CTE Research Review: Work-Based Learning, Teacher Shortages and Longitudinal Data

May 11th, 2016

In this week’s Research Review, we take a deep dive into New York City’s CTE movement, examine state teacher shortages, and explore strategies and challenges to building longitudinal data systems.

Work-based Learning and Industry Credentials in New York City

The Manhattan Institute released a new report looking at the state of Career Technical Education (CTE) in New York City, titled “The New CTE: New York City as a Laboratory for America.” While the authors largely praise the success of New York City’s instructional CTE programs — which have demonstrated less variable attendance and higher graduation rates — they offer two policy recommendations to further improve the quality and effectiveness of the system:

  • Mandate and fund schools to secure work-based learning opportunities for students. To do this, schools must engage industry partners that continue to treat CTE like a philanthropic endeavor rather than a strategic investment.
  • Improve state processes for certifying CTE teachers and approving industry-recognized credentials to be more flexible and responsive to industry advances and emerging occupations.

How are states responding to teacher shortages?

The Education Commission of the States’ (ECS) new series on staffing policies, “Mitigating Teacher Shortages,” provides an optimistic outlook on the national staffing crisis. The number of schools reporting a vacancy is down 15 percentage points overall since 2000. However, ECS finds there is a struggle to fill positions in hard-to-staff subject areas and in high-poverty, low-achieving, rural, and urban schools. This five-part series examines research on teacher shortages and recommendations from state task forces, finding five common policy interventions to address staffing shortages: alternative certification, financial incentives, induction and mentorship, evaluation and feedback, and teacher leadership. Each brief explores extant research in each focus area and provides state examples and policy recommendations.

Stitching together Longitudinal Data Systems

Two new reports — one from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) and the other from New America — explore how states can align data systems to better track student outcomes after high school.

  • WDQC’s report, “Making the Most of Workforce Data,” highlights best practices from Kentucky, Minnesota and New York, each of which has established linked systems that facilitate data sharing and evaluation to varying degrees. In Kentucky, for example, interagency data-sharing agreements allowed the state to evaluate outcomes for students taking college-level coursework through AdvanceKentucky, providing evidence to increase funding for the program.
  • In “Is Stitching State Data Systems the Solution to the College Blackout?,” Iris Palmer at New America proposes a different solution to the nation’s data sharing woes — a state-based federal data system. She argues that this system, which would be operated by a third party and would only share anonymized data, could build on existing data infrastructure and allow states to examine cross-state student outcomes for more detailed analysis. A pilot project between Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington helped close gaps, uncovering outcomes data for more than nine percent of individuals missing from the labor records in Washington alone.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

How States are Making Career Readiness Count: A 2016 Update

May 3rd, 2016

In May 2014, Achieve and Advance CTE (as NASDCTEc) released Making Career Readiness Count, the first analysis of the ccrcoveruse of career-focused indicators in states’ reporting and accountability systems to increase understanding and catalyze action through guidance and recommendations for states to take steps to ensure that the “career” in their CCR accountability and public reporting system is not an afterthought but rather a powerful lever for success.

This report was timely and influential, cited in the Career Ready Act of 2015, introduced by Senator Kaine, which then became an amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), as well as the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Career Readiness Task Force report, Options and Opportunities: Making Career Preparation Work for Students, which was endorsed by 41 states.

Since the original release of Making Career Readiness Count, two significant events have occurred that are pushing states to take a closer look at their accountability systems to better capture a broader range of college and career readiness outcomes for students: the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now known as ESSA) and the launch of the New Skills for Youth initiative, a competitive grant program, funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co, which requires participating states to transform their systems – including state accountability systems –to support high-quality career-focused education for all students.

It is within this environment that Achieve and Advance CTE have partnered again to release How States are Making Career Readiness Count: A 2016 Update. This new report provides state-by-state information on how and which career-ready indicators states are including in their reporting and accountability systems, and highlights promising practices in several states at the forefront of this work. It also raises some important areas for consideration as states begin or refine their focus on career readiness.

Findings in Brief

  • Thirty-four states publicly report and/or include career-focused indicators in their accountability systems, an increase from the 29 states reported in 2014
  • Thirty-two states currently publicly report on at least one indicator of career readiness for high school students, the majority of which report on dual enrollment participation or success or postsecondary enrollment.
  • Twenty states, include some measure of career readiness in their accountability formulas or as bonus points, with dual enrollment participation or success and industry-recognized credentials the most common indicators.
  • Over half of states with career-ready indicators in their accountability systems utilize “meta-indicators” or composite measure of college and career readiness or career readiness that may include components such as AP, IB, or dual enrollment. As a result, it can be very difficult to ascertain how much weight or value career-ready indicators have within states’ accountability systems.

Read How States are Making Career Readiness Count: A 2016 Update and read Making Career Readiness Count for critical background information.

Kate Blosveren, Deputy Executive Director

Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part II)

April 7th, 2016

In Part II, we dive into the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s newest report, “Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?” Provocative title notwithstanding, the report’s short answer is: Yes.

The report opens with a caveat that CTE is not a meaningful prat of students’ high school experience, and unlike most industrialized countries, it has been chronically neglected by leaders and policymakers.

“American students face a double-whammy: Not only do they lack access to high-quality secondary CTE, but then they are subject to a ‘bachelor’s degree or bust’ mentality,” the report states. “And many do bust, dropping out of college with no degree, no work skills, no work experience and a fair amount of debt.”

But according to data examined by University of Connecticut’s Shaun M. Dougherty, students do benefit from CTE coursework, in particular those course sequences aligned to certain industries. Based on the report’s findings, it calls for policymakers and education leaders across the country to invest more heavily – and strategically – in high school CTE, and to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act and increase federal support for high-quality, labor market-aligned programs that are available and appealing to all students.

The report’s findings will be discussed on April 14 in Washington, DC, and will also be streamed. Register here to hear from the report’s author and Arkansas State CTE Director Charisse Childers, among others.  The study uses the wealth of secondary, postsecondary and labor market data from the Arkansas Research Center to better understand the state of CTE, both of those students who take CTE courses and those who take three or more CTE courses within a career field.

Key findings include:

  • Students with greater CTE exposure are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed and earn higher wages.
  • CTE students are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers. There was little evidence of “tracking.”
  • The more CTE courses students take, the better their education and labor market outcomes. Among other positive outcomes, CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school by 21 percentage points when compared to otherwise similar students.
  • Though white and female students are more likely to concentrate, CTE provides the greatest boost to students who need it most – males and students from low-income families.

The report offers recommendations similar to what has taken place in Arkansas:

  • Examine state labor market projections to identify high-growth industries
  • Offer CTE courses aligned to skills and industry-recognized credentials in these fields and encourage (or require) high school students to take them)
  • Encourage (or require) students take a concentration of CTE courses
  • Support and encourage dual enrollment and make credits “stackable” from high school into college, so that high school CTE courses count toward specific postsecondary credentials

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

fordham

Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part I)

April 7th, 2016

This week, two leading education organizations – the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Trust – have published new research that illustrates how K-12 CTE can and should be used to create meaningful education experiences that prepares students for future success in college and careers. First up, an analysis of high school transcripts to pull back the curtain on college and career readiness.

Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates

In “Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates,” Ed Trust finds that while students may graduate high school, too many are leaving with no clear path forward.

For nearly a decade, college and career-readiness for all students has been the foundational rhetoric of U.S. education, but high school transcripts show that this rhetoric didn’t bear out in reality for most graduates in 2013. In fact, fewer than one in 10 recent graduates had taken a foundational set of courses necessary to be both college- and career-ready. Additionally, the data shows that 47 percent of graduates completed neither a college- nor career-ready course of study. The study defined college- and career-courses of study as the standard 15-course sequence required for entry at many public colleges, as well as three or more credits in a career-focused area such as health science or business.

Of those who had completed a course of study, only eight percent in those graduates completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Further, less than one-third of graduates completed a college-ready course of study and just 13 percent finished a career-ready course sequence. Because seat-time is not a sufficient indicator of readiness, the report also looks at who in the college- and career-ready cohort, particularly students of color or disadvantaged backgrounds, had also demonstrated mastery of the curriculum. When looking at mastery, an additional 14 percent of graduates fail to meet this benchmark.

Rather than aligning high school coursework with students’ future goals, the report found that high schools are continuing to prioritize credit accrual, which reinforces the idea that high school graduate is the end goal in a student’s educational journey. The report identifies state-, district-, and school-level levers including transcript analysis, master schedule, credit policies and graduation requirements.

To truly prepare students, school structures, culture and instruction must shift to prepare students for postsecondary studies aligned to their career interests, and this can be done without risk of recreating a system of tracking students into prescribed pathways.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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This Week in CTE

April 1st, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ARTICLE(S) OF THE WEEK

This week, Advance CTE, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and CCSSO announced the 25 recipients of phase one of the New Skills for Youth grants. Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C. will receive $100,000 six month grants to develop career readiness action plans. In addition to a national press release, many states distributed press releases or were covered in articles including: Oklahoma, Delaware, Montana, South Carolina, Illinois, Utah, Massachusetts and Kentucky.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

The Institute for Education Sciences released a variety of new grantee areas in education research, including CTE. Research should address policies, programs and practices that increase career readiness in secondary education students.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

CTE Research Review Part II

March 11th, 2016

If you missed yesterday’s post, you can catch it here. And now a quick look at new papers exploring competency-based education, the value of credentials, and many others!

Competency-based Education

Competency-based education continues to garner the attention of policymakers, educators and the research community. Here are a few new pieces on competency-based education in both K-12 and higher education.

In Case You Missed It:

CTE Research Review Part I

March 10th, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve brought you an update on relevant research from the field. There’s so much to cover we’ve broken it into two parts.

A Look at Postsecondary Education

From the New America Foundation, researcher Mary Alice McCarthy challenges the artificial distinction between education and training and calls for “upside-down degrees” to reinvent the outdated concept of what the postsecondary education experience can be.

McCarthy offers reforms to state and federal education policies to create this flipped paradigm. She also points to states and institutions that are building pathways to four-year degrees that start with a career-training program. Others are developing “applied” bachelor’s degrees to help students build on and extend their technical expertise.

Other postsecondary-focused research:

  • The New York Federal Reserve has a report taking a closer look at unemployed college graduates and found that those who major in more technically oriented, occupation-specific fields have much lower underemployment rates than their peers in more general fields.
  • Columbia University’s Community College Research Center looks at institutional and state effectiveness in helping students transfer from community college.

Research from the Center for Education and the Workforce

New from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW), you can take advantage of their new State Initiative, which is a portal to help states use data more effectively to inform policy and planning around education and careers.

Don’t miss CEW’s other new reports:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

January 29th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

236 students across the country were nominated for the 2016 inaugural class of Presidential Scholars in CTE. See who was nominated from your state.

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Workforce Data Quality Campaign launched their online state pages resource featuring information about higher education and workforce data in each of the 50 states and D.C. Learn more.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

The AT&T/DECA Mentoring Project released a video this week showcasing the impact the mentoring project has made in its first year, providing more than 31,000 hours of mentoring to 11,500 students in 20 schools across the United States. Watch the video.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

America’s Promise Alliance released the 2016 Building a Grad Nation Data Brief, which provides an overview of the 2013-2014 high school graduation rates across the country. While the nation hit a record 82.3 percent graduation rate in 2014, there are still major discrepancies in graduation rates for minority students, those from low-income families, and students with disabilities. Read the report.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

This Week in CTE

January 8th, 2016

TWEET OF THE WEEK

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Using Dual Enrollment to Improve the Educational Outcomes of High School Students
ACT released a report delving into the benefits of providing dual enrollment opportunities for high school students, with a list of recommendations to expand dual enrollment programs including creating funding structures for programming and exploring online technology to increase accessibility. Read More.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

Connecting Credentials is hosting a series of webinars focused on improving credentialing, the first of which is today, highlighting employer engagement in credentialing. Learn more about the series here.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

350 employers, industry and education organizations from ACT, Inc. to Xerox signed a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career Technical Education Act. Learn More.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

State Policy Update: Valuing Career Readiness and Strengthening Sector Partnerships

November 10th, 2015

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the National Skills Coalition (NSC), two co-conveners of the Future of CTE Summit, recently released two new reports of interest to the CTE community.

nasbeThe first, “Toward a Better Balance: Bolstering the Second ‘C’ in College and Career Readiness” from NASBE is the result of the organization’s yearlong study group comprised of state education board members. The group examined the policies and programs that prepare students for both college and career. Nebraska State CTE Director Rich Katt and NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green were among the experts who presented to the group.

The study group recognized that career readiness has been largely forgotten within the college and career readiness (CCR) agenda, and called for state boards of education to leverage their unique and important role to reexamine their states’ CCR infrastructure that supports and values college and career readiness equally.

The group’s recommendations include:

  • Building knowledge and understanding of postsecondary, business and workforce initiatives: Understand how your education and workforce systems are governed, funded and operate, and further, how and whether they are connected or operate in silos.
  • Engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to define career readiness: The confusion around what it means to be career ready has muddled the state policies and programs that are intended to advance the full CCR agenda. Defining these terms clearly, and with a broad array of stakeholders, is the first step to ensuring rigor, equity and alignment.
  • Ensure state board policies value career readiness: State boards should reexamine its host of policies and programs that are the “bread and butter” of state boards’ work, and determine whether they truly value career readiness including standards, assessments, accountability, and teacher preparation and professional development.

Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit

NSC has released a toolkit for state policymakers to use when considering how to support local sector partnerships through funding, technical assistance and/or program initiatives. Earlier this year, NSC released a 50-state scan of sector partnership policies and found that 21 states have such policies through at least one of those three key areas. Only 10 states have policies with all three components.

The toolkit is designed to help states establish, strengthen, or scale-up their existing policies. The toolkit includes:

  • Guidance on key elements of a robust state sector partnership policy;
  • Case studies of Massachusetts, Colorado and Maryland with policies and examples of the local partnerships they support; and
  • A legislative template, which can also be used for an executive order.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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