Unpacking Putting Learner Success First: Ensuring Quality Instruction

A little over one year ago, Advance CTE launched Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. This document, which was developed using input from a broad array of stakeholders, calls for a systematic transformation of the education system grounded in five principles. This blog series will dive into each principle, detailing the goals and progress made in each area.

For more resources related to Putting Learner Success First, including state and local self-assessments, check out our Vision Resources page.

All learning is facilitated by knowledgeable experts.

All learners deserve to have quality educational experiences facilitated by individuals with passion, experience and expertise. The need for experts qualified to help ensure students gain the real-world experiences they need for success has been increasing dramatically. Individuals with industry expertise provide a perspective to students that traditional academic teachers may be unable to do, and can also help students explore and connect with particular career opportunities.

State leaders face numerous barriers in fully achieving this principle, including geographical shortages of available industry experts, and the availability of professional development that provides industry experience to classroom teachers.

Those who have signed onto the principle have committed to accomplishing this objective through the following actions:

  • Modernize K-12 certification programs to ensure all learners have access to educators who are able to facilitate learning that prepares them for both college and careers;
  • Prioritize professional learning opportunities that focus on retention of quality instructors, contextualized teaching and learning, and learner engagement; and
  • Build and support a pool of experts that instructors may draw upon to supplement learning.

Since the launch of Putting Learner Success First, Advance CTE has been conducting research and policy scans to raise up examples and promising practices related to this principle. Now, when state leaders put their commitment to quality instruction into action, they have access to multiple resources related to instructor certification, teacher externships and professional learning.

Principle in Action

  • South Dakota: CTE Teacher Certification Rule Changes
    • To address the serious teacher shortage being experienced by districts across the state, the South Dakota State Board of Education changed administrative rules for Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher certification in November 2015, introducing more consistency and flexibility to the certification process. Under the new rules, CTE teachers may receive certification at the Career Cluster or Career Pathway level. A career cluster endorsement requires teachers to pass a state certification exam or complete 15 credits of coursework and allows teachers to teach any course within a cluster, including all pathway-level courses. A career pathway endorsement requires teachers to pass the state certification exam, complete nine credits of coursework, or have 4,000 hours of work experience. With the pathway endorsement, teachers may teach any course within a career pathway, but must complete more coursework in order to earn an endorsement for an entire cluster.
  • Idaho: CTE Digital & Idaho Digital Learning Academy
    • To address geographical challenges and expand access to CTE and advanced coursework more generally, the Idaho legislature in 2015 authorized Idaho Career & Technical Education to work with the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), a fully-accredited online school serving students in all of the state’s 115 districts, to develop CTE Digital. Through IDLA, Idaho students all over the state can access online CTE coursework. Before a course can be designated as CTE Digital, a CTE certified teacher maps content to CTE standards and develops new content to meet the standards, as needed for existing courses/curriculum. For a new course development, a CTE certified teacher is hired by IDLA to create the course, which typically happens while they are teaching the same course in their district. In this way, the state can ensure that all learners are receiving quality instruction.

Relevant Resources

  • The State of Career Technical Education: Increasing Access to Industry Experts in High Schools
    • This report from Advance CTE, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at the American Institutes for Research, examines the shortage of industry experts in secondary classrooms and how to address it. The report draws on data from two national surveys — one of 47 State CTE Directors and one of 260 local CTE teachers and administrators from 26 states — to identify common barriers and innovative strategies. While many states use alternative certification policies to bring industry experts into schools as full-time teachers, this report explores other strategies that meet the available capacity of industry experts still working in their field, such as allowing experts to teach part-time or co-teach with a fully certified teacher of record.
  • Faculty Qualification Policies and Strategies Relevant to Dual Enrollment Programs: An Analysis of States and Regional Accreditation Agencies
    • This 50-state report from the Education Commission of the States (ECS), co-authored by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, explores policies related to dual enrollment faculty qualifications and identifies four strategies: accreditor-approved qualifications, equivalent faculty qualifications, requirement of a master’s degree, and graduate credit requirements. The report further details state strategies to help classroom instructors meet dual enrollment qualifications.
  • Improving the Quality of Career and Technical Alternative Teacher Preparation: An Induction Model of Professional Development and Support
    • The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), in partnership with the National Research Center for Career Technical Education (NRCCTE), developed an induction model for new CTE teachers pursuing an alternative route to certification that increases their career commitment, competency and self-efficacy. This report presents key elements of the CTE teacher induction model and provides findings from a five-year field test.
  • CTE Teacher Licensure Requirements: 50 States and District of Columbia
    • This document, produced by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in 2013, provides state-by-state information on teacher licensure policies for Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers. It includes data on CTE-related teacher certification, certification routes, length of teacher certifications or renewal, professional development and recruitment for all states and D.C.

Upcoming Resources

  • Industry Expert Working Groups
    • Advance CTE has partnered with the AIR Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (AIR GTL) to run two working groups as a follow-up from the December 2016 State of CTE report. The first group will focus on exploring innovative roles for industry experts, such as co-teaching and part-time teaching, and the second group will explore the strategies available for secondary and postsecondary partnerships. In early 2018, AIR GTL will publish summary reports on the activities of both working groups.
  • Brief on Recruiting Teachers in Rural Areas
    • As part of a series of briefs on the challenges unique to providing quality CTE in rural areas, Advance CTE will be drafting a brief specifically on recruiting and retaining teachers in rural areas.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

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