring, Texas.

“The students, school district personnel and business partners have worked tirelessly to make the Veterinary Science Program one that produces students who are educated, informed, prepared, and equipped with the knowledge and skills to begin their career in the field of veterinary medicine and/or agriculture or pursue postsecondary education,” said Jessica Graham, M.Ed., LVT, Veterinary Science Teacher. Recently, she received the Outstanding Early Career Alumni award from Texas A&M University.

This four-year program offers a rigorous sequence of academic and technical courses. The established partnerships create opportunities for learners to graduate with college credits and state-recognized certifications. For example, the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University is one of the postsecondary partners offering a direct pathway from high school into a degree program. Additionally, the Veterinary Science Program offers 17 Advanced Placement courses, which articulate up to 30 dual credits at the Lone Star College System. Learners who are on track to earn an associate degree in veterinary technology can complete nearly half their coursework toward their degree before graduating high school.

To be prepared for this industry, learners need to obtain real-world skills. The Veterinary Science Program also offers numerous work-based learning experiences with industry partners, such as the Northwest Animal Hospital, Spring Independent School District Police Department K9 Units, Critter Fixer, Aldine Animal and My Family Vet. Northwest Animal Hospital in Houston, TX, allows learners to observe and participate in small animal live surgical demonstrations in the veterinary surgical suite at the pet clinic located on the high school campus.

The clinic itself also demonstrates cross-sector collaboration. Community members can see Career Technical Education at work by bringing their own pets in for care, and learners gain real-world skills by providing affordable and quality pet care to the community. Services include basic grooming, vaccinations, monthly and yearly exams and a pet spa. There is also an outdoor area for cattle, horses, pigs and goats. The money earned through the clinic is used for student scholarships to cover the expense of their industry certification examination fees.

Learn more about the Veterinary Science Program at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School and our 2018 award winners.

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

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Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Granite Technical Institute, Utah Aerospace Pathways Program

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Today is Manufacturing Day® a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. This day, recognized annually on the first Friday in October, features events around the world to provide a behind-the-scenes look at a growing industry. Find an event near you here.

It’s a day that gives communities and learners the opportunity to explore what a career in the manufacturing field really looks like. Why is this important? According to a report by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute, 80 percent of manufacturers have a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly skilled production positions. This translates to nearly two million unfilled jobs over the next decade. Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of student in this area can help to close that gap by preparing the workforce of the future with the industry required skills to fill those positions.

Manufacturing is also one of the 16 Career Clusters® in the National Career Clusters® Framework. Superior implementation of a Career Cluster in a program of study is one area needed to qualify for Advance CTE’s annual Excellence in Action award. The award honors high-quality CTE programs of study from across the nation. This year, the Utah Aerospace Pathways program of study at the Granite Technical Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah received the award in the Manufacturing Career Cluster.

This program of study was established in 2015, in response to industry demand for skilled employees in aerospace careers. In that same year, the Utah aerospace industry accounted for 944 companies.The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, five local aerospace industry partners and secondary and postsecondary institutions, worked closely to develop the robust program to address this growing need for a skilled workforce. It is one of the four Utah Talent Ready Initiative programs, which aims to fill 40,000 new high-skill, high-wage jobs in Utah over the next four years.

“The Utah Aerospace Pathway program aligns industry and education to fill critical workforce needs in our state while ensuring continued success in the aerospace industry,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “Career and Technical Education serve an important role in training our workforce in Utah. We appreciate Granite School District and their innovative partnership to make this program available for students in their district.”

In May, 55 learners graduated from the program of study with certificates in aerospace manufacturing. To receive this certificate all learners must have completed rigorous coursework and a 48-hour externship in the industry. This certificate is unique in that it guarantees an interview with any of the participating partner companies including Boeing, Albany International, Hexcel, Janicki Industries and Orbital ATK.

In addition to earning a certificate, learners have options to continue their postsecondary education through an articulation agreement between the high school and Salt Lake Community College and Weber State University.

Learn more by watching this video and reading a two-pager about the program: 

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Apply Today to the 2019 Excellence in Action award!

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Do you think you have one of the best Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study in the nation? Advance CTE is on the search for programs of study that exemplify excellence in the implementation of the Career Clusters®, show a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education, provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and have a substantial and evidence-based impact on student achievement and success. Apply for the 2019 Excellence in Action award to showcase the amazing work of your learners, instructors, partnerships and faculty at the national level.

Not only will your program be featured in the media and an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the spring, you’ll also be contributing to a positive image of CTE programs. In its sixth year, this award showcases innovative programs of study to policymakers, employers and education leaders and lets them know that CTE is for all learners and prepares them for a lifetime of college and career success. Applications are open to secondary and postsecondary schools/institutions. Apply today!

Hear what past award winners had to say:

“The Advance CTE recognition of our programs is wonderful validation of the work of our students and staff. These awards have helped us dispel outdated perceptions of Career Technical Education (CTE) and supported our efforts to reframe the conversation about postsecondary educational options for learners. Students no longer have to choose between college or CTE, and these awards provide public confirmation that some form of college or certification is a part of all quality CTE programs that prepare students for high-skill, high-wage, in-demand careers.”

–Stephanie Joseph Long, Traverse Bay Area ISD Career Tech Center, 2018 Award Winner  

“Being selected as an Excellence in Action award winner has been one of the greatest honors that our program has received. The EMS Education Program at Jones County Junior College has always sought to exemplify the characteristics and values that makes Career Technical Education successful. Having been recognized on a national stage by Advance CTE means that we can promote our methods to other programs all across the United States. Since the award, our school has played host to multiple instructors who wish to model our success as an award winner. The recognition is great, but the chance to make a difference with other CTE programs has made everything worthwhile!”

– Eric Williams, Jones County Junior College, 2017 Award Winner

“The Advance CTE award has elevated expectations for students and staff, but more importantly, it has elevated confidence and reaffirmed our efforts. Similarly, it has enhanced industry and community support and awareness for each of our programs.”

-Jason Jeffrey, EdDTraverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, 2016 Award Winner

Nicole Howard, Communications Associate

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