Posts Tagged ‘Stakeholder engagement’

Enhancing Connections through Perkins V: The Crucial Role of Stakeholder Engagement

Monday, April 1st, 2024

 

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, commonly known as Perkins V, marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Career Technical Education (CTE) in the United States. Enacted to empower learners with the skills needed for success in a rapidly changing workforce, Perkins V emphasizes the importance of “stakeholder engagement” in shaping and implementing effective CTE programs.

In this blog post, Director of Member Engagement and Professional Learning Dr. Stephanie Perkins explores the key aspects of this activity in Perkins V and its impact on fostering a dynamic and responsive educational ecosystem.

The Role of Stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement in Perkins V is not merely a checkbox but a fundamental driver of success for CTE programs. These partners play a vital role in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of these programs. By bringing together diverse perspectives, stakeholders contribute valuable insights that help create a comprehensive and well-rounded educational experience for learners.

Educators are at the forefront of this initiative, working closely with industry partners to design curricula that blend academic knowledge with practical skills. Employers, in turn, provide crucial input on the skills and competencies needed in the workforce, ensuring that CTE programs produce graduates who are not only academically proficient but also well-prepared for real-world challenges.

Community members and parents are also essential partners, offering valuable insights into the local context and helping bridge the gap between education and community needs. Their involvement ensures that CTE programs are culturally relevant and aligned with the aspirations of the learners they serve.

Benefits of Stakeholder Engagement

Challenges and Strategies

While stakeholder engagement is pivotal, it comes with its own set of challenges. Balancing the interests of various partners, addressing conflicting priorities and ensuring sustained commitment can be daunting. To overcome these challenges, communication and collaboration are key. Regular forums, advisory boards, and partnerships can facilitate ongoing dialogue, allowing impacted parties to contribute meaningfully to the CTE ecosystem.

Perkins V heralds a new era in CTE, emphasizing the significance of stakeholder engagement in shaping successful programs. By fostering collaboration among educators, employers, community members, and parents, Perkins V ensures that CTE remains a dynamic and responsive force in preparing learners for the challenges of the modern workforce. Through ongoing dialogue and collective effort, partners contribute to the creation of a robust and relevant educational ecosystem that empowers students to thrive in their chosen careers.

Advance CTE supports states in developing and executing comprehensive, ongoing, and impactful state engagement that begins in Perkins V but can ultimately broaden input and partnership in all work. This year, we have released 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: 

Additional resources can be found in the Perkins V section of the Learning that Works Resource Center

Dr. Stephanie Perkins, Director of Member Engagement and Professional Learning

By Stacy Whitehouse in Public Policy
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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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Leveraging the Perkins State Plan to Maximize Systems Alignment and Impactful Relationships in Career Technical Education

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

The process conducted by state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to update their Perkins state plan provides numerous opportunities to reflect on processes, procedures and relationships that keep CTE at the forefront of our educational systems. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) has been a driving force for connecting systems of education and work across the country. An intentional reflection on systems alignment ensures that CTE remains front and center across state career preparation ecosystems.

When we discuss systems alignment, we typically think about how a learner moves through secondary education, postsecondary pursuits and then the workforce. There are several strategy areas within Perkins V to consider how your state systems connect and align, including state and local planning processes, program alignment with workforce needs, integration with other federal programs, data-driven decision-making and stakeholder engagement. Each of these strategies offer opportunities to strengthen and streamline your work, and are discussed below with probing questions that may help you think more strategically about alignment in your state.

State and Local Planning

States are required to develop a comprehensive state plan for CTE. This plan outlines how the state will align and coordinate its CTE programs with other education and workforce development initiatives. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Alignment with Workforce Needs

Perkins V emphasizes the importance of aligning CTE programs with the needs of the labor market. This requires reviewing local and state labor market data and collaboration with employers and industry stakeholders to identify current and future workforce demands. States and local agencies should use labor market information to design programs that lead to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand occupations. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Integration with Other Programs

Perkins V encourages the intentional coordination between CTE programs and other educational and workforce development initiatives. This includes coordination with programs such as apprenticeships, adult education, and workforce training. This coordination of efforts helps create seamless educational experiences for individuals, ensuring that they are prepared for both postsecondary education and the workforce. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Data-Driven Decision-Making

Systems alignment efforts should be informed by data to guide decision-making. States and local agencies should collect and analyze data related to learner access, persistence, outcomes, program effectiveness, and labor market trends. Data-driven decision-making helps foster continuous improvement and ensures that resources are allocated effectively. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Stakeholder Collaboration

Perkins V encourages collaboration among various stakeholders, including educators, employers, workforce development agencies, and community organizations. Engaging stakeholders ensures that the education and training provided through CTE programs is relevant and responsive to the needs of the community. During your state planning process, reflect on the following questions: 

Additional Support

By focusing on systems alignment, Perkins V aims to create a more cohesive and effective approach to CTE, ultimately preparing individuals for success in the workforce. States and local agencies play a crucial role in implementing and overseeing these alignment efforts. We are here to support you in this work and continue to drive forward that systems alignment is a critical need across the nation.

Advance CTE will continue 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: 

Additional Resources can be found in the Perkins V section of the Learning that Works Resource Center

As we move into the new year, it is the time to reflect on how we work with one another and if those relationships advance learners within the CTE ecosystem. We look forward to continuing conversations with you about the various levers that can be tapped to optimize Perkins V in your state.

Stephanie Perkins, Member Engagement & Professional Learning

By Layla Alagic in Advance CTE Resources, Public Policy
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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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States Make Progress in Strengthening Meaningful Learner Engagement in CTE

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

Career Technical Education (CTE) programs must be designed with learners, not simply for learners, to be responsive to their diverse needs at every stage of the CTE continuum. Being responsive to diverse learner needs can occur only if learners have direct and ongoing input into the design and delivery of CTE programs and experiences. This blog provides an overview of the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE Technical Assistance cohort; highlights the states in the cohort that are meaningfully engaging CTE learners to inform CTE programs and policies; and shares links to resources to support states in engaging CTE learners.

Over the past seven months, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) provided training, resources and coaching to help states identify opportunities to engage learners more meaningfully in the design and delivery of CTE programs and experiences. The cohort of states (Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wisconsin), engaged in six 90-minute virtual sessions and individual coaching sessions to work through the Learner Voice Toolkit to develop and execute on strategies for leveraging learner voice in CTE policies and programs.

Over the course of the technical assistance sessions and coaching calls, each state team developed a comprehensive Action Plan to leverage meaningful learner engagement in the development of CTE programs and policies. The Action Plans are guiding the states’  actions over the next year to improve and systematize their learner engagement. 

Action Plan Development

The development of the Action Plan took place in stages. States first completed an organizational capacity assessment to understand the existing structures, policies, relationships and resources that can support the expansion of learner engagement practices. 

States then identified high-level goals in which they envisioned what meaningful learner engagement would look like in their states to support CTE program improvement, CTE policy development, learner supports, Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) process improvement with learner engagement and more. After identifying the goals, states mapped the actions that needed to be taken in order to achieve their goals. 

Through the development of each state’s Action Plan, states included learners’ feedback and input. States engaged learners in focus groups, interviews, surveys, advisory board meetings and more to capture their input and reflect their thoughts in the Action Plans. States in the cohort were supported by Advance CTE with a pool of funds to compensate learners for their time and expertise engaging with state agencies. Over the course of the Action Plan development phase, states in the cohort engaged more than 400 learners.

Early Areas of Success

Prioritizing learner engagement in the development of Action Plans is not a common practice, however, states in the technical assistance cohort are already seeing the value of more meaningfully engaging learners in CTE program development and improvement. 

Wisconsin learned from learners in their state the type of communication they prefer for engagements, the compensation rate they need to engage in events and meetings, the areas of CTE that student voices are most needed and the roles they are most interested in engaging in. 

New Hampshire leveraged the input from learners from their statewide survey to develop a toolkit for regional and local practitioners to improve learner engagement at their CTE centers. 

Colorado and Oregon engaged learners in a mix of focus groups and surveys to learn what they enjoy about CTE, challenges they experience in CTE programs and ways their state agency can do a better job of incorporating learner voice. Both states focused on engaging learners who were not typically included in focus groups or surveys to ensure they had a broad range of voices.

Delaware leveraged learners’ input and leadership and now has two simultaneous learner-led cohorts supporting the development of a new teacher preparation program of study and leadership training for Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) leaders. The learners leading the cohorts support the state agency and foster deeper engagement with their peers across their state to expand the reach of meaningful learner engagement. 

Looking Ahead

As the official cohort technical assistance sessions come to a close, states in the cohort will continue to engage in coaching sessions with Advance CTE and ACTE to actualize the goals they identified in their Action Plans. 

Additionally, Advance CTE will continue to hold space for state leaders to come together to discuss opportunities to improve meaningful learner engagement in CTE in Community of Practice sessions. These one-hour sessions will be held bimonthly from August 2023 through February 2024 and will be open to all states interested in learning more about meaningful learner engagement in CTE. To register to attend the Leveraging Learner Voice to Strengthen CTE Communities of Practice, please fill out the form on this page

Haley Wing, Senior Policy Associate, Advance CTE

By Layla Alagic in CTE Without Limits
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5 Tips to Create Year-Long Impact Through CTE Month

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

February 1 marks the start of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month, a national celebration of the impact of CTE on learners, families, educators, our workforce and our communities.  It is a critical opportunity to conduct communications and outreach to introduce CTE to audiences who may not be aware of it or may have historical stigmas about its value. In doing so, you can cultivate more diverse interest in your programs and cultivate new CTE champions. 

We asked states what they already have planned, and these were some of their responses. 

Here are five tips to help you push the limits and maximize your CTE Month Activities to create impact not just in February but all year long: 

Tip 1: Use Your Activities to Tell A Story

Your CTE Month activities should be designed to advance your top legislative, strategic plan and programmatic goals. Consider who is invited to your events, who is featured as speakers and what materials should be shared. Combine your top quantitative outcomes with impactful stories from CTE stakeholders to proactively address stigmas or opposition to your goals and reach audiences needed to advance these goals. 

Tip 2: Choose Impact over Quantity

We know staff capacity is limited. Therefore, it is important that work invested in your CTE Month events and activities are not done just only of tradition, but also because they are impactful in advancing goals and reaching your target audience. 

Here are some questions to ask: What audiences do you need to reach during CTE Month? Do your current activities equitably reach those audiences? Do your activities reach new audiences? 

Tip 3: Be Intentional About Who You Spotlight 

Equity and access should be embedded in all CTE Month activities. Consider whether the visual representation, wording used, languages and formats allow your intended audiences to fully know about and participate in the activities. 

Additionally, consider whether all audiences are represented in your events, and if there are specific voices you need to add to your table. Perhaps you have an event for all employers, but are there employers with internship or placement programs supporting special populations that you should target to connect to current work? would it be more impactful to engage specifically with employers with existing programs to support learners transitioning out of foster care or learners with disabilities? 

Tip 4: Activate your CTE Champions

You don’t have to do all CTE Month activities yourself! Consider how your existing champions across policymakers, educators, employers, etc. can hold their own events, leverage existing events to highlight CTE, and/or make introductions to bring new CTE champions to the table. This is particularly important to closing representation gaps in your programs or garnering support for legislative or policy initiatives. 

Tip 5: Make CTE Month Year Round!

Make sure your events aren’t a one-time impact! If some of these tips are causing you to reevaluate your current activities, consider if there are adjustments or new events that can be held throughout the remainder of 2024 to make CTE a larger story that builds toward advancing your goals and initiatives. 

Use Advance CTE’s communication and advocacy resources to reach families, employers and policymakers: 

Stacy Whitehouse, Communications Manager 

 

By Jodi Langellotti in Uncategorized
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New Mini-Brief Series Highlights Progress Towards Cohesive, Learner-Centered Postsecondary Data Systems in Five States

Thursday, August 18th, 2022

Two years ago, Advance CTE launched the Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative (PDI), supported by ECMC Foundation. Through the initiative, five grantees have received funding, technical assistance and access to a national peer learning network to:

1) Examine critical problems of practice and;

2) Implement innovative solutions to improve the quality, and use of postsecondary CTE data.

Grantee states and agencies include the: Alabama Community College System (ACCS); Delaware Department of Education; University of the District of Columbia Community College; Florida Department of Education, and; Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

By supporting states to improve their postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) data quality and use, Advance CTE is attending to a foundational commitment – actionable, transparent and trustworthy data – in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits). Each of the five foundational commitments are critical to states’ abilities to enact the Vision principles. Actionable, transparent and trustworthy data underlies a coordinated, learner-centered career preparation ecosystem. 

About the Briefs

In the coming months, Advance CTE will release a series of four briefs to share strategies put in place by the PDI states to advance postsecondary CTE data quality and use. The first brief explores how postsecondary CTE data can be used in support of state education and workforce goals, and features Alabama and Florida.

The second brief advances a theory of change for centering learners in postsecondary CTE data collection and use, featuring the District of Columbia and Oregon. The topics of briefs three and four will be fostering a positive culture of data use among CTE stakeholders and building a strong data infrastructure across systems and silos, respectively. 

Shared Challenges

As with many projects underway over the last two years, states’ implementation of their PDI action plans were challenged by staff-level capacity constraints due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, many of the grantees’ plans were validated by the context of the pandemic, which demonstrated the critical nature of effective – and data-driven – career preparation systems to meet states’ education and workforce goals. 

An evergreen challenge that the PDI states wrangle with is how best to build well-integrated data systems across the silos of state agencies and in collaboration with postsecondary institutions. Further, examining and implementing ways to more effectively communicate CTE data continues to be a priority. 

Common Strategies for Success

Despite these challenges, each of the grantees has demonstrated a commitment to improving postsecondary CTE data to improve learner outcomes. All five states have used stakeholder engagement processes to drive the development and use of new data elements or reports. And each has invested in professional development strategies to foster a strong culture of data use.

Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center to read the first two briefs and for additional data and accountability resources

Candace Williams, Data and Research Manager 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Publications, Resources
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Coronavirus Relief Funds: Challenges and Missed Opportunities in Leveraging Federal Funds for CTE

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

This blog series examines trends in state uses of federal stimulus funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Stimulus funds were appropriated for emergency relief related to the coronavirus pandemic through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA); and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The five major stimulus funding streams for states and educational institutions include the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

Federal coronavirus relief funds provide a critical avenue for states to invest in equitable, high-quality CTE programs to help learners and workers recover from the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. Although many states have successfully leveraged these funds to introduce or expand initiatives related to CTE, there have also been various challenges and missed opportunities in relief spending. 

Missed Opportunities

Based on Advance CTE’s analysis of spending trends, states generally placed a disproportionate emphasis on short-term postsecondary education and workforce development initiatives over long-term pipeline programs and opportunities at the secondary level. Many states did not mention CTE in their ESSER plans, which address elementary and secondary funding, and several others made only passing references to CTE and did not include specific funding commitments. 

Additionally, there has been a general lack of investment in addressing the significant educator shortages that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While many states mentioned these shortages in their funding plans, few explicitly committed to allocate federal relief funds toward systemically addressing these shortages. Indiana is one state that took a longer-term approach to strengthening educator pipelines by using ESSER funds to create grow-your-own “teacher cadet” programs targeted at attracting underrepresented candidates into the teaching profession while still in high school. By creating pathways for future educators at the secondary level, Indiana is taking a systemic approach to addressing its identified educator shortage.

Challenges

From what Advance CTE has learned in interviews with State CTE Directors, it seems that many of the problems that have arisen in directing federal funding toward CTE results from the short deadlines for submitting relief spending plans to the federal government and spending the funds states receive. Many states do not feel that they have enough time to coordinate with all relevant state agencies and solicit input from stakeholders. If the necessary infrastructure for rapid cross-system collaboration was not already in place, states found it much more difficult to share information and ideas with partners in time to meet early deadlines. While the latest round of ESSER and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds must be obligated by September 2024, GEER funds must be obligated by 2023.

Further, federal relief funds are limited and consist of a one-time infusion of dollars into education and workforce systems. Many states feel that they do not have the money in their own budgets to sustain continuous investments that may be necessary to maintain new programs and initiatives. These challenges ultimately obstruct innovative, long-term strategizing.

Looking Ahead

State Directors have highlighted various priorities in federal relief spending moving forward. First, many have identified a continual need for more intentional programming and wraparound support for learners in rural areas. These learners often lack access to high-quality CTE program options and broadband internet, both of which are more important now than ever as the pandemic re-shapes labor market demand and program delivery models.

Additionally, State Directors have identified work-based learning and career advising as two key priorities in mitigating the long-term impacts of the pandemic on learner preparation and engagement. These will be especially important from an equity perspective to address opportunity gaps and ensure that each learner has the experience and supports they need to succeed. 

Looking ahead, coronavirus relief funds continue to provide states a vital opportunity to invest in CTE and career pathways. These funds can act as a springboard for addressing systemic barriers to learner and worker success by providing initial investments for longer-term pipeline initiatives. Most importantly, states can leverage funds to not only mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, but to adapt to new labor market realities, innovate, and build stronger education and workforce systems that meet the needs of every individual they serve.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, check out the Coronavirus Relief Funds blog series and visit Advance CTE’s coronavirus resource page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

By admin in COVID-19 and CTE, Legislation
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Recommendations for State CTE Leaders: The Impact and Promise of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Advance CTE was a fierce advocate for the inclusion of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). By law, the CLNA is called to support data-driven decisionmaking and more closely align planning, spending and accountability activities under Perkins V. At that time,  Advance CTE released a guide to help states identify the major decision points that would impact the design, development and implementation of their CLNA and related local needs application.

Now that we are nearing the end of the first two-years of the CLNA  and as states begin to ramp up their second process, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) interviewed state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to identify exemplar states and their journey through implementation. Lessons in Collaboration and Innovation: The Impact and Promise of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment presents findings on state successes, challenges and recommended refinements. 

In the months ahead Advance CTE will continue to provide states with technical assistance, state resources and other ongoing supports. Today, Advance CTE and ACTE released the below recommendations for state CTE leaders as they begin to update their CLNA processes.

View the full resource and other CLNA state supports in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

By admin in Advance CTE Resources
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Advance CTE 2021 Fall Meeting Staff Reflections

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

On October 27 and 28, over 270 state Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders gathered for Advance CTE’s 2021 Fall Meeting. Through timely plenary discussions, breakout and networking sessions, members and supporters were able to reflect on the transformations of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, gain knowledge on the latest research and promising practices in states, and create community by building networks with leaders in similar roles. 

Advance CTE staff departed the meeting feeling energized and excited about the many ways our members are going above and beyond to advance the event theme, “Meeting CTE’s Moment”. This post shares top outcomes of Fall Meeting with reflections from Advance CTE staff. 

1. Highlighting High-Quality, Equitable State Practices: Speakers from 22 states and 19 national organizations highlighted innovative state practices, and more importantly provided tangible lessons learned and first steps for leaders to implement the initiatives in their own state. 

“The amazing work being shared by CTE leaders across the country was truly inspiring. The statewide mentorship program and New Teacher Institute in Missouri are best practices models for the nation to emulate. Allowing Local Education Agencies (LEA) to serve as an Educator Preparation Program (EPP) is an outstanding example of out-of-the-box thinking. Despite the crippling disparity in pay compared to the surrounding states, the program has yielded high retention rates by providing new teachers with the supports necessary to be effective practitioners. The jewel of the Fall Meeting, in my opinion, was South Carolina’s presentation on the combined efforts between the state’s CTE and Special Education departments to provide access to high-quality programs of study. The innovative process of evaluating the enrollment and performance of students with disabilities by specific disabilities is a model for developing equitable systems for all learners. I’m excited to see the strategies for improving academic success developed from the analysis and I hope the methodology becomes a national trend.” – Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr., Senior Advisor

“One of my favorite parts of the Fall Meeting was the opportunity state leaders had to share challenges they were facing with top of mind topics and directly problem-solve with national CTE leaders. In a breakout session sharing the latest research on employer engagement, Director of Public Policy James Redstone from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) offered advice to states on how to structure programs and outreach to better meet employer needs. In a session on connecting Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and CTE, renowned national SEL leader Dr. Scott Solberg was able to share best practices and common challenges gained from a network of over 20 states led by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Despite limits to capacity, our members are always so eager to keep innovating. Hearing lessons learned in states from a national perspective is so valuable in order to make the most of the resources and take the work on these topics and more to the next level.” – Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate, Communications and State Engagement

2. Elevating Learner Voice and Learner-Center Systems: Fall Meeting featured a dedicated    series of breakout sessions focused on elevating high-quality examples of national tool and state initiatives that centered learners in policy and practice. Sessions on Advance CTE’s recently released learner voice toolkit  and social capital featured CTE learners.

“The 2021 Fall Meeting intentionally focused on leveraging the learner voice within state CTE decisionmaking. I was thrilled to witness Advance CTE being joined by two esteemed learners over the two-day meeting: Autumn Steffens and Daraja Brown. Secondary learner Autumn shared her hopes for future learner engagement, “It makes me feel seen as a learner and will help with my decisionmaking in the future.” Postsecondary learner Daraja shared how she has leveraged her social capital to advance through career pathways, “It is important for me to find the different professionals, teacher and mentors that I connect with on a personal level…someone that is in my corner and cares about me and my professional development.” Ultimately, it is important that state and local CTE leaders with the ability to influence CTE policy and programming leverage stakeholders from all levels, including learners. By these actions, state and local CTE leaders are taking every opportunity to advance CTE, particularly under the new shared vision, to ensure each learner achieves career success.” – Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate, Digital Media

“Beyond reconnecting with so many familiar faces, I always love the opportunity to hear from national researchers and partners about exciting or important work in the field, especially those that highlight inequities or illustrate how to better leverage the work we all do to support all learners. Timely research from Strada Education Network and the Urban Institute really demonstrated for me the importance of reaching out to learners at the margins of education, whether they are learners disrupted by the pandemic or learners who don’t have access to high quality postsecondary CTE due to gaps in technology access. At the same time, our members bring these learners to the forefront and are working to design CTE programs that are high-quality and equitable. I always leave our meetings excited about the future of CTE!” – Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate 

3. Building Community: Fall Meeting not only provided an engaging chat feature where attendees routinely shared ideas and celebrated their peers, but also featured two role-alike sessions where leaders networked by professional role, identity and stakeholder level. For the first time, leaders of color also had a dedicated space to connect.

“Advance CTE members are no strangers to virtual meetings, and yet no one felt like strangers to each other. The sense of community and camaraderie was apparent via warm “good to see you” chats and among presenters who were meeting for the first time or reconvening for the hundredth time in a breakout session. We know that members have missed being in person together, but I find encouragement and meaning in the Fall Meeting as a culmination of building a virtual community over the past two years.” – Sara Gassman, Senior Associate, Member Engagement & Professional Learning

“The highlight for me was watching our members shout out each other and other members of their team for their incredible work to advance high-quality and equitable CTE! It was heartening and refreshing to see so many old and new colleagues and peers recognize their fierce commitment to CTE and innovative practices for a wide array of policies, such as establishing standing up new advisement systems, expanding equitable early postsecondary opportunities, building local capacity for identifying and closing opportunities gaps, and recruiting and retaining a more diverse CTE workforce, to name a few! Our members are doing amazing work and I love seeing that work recognized and celebrated by their peers across the country.” – Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director 

4. Advancing CTE Without Limits and Exploring the Future of CTE: Fall Meeting was grounded in the five principles that comprise Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits), and each series of breakout sessions sought to challenge the limits of state leaders to transform systems so that each learner can achieve success in the career of their choice. 

“Just seven months after CTE Without Limits was released, it was incredible to see how state CTE leaders are thinking about operationalizing the principles. I had the privilege of listening in on Lisa Stoner-Torbert’s session on Delaware’s PIPEline for career success program for learners with disabilities, which demonstrates how flexible career pathways, aligned funding and cross-sector partnerships can provide historically marginalized learners the means to succeed in their chosen career pathways.” – Austin Estes, Data & Research Manager

“Another standout moment was during the Ensuring Access to CTE for All Learners Through Equitable Recruitment and Admissions Requirements session. The speaker, Ms. Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Assistant State Superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education, so eloquently shared the importance of diversity in advancing our vision for CTE through a visual “band” analogy. She explained the need to have “all instruments” represented in order to produce great music and how the lottery system in their state was not allowing for “all instruments” to have a chance to be part of the band. Her example provided the why behind the work as she shared policy and practices their state edited to create more equitable access to programs. The co-presenters for the session from the state of Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner and Elizabeth Bennett, Associate Commissioner of CCTE, also incorporated CTE Without Limits in their concrete examples of how they have revised state policy and law to create a path for all learners to be recruited and admitted in high-quality CTE programs in their state. 

It was great to hear and learn from state leaders and funders who believe and are invested in the CTE Without Limits vision. State leaders were inspired to innovate, be bold and take action to execute the vision without limits in their respective states.”  – Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Advisor 

5. Connecting Federal Policy to State Action: Fall Meeting attendees had the opportunity to receive updates on the latest federal policies and supports from senior officials at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). 

“The highlight of the Fall Meeting for me was the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with DOL on the lasting effects of the pandemic on the labor force and the future of work. The discussion elevated the necessity for alignment across secondary, postsecondary and the workforce and the opportunity for CTE to bridge that alignment. It was clear that DOL is supportive of the work our members are conducting in all states. and that the administration wants to continue to fund initiatives that support the economic recovery of our nation and challenge our limits on innovative programming and learner engagement in high-quality career pathways.” – Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate  

If you were not able to attend the Fall Meeting, don’t worry – Advance CTE’s Spring Meeting is not too far away. Advance CTE is carefully considering the safety and needs of members as we determine the best format and capacity for this event, and more information will be coming soon. In the meantime, visit Advance CTE’s Learning that Works Resource Center to access the reports, resources and tools shared during Fall Meeting. 

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

 

By Stacy Whitehouse in Advance CTE Fall Meeting
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