Measuring Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems: Where to Start

March 23rd, 2017

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) affords states the chance to strengthen their accountability systems by adopting multiple measures of school success rather than relying on an antiquated test-based system. Buoyed by this flexibility, state agencies across the country are exploring strategies to integrate career readiness indicators into their accountability systems. While some states have made considerable progress in this arena, others are left wondering where do we start?

To help states navigate this new territory, Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers convened a workgroup of accountability experts and tasked them with identifying and recommending robust metrics to measure career readiness. Their recommendations, released earlier this month in a brief titled Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems, detail four possible measures of student career readiness:

  • Progress Toward Post-High School Credential
  • Co-Curricular Learning and Leadership Experiences
  • Assessment of Readiness
  • Transitions Beyond High School

The brief further outlines strategies for measuring and valuing each of these measures, demonstrating how states can implement and gradually increase the sophistication of their measurement indicators. Lessons are also drawn from states such as Ohio, Kentucky and California that have made headway toward adopting and implementing career-focused accountability indicators in recent years.

Moving forward, JPMorgan Chase & Co. aims to support state efforts to adopt these recommendations and enhance their career-focused accountability through New Skills for Youth, a cross-state initiative to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for careers.

Expanding Access to Postsecondary Learning

Separately, students who earned dual credit in Oregon schools were more likely than their peers to graduate from high school, enroll in college and persist through their first year. That’s according to new research from the Research Education Lab at Education Northwest examining dual credit participation between 2005 and 2013. While the study reveals a correlation between dual credit attainment and positive outcomes, the authors note equity gaps in participation across student subgroups. Dual credit earners in the study were more often white, female and not on the federal free and reduced lunch program.

Equitable access to higher education is not a new issue, but it can often be exacerbated by performance-based funding formulas. Without careful design, such formulas can encourage two-year and four-year colleges to be more selective with who they admit into their programs. According to the Center for Legal and Social Policy (CLASP), states should adjust their postsecondary formula weights to counteract selectivity and encourage more open access to postsecondary education.

Odds and Ends

  • The Education Commission of the States published an analysis of State Longitudinal Data Systems, highlighting common approaches and challenges to instituting cross-system data sharing systems. The brief profiles successes in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
  • A study out of Mississippi State University exploring perceptions of CTE found that 45 percent of Mississippi residents were unable to name a single CTE program in their area. The authors put forward a series of recommendations including calling on educators to actively promote the many benefits of CTE participation, such as highlighting college-bound students, program flexibility, fast-track to careers and high-skill, high-demand job opportunities.
  • Two years after the California legislature launched the Career Pathways Trust — a $500 million grant program to finance collaborative career pathways — Jobs for the Future has released a summary of common successes and challenges across different grant sites.
  • A new paper from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign provides a quality assurance framework for short-term occupational training programs and makes recommendations for state and federal policymakers to strengthen such programs.
  • Two reports from America’s Promise Alliance, Relationships First and Turning Points, explore the role that relationship building plays in guiding students along their career pathways. The reports — the first two in an ongoing series — highlight Cafe Momentum in Dallas, TX; Per Scholas in the Bronx, NY; Urban Alliance in Washington, D.C.; and Year Up in the Bay Area.
  • A new study from the Online Learning Consortium examines six institutions in the United States that are experimenting with alternative credentialing strategies to provide flexible postsecondary learning opportunities, including digital distance learning and prior learning assessments.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

This Week in CTE

March 10th, 2017

TWEET OF THE WEEK

 

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK 

A brief by Education Commission of the States found that workforce development and CTE is a priority of at least 24 governors.

REPORT OF THE WEEK

Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officer’s report, Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems, provides recommendations on the ways states can use college and career readiness measures to drive their accountability systems.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE WEEK

A video competition by Heads Up America, housed within the College Promise Campaign, is hosting a video competition around the theme, “breaking up with student debt.” The winning Instagram video submission will receive $2,000.

Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Communications Associate 

Analysis Suggests Metrics for Measuring Impact of Community Colleges

March 9th, 2017

March 9, 2017

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report in partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees examining which metrics best tell the story of the services community colleges provide and the supports they require. They determined that the three important indicators of community college progress are:

  • College Persistence
  • Transfer and Mobility
  • Certificate and Degree Completion

The report makes a distinction between measuring college retention and college persistence, as retention only measures how many students return for the following Fall semester at the same institution. Using persistence as a measure for community colleges captures the large number of students who transfer either to other community colleges or to four-year institutions. This requires a more systematic approach to tracking enrollment across different institutions and across state lines. When enrollment was tracked this way using Student Clearinghouse data, they found that almost half of all bachelor’s degree recipients were enrolled in a community college at one point before transferring to a four-year institution, a fact that demonstrates the clear role community colleges play in student success.

Study Finds Girls Turn Away from STEM Subjects Early

A new report published in Science found that girls tend to turn away from STEM subjects as early as first grade. The report attributes this partly to their findings that girls begin to associate boys as being smarter and therefore tend to shy away from subjects intended for more intelligent people. Boys around that age seem to also believe themselves to be inherently smarter. The findings in this study echo previous studies that correlated boys’ and girls’ performance in math and science with their self-reported levels of confidence and anxiety with the subjects.

The authors of the report suggest that schools must begin working to break down gender stereotypes far earlier than many might expect. They also recommend that families work to foster girls’ interest in STEM subjects as early as possible.

Odds and Ends

As you know, last month was CTE Month. To celebrate, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) launched a newly redesigned CTE statistics website, which provides national-level information on CTE at the secondary and postsecondary education levels, as well as information on occupational certification and licensure.

Several pieces related to equity have been released lately. CCSSO and the Aspen Institute released a report on the role SEA chiefs can and should play in defining and promoting equity in schools. Chiefs For Change also released a report on equity, with a focus on using ESSA and financial transparency to improve equity.

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education recently released a technical assistance document to support communities working with in-school youth in accordance with WIOA. Additionally, the National Conference of State Legislatures launched a database that tracks state legislation related to WIOA implementation.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Early Achievements and Innovations from Phase One of the New Skills for Youth Initiative

March 1st, 2017

Last spring, 24 states and Washington, D.C. began a national, six-month effort to examine and transform their career readiness systems and expand opportunities available to students in their states. Under the initiative, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative, states were required to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and use the results to construct a three-year action plan. States were provided grant funds to conduct the needs assessment and begin early implementation of their action plans.

Today, Advance CTE, Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group released a series of snapshots documenting state efforts under Phase One of the New Skills for Youth initiative. The snapshots profile some of the significant achievements and lessons learned through this early work, drawing out strategies that other states can emulate. A holistic summary of the cross-state Phase One work is available here, along with individual state snapshots.

These resources were developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

While all states had CTE and career readiness policies in place prior to the start of the initiative, each began the work at different starting points. Nonetheless, states made considerable progress during the grant period. Cross-sector ownership was one area of focus, as many states worked to distribute the work across various stakeholders — particularly within business and industry — and secure commitment from cross-sector leaders. These efforts paid dividends, ensuring that employers were not only aware of the work, but were empowered to lead key initiatives. Additionally, states that engaged stakeholders early and often found it easier to distribute the work and clarify roles during the planning process. Rhode Island, for example, gathered input from business, secondary education, postsecondary education, the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office, which enabled the state to assign activities in its action plan to individual staff members within each partnering organization.

The snapshots also detail trends related to:

  • The role of equity in early implementation and strategic planning;
  • How states worked regionally to develop and execute action plans;
  • Efforts to link data and build career-focused accountability systems;
  • Enhancing career guidance strategies.

The Phase One planning and early implementation grant period concluded in October, but ten states were selected to receive additional funds and still more have elected to work as a cohort to implement their three-year career readiness action plans. Stay tuned for periodic updates from states’ ongoing New Skills for Youth work.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

State Research Shows Positive Outcomes for CTE Students

February 20th, 2017

In 2015, the most recent year data are available, CTE students nationwide graduated at a rate of 93 percent — approximately 10 percentage points higher than the average. Now, new research from Wisconsin and Washington adds to the growing body of evidence that secondary Career Technical Education (CTE) leads to positive postsecondary outcomes.

State Research Shows Positive Outcomes for CTE Students

The Public Policy Forum, a research organization based out of Milwaukee, recently published a report examining the CTE system in both Wisconsin and the local Milwaukee region. The study draws upon Wisconsin’s CTE Enrollment Reporting System (CTEERS) and district-level surveys of CTE graduates and finds that two-thirds of students in Wisconsin enroll in CTE courses. The most popular area of focus for these students was Business & Information Technology. The study also revealed positive outcomes for CTE students, including:

  • CTE Concentrators were six percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than non-participants.
  • Approximately 74 percent of CTE Concentrators went on to pursue further education, with about one-third attending a 2-year school and two-thirds attending a 4-year school.
  • Of those attending higher education, 72 percent reported pursuing fields of study related to their high school CTE courses.

However, the data revealed inconclusive results related to performance on academic assessments. Additionally, the report identified a 6.3 percent statewide decrease in CTE teaching assignments from 2009 to 2016 — a trend the state has been working to reverse through recent legislation making it easier for CTE teachers to get certified in the state.

Washington Audit Highlights CTE Student Achievement

A report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office examines outcomes data for students in both the 2012 and 2013 graduating high school classes and finds that secondary CTE students demonstrated high post-high school achievement. The study was commissioned to examine the impact of Washington state’s $400 million investment in CTE — a system that reaches 300,000 high school students statewide.

The study finds that, within the population of students that did not go on to a four-year degree, CTE students were 11 percent more likely to “achieve” than non-CTE students. According to the study, “achievement” is measured as persistence in apprenticeship programs, persistence in community and technical colleges, employment and certificate attainment. Additionally, CTE programs accommodated a higher proportion of students receiving free and reduced price lunch and students with disabilities than other non-CTE programs, indicating that CTE could be a strategy for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities to acquire the skills needed for high-demand, high-wage careers.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

CTE Remained a Priority for State Policymakers in 2016

January 25th, 2017

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Release Annual State Policies Impacting CTE: Year in Review, Highlighting State Policy Trends from 2016

Supporting and strengthening high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) remains a priority for state policymakers, according to a new report from Advance CTE and ACTE. The report, State Policies Impacting CTE: 2016 Year in Review, is the fourth annual policy scan highlighting state activity. Below are some key takeaways from the report.

More States Passed CTE-Related Policies in 2016 than the Year Before

In recent years, both state and national policymakers have demonstrated a growing interest in strengthening career readiness systems through legislation, executive orders, rulemaking, budget provisions and ballot initiatives. In 2016, states continued that trend, completing a total of 139 policy actions across 42 states. This is a slight increase over 2015, when 39 states passed a total of 125 policies.

This activity reflects that states are increasingly buying into the notion that alternative pathways such as two-year degrees, apprenticeships and industry-recognized credentials can lead to high-wage, high-demand careers. This is fueled in part by national initiatives such as the New Skills for Youth initiative, Pathways to Prosperity and the National Governors Association’s Talent Pipeline Policy academy, which each aim to catalyze the transformation of career preparation in states.

Funding Remains the Most Popular Policy Category for the Fourth Year

Funding was the leading category of policies passed in 2016, consistent with the past four years. Related policies this year include new grant initiatives such as the Strong Workforce Grant in California, which provides $200 million in noncompetitive funding to strengthen workforce development programs in California community colleges, and Massachusetts’ Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program. Last year also saw the restoration of funding for the Arizona Joint Technical Education Districts after a $29 million cut in 2015.

Other extant trends from the past year include policies related to industry partnerships and work-based learning; dual and concurrent enrollment, articulation and early college; and industry-recognized credentials.

States Are Gearing up for ESSA Implementation

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was signed into law in December, 2015 and includes numerous opportunities for states to accelerate work around CTE and career readiness. While most states spent 2016 engaging various stakeholder groups and developing draft plans to implement the law, some states took initial steps to pass policies in support of implementation. West Virginia and Oklahoma, for example, each adopted accountability systems that recognize and value career preparation. West Virginia’s accountability system includes an indicator that recognizes the percentage of 12th grade CTE concentrators, while Oklahoma adopted a “Postsecondary Opportunity” indicator that includes dual credit coursework, internships, apprenticeships and industry certifications.

Successful Ballot Initiatives Demonstrate Voter Support for CTE

Several states saw and passed initiatives related to CTE on the November ballot. In Oregon, voters approved Measure 98, which establishes the College and Career Readiness Fund and directs the legislature to allocate $800 per pupil to establish and expand new programs, including CTE. Meanwhile, Arkansas voted to legalize medical marijuana and subject sale of the drug to state and local sales tax. Under the approved amendment, 60 percent of the revenue generated through the sale of medical marijuana will go to support skills development and training. South Dakota voters also approved a measure that directs the legislature to restructure the way the state technical colleges are governed and remove authority from the Board of Regents.

2016 saw growing momentum in support of CTE at the state level, and this year’s activity tees 2017 up to be an important year for CTE and career readiness in the U.S. We anticipate states will continue the work started in 2016 by picking up legislation introduced in 2016, adopting new strategies to implement federal legislation and beginning the work of implementing policies passed in 2016.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

New Research out of California Finds Higher Earnings for Students with Credentials in the Health Industry

January 5th, 2017

ca credentialsContributing to a growing body of research on the economic benefit of industry credentials, the Public Policy Institute of California last month released a study of employment outcomes for students in health Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the California Community College system. In California, 18 of the top 25 wage-enhancing degrees are in health. As such, helping students obtain a health-related credential could be one strategy for closing achievement gaps and providing underserved students an on-ramp into the industry.

The authors of the study examined data for a total of 120,000 students enrolled in health CTE programs in California community colleges over the past ten years. Their research found that, despite variations in completion and persistence across different programs, students who obtained credentials increased their earnings by 51 percent compared to non-degree holders.

Earning a credential translates to real changes in earning opportunity. According to the study, students who were not previously employed in the health industry saw a median increase of $8,661 in quarterly earnings after completing a degree or credential.

While a health-related credential may create economic opportunity for underserved students, completion gaps between subpopulations persist. According to the study, there is a six point gap in completion rates for Latino students compared to white students, and a 12 point gap for African American students. However, the researchers also found that providing career guidance and support services could help close the completion gap by helping underserved students identify and complete pathways in high-demand career fields.

A Holiday Surprise from the National Skills Coalition: 50-State Skills Equity Policy Scans

Meanwhile, the National Skills Coalition released an early Christmas gift in the form of four 50-state policy scans. The scans are part of the organization’s Skills Equity series, which includes toolkits to help policymakers identify effective strategies for expanding access to middle-skills training.

One of the reports dives into an increasingly popular method of addressing basic skills gaps, known as Integrated Education and Training, or IET. Now a required activity under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), IET integrates basic academic education with workforce training in order to prepare adults with basic skills for the workforce. While these adults, who are often inhibited by limited English proficiency or mathematical skills, generally struggle to find job opportunities, research shows that IET programs can increase earning potential for students who take at least two credits and earn a credential.

Other scans in the series include state policies on Stackable Credentials, Alignment and Job-Driven Financial Aid.

Odds and Ends

A new report from the Center for Public Education provides a summary overview of CTE, including data and key questions to help policymakers make the case for expanding CTE offerings. While introductory, the report is essential reading for anyone new to CTE.

The National Opportunity Index – which examines education, crime rates, job availability and other indicators to determine a snapshot of economic opportunity by county and state – is out with new data for 2016. While overall opportunity has remained stagnant over the past year, the index demonstrates an increase of 8.9 percent since 2011.

In a series of policy papers released last month, the Education Commission of the States explores strategies for state and federal policymakers to form partnerships to support postsecondary education. One paper highlights opportunities to leverage the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) to support community colleges, such as by using sector partnerships to create career pathways or offering programs that qualify for WIOA support.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Alternative Certification Alone Will Not Solve CTE Expert Shortage

December 16th, 2016

New Report Describes State Efforts to Increase Access to Industry Experts in High Schools

state of cte industry expertsAs interest in Career Technical Education (CTE) continues to increase, the need for experts qualified to help ensure students gain the real-world experiences they need for success increases as well. Individuals with industry expertise provide a perspective to students that traditional academic teachers may be unable to offer, and can also help students explore and connect with particular career opportunities. Unfortunately, there is a national shortage of these experts working in schools.   

Today Advance CTE released a report examining the shortage of industry experts in secondary classrooms and how to address it. This report was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Advance CTE, in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at American Institutes for Research, carried out two surveys: one of 47 State CTE Directors and one of 260 local CTE teachers and administrators from 26 states.

The surveys revealed that, while many states use alternative certification policies to bring industry experts into schools as full-time teachers, those policies do not fully address the problem. Alternative certification policies may work well for industry experts who are already willing to change careers and go into the classroom full-time, but there are other options that better meet the available capacity of industry experts still working in their field. These strategies include allowing experts to teach part-time or co-teach with a fully certified teacher of record, which gives students the benefit of their industry-specific knowledge without requiring the expert to give up their job in industry or go through the same rigorous and time-consuming preparation of a fully certified teacher.

alt cert state of cteOther states have policies that encourage experts to give their time in non-instructional roles, such as through career coaching and mentorships. Many states have articulation agreements with postsecondary institutions and use those to share faculty, which can include industry experts. Fewer states use incentives to attract experts to the teaching profession.

Using the data collected from the surveys, Advance CTE developed several recommendations for state leaders to consider. First, states should develop policies and initiatives that go beyond full-time alternative certification policies to allow for a broad range of options for industry expert involvement. States can do more to leverage their articulation agreements with postsecondary institutions to give secondary students access to industry experts teaching at the postsecondary level. Importantly, states must work to increase awareness of all of these opportunities within industry. Finally, states should consider how to deliberately coordinate and streamline disparate recruitment strategies so as to maximize their collective impact.

For more information, look out for an invitation to a webinar discussing this paper, which will take place on January 9 at 3 pm ET and feature an in-depth look at Nebraska’s strategies for increasing access to industry experts.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

American Students Demonstrate Lackluster Performance on International PISA Exam, but Signal Interest in Science-Related Careers

December 9th, 2016

Earlier this week, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released results from the 2015 international PISA examination. The examination, which is administered every three years by the OECD, is designed to measure science, reading and math literacy for 15-year-olds in 35 OECD member countries in order to identify trends in student achievement and provide recommendations for international education policy. Each administration of the exam focuses on a different content area, and the emphasis for the 2015 exam was science literacy.

Performance in the United States was lackluster at best, with students placing 19th in science, 20th in reading and 31st in math compared to 34 other OECD countries. While there has been relatively no change in performance for science and reading over the past two iterations of the exam, math scores have fallen 11 points since 2012.

In response to this year’s assessment results, the OECD released five recommendations for policymakers in the U.S. to improve teaching and learning and promote equity:

  1. A clear education strategy to improve performance and equity should be implemented.
  2. Rigorous and consistent standards should be applied across all classrooms.
  3. Teacher and school leader capacity should be improved.
  4. Resources should be distributed equitably across schools – preferentially to those schools and students that need them most.
  5. At-risk students and schools should be proactively targeted.

 

These results are sobering, but they also spark a renewed urgency to improve the quality of education and leverage opportunities such as Career Technical Education (CTE) to equip students with academic and workforce-relevant skills and set the national economy on track for future growth.

Student Performance and Economic Growth

Performance on the PISA exam serves not only as a signal of student academic achievement, but also of career readiness. This is a research focus of Eric Hanushek’s, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In a recent panel discussion with the Alliance for Excellent Education, he argued that academic performance is tightly related to a country’s future economic health. Using PISA performance as a proxy for educational quality, Hanushek finds a positive correlation between international performance and future GDP growth. In other words, the more students learn, the stronger the economy is likely to be in the future. He also uses scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a U.S.-administered assessment, to find a similar relationship across individual states.

However, Hanushek makes sure not to conflate educational quality with quantity. He runs the same analysis using years of educational attainment instead of PISA scores and finds almost no relationship with economic growth. He draws the conclusion that “if you have more education without developing the skills, it doesn’t count.” This conclusion echoes a finding from this year’s PISA that, in terms of science literacy performance, how science is taught is a more important factor than investments in equipment and highly-qualified instructional staff. In the intersection between education and economic growth, it is not the inputs that matter as much as the skills, knowledge and abilities students develop along the way.

Students Signal High Interest in Science-Related Careers

In addition to testing subject literacy, the PISA examination surveys student attitudes and career preferences. Interestingly, the 2015 survey found that 38 percent of American 15-year-olds expect to work in a science-related career field by the age of 30, with health and science and engineering the two most prominent industries of interest, demonstrating that high school students are putting consideration into their future career goals. 

One strategy to prepare students for future careers in science is to increase participation in related programs of study. Programs of study guide learners through a sequence of aligned, non-duplicative courses that integrate academic and technical learning, span secondary and postsecondary systems and culminate in a credential of value. Participating in a program of study enables students to focus in a Career ClusterⓇ of interest and develop the skills and experiences they need to be successful in that industry. Rather than sampling a basket of different electives without developing depth of experience in any, program of study concentrators go deep in their learning. And research indicates that this could lead to positive student outcomes. According to a recent study, participating in a program of study increases the likelihood of graduation, overall grade point average and CTE grade point average. At scale, increased participation in programs of study may lead to increased academic performance and career readiness, spurring future economic growth.

With the release of the 2015 international PISA exam scores, there is newfound urgency to improve the quality of learning and increase opportunities for students to learn workforce-relevant skills, particularly in science-related fields. By leveraging high-quality programs of study, education policymakers can prepare students for future careers and spur national economic growth.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Strengthening the Teacher Workforce through Talent Management Pipeline Strategies

November 4th, 2016

teacher talent pipelinesTalk to any rural district about challenges facing their school system and they’re likely to cite a teacher shortage. Recruiting and retaining high quality educators who are equipped to meet the demands of a 21st century classroom is one of the most pressing challenges the American education system faces today, affecting communities of all sizes and geographies. Crucially, Career Technical Education (CTE) classrooms – which demand highly-skilled teachers – are struggling to fill open positions.

A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF), released this week, examines teacher recruitment practices from school districts in Arizona and finds that many schools struggle to find teachers that are adequately prepared to support the diversity of student needs. Part of this preparation gap is due to the lack of formal systems to communicate teacher supply needs and build pathways into the classroom. Recognizing parallels with other industry workforce shortages, USCCF developed a set of recommendations for school districts to expand the pool of quality teachers through a talent pipeline management strategy. Recommendations include:

  • Schools should come together in groups to define collective demand for talent and define skills needed from candidates.
  • Analyze current ways of sourcing teacher talent.
  • Build and incentivize relationships with top talent providers.

These strategies aim to improve the quality and supply of the teaching workforce by streamlining the talent pipeline and increasing avenues of communication and collaboration from the preparation to the recruitment stage. In regions where teacher workforce gaps exist, states should consider strategies to reach potential teachers earlier in the pipeline and expand pathways into the profession.

Promising News for College Promise

In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress and the states to provide tuition free community college for students in the U.S. This proposal was inspired in part by the Tennessee Promise program, which provides last-dollar scholarships to eligible students in the state. In the time since then, free community college programs have expanded significantly, encompassing a total of 150 programs across 37 states. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently developed a web-based platform that maps and details each of these programs. Additionally, the College Promise Campaign — a national, non-partisan initiative to research and advocate for Promise programs — released its 2016 annual report, profiling pioneer and emerging programs across the states. One example is the Oakland Promise program, which aims to reach back to early learning years in order to create a college-going culture and provide college and career advising supports throughout the K-12 education system. Students who qualify for the scholarship program can receive up to $16,000 towards their postsecondary education.

On a related note, the College Board released its annual “Trends in College Pricing Report” and found that in 2016-17, the average net tuition and fees paid by two-year college students was $920 less than before the Great Recession (though costs have increased since 2011-12). Over roughly the same period, state and local appropriations for higher education declined 9 percent.

Odds and Ends

talent shortage surveyShort on Talent. Manpower Group’s 2016/17 Talent Shortage Survey reports the highest global talent shortage since 2007, largely in the skilled trades, IT and sales industries. As a result, more than 50 percent of surveyed employers are training and developing existing staff in order to fill open positions.

Data Linkages. All 50 states plus D.C. have the ability to connect data between systems — but only 17 (plus D.C.) have a full P20W system. That’s according to the Education Commission of the States’ 50-state comparison of statewide longitudinal data systems.

For the Equity Toolbox. The National Skills Coalition released a set of five policy toolkits with resources and recommendations for adopting and aligning policies to expand equitable access to training, credentials and careers. Toolkits include stackable credentials and integrating education and training, among others.

Standards for CBE. C-BEN, a coalition of more than 30 colleges offering competency-based education (CBE) programs, released draft quality standards for CBE. The standards will be finalized early next year and focus on eight areas, including clear, measurable, meaningful and complete competencies and credential-level assessment strategy with robust implementation.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

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