Career and Technical Education with Emily Sherwood & Marta Osuna

The YES! to Employment podcast logo: the silhouette of a table-top microphone against a blue and yellow background with the YES! Center logo, tagline and URL.

You’re listening to YES To Employment a podcast series that seeks to improve competitive integrated employment outcomes for transition-aged youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, the guest speaker is Sean Roy who talks with Emily Sherwood and Marta Osuna from the Association for Career and Technical Education or Act II about career and technical education.

Image of Woman Presenter

Image of Woman Presenter Emily Sherwood and Marta Osuna are the Co-Coordinators of the Association for Career & Technical Education’s Special Populations Section of New and Related Services, which is focused on implementing evidence-based CTE strategies in such a way as to focus on a number of populations that have multiple barriers to CTE programs, including n individuals with disabilities, individuals from economically disadvantaged families; individuals preparing for non-traditional fields; single parents, including single pregnant women; out-of-workforce individuals; English learners; homeless individuals; youth who are in, or have aged out of the foster care system; youth with a parent who is a member of the armed forces or is on active duty.

As defined by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), professionals working with individuals with the above demographical attributes will provide training, services, and/or extra resources to support successful outcomes in educating and preparing these individuals to be competitively employed in our global workforce. The Special Populations section of ACTE strives to support our professionals on multiple levels, including:

– Providing resources and support in aligning programs with new Perkins V legislation
– Developing professional attitudes and standards in programming for Special Populations
– Offering assistance to provide, maintain, extend, and expand career and technical programs and services
– Offering promising practices in developing work-based learning opportunities
– Acting as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of new ideas and research
– Advocating for and promoting professional relationships with other agencies, organizations, and institutions that support persons within the Special Populations demographic
– Collaborating with educators, business representatives, and community stakeholders to create locally responsive, relevant work-based and school-based learning experiences.
– Providing professional development opportunities through webinars, workshops, and guidance to materials and resources to support the development of post-secondary workforce readiness (PWR) skills that lead to technical skill attainment for students in any chosen occupation with a focus on high wage occupations or high skill in high demand industries

In addition to their co-leadership role of the ACTE Special Populations section, Emily Sherwood is the Post-Secondary Workforce Readiness Specialist for the Fountian-Fort Carson School District 8, and Marta Osuna is current a public school teacher on special assignment in the Denver Public School District.

You’re listening to Yes To employment, a podcast series that seeks to improve competitive integrated employment outcomes for transition aged youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, the guest center is Sean. Roy talks with Emily Sherwood and Marta Osuna from the association for career and technical education or act II about career and technical education. [inaudible]

Hello, everyone. I’d like to welcome you to this yes. Center podcast today. My name is Sean Roy and I am a state liaison for the youth employment solution center or the yes center. We are a national technical assistance project supporting a group of partnership and employment states states that are looking at, um, improving employment outcomes for young people with significant disabilities through systems change efforts. Um, and we have been hosting podcasts throughout the years to try to focus on some key issues that you as stakeholders in youth employment might be interested in. And today is a very interesting topic. Something that not a lot of people know about, I think it’s somewhat shrouded in mystery, but, um, uh, it represents a great opportunity for our young people with disabilities to gain work skills and to get access to certain, um, professions that they might be interested in.

And what I’m talking about is career and technical education. As I alluded to for students with disabilities, it, it seems that sometimes access to career and technical education opportunities can be limited. And we know that it is the pathway, um, to many great jobs. And so if we truly want to individualize employment opportunities for young people, we need to make sure they have full access to all the opportunities out there. And that includes career and technical education. I’m absolutely thrilled today to be joined by Emily Sherwood and Marta. Osuna from, uh, the association for career and technical education. And they’re going to walk us through kind of a CTE career and technical education, 1 0 1. Um, and at the end of this, hopefully you’ll have a lot of information and have some ideas on how to promote CTE for students with disabilities in your area. So before we get too far down the road, I’d like them to introduce themselves. So let’s start with Emily. Okay.

Hey Sean, I’m Emily Sherwood. I have been in education about 21 years now. Um, I started off in special education as a special education teacher for students with significant support needs. A lot of my curriculum was based around, um, helping do become self-determined and be able to access the community. Um, so we were out of the classroom a lot of the time. So we were teaching work skills. We’re teaching how to shop, how to bank, how to do all the things in order to really help, help them, um, learn to be independent. Um, I worked through there eventually went to moderate needs and then working with ACE and ACE was the whole spectrum. I had my significant support new students, but I also worked with at risk student systems, which had a lot of static in the background. And that was teaching students how to get a job, keep a job and move up in a job, the professional skills or the soft skills that are required in a job, as well as buying an apartment or renting an apartment to buy a car, et cetera, that really taught them how to access their community as productive citizens.

Um, through that piece, I became part of the Colorado association of career and technical education on the Colorado ACE board, which focuses on special population students to interrupt risk, which includes students with special needs. Um, with that we advocate for professional development and opportunities for students to, um, be successful within our state. Um, from there, I managed to go up the food chain into apathy. And so that’s where I am. Co-chairing with Marta. Now, as we’re trying to provide professional development for people, who’ve worked with people, um, who are qualified in the special populations demographic, and through all this I’ve done, work-based learning. And so what, because of my background with work based learning with special education ACE, I’ve had, I started coordinating for all students and looking at their pathways along with their aptitudes and interests and really creating those community connections and becoming a liaison between business and industry and our classrooms. And from there, I was pulled into a new district as, as, um, post-secondary work first, writing the specialist, and I’m also the CTE director for this district. So I’m looking at all students and looking at those accessibility for what happens after they graduate from high school and how we can start preparing them as early as kindergarten for those post secondary six.

Excellent. Thank you, Marta.

Hi, all I’m Marto Suna and I am a retired teacher from Denver public schools in Colorado. I was involved with the school district for 36 years. The first 21 years of my career were spent in the classroom as a C T E special education teacher. And in that role, I taught a vocationally related class to students, and then I also worked on work-based learning activities for them. Um, currently after retirement, I am, um, working in, um, I serve on the state board is as had mentioned for the Colorado alternative cooperative education board. I’ve served in various capacities on that board and, um, as president and past president and treasurer, and now I am currently a regional representative. Um, I am also serving as co-chair for the special populations for the association of career and technical educators now. And that’s how we ended up meeting Sean and getting involved in this project.

That’s great. Thank you so much. And as you can see from their bios and their vast experience were the perfect people to talk to us today about career and technical education. You know, well, I’ve been doing work around disability and transition for the better part of 20 years. And CTE was always, it always seems to pop up as, uh, an interest area in the world of disability. Um, it’s one of those things that seems to ebb and flow, and it really shouldn’t. It should be at the foremost of our mind as an, as an opportunity, but I think it’s confusing for people. So I think I’ll start with Emily and just ask the basic question. Um, what is career and technical education?

Uh, CTE, when I discovered CTE, I knew this is where it’s at. It really made sense to me because it is really those foundational skills that students really need to be successful after they graduate from high school. So a lot of people, when you talk about CTE, they may be able to relate to it as the old school VOC ed classes, that those students went to, where they learned skill trades and automotive and whatnot. A CTE has gotten a lot sexier. Um, now that is really, you know, come back to the forefront as how important it is. Um, it includes graphic designs, cyber security, computer science, teacher, cadet, biomedical, skilled trades automotive. And we think about all these different trades and they are definitely crafts. And CTE is about teach, bringing the Y to about, excuse me, the why of education to many students kind of merging those core skills into real relevant practices.

And it actually has become the programs that brings students to go to school. So they motivate students to attend school because they see how those next steps are going to transpire if they keep on these paths. Um, so currently CTE has started off with a special populations, focus within the Perkins five legislation. So Perkins five is the funding source or one of the funding streams for CTE programs. Um, it really focuses on how to, um, provide those real world technical skills along with professional skills to really help students move, make that continuum move in from, um, high school into the real world. So right now I think we’re like, what are you looking at CTE classes? They’ve made them more robust because they’ve added on the ability for students to, um, receive industry recognized certifications as well as those work-based learning opportunities to really connect with business and industry today and develop those relationships in order to see where their needs would be after they graduate from high school.

In my heart of hearts, I always felt as a special ed CTE teacher, that CTE class has made a difference for students. And a few years ago, Denver public schools did contract an independent evaluator to come in and take a look at the effect on graduation rates and attendance rates and students who were involved in CTE. And what they found is that for students with disabilities who had at least three semesters of CTE classes had a 30% graduation rate increase, which is incredibly significant. When you think about it, 30% by taking CTE classes and being involved in community experiences, it really does make a difference for students.

Well, they’ve seen that in both special education and regular ed, and I think it’s because it really provides that why, and it’s that application of learning. So they’re taking those classes from their are their skills from their core classes and applying them within real type situations, scenarios. So it makes it more relevant to them.

So it seems like it’s not just the old Voke ed classes of, of my youth, which was a long time ago. We won’t talk about that either. I mean, what are we, so, I mean, but, but so CTE though is a real specific focus on career and technical education. It, the, the classes are focused towards helping young people prepare for employment or building skills in certain areas. Um, what, you know, so that was kind of a misconception on my part. What are some other misconceptions commonly that people have about CTE?

I think it, um, that they’re easy that they’re elective classes that a student can be thrown in there at any time and they can be successful no matter what, but I have teachers. Um, so a teacher teaching a coding class, we had, uh, the counselor had put a student into her class about a month before the end of the semester. And she’s like, well, what do I do with the student? Because we’ve had all these skills building to where our students are now and the students coming in at this beginner level. So this really realizing that there is such foundational skills are slowly getting built into these real world things where they can exit school and work at that higher capacity. We have students leaving our cybersecurity programs with industry recognized certifications, such as Cisco networking or network security plus. And they’re going to probably walk out making 30 to 50 plus thousand dollars a year, just entry level.

And then maybe those businesses will help start paying these students to go to school, to get those other certifications or whatever skills they need to succeed. And then our programs also have a lot of requirements around them. So you need that certified teacher, you need advisory committees made up a 51% business and industry that are telling our teachers the real and relevant things that are needed and what, um, and what technology they need to be using it within their classrooms to really make it apply to their industry as well as having access CTSOs. So student organizations, such as DACA CLA SC squared, um, TSA, um, they need to have a program of study where there is a sequence of courses that lead them through, or as they learn the foundational skills build upon their skills and hopefully can be articulated with the local colleges or a local college, um, that allowed them to feed into a pathway within that college. And, um, continue on without repeating what they’ve already learned in high school. They also have, work-based learning a PA attached to it. And there’s also that importance of equity and access making this open to everyone like I’d mentioned earlier, Perkins five is the legislation that really has supported, um, special populations receiving funding or the programs received received Sunday, so that this is available to all students and made, um, accessible so that they can learn the skills necessary for them to move on.

I think another misconception around CTE is that it’s the answer that it’s the answer for employment for students with disabilities. And it really isn’t the answer it’s part of the solution, but, but students need a lot of preparation before being eligible to enter into CTE programs. And it really does take a village, you know, um, with CTE programs, there is a lot of money at the national level, like $1.3 billion, but then when it gets divided between 50 states and then that money is also further split in every state between secondary and post-secondary, the money keeps dwindling down and that money can be, can only be used for non-reoccurring items like your need to buy computers for a computer classroom, a whole set of computers. So things that are really expensive, but maybe one time events that it can’t pay for salaries for people. So that’s where there is an issue, I think with students with disabilities and the amount of support that they might need, who is going to pay for that kind of support and do the job development. So really does take a connection between CTE and special ed working together, um, to provide worthwhile experiences for students in CTE.

So let’s, let’s get deeper into that. Um, you know, because we are talking about students with disabilities and accessing CTE, and I think that’s really where we want to shed some light on today. So you alluded to this Marta, but maybe you could dig a little deeper into it, which is, uh, what is the role of special education in career development? And in preparing students for CTE success,

Special ed plays such an incredible critical role in preparing students for CTE and for employment. Um, part of the transition legislation around idea really states strongly that career employment needs to be a particular goal area. And because of that career, um, interest in aptitudes tests need to be administered, which would be important to find out what is a student really interested in pursuing. And, um, also, you know, I think a lot of times in special ed, sometimes special ed teachers just think, oh, well, gee, the student, when they’re older, can go take CTE or go into a transition program. And that’s when they’ll learn all of these skills around employment, but the reality is it needs to start early. It needs to really start in elementary school, preparing students for careers and what is available out there. Um, special ed can help with teaching kids how to take public transportation that you know, would fit in well with IEP goals.

Um, also if there’s any specific skills training that a student would need before entering a CTE class, special ed can take on that role because they have para educator support. Say if you’ve got a student who’s really interested in working in a, in a restaurant, um, in the back of the house, being a shelf, it’s chef being a prep cook. What’s what special ed can do is teach some of those skills like knife skills training, because that’s going to be a safety requirement in any CTE class, in a culinary program. If the student comes in with already knowing those skills, then it’s so much easier for that student to keep up with the rest of the class and, um, to be better prepared and to also demonstrate to the CTE teacher, Hey, this kid really can be taught how to do specific skills. So it’s a real plus what special ed can bring to the table.

So it seems to me that it’s a, it’s a planning, um, kind of an issue as well. If, if, uh, the special ed program is aware of the requirements of the CTE, um, classes that they can help prepare the student for success beforehand, basically. Um, and, and is that difficult? I’m, I’m just wondering, do you guys find in your national work that there is that level of coordination that, that, that generally do you find that the special ed teachers are aware of these requirements and teach to these requirements? Or, or is it kind of difficult to establish that collaboration?

I would, I would think it is, um, teacher specific. I think it really is. Um, if that teacher is aware of the CTE courses and what they want to do with their students, because many special education teachers approach their, um, the vision of what they’re doing in a very different way. So you could have a classroom teacher who is really about, okay, I’m going to keep my students in line with the rest of the school. They’re going to do the fundamentals of social studies class, and I’m going to teach them those, you know, about the Indian ocean and all these pieces and parts. And then you have those special education teachers like, well, social studies to me is how I can have social behaviors and how they can interact with the community and have that civic side of it. So I am all about that teacher, if there is not that common vision or the why is very different, that’s going to be how that teacher approaches, how they’re going to address their students’ needs.

And in answer to your question, Sean, I think there needs to be a lot of professional development, um, developed around teaching special ed teachers, what CTE is about, but also professional development for the CTE teachers to let them know how really capable our students are and what abilities our students do bring to the table.

Thank you for that. I appreciate that. So then, you know, we talked about preparing students in the role of special education. What are some considerations then that need to be addressed specifically when placing students in CTE classes? So when you get to that point where, where that decision has been made, what kind of groundwork needs to happen to make that a success?

Um, I think you really need to look at the interest of the student. Is the student interested in going into this particular CTE program? Sometimes I think students are placed in CTE when they really aren’t interested in it. They could care less, it just fit their schedule. The teacher or family decided this is where the student needs to be. If the student doesn’t buy into it, it’s going to be sabotage. So you really do need student buy in into it. They also need to demonstrate some aptitudes for it. Um, if those aptitudes aren’t there again, it’s going to be extremely difficult for the student to, to do. I think you need to look at the challenges also, and those challenges can be around safety because a lot of the programs and CTE have dangerous equipment. You know, there are, uh, knives, there are heavy duty equipment.

So you have to look at the safety of the student and the safety of other students too. And if the behavior would allow a student to be safe in that particular, um, uh, environment also would assistive technology help out whether it’s books on tape or whether it is having cell phones that have pictures of particular steps, the student needs to take in order to complete a task in a classroom. Um, and then you’ll need to look at the level of support a student might need. And then the biggie question is who’s going to provide that support. The CE teacher usually does not have an assistant in their classroom. So that’s where special ed comes in. Again, if they can offer some additional support to that student. And I’m not sure, but I’m thinking maybe with, with, um, vocational rehabilitation with a Prius, that might be a way to do some of that pre-AP evaluation would be for VR to provide support in the classroom, something to explore.

I don’t know if we’re there yet, but we could explore it. Um, so other things, you know, are to look at variable credit. If a student can’t complete the whole course, then can there be variable credit given? So the student, what they can do and can do well, they get credit for that. And special ed can supplement the additional credit for the student with those experiences. Um, and then you have to look at the accommodations versus modifications. If they’re want to get a certificate, they can not get a certificate because those are based on industry standards, not CTE, not public education, but industry standards. And those standards can’t be modified. They can be accommodated by the way the student receives the information, gives back the information, demonstrates what the student knows, but those particular tested requirements are based on industry standards and they can’t be modified.

So I think another misconception, at least as far as I see it, somebody looking in from the outside very much from the outside at CTE is the, this MIS misperception that it’s difficult to have a student with disabilities in a CTE classroom. Right. That’s kind the main that’s, that’s the, I wouldn’t say excuse, but the reason why maybe access is limited. So is inclusion easy in, in a CTE class, Emily

That’s, you can’t say it’s easier, not easy. It’s individualized. It depends on the student. If a student makes sense for a certain program, then there’s a way to work with it. And it’s just a matter of resources. So you really have to, like Marta said, look at a student’s interests and make sure that they’re interested in it and make sure that it makes sense for them to be in that if a student doesn’t have strong, fine motor skills, then being in a cooking class, maybe there might be a question mark to that because you need some fine motor skills when you’re chopping up vegetables and doing all the things you’re doing with cooking. Um, but you know, you hear it, but you also can’t. If a student has an interest, if you can try to find a way to see if that interest makes sense, whether it’s figuring it out before they get into the class, or if I, you know, do that intro class to see how they fit in.

I think that’s really important. There’s a story that I heard recently about a student where they wanted to put him in a coding class and everyone was very opposed to it because they said this is higher level skills. The students shouldn’t be in this class and they put the student in the class and he’s excelling beyond the capacity of most of the other students in the class, because he has that drive for it. He has that interest for it. And just like one of the robotics teachers in the middle school I worked with she’s like, people are assuming that when they’re putting students into my class, they should be students who are gifted and talented. But if I have a student who, you know, maybe in special education and they have a passion for robotics, they’re going to find a way to manipulate it or the robotics work for them.

Despite the fact they don’t have these certain aptitudes in a different way. So I really think you have to consider that, but again, like Marta said, you need to consider safety. So if a student has poor fine motor skills, doesn’t do knives makes sense. If a student has impulsive behaviors, that’s working underneath a car on a car lift makes sense. Um, or we’ll say they’re required to do certain certifications in order to start doing the fun part in the class. So they have to get their OSHA safety certification or their sort of safe food handler certification before they are able to get, do the hands-on stuff. Will the student be able to pass those, those certain tests? And you like, you can’t modify, you can accommodate, you can give them extra time. You can have voice to text or vice versa or read to them, but there’s just these certain things you have to really consider.

Um, some barriers that you may have to is a lot of our CTE teachers might be straight from industry. They aren’t born and bred classroom teachers. So they’re learning about the reality of classroom management and classroom management is a reality. And so you have to, you know, they’re trying to teach that technical skill. Um, but they also have only much capacity in order to handle the classroom that they already given. So how much can they work with whatever has been given. You have student teachers who are very capable and you have teachers who are still on that learning curve, on working with certain students, and then having that, that we’re having everyone understand what that expectation of the classes. So what is happening within that CTE classroom? Um, so does a CTE teacher know exactly what their capacity is or does a special education teacher know what’s happening within that classroom? Do counselors know, do parents know, does a student know? Um, we only know what we perceive, we know. And so when you get into a reality, sometimes that’s very different than what the reality is. So there’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking about inclusion. And I think the biggest thing is not to say no before you say yes, but to do it thoughtfully in order to meet the needs of that student and make sure it makes sense for that program.

But I think that’s important for people to understand too, that, you know, a lot of the CTE teachers are not, I mean, they’re coming in from industry. Um, and so, um, there may be a perception that, you know, that they’ve never dealt with, uh, accommodating for a student with disabilities. And so they need some support to be able to do that. Uh, so I like your messaging there. It’s not impossible, but really also to, you need to take a look at the program specifically and say, you know, does this match what the young person wants to do? And, and can they, uh, can they do the requirements? And so on a larger scale, what we’re talking about here is work-based learning and work based learning. Um, you know, as for students with disabilities, it seems like a major time investment in, you know, it seems like there’s a, as Marta said, you know, there’s, uh, $1.3 billion and there’s all these staff and, and all these things, um, is it worth it?

I am all about work based learning. I think if you take away that barrier between the brick and mortar of the school and open them up to the community and the why becomes real, and then you also have the buy-in of the community, people love to show what they do. It’s supposed to, when they love what they do, and that passion is contagious. So if a student is interested, they’re going to catch that hopefully by the professional who’s working within that industry and work based learning can be, um, complex sometimes. But I think usually it’s really not as hard once you develop those relationships with your, your business and industry members, but it can be as small as having a classroom presentation, a career panel where you have people from one industry from all different levels of the industry, presenting to students in a Q and a kind of fashion, you’d have a person from the community come and mentor like the culinary program or the skilled trades program, or what our engineering program, the biomedical, and walking them through the project that their career and technical student organization requires.

Um, it could be work site tours, and then you can think about credit for work or internships. But one thing I love about internships. I love this statistic, 94% of students who participate in an internship and a graduating from high school. And my feeling is the reason why, besides the fact, they’re probably a little bit more motivated because they’re in an internship because that was brought up to me like, oh yeah, well, that’s, that’s a reason why too, but I also think they go out there and they see that it’s not so scary. You walk into a cybersecurity firm with a bunch of guys and a t-shirt someone has their dog there, and they’re playing Metallica on the stereo. You walk by the rock climbing wall and the full table up to their computers, or they’re working in the circle of people. And some are doing robotics.

Some are doing coding, they’re all collaborating to some degree and they become a real people. And not these cyber security professionals that are, um, we all have our perception of what a certain industry looks like. So I think breaking down these Wells and allowing students to really feel what it’s like an industry is really important. Um, another thing I think is important to point out too, is students who participate in work-based learning actually have, um, over their work career will make more money. And the reason why is because when they go into an internship with education by their side, it’s a learning piece. So they’re learning how to be with an industry as their teacher’s talking through them, and they’re reflecting on it, et cetera, et cetera, versus graduating, and then going into work. So they go into their career eventually with that growth mindset where they’re learning while they’re works, or they’re going to move up the food chain a little bit faster.

And another piece is, um, that, that professional or soft skill building. So I like to call it professional skills, but they’re needed in all occupations. You need to know how to communicate and tell people when you’re not going to be at work and how to be organized and time management and all those pieces. And that happens early when you are able to practice that in the high school setting. And then when you move into the real world, um, you have those professional skills. 70% of employers want professional skills over technical skills because they can teach the technical skills, but it’s hard to teach professional skills.

I am a true believer with Emily in terms of the importance of work-based learning for all students. Um, it makes such a difference, I think, in a student’s attitude and outlook towards life. Um, there are, uh, a lot of studies that have been, uh, done that show that meaningful work experience in high school is a strong indicator of successful work placement. Post-secondary once a student gets out of high school. And I think part of that is because there is an adult who can run interference for a student. If they run into trouble on the job that someone’s there to say, oh, gee, what’s going on? You know, uh, let’s talk about what you did here and how it could have been done differently. That teacher could also then run interference with the employer too. I think employers are willing to give students an extra chance if they know there is someone there to help support them through.

Um, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had students with behavior issues in my classes, I place them in a work-based learning experience in the community they’re working with non-disabled adults, they’re expected to perform as a part of that work community. It has made such a difference in their behavior. It’s kind of like, Hmm, is school causing this particular behavior that it doesn’t exist in the community. And I think it’s really good for parents to see that too, with how different a student connect once they are in the community. Um, as Emily was saying, you know, school-based learning experiences, there’s a whole continuum of activities. And I’d like people to really realize some of those beginning activities can be life-changing for students, whether it’s a school-based business that’s developed in students learn those leaderships of who’s going to be the CEO of a school-based business.

Who’s going to be in charge of advertising. Who’s going to make the announcements. I mean, all of that planning that goes on is really helpful for students to be ready for the next step of going in to CTE classes. And, um, one school in particular that I worked with, they had a program, a class of students with intellectual disabilities. They wanted to do a fundraising activity to teach some of these leadership skills. And, you know, you present it to the students, they choose what they wanted to do. They wanted to do a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. So it’s like, okay, what can we do? They wanted to have it a little art sale. So they went to the art teacher and spoke to students in the art classes to see if they could get some of the products and the art objects, whether they were ceramics paintings or whatever of the students and sell them for their fundraiser.

The, the non-disabled students were just absolutely incredibly supportive to them, said they do that. The students had to go and make a case to the principal that this is what they wanted to do. They had to have their schedule. This is the date they wanted to sell. You know, I think pop and, and candy to after school, they wanted to have music. The principal said, yes, they pulled this off wonderfully and ended up raising $500, you know, and it was an incredible success. So having some of those successes, I think really helps students be prepared for then having the courage and self-confidence to go on to the next step in the community.

That evaluation piece is pretty huge to meeting with the employer. And, um, like Barbara was saying, you have a kid in a classroom and they may be a huge behavior problem or not unfocused or not on task. And you walk into their place of employment and do an evaluation. And their employer’s like, oh, my bother shift leaves or the team leader. They are whatever our star employees. And, um, it’s just, it’s interesting how, how much, a lot of students will thrive in the real world, but I’ve also walked in where they’re like, you know, I’ve talked to this person multiple times about this certain behavior and they’re not changing it. We’re going to probably fire them. And I’m like, let me talk to them. And we’ll go through and look at that behavior and I’ll break, we’ll break it down together. We’ll troubleshoot through it.

And I think it’s because the employers that taught how to teach, like this is what I mean when I’m asking you not to do this and giving them that alternate behavior. So the next time I go in for evaluation, they’re like, this is our star person on the team. Like, what did you do? And I’m like, I just had a two minute conversation. It was all good. Like, I’m glad they’re thriving. So I think that the work-based learning really gives that why. Plus a lot of times work based learning if they are an internship and whatnot, they have the opportunity to get paid. And I think that’s a huge incentive for a lot of students. And then with our students with more significant needs that time to work out in the real world and not have to because even know what happens to the classroom looks very different in reality, when they can merge those, those two, I think they made that makes that reality. Um, real,

You know, we’ve been talking a lot about how do we include students with CTE or students with disabilities into CTE, but what about how CTE can support a student’s IEP kind of looking at it from the other angle of it? What are some considerations or strategies, um, for that?

Well, I think one of the main things would be for the special ed case manager to talk to that CTE teacher and find out what what’s involved in that class, what are the objectives of the CTE teacher? And then those are so easy to transfer over to the IEP. You know, about these are the topics we’re going to include. These are the skills that we think the student could learn, but not only are on transition skills, I mean, transition goals and objectives around careers, but it can also be independent living, um, skills too, that are kind of taught in net CTE classroom that would help with carry over. And also self-advocacy, if a student it’s a good, safe environment, a student to say, Hey, these are the accommodations that I need, or you’re going too fast. Can you slow down? Can you show me what I need to do? That it’s a really good safe environment for a student to develop those self-advocacy skills.

I agree. Um, and then like CTE is special ed at a spouse because that’s merging if a student’s really on that career path and they have these certain abilities and it’s working for them and you can create an IEP that aligns whatever that pathway is. And even if it’s finding the niche for that student, I mean, isn’t that the point of what transition is, is trying to handhold into that next step. So they’re independent and self-sufficient and have the self-determination to hat take pride in their, in their work and, and be as independent as possible. So I think if you’re doing it right, you’re developing those pathways with that student, um, and holding them their hand through this process where you don’t have to hold it as tightly later.

Yeah. I really liked that. I mean, it’s positioning, you know, CTE as a partner within the school, rather than just this outside thing that you hope you can get kids into. Um, you know, a lot of students with disabilities of course have IEP and they have specific goals and they’ve got, you know, areas that they want to work on. And you’ve got this wonderful partner with all this industry experience and knowledge, uh, right there, uh, within the districts to be able to help out. I think that’s great. So those are really nice observations. You know, another thing that I, I tend to see, um, is, uh, I do a lot of work with families and, um, it doesn’t seem like families are aware of the opportunities, uh, in CTE and nor our students for that matter. Uh, and so I’m wondering what strategies are used to promote CTE programs to students, um, including students with disabilities, but I would also extend that to say their families, you know, how, how are people learning about these programs?

Um, I think that’s one of our hardest things is understanding, um, or marketing CTE. So I don’t think as many people know about CTE as we should, a lot of people have that misconception that it’s just an elective class and we have that barrier that students are required to do certain core curriculum or a certain coursework in order to reach those graduation requirements. And so they oftentimes have to prioritize that versus this opportunity that will lead them down a pathway to a career that takes those core curriculum and those skills into, into that classroom. Um, I know a lot of schools, they do try to go down to the middle schools and do marketing at some point like where they sh like the eighth graders are going to ninth graders trying to share all the opportunities that exist at the high school level. There are evenings usually at the beginning of the school year or at the end of the school year for those rising freshmen to, uh, to really learn about what’s there, but it’s hard way to learn it too.

Um, I think that’s what a lot of schools are struggling with is how to market this effectively and also teach parents, um, get it out into the community, become makes this well-known where everyone has an idea. Like my child is on this biomedical pathway. They’re going to take these biomedical classes. This is what they’re going to do versus I’m going to high school. And I take this math class, this language arts class, this class, and I’ll fill in the gaps with all this fun stuff. So I think that’s it. They see it in school catalogs, maybe some like the, the school news line or whatever it may be. But I think the biggest thing is we need a lot more PR development or marketing and professional development. So staff know what CTE programs offer and what they are, and that they’re more than an elective class and that we talked to our community a little bit more forthrightly. And so they understand how this impacts our students’ learning and the opportunities that they, that it holds.

Yeah, you don’t really want it to be a mystery. Um, and yet it seems to continue to be a mystery and maybe that mystery is really about misunderstanding and miscommunications of what it is. So those are great, um, strategies.

And it’s interesting because it’s not only lack of marketing to students is that staff to staff, staff, to administration, there’s so many levels of miscommunication and misperception that, that needed. We need these walls breaking down, broken

Well, that’s where I appreciate the way you guys talk about it. And you, you really talk a lot about professional development and, and I’m, uh, you know, you say you’re a firm believer in work-based learning. I, I, as I am, but I’m also a firm believer in professional development. It’s difficult to ask somebody to do something that they haven’t been trained to do. And it’s difficult to ask somebody to promote something they have, they’re not aware of. Um, and so if they, if they don’t, if they have misconceptions about a program, that’s what they’re going to operate off of. So really breaking down those, um, breaking down those walls and, and seeing success stories too, I would imagine it would be very important. The more that, that guidance counselors and transition, uh, educators see these success stories that you were speaking of, the more, I think they’re, they were, would start promoting this more widely with students.

Um, so I do appreciate that. So coming to the end here, um, just a couple more questions for you and we appreciate your time. This is your opportunity to co as kind of a catch all, I think, um, you know, what recommendations would you make to someone, whether it be a parent or a special education case manager, counselor, even a CTE teacher about inclusion of students with a disability and CTE courses. Um, you know, what, if you had to kind of lay out a path or, or say here the most important things, what are those recommendations you would give?

I think the first one would definitely be professional development for everyone concerned and look at it just broadly, you know, for special ed teachers to find out about CTE for CTE teachers to find out about special ed for VR counselors to find out about CTE. I’ve just been asked to do a presentation to VR counselors because they aren’t aware of everything involved with CTE, but it would also be, um, we owe, uh, counselors and job placement people. A lot of times, they aren’t aware of the abilities of our students and forget about including them in any job opportunities or training activities that they have going on. And certainly school counselors that could be involved with, with professional development. So it’s like anytime anyone hears about professional development, that’s their area get on board. Um, also there are in CTE, every CTE program has to have an advisory board.

As Emily mentioned before, 51% of that advisory board needs to be made up of business people, but parents can also be on that advisory boards, special ed teachers. Shouldn’t be there. It’s a way to get input into the programs at the state level. There are local needs assessments that every two years need to be looked at and see how the needs of special populations are being addressed in CTE. That’s another wonderful opportunity to have a special education voice in there to represent students with disabilities. Um, and it’s a good way to find out what’s going on in your, in your state and to be that little squeaky wheel. And what about, you know, let’s include, or let’s get more programs going for, for students with disabilities. Um, and then again, it’s just truly listened to the, to the wants and needs of the student because the student knows what they’re interested in. They know what they want to pursue. You’ve got to listen to the student and try to offer any supports you can in order for that student to be successful in the career that they would like to get involved in.

And everyone has like, most people have a job. Like they can be a part of this. They can come to schools and speak to classrooms and talk about what they do and be a part of the career panel or host students within their occupation occupation. So they can really like spread the word of what the expectations are within that different industry that they’re in. So not only is that marketing piece, that professional development piece, but that participation piece, like you need to be a part of it because then you become part of the community. And we are a community when push comes to shove

To work together. Um, and everyone is a champion. And I think that we would do much better off if we don’t view ourselves as champions for CTE or champions for this and that. But we are really here to support students with disabilities to reach the goals that they set for themselves. And, and what are the various pieces that can come together to do that. And that’s why I really appreciate the way that you guys come at. This is you, you keep stressing, um, you know, you have to listen to the student, you have to listen to the student and, and, and hopefully then, you know, once the student expresses their interest, there, it’s the team that rallies around them to say, okay, we can make this work. And that’s including the CTE team as well, because we know that CTE is going to be a wonderful option for a lot of students to be able to truly get skills and explore jobs that provide a meaningful livable wage. And that is, uh, uh, I think that is a beautiful vision. Um, so I would say finally, um, you know, you have probably peaked a lot of interest, uh, and opened a lot of eyes with this conversation and all of your information. So where can people go for even more information, um, about, uh, resources or navigating CTE and Perkins five, where would you point people for information?

Well, there are a few sites that come to mind, um, off the top of my head, one is the active site. Of course, we’ll top break down all the different, um, career pathways that, that are broken down throughout our education system. And they can figure out, um, resources. There there’s a lot information on equity and our special populations page, which isn’t as robust as it will be eventually. Um, if you go to our Colorado state plan website, uh, there, if you go to the forward slash AC side of it, um, there are great resources on that site for students with special needs and how they can access different resources as well. An advanced CTE is another website that has excellent resources.

And I just wanted to point out to people before, before Marta jumps in, when Emily says act D again, that’s a C T E the association for career and technical education in their website is, uh, ACTE online.org, um, ACTE online.org Marta. You’re going to jump in.

Um, yes, the other recommendation I would make is to look at your local state CTE program, find out who that director of the program is where that CTE statewide program is housed, because they will have a ton of information regarding, um, your particular state. They would also have information regarding your local needs assessment, and that would be a way to get involved too.

Wonderful. Yeah. And, and as, as Marta was mentioning, um, you know, every state will have a CTE lead. Uh, the question is where do they live? Uh, some live in the department of education, some live in the, uh, governor’s workforce cabinet type of level. They might be in, in the workforce department of labor world. Um, so just doing some homework there, cause there’s a lot of information to be found on the local level, Emily and Marta. Thank you so much. This was so informative, shedding light on something. I think again, as we said is a mystery to a lot of people, um, and you gave us a lot to think about, and we really do appreciate your time, and we hope that, uh, everybody here, uh, found this useful and encourage you to visit the yes center website for more blog posts and podcasts relevant to improving youth employment outcomes. Thank you everyone

You’ve been listening to yes. To employment a podcast series that seeks to improve competitive integrated employment outcomes for transition aged youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today’s Sean Roy spoke with Emily Sherwood and Marta Osuna. You can learn more about the association for career and technical education@wwwdotacteonline.org for more about yes, to employment, including show notes, links to resources discussed a complete transcript and a schedule of episodes visit www.yestoemployment.org/podcasts. Yes. To employment as a production of the youth employment solutions center, the national training and technical assistance center that serves as a hub of information and expertise for the partnerships and employment or P I E state projects. The yes center is a collaboration of Tash and transcend. You can learn more about Tash attached.org and more about transcend@transcend.org. That’s T R a N S C E n.org. You can receive updates from the S center on this podcast and our other activities by following us on Facebook or on Twitter at yes to employment partnerships and employment is a series of seed grants funded by the administration for community livings administration on intellectual and developmental disabilities made to states for the purpose of transforming state disability support systems to competitive integrated employment aid D is dedicated to ensuring that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families are able to fully participate in and contribute to all aspects of community life in the United States and its territories music for yes to employment is an original composition and performance by Sonny [inaudible] the co-director and autistic self-advocacy mentor at the musical artist.

You can learn more about the musical artist@wwwdotthemusicalartists.org. We’ll have another episode on competitive integrated employment for you in the near future. [inaudible].

Thank you for joining our newsletter!

Stay tuned for more information from the YES! Center!