Legislative Update: Government Shutdown Avoided, New ARP State Plan Approvals and Connectivity Funding

December 3rd, 2021

This week Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown after passing an additional short-term legislative measure extending current funding levels for federal programs and operations through February 18, 2022. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved more American Rescue Plan (ARP) state plans while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new connectivity funding. 

House Passes Short-term Funding Measure

Earlier this fall, lawmakers in Congress were unable to come to agreement on full-year funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22). As a result, Congress passed a short-term funding measure to continue government operations past the formal start of FY22 on October 1, 2021. This measure was set to expire today, December 3. Lawmakers hoped to come to an agreement on full-year FY22 funding during this period, but up until late last night had been unsuccessful. To avert a government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for laws like the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), lawmakers have been working furiously this week to pass another short-term extension of current federal funding. This measure, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), extends current funding levels for a predetermined amount of time to provide Congress more time to work out a longer-term agreement for FY22. 

Yesterday, December 2, the House passed a CR to extend current funding levels for federal operations and programs through February 18 with these aims in mind. This measure passed the chamber narrowly, mostly along party lines, by a margin of 221-212. Shortly following House passage, the Senate began consideration of the legislation. The Senate quickly took up the measure after the House, working late into Thursday evening to consider and formally approve it by a much wider and bipartisan margin of 69-28. As these efforts on FY22 unfold further, Advance CTE is continuing to champion robust levels of funding for the Perkins V formula state grant program and is urging Congress to provide longer-term certainty regarding federal funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year. 

ED Approves Four More State ARP Plans

Following the ARP passage earlier this spring, ED distributed two-thirds of this funding to states via a prescribed formula. ED held back the remainder of these funds until states, territories, and outlying areas submitted plans detailing how they would make use of these resources to support learners as they recover from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Over the past two weeks, the Department approved four more of these plans, releasing these additional funds to those states and territories. Those receiving approval this week include American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Washington. Only a handful of states have outstanding ARP plans awaiting departmental approval. The most current status of all state ARP plans, including highlights of plans already approved, can be found here. Additional coverage of how states are making use of these federal aid dollars can be found here.  

FCC Unveils Fifth Round of ECF Dollars

Last week, the FCC announced that it has committed nearly $170 million in new funding as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The ECF program was first established by ARP and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet connectivity needs of learners, school staff, and library patrons at home during the coronavirus. —a key Advance CTE advocacy priority. This most recent funding round is expected to support 492 schools, 70 libraries and 10 consortia to receive 380,000 connected devices and over 135,000 broadband connections. More on the announcement can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Coronavirus Relief Funds: States Leverage Federal Funds to Expand Equitable Access to CTE and Career Advisement Opportunities

December 1st, 2021

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 COVID-19 (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.

Amid the disruption that the coronavirus pandemic has caused in the U.S. labor market, federal stimulus funds are a crucial mechanism for not only mitigating the adverse impact on schools, businesses and learners, but investing in innovating and transforming our education and workforce development systems. CTE is a key component of economic recovery and revitalization that can help bridge the skills gap, bring down unemployment, and address systemic inequities that persist in access to high-quality college and career pathways. 

To that end, states are beginning to leverage their coronavirus relief funds to expand equity and access to CTE opportunities. One key area of focus for these dollars is expanding program delivery models to reach learners where they are. Arkansas invested in digitizing CTE programs through three separate ESSER allocations totaling nearly $4 million. The state spent $2.3 million on creating pathways of virtual CTE courses that count towards learners’ concentration status under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Additionally, Arkansas is investing $950,000 to provide digital curriculum for all Career Clusters and access to industry-recognized credential assessments for CTE-enrolled learners, as well as $475,000 to provide virtual work-based learning simulation for all school districts to facilitate remote engagement with industry professionals. 

Similarly, Rhode Island expanded summer learning opportunities through a $3 million ESSER allocation for the state’s All-Course Network platform, which provides free online courses to students of all grade levels. Offerings include both traditional academic coursework such as Advanced Placement classes as well as a range of other college and career readiness-based programs and classes centered on industry-recognized credentials, work-based learning, dual enrollment and financial literacy. The enrollment system reserves a number of seats for learners from “priority groups” who are most likely to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, leveraging the Rhode Island Department of Education’s statewide data system to ensure equitable access.

Pennsylvania used both ESSER and GEER funding to support Career & Technical Education Centers (CTCs), including $10.5 million in GEER-funded equity grants to promote continuity of education and industry credentialing services for learners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The grant funding process included consideration for buildings with 20 or more English Learners. Ultimately, 78 of the state’s CTCs received funding, using it to offer summer programs and industry-recognized credential assessments, as well as to expand CTE program delivery through hybrid coursework.

Finally, some states are working to enhance statewide data systems and invest in career advising to set learners up for success. Texas invested $15 million in GEER funding for “strategic education and workforce data infrastructure” to equip learners, institutions, employers and policymakers with accessible, actionable information for decision making. The modernized data architecture will expand tools for college and career advising, allowing institutions to identify and target learners who may need additional assistance to stay engaged and on-track to earn industry-recognized credentials. 

Both North Carolina and Tennessee allocated GEER funding for their Jobs for America’s Graduates affiliate programs, which provide employability and professional skill-building opportunities for 11th and 12th grade learners identified as at risk of not completing high school or making a seamless transition into the workforce. North Carolina allocated $825,000 to expand the program and place college and career coaches in more high schools throughout the state, while Tennessee appropriated $750,000 to maintain program operations during the 2020-2021 school year.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, please stay tuned for future Coronavirus Relief Funds blog posts and visit Advance CTE’s COVID-19 page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

Five Strategies to Scale Individual Career and Academic Planning

November 30th, 2021

When the Oklahoma Department of Education launched Individual Career and Academic Planning (ICAP) in 2017, the intent was to support learners along their entire career journey to make informed choices about their future academic and career goals. Today, ICAP is firmly rooted in policy and practice. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, learners entering the ninth grade in Oklahoma must complete an ICAP to graduate from a public high school. 

ICAP report thumbnail

What is remarkable about Oklahoma’s ICAP process is that the process supports learners to and through high school graduation, helping them transition to postsecondary education or into the workforce. Learners who enroll at the University of Oklahoma can identify a major by comparing their ICAP personal interest survey results or Career Clusters survey results from high school with the university’s career pathways major planning tools. Too often, career and academic planning is siloed between secondary and postsecondary education, but Oklahoma is working to break down these silos and ensure ICAP supports learners even after they graduate from high school. 

ICAPs have different names in different states, including Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and Individual Graduation Plans (IGPs). They refer to both the process of engaging in individualized academic and career development activities as well as the product: a living, usually online, portfolio that is created by each learner and regularly updated as they advance through school and transition into the workforce.

While ICAPs have been adopted by at least 38 states, they are often layered on top of the myriad other commitments that under-resourced and under-staffed schools and districts are responsible for, making them more of a box-check activity than a meaningful career planning process. When implemented with fidelity, ICAPs can enable learners to skillfully navigate their own career journeys and build occupational identities that span their lifetimes. State leaders play a critical role in ensuring that ICAPs are implemented effectively, that academic and career planning is integrated into state-level initiatives, and that each learner is provided coordinated supports to help them navigate their career journey. Specifically, state leaders can support ICAP implementation by: 

  • Integrating ICAPs into their career pathways systems, using the planning process to help learners identify and pursue work-based learning and early college experiences that are aligned to their career interests.
  • Taking a system-wide approach to implementing ICAPs and ensuring each learner has access to a caring adult — whether they are a school counselor, a teacher, an administrator or a community member — who can guide their academic and career planning. 
  • Building local capacity to support school ICAP delivery by providing tools, resources and funding to ensure local leaders can implement ICAP successfully. 
  • Leveraging ICAPs to support learner transitions and designing tools and processes that seamlessly connect and transfer from secondary to postsecondary education. 
  • Ensuring equity in ICAP implementation by monitoring disaggregated data and ensuring the planning process is customized to address the specific needs of learners who have been historically marginalized. 

Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group’s new resource, Implementing Individual Career and Academic Plans at Scale, highlights promising practices for ICAP implementation at the state and local levels and provides recommendations for further state and local work to scale ICAPs. The brief features promising state and local practices in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin. It was developed through JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s New Skills ready network, a partnership of Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group. For more resources on career advisement, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research

Legislative Update: House Passes BBBA and New Guidance from ED

November 23rd, 2021

Democratic lawmakers in Congress have made progress on a domestic spending package aimed at investing in the nation’s human capital infrastructure, including Career Technical Education (CTE). Meanwhile, a House subcommittee recently examined how states and school districts are making use of education-related pandemic aid while the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued new nonregulatory guidance, announced changes to civil rights data collections and more.  

House Passes Build Back Better Act (BBBA)

After months of intense debate and negotiations, House Democrats successfully passed the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) on November 19. The passage of this legislation is an important next step in Congressional Democrats’ ongoing efforts to pass a wide-ranging domestic spending package to complement the recently passed and enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). While the IIJA was passed via the regular legislative process, Congressional Democrats are making use of the budget reconciliation process which allows certain legislation, like the BBBA,  to be passed by simple majorities in both Chambers of Congress (thereby avoiding a likely Republican filibuster of the legislation). 

In the lead up to the BBBA’s passage in the House, the Congressional Budget Office released an official “scoring” of the legislation, including for the bill’s education and workforce development provisions. This was a key point of contention for some House Democrats who wanted this score prior to a formal vote. Following the release of this score, the BBBA was passed narrowly along party lines by a margin of 220-213. The BBBA now heads to the Senate where the lawmakers in the upper chamber are widely expected to make additional changes to the legislation in the coming weeks ahead. 

As shared previously, this version of the BBBA would provide $600 million for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant formula program and $100 million for the law’s Innovation and Modernization competitive grant program. If enacted, the legislation would address a host of Advance CTE’s policy priorities and would also provide $5 billion for Community College and Industry Partnership grants while also ensuring that certain Area Technical Centers are eligible to apply for this funding. As the BBBA works its way further through the legislative process, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for these important investments as part of a final package which is widely expected to be complete by the end of the year. 

House Subcommittee Examine Pandemic Aid Spending

On November 17 the House Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and its Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee held a joint hearing titled “Examining the Implementation of COVID-19 Education Funds.” ED’s second highest ranking official, Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, along with James Kvaal, ED’s top official for postsecondary education, provided testimony and answered questions as part of this hearing. The purpose of the hearing was to scrutinize state, district and institutions’ use of over $160 billion in collective pandemic-related funding provided since March 2020 to help the nation’s educational systems respond to and recover from the public health crisis. 

The nearly four hour hearing explored a wide range of topics including ED’s ongoing efforts to monitor and oversee how these funds are being used by states, school districts and postsecondary institutions. In addition, lawmakers expressed a strong desire to ensure that this monitoring and oversight process ensures these funds are being spent in ways Congress intended. Relatedly, lawmakers also discussed efforts to develop reliable measures of student performance to more accurately assess the impact of programs and initiatives being funded with these pandemic relief resources. An archived webcast of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here

ED Issues New Guidance Related to Student Transportation 

This month, ED published new guidance related to the use of pandemic aid dollars for student transportation. The guidance, in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), provides answers to several questions related to the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding to provide transportation services to eligible students. Of note for the CTE community, this guidance affirms that school districts are permitted to use these funds, in certain circumstances, to provide transportation for students participating in after-school learning and enrichment programs. The full guidance can be found here

MOU Signed to Expand Apprenticeship Programs 

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves and Switzerland’s President Guy Parmelin signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as part of a series of events and announcements marking the nation’s 7th annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW). The MOU will expand and make wider use of apprenticeships among Swiss companies operating in the United States. More information on the announcement can be found here

ED Soliciting Feedback Regarding Civil Rights Data Collection 

On November 18, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it has submitted to the Federal Register for public comment a proposed Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Information Collection Request package for the 2021–22 school year. OCR plans to introduce new data categories by proposing the following data which were informed by listening sessions with stakeholders:

  • The addition of COVID-19 (coronavirus) data elements to learn the extent to which schools are offering remote and/or in-person instruction to students during the school year;
  • Revisions to restraint and seclusion definitions;
  • The restoration and expansion of data about preschool students and teachers, including data elements regarding preschool students with disabilities who receive special education and related services and those who are English Learners; the extent to which schools have teachers with one or two years of experience; and teacher certification status; and
  • The addition of a nonbinary option to male/female data categories for those schools and districts that already collect that data, to ensure the CRDC captures accurate and inclusive information about all student identities and student experiences, where the data are available.

Comments regarding these proposed changes to the CRDC information collection are due by January 18, 2022. The full announcement, including the portal to submit input, can be found here

Odds & Ends 

  • ED approved Puerto Rico’s plan for using $990 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding on November 18 to support K-12 schools and students. More information about the plan is located here
  • President Biden announced plans to nominate Glenna Gallo to serve as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Ms. Gallo currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education for the Washington state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Welcome Marcette Kilgore as the New State CTE Director in Texas

November 23rd, 2021

Advance CTE commits to investing in formal leadership development for our members. The New State Director Institute (NSDI) uses a cohort model to welcome and support first-year State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors. Each cohort is connected with mentors and other national leaders; provided leadership tools and resources; and offered instructional workshops designed to assist them as they develop and implement their state-wide visions for CTE. This and upcoming blogs in the Getting to Know blog series will introduce you to the Fall 2021 NSDI cohort! 

Welcome Marcette Kilgore as the new State CTE Director in Texas. The Texas Education Agency, which serves as the state’s Perkins eligible agency, houses the team Marcette leads. Marcette brings a wealth of knowledge of industry to her position. During her time in the insurance industry, Marcette learned about the power of CTE. This interest and passion resulted in her pursuing a second career in education. She became a CTE instructor, then progressed along the career ladder from assistant principal to director of human resources to district CTE coordinator to her current position. 

Marcette’s early priorities include onboarding new staff, while also immersing herself in the multiple large scale projects such as a standards validation and alignment process to ensure all learners are prepared with the skills that industry leaders are requiring. Another major, related priority is the state’s work to ensure approved industry recognized credentials are both rigorous and provide learners with a pathway into a high-wage, high-demand career. 

Marcette identified key areas of growth for the Texas CTE system including more intentional alignment with locals on statewide projects, streamlining of professional development for CTE and non-CTE educators and administrators and expanded partnerships with industry to strengthen career pathway alignment to labor market needs. 

What motivates Marcette to do this work? She believes strongly in ensuring that learners have access to and the opportunity to align their interests, passion and talents with career pathways that provide an opportunity to earn a family-sustaining wage. 

When away from the office, you can catch Marcette traveling across the country to sneak in some cuddles with her grandchildren. 

Please join us in welcoming Marcette to Advance CTE!

Learn more about the work in Texas by viewing their CTE state profile and the state resource page in the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate 

Increasing Apprenticeship Opportunities Through State Policy

November 18th, 2021

Preparing to enter the workforce is no easy task, especially as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to transform the world of work. It is critical that apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship programs exist to allow learners of all ages to participate in significant work-based learning opportunities that connect their learning with on-the-job skills that they can leverage as they grow in careers of their choice. Pre-apprenticeship programs, for example, demonstrate significant benefits, including creating more equitable access to high-wage, in-demand careers and improving the success of apprenticeship programs more holistically. In the past year, at least 19 states enacted legislation impacting work-based learning opportunities, including expanding access to apprenticeships, allowing credit to be earned for out-of-school-time learning, and increasing transparency in communication about apprenticeships. The following policies represent a small sample of pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and work-based learning policies already passed in 2021:

  • Arkansas SB491 establishes definitions for pre-apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship to support statewide coordination of these models. The law also requires a member representing the Division of Career and Technical Education to be added to the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee.
  • Colorado HB1007 creates a state apprenticeship agency within the Department of Labor and Employment to grow apprenticeship programs in high-demand occupations and oversee the quality of existing apprenticeship programs. A state apprenticeship council is also created to oversee Registered Apprenticeship programs and consists of representation from Career Technical Education (CTE).
  • Indiana HB1549 creates a catalog of work-based learning, pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship opportunities statewide to help provide more information to Indiana residents, among other education-related matters.
  • North Dakota HB1478 enables a school board to allow learners in grades 6-12 to earn course credit through educational opportunities such as work-based learning, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, internships and industry certifications with a sponsoring entity such as a business, for- or non-profit organization or trade association.
  • Tennessee HB0842 requires each public high school to designate an apprenticeship training program contact. The Department of Education will then compile and publish an aggregate contact list of all program contacts statewide on an annual basis.
  • Texas SB1095 directs school districts to notify each parent of a ninth grader or above about the availability of CTE or other work-based education programs available in the district including internships, externships or apprenticeship programs.

Advance CTE’s 2021 Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) calls for a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystem that allows learners to participate in aligned and connected work-based learning systems, like industry-aligned apprenticeships. Visit our CTE Without Limits landing page for our call to action and the Learning that Works Resource Center for more resources surrounding work-based learning, including pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship.

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

Vlog: Opportunity America on Leveraging Non-degree Programs During Workforce Development

November 17th, 2021

Opportunity America in partnership with Lumina Foundation and Wilder Research set out to explore the role of community colleges in providing job-focused education and training in their new community college study, The Indispensable Institution. Opportunity America is a Washington think tank and policy shop promoting economic mobility – work, skills, careers, ownership and entrepreneurship for poor and working Americans. 

Advance CTE’s newest video blog features Tamar Jacoby, President of Opportunity America, as we discuss the report and in particular delve into the study’s exploration of the potential of non-degree programs to serve the needs of a national workforce realignment.  

Our conversation focuses on the profile of a non-degree learner and the next steps for state leaders in greater utilization of non-degree programs, particularly in the areas of funding, data, and industry alignment.

The study reinforces that significant work ahead for the attainments of non-credit learners be fully counted by institutions in degree and non-degree pathways, as well as a high need for data infrastructure that fully documents participation in and outcomes of non-degree learners. The good news is that this study indicates non-credits learners are strongly aligned to job-focused programs, and there is great potential to strengthen and align these programs with industry as labor realignments continue. 

Gaining a better understanding of non-credit learners is critical for each learner’s skills and learning to be fully valued, counted and portable as outlined in Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits)

It is clear there is more to learn about the non-degree arena and its learners in community colleges. Visit the Opportunity America report site to view the full study and interactive data portal.

Jeran Culina, Senior Policy Associate 

Initiative Q&A: The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation

November 16th, 2021

Last week, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the 15 Fellows joining the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation that began this month. These aspiring leaders hail from 12 states, include 13 leaders of color, and represent multiple dimensions of equity as well as secondary and postsecondary institutions at the local, district and state level. 

The Fellowship strives to address the growing shortage of state postsecondary CTE leadership by closing racial representation gaps and removing equity barriers to leadership advancement to continue to foster high-quality, equitable state postsecondary CTE systems that support the needs of each learner. 

The following Q&A with Senior Advisor Dr. Kevin Johnson, Sr. provides additional insight on the structure and goals of the Fellowship as well as how the initiative will benefit members. 

Expanding CTE instructor and leadership pipelines is one of the most pressing issues facing the field. Why did Advance CTE decide to focus on state postsecondary CTE leadership? 

Postsecondary learners face more barriers than ever to accessing and completing postsecondary education. At the same time, historically marginalized learners, particular black and Latinx learners and learners experiencing low income, are still experiencing disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. There is an urgent need for diverse, equity-minded leaders in state CTE who reflect the experiences and needs of learners, and are equipped with the skills and networks to improve learner outcomes through systems transformation. Advance CTE’s deep experience supporting state CTE leaders and our commitment to innovation to advance high-quality, equitable CTE is a great intersection to step into a new space to not only empower today’s leaders but cultivate the leaders of the future. 

States are facing a severe CTE instructor shortage and often don’t have the capacity to focus on cultivating the state leadership pipeline. This Fellowships strives to enhance leadership representation across multiple dimensions of equity, with a particular focus on racial equity, while also cultivating an equity-focused leadership mindset to enhance learner access and outcomes in postsecondary CTE programs. 

What are the biggest barriers to leadership advancement for professionals historically marginalized from these opportunities, and how does this Fellowship aim to remove these barriers? 

The same systemic barriers facing learners in reaching their full career potential also exist in our state CTE systems that prevent historically marginalized professionals from reaching their full leadership potential. We are encouraged that State Directors are willing to conduct the difficult but critical work to remove those barriers, and this Fellowship can serve as a learning model. 

Many leadership position requirements still value level of education over skills and experience, particularly experiences gained through industry or positions outside of the education system. Additionally, because historically marginalized leaders, particularly those of color, are less likely to see themselves in leadership positions, they face more barriers to developing meaningful and trusting professional relationships or feeling welcome and psychologically safe in networks that are critical to leadership advancement. Furthermore, in rural and smaller geographic areas, professional and leadership development opportunities may be limited at the state level. Advance CTE has the national resources and network to fill that need. 

The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation strives to remove barriers to leadership advancement through an intensive, interactive curriculum; intentional spaces to develop networks with Fellows and national CTE leaders; individual coaching to strengthen knowledge on both equity and postsecondary CTE; and a real-world fellowship project that allows each Fellow to remove equity barriers right where they live and work. 

What promising practices do you hope to gain from this initiative that can be shared with states? 

This Fellowship is just one building block for a much stronger and permanent foundation that must be built to identify and cultivate state leadership talent from a variety of CTE-focused professions. We hope to identify the supports that aspiring leaders need most for leadership that they are not currently receiving in their home states, and empower states to implement those supports in their professional development programs. There will be two cohorts of 15 fellows served through this Fellowship, and we have already gained valuable lessons learned on effective communication tools, outreach and other components of program recruitment that will be shared with members. Finally, we will gain significant knowledge on building and managing spaces of mentors and mentees to build meaningful relationships among groups historically marginalized from leadership advancement.

I know the Fellowship has just begun, but what excites you most about this group of Fellows so far? 

The first workshop for this cohort was held last week. I am most excited about our Fellows’ enthusiasm for learning not only from Advance CTE staff and their coaches, but from each other. Each Fellow brings a rich diversity of professional and personal experience from industry, secondary and postsecondary institutions, workforce and state institutions that is so important to help these aspiring leaders develop a well-rounded understanding of how systems interact, as well as how to remove silos to ensure each learner has the means to achieve success in the career of their choice without limits. 

How can state leaders participate in future cohorts? 

It is not too early for professionals with extensive experience in delivering or supporting postsecondary CTE programs to consider applying for our second Fellowship cohort.  

Applications will open in Spring 2022, and the next cohort will begin in Summer 2022. 

Additional details about the Fellowship, including profiles for each Advance CTE-ECMCF Fellow can be found on Advance CTE’s Fellowship web page. If you are not an Advance CTE member, sign up to receive our CTEWorks newsletter to stay informed on key program dates. Visit the Learning that Works Resource Center for additional resources on access and equity and instructor and leader quality

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate Communications and State Engagement 

Legislative Update: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Highlights

November 16th, 2021

On November 15, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R.3684). The new law provides $1.2 trillion in total funding over ten years, including $550 billion in new spending during the next five years. The new funding includes $284 billion for the nation’s surface-transportation network and $266 billion for other core infrastructure. 

The nation’s schools and learners will benefit from many of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s investments, including: 

  • $55 billion for upgrading the nation’s water systems, including $200 million dedicated to eliminating lead contamination in schools; 
  • $5 billion for school districts to acquire clean-energy school buses; and
  • $500 million for schools and non-profit organizations to improve energy efficiency.

The new law also reauthorizes and extends, until 2023, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which provides supplemental assistance to schools in 700 counties that have federal forest land.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes significant funding for broadband infrastructure that will help close the “Homework Gap:” 

  • $42.45 billion for a new Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program to help states close the digital divide in rural and other areas that lack sufficient broadband connectivity; 
  • $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act to support digital inclusion activities and promote increased broadband adoption; and 
  • $14.2 billion for the Broadband Benefit Program, renamed by the new law as the “Affordable Connectivity Program,” to provide $30 per month broadband service subsidies (higher in some limited circumstances) to qualified low-income households. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides new policy and funding for workforce development initiatives, including: 

  • Directing the U.S. Department of Energy to create three competitive grants for fiscal year 2022: 
    • $10 million for training individuals to conduct energy audits or surveys of commercial and residential buildings; 
    • $10 million for colleges and universities to establish training and assessment centers focused on energy-efficient construction; and 
    • $10 million for non-profit organizations that collaborate with employers to deliver training in energy efficiency and renewable energy industry skills.
  • $5 million for a Transportation Workforce Outreach Program promoting awareness of career opportunities across the transportation sector;
  • Establishing a new Commercial Vehicle Apprenticeship pilot program to provide up to 3,000 apprentices younger than 21 with 120 hours of experience driving commercial motor vehicles; and 
  • Authorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation funded training to be delivered by vocational schools in addition to community colleges. The existing DOT transportation workforce development curriculum program is expanded to include hands-on training opportunities.

Advance CTE 2021 Fall Meeting Staff Reflections

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 

 

 

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