Advance CTE: Resources for State CTE Leaders

What is the resource?

Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting to Work is a national nonprofit that represents State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors and state leaders responsible for secondary, postsecondary, and adult CTE across all of the United States and U.S. territories. Career technical education is an approach that combines academic subject learning with technical skills, and is a valuable option for young people pursuing a career pathway that doesn’t require a four-year college degree.

This page features two resources released by Advance CTE in 2021 to help its members strengthen connections within the education and workforce pathways of young people and ensure that young people’s skills and voices are recognized and valued in efforts to support them throughout these pathways. First, Advance CTE released a comprehensive roadmap called Without Limits, which lays out a vision and guiding principles for creating and communicating about a career readiness ecosystem that addresses equity gaps in learning and career preparation for young people and positions CTE as a catalyst for young people to pursue their chosen career pathways. Second, Advance CTE also created a toolkit, called With Learners, Not For Learners, for state leaders to elevate learners’ voices in the policies and programs meant to support them.

Why it matters

Young people need access to opportunities that allow them to pursue their aspirations for the types of careers and lives they want to have. The pathways through the K-12 education system to postsecondary options can be fragmented and confusing for young people to navigate and explore. The system is particularly unforgiving for those who have historically faced barriers to accessing supportive services or social networks, such as Black and Latino young people, and young people from low-income households. Roadmaps like Without Limits help more education system leaders work together to create bridges between different parts of the system and environments in which young people can find CTE options to advance their career pathways and goals.

The With Learners toolkit helps state CTE leaders center young people’s voices in the policies and programs designed to support them in their education to work pathways. Young people feel a strong sense of identity and agency about their future lives, but too often, programs that serve young people don’t sufficiently capture the wide diversity of experiences and aspirations that young people bring to their career goals. This toolkit helps state leaders take steps to assess what they’re doing to elevate young people’s voices and implement strategies to go further.

What’s inside

The Without Limits roadmap contains a comprehensive bundle of resources to not only help state CTE leaders begin to implement policies and programs that align with the roadmap, but also to communicate about them. You can start with the step-by-step guide that helps state leaders assess how they’re doing on the principles outlined in the roadmap, identify priorities for action, and develop strategies to implement as next steps. Or, you can take a deep dive into each principle, such as Principle 2, which states “Each learner feels welcome in, is supported by, and has the means to succeed in the career preparation ecosystem.”

The With Learners toolkit contains a rubric to assess state CTE leaders’ commitments for engaging CTE learners and a worksheet to assess organizational readiness to elevate learner voice in CTE, as well as other tools to help state leaders take the next step in centering young people in efforts to engage them in CTE.

Check out the resources: