Vermont faces the threat of a stagnant population with marked population decline in its more rural counties coupled with a stagnant workforce pipeline and stalled postsecondary enrollment.1, 2 Moreover, employer demand for labor exceeds supply in nearly all major occupations in the state and there is a projected wave of openings from retirements.3 In response, the state has embarked on an ambitious cradle-to-career initiative to provide youth with multiple pathways to achieve education and career success, in the hopes of increasing the workforce pipeline and student readiness for college and careers. In 2013 Vermont adopted Act 77, which created the Flexible Pathways Initiative and allowed districts to increase programming in several pathways to postsecondary readiness for middle and high school students, including career and technical education (CTE) and work-based learning (WBL). Currently, the Vermont Agency of Education (VT AOE) has little statewide information about access to and participation in CTE and WBL but suspects that there are inequities in access and participation by region and student groups. The regional clustering of job opportunities also means that access to onsite WBL opportunities varies geographically.
The Vermont partnership aims to identify and address opportunity gaps in access to and participation in CTE and WBL, particularly for students in underrepresented groups and those in rural locations. Specifically, REL Northeast & Islands will assist the VT AOE in using data and research to make evidence-based improvements to program implementation. Initially, REL Northeast & Islands will conduct a technical support project which will include a series of meetings with partnership members to articulate the state’s research and evaluation goals related to the Flexible Pathways Initiative, inventory CTE and WBL pathway data, identify data gaps, and inventory known barriers to accurate data collection. The resulting data catalog will aid partnership members in understanding the feasibility of addressing the state’s research goals and will potentially set the stage for an applied research study. Future partnership activities might include developing materials for schools and districts on data collection strategies, such as an infographic or webinar, or providing coaching support to review access, participation, and student outcome data for specific districts and schools identified with lower rates of participation in CTE or WBL and supporting the creation of action plans to increase access, participation, and success.
Partner Organizations: Vermont Agency of Education, Community College of Vermont, Stafford Technical Center, South Burlington School District
1 Vermont State Data Center. (2020). 2020 Vermont population brief. https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/Center-for-Rural-Studies/2020_VT_Population_Brief.pdf
2 Vermont Agency of Education. (2017). Vermont Postsecondary Enrollment Data. State of Vermont. https://education.vermont.gov/documents/data-postsecondary-enrollment-data
3 Vermont Agency of Education. (2020). Vermont State Plan (2020-2024): Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (“Perkins V”). https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-vermont-perkins-v-state-plan-2020-2024.pdf
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