Supporting high-quality Career Technical Education is at the center of focus for our priorities.

Our priorities are supporting high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) policy at the federal and state levels; empowering our members to be effective CTE leaders through professional development and professional networking; sharing of best practices and technical assistance; and promoting high-quality CTE throughout the country. Our major initiatives incorporate these priorities and include the following:

Advance CTE's Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative (PDI) is exploring how state leaders can cultivate high-quality postsecondary  data ecosystems that can assist postsecondary institutions in offering career pathways that meet learner interests and are aligned to a good career. 

Through the first phase of PDI, Advance CTE worke with the Alabama Community College System, Delaware Department of Education, University of the District of Columbia Community College, Florida Department of Education and Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to develop and implement comprehensive action plans to improve the quality and use of postsecondary CTE data. 

Throughout the multi-year initiative, the PDI grantees received tiered supports to ensure they can achieve their stated goals and objectives (see below) while also identifying strategies and recommendations other states can leverage to improve the quality and use of their postsecondary CTE data. These strategies jave been shared through publications, monthly community of practice calls, and a national postsecondary CTE data summit in December 2022. 

To guide the implementation of the PDI, each grantee completed the Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool to identify priority areas of work and create action plans. As a result, the grantees are taking unique approaches to improving postsecondary CTE data quality and use.

Alabama Community College System's Goals:

  • Utilize state-approved P-20 career pathways that are reviewed and updated regularly to ensure residents are being trained for in-demand, high-wage, high-skill employment.
  • Provide technical support to CTE Deans related to data literacy and disaggregation.
  • Create a crosswalk between non-credit and for-credit courses aligned with in-demand, high-wage occupations.

Delaware Department of Education's Goals:

  • Create a postsecondary accountability model that applies a common data standard across the adult career pathway system, resulting in performance routines focused on shared outcomes and incentivizes student access and equity.
  • Develop a fiscal model that encourage institutions to target recruitment efforts in low-income communities and to partner with social benefits programs and community-based organizations to support and upskill economically disadvantaged adults.
  • Engage a postsecondary community of practice to foster data-driven decision-making that facilitates system innovation and develops shared public policy priorities.

University of the District of Columbia Community College's (UDC-CC) Goals:

  • Design and implement a three-part professional development training series to assist UDC-CC college deans, administrators, and faculty in using CTE data to improve programming.
  • Generate robust learner-level data to support the administration and faculty better understand learners' challenges and connect them to college services to improve retention.

Florida Department of Education's Goals:

  • Develop new data elements to measure work-based learning (WBL) course quality.
  • Create a definition of a "WBL course" and a metholody to regularly identify and vet postsecondary WBL courses with the assistance of postsecondary education institutions.
  • Devise a set of recommendations to incentivize learner, agency and employer participation in WBL that can be operationalized in 2024.

Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission's (HECC) Goals:

  • Produce reports that better show the intersectionalisty of CTE learners, include clear metholodogies and business rules, are easy to understand and use, and provide data that is relevant, timely and of interest to programs.
  • Increase collaboration between the HECC and Oregon Department of Education relative to training and professional develop to improve data literacy among CTE leaders.
  • Improve the connections of the Credentials that Work initiative and use of the state's definition of college and career readiness with HECC's data quality and use work.

The Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative is funded by ECMC Foundation.


Related Resources: 


In 2020, Advance CTE, in partnership with Education Strategy Group, launched the five-year New Skills ready network initiative, supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co., to advance the expansion of high-quality career pathways in select sites around the country. The New Skills ready network bolsters JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s efforts to support an inclusive economic recovery, as part of both their $350 million, five-year New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work and their $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity.

Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group are working with six U.S. sites to improve student completion of high-quality career pathways. The sites represent partnerships between local school systems, higher education, employers, and state agencies focusing on improving pathways, expanding real-world work experiences, improving transitions and closing equity gaps. Advance CTE is providing research and resources to support sites to meet the objectives of the initiative and translate lessons from the sites into tools and resources that can be leveraged across the nation. The six U.S. sites are Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee. Read more about the initiative here, learn about the progress made by the sites in the  year two annual report and snapshots here; and review other resources developed in support of this initiative here.

Despite significant advances in quality and access to CTE programs, perception remains a serious challenge for engaging more learners in CTE. Program enrollment remains stagnant in many states as states, leaders, and communities are struggling to overcome the stigma associated with CTE. Advance CTE with support from the Siemens Foundation, commissioned focus groups and a national survey to explore the attitudes of current and prospective CTE families and learners. This research identifies key messages and messengers CTE advocates should be utilizing to help position CTE as the best choice for each learner. The research also identified equity considerations for messaging tailoring to address the needs of historically marginalized populations. 

The findings were used to create supporting resources to help states develop recruitment strategies to increase participation in CTE. Since the initial release of the research in 2017, Advance CTE has provided direct technical assistance to over 10 states to develop robust communications and outreach strategies and developed a wide array of tools and resources to put the research into action that will continue with the release of updated findings in 2021. All materials are branded as part of the CTE: Learning that works for America® campaign, a national branding campaign designed to help state and local leaders communicate about CTE.

This work expanded in 2018 as Advance CTE developed a training to empower school counselors with the information they need to promote CTE. The one-day training is geared towards school counselors and related professionals, to help them better connect students with CTE programs of study. The in-person workshop was delivered to over 600 participants prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a virtual format that was launched in January 2022. The workshop empowers counseling professionals to:

  • Identify and discuss the various components and benefits of a high-quality CTE program of study, including work-based learning, industry-recognized credentials and dual/concurrent credit;
  • Discuss the range of options available in CTE along with current workforce trends and know how to access information on CTE programs and the labor market in their specific state;
  • Explain the value of CTE to students and parents using tested key messages;
  • Assist students with career exploration and development in K-12 and identify potential strategies to implement in their community; and
  • Develop strategic actions to reach students, parents, administrators, other counselors and/or other stakeholders to communicate the value of CTE.

This workshop is facilitated by trainers who have strong backgrounds in both CTE and school counseling, all of whom have gone through a two-day intensive train the trainer to be prepared to deliver these workshops

Learn more about promoting CTE here.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was reauthorized in July 2018, with all state plans submitted and approved in mid-2020. This reauthorization provided a once-in-a-decade opportunity for states to reflect on their CTE systems to ensure each learner can access and succeed in a high-quality CTE program of study. 

After providing extensive supports to states through the development of their state plans, Advance CTE has shifted our supports and research to identify promising practices and approaches states are leveraging through the implementation of Perkins V. In October 2020, Advance CTE released the State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States' Perkins V Priorities, which provides a cross-state analysis and recognition of the strategic decisions CTE leaders have made to advance high-quality CTE programs while increasing access and equity for each learner in their state, showcasing how many states have gone above and beyond the law’s requirements. Since then, Advance CTE has released a series of briefs and guides focused on key topics of interest, and launched technical assistance to support the design and implementation of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment, opportunity gap analyses and other major areas. 

Learn more about Perkins V here.

Youth apprenticeships – when designed with quality and equity in mind – allow learners to complete high school, start their postsecondary education at no cost, get paid work experience alongside a mentor, and start on a path that broadens their options for the future. However, youth apprenticeship is still relatively nascent in the United States. To  develop supports and resources for the field,  New America launched the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeships (PAYA) in 2018 in partnership with Advance CTE, CareerWise Colorado, Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships, Education Strategy Group, JFF, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and the National Governors Association.

Over four years, PAYA is supporting efforts in states and locales to expand access to high-quality youth apprenticeship opportunities for high school age youth. PAYA convenes experts and partners, supports a community of practitioners, publishes research, and provides grants and direct assistance to promising youth apprenticeship programs in cities and states across the U.S. PAYA is made possible due to support from Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, JP Morgan Chase & Co., the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Siemens Foundation, the Smidt Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

Learn more here.

Access Advance CTE’s PAYA resources here: 

Advance CTE has embarked on an initiative to advance equity in CTE to ensure that our systems support each learner in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully completing a high-quality CTE program of study. Advance CTE’s Board of Director-approved statement on equity in CTE is the lens through which Advance CTE views and conducts all of its work. 

The major themes of this initiative are: understanding the equity challenge, using data to examine and address equity gaps, building trust with historically marginalized communities, removing barriers and providing wraparound services.

While equity is now a through-line for all of Advance CTE’s work - and both a foundational commitment and principle in CTE Without Limits -  we have a number of efforts and resources available to advance equitable access and success across the nation, including: 

In 2022, Advance CTE is focusing on turning our tools into action by providing more cross-state and individual technical assistance around closing opportunity gaps, elevating learner voice in CTE, supporting special populations and facilitating conversations about race and racism in CTE. We are also developing a new CTE equity index to support more intentional goal-setting to ensure equity and inclusion in CTE.

This work is supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation and ECMC Foundation.

Learn more here

Advance CTE's Excellence in Action awards program recognizes and honors superior CTE programs of study from across all 50 states and territories. Selected programs of study exemplify excellence in:

  • The implementation of the new shared vision, CTE Without Limits;
  • The Career Clusters®;
  • Executing a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education for each learner;
  • Providing equitable and accessible work-based learning opportunities; and
  • Data-driven decisionmaking that impacts student achievement and success. 

Since 2014, Advance CTE has recognized 48 high-quality programs of study from 15 Career Clusters® across 23 states. They have been featured at national conferences, at the White House, in congressional briefings and in major media outlets.