BROUGHT TO YOU BY
National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE Research Review

July 3rd, 2014

Research Image_6.2013This week, Jobs for the Future and the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a two-year progress report on its Pathways to Prosperity Network. The network, which consists of 10 states, focuses on creating career pathways for students spanning high schools and community or technical colleges. Along with statewide and regional examples, the report provides lessons from the field and policy recommendations.

The network’s mission grew out of a 2011 report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education which argued the current U.S. education system focused too narrowly on preparing all students for a four-year college degree, and by doing so ignored other postsecondary options that could better suit many students. The project’s long-term objective is “to create statewide strategies that ensure that all middle and high school students are provided with systematic, sustained exposure to the world of work and careers, and that students in their upper high school years have access to educational options that integrate academic and technical skills and lead to a postsecondary credential with value in the labor market.”

While the report found “gold standard” work-based learning opportunities in some schools and a philosophical commitment to these practices in many instances, none of the models could be found across whole districts or even entire high schools. These opportunities are not more readily available because, “employers in the United States do not take the long view about the value of investing in talent early.” The report shared the burden, however, with schools, saying that even if employers were more inclined to collaborate, teachers and administrators “do not have the time or capacity to develop the number of internships needed while attending to their other responsibilities.” The authors also pointed to other factors such as already tight class schedules and a lack of government youth employment policies.

The authors called on state agencies to better coordinate resources to scale up Pathways programs; increase dual enrollment opportunities; further integrate CTE with academic programs, particularly those with a STEM focus; and develop policies to incentivize business involvement.

Be sure to check out examples of how Pathways states are increasing work-based learning opportunities, leveraging public funds, and a state-by-state report that looks at progress through a statewide and regional lens.

CTE Research Review

June 25th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013In this week’s Research Review, we dive into unemployment rates for community college graduates and a new report on the manufacturing sector from the Milstein Center.

Community college graduates vs. unemployment rates

The New York Times has tapped into data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics linking unemployment rates to educational attainment. Most strikingly among community college graduates, those who finished with an occupational degree had a substantially lower unemployment rate than their academic-degree counterparts at 4.0 and 4.8 percent, respectively.

The data also suggest that occupationally focused associate’s degrees (which encompass most CTE fields of study) “are healthy and growing,” according to additional analysis from the Economic Modeling Specialists International.

Six proposals to expand manufacturing’s innovative capacity

The recently released inaugural report from The Milstein Commission on New Manufacturing, which is part of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, explores challenges facing the future of small- and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises and their ability to innovate as technologies advance and global demand shifts over the next decade.

Among the six ideas proposed, the commission advocates for “upside-down degrees” to encourage alignment between work experience and college education, a “skills census” to better understand the skills gap and a renewed focus on technology and engineering skills for high school students as a means to stimulate the rise of new manufacturing in the United States.

According to the report, the country’s 258,000 small- and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises represent more than 98 percent of all U.S. manufacturing firms and now share 45 percent of the sector’s jobs. The report identified a serious and comprehensive cultural change as necessary to create a pipeline of skilled workers from K-12 and workforce training programs. However, those challenges notwithstanding, small and medium firms often lack the required capital to invest in their employees or the on-the-job training needed to keep their existing workforce current.

Check out the entire report to learn more about the six proposals.

NASDCTEc’s state pages updated

Our state profile pages have been updated to include state allocations of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. We’ve also recently added new functionality for members only that allows users to compare multiple states, and have begun identifying and sharing CTE success stories from across the country. We’ll list other new additions here as they become available.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

June 11th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has stepped into the STEM conversation with a new review of the federal government’s STEM education programs. The Obama Administration has championed STEM as critical to maintaining U.S. global competitiveness and has set a clear priority that American students “move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math.” Against the backdrop of repeated warnings over the growing STEM skills mismatch, researchers have argued over whether the education system needs to produce more graduates to fill jobs in fields that require STEM competencies. The GAO report investigates this issue, as well as existing federal programs’ ability to address the matter, including looking at programs’ workforce alignment and college preparation goals.

The review focused on 13 of the 154 federal STEM programs for secondary and postsecondary education administered by the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health. These 13 programs represented the largest federal investment in STEM education – 54 percent of the total $2.6 billion obligated in fiscal year 2012. The findings also gave an update on the GAO’s 2012 report that found 83 percent of the federal government’s STEM education programs reviewed overlapped to some degree with at least one other program. Federal agencies have been working to consolidate duplicative programs and missions through strategic planning. The report concluded that demand for STEM workers remains difficult to pinpoint and thus the appropriate role of the federal investment in this area is uncertain. However, it did find that regardless of a STEM degree-holder’s career choices, the “rigor of a STEM education may help promote a workforce with transferable skills and the potential to fuel innovation and economic growth.”

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

June 6th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) recently released a case study of Memphis City Schools’ multi-year effort to scale up access to dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities. The report indicates that Memphis is a CTE trailblazer for its sustained, targeted investment in district-wide dual enrollment, rare in most communities and even less common among large urban areas with high numbers of traditionally underserved students.

The report focuses on how Memphis schools implemented its dual enrollment initiative, and offers best practices for others interested in looking to make a similar investment. The study also shared Memphis’ experience working with local and state policymakers and other institutional leaders concerned with easing the pathway into college. The case study, Expanding Access to Dual Enrollment and College: A Case Study of Memphis City Schools, was conducted by researchers from the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching at Columbia University’s Teachers College and was commissioned by NACEP.

Also last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released its annual Condition of Education report. Though there are no CTE-specific trends this year’s report, it’s worth checking out the latest trends in postsecondary education enrollment and attainment.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

May 21st, 2014

CTE programs of study (POS) took center stage in a recent study from the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE), which released its final 200-page report gauging the effectiveness of POS as a strategy for improving student outcomes.

The NRCCTE researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 6,638 students from the class of 2012 participating in POS in three urban districts from different states. The resulting findings offer myriad ways to examine the impact of POS on student success as well as suggestions for future research, in particular on the postsecondary side of POS.

Commonalities existed across all three districts. No matter the location, the findings indicated that taking more CTE credits “may boost GPA, the probability of graduation, and some achievement measures,” and came at little to no cost to overall academic achievement. The study, however, did find low participation in programs associated with accruing college credits while in high school such as dual enrollment.

The study was conducted ahead of the coming reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which funds CTE nationwide. The last reauthorization included a new requirement for POS, using the POS framework to increase program accountability in the areas of academic and technical skills achievement as well as alignment with postsecondary technical education.

The NRCCTE researchers found that “although high-quality CTE programs in the form of POS are not easy, cheap, or capable of solving all educational problems, they can be implemented well and yield positive results.”

The researchers conclude with a series of recommendations including calling for districts to find ways to increase the number of CTE credits a high school student can earn, taking another look at dual enrollment programs to maximize student participation, and recruiting more teachers from industry and business.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

May 14th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The Education Commission of the States takes a closer look at student transfer and articulation agreements across the 50 states in its newest report, “Students on the move: How states are responding to increasing mobility among postsecondary students.”

Today, more than one-third of all college graduates have transferred at least once prior to earning their degrees and a vast majority of non-traditional and lower-income students start their postsecondary education at community colleges. Given this reality, it likely comes as no surprise that comprehensive, statewide transfer policies gained traction nationwide, and often are at the center of many states’ ambitious college completion initiatives.

Among the report’s highlights is a CTE example from Louisiana, which the legislature passed Senate Bill 93 in 2013 to provide a career pathway between industry-based CTE certification programs and academic degree programs.

ECS says states should consider policies that are transparent and clearly communicated to students and their families in order to better promote a seamless transfer process. You can find out where your state stands by accessing ECS’ searchable database.

 *             *             *

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s Department of Education found that exposing high school students to vocational education and training – as CTE is known in Australia and in many other countries – can improve student outcomes, increase engagement and retention in school, respond to local skills shortages and strengthen community partnerships.

The study was conducted by Group Training Australia Limited, which represents 150 group training associations and is the largest employer network of apprentices and trainees in the country. In Australia, government-recognized Group Training Organizations employ and place apprentices and trainees with host businesses. The organizations also ensure that employers provide quality and continuity for students for the duration of the contract.

The report, “Work Exposure and Work Placement Programs in Schools Involving Group Training Organisations,” focuses on students in Years 9-10 and 11-12 and is broken into three parts:

  • Good Practice Principles
  • Views of Employers, Students and their Parents
  • Case Studies of Good Practice

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

May 8th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013A new Gallup-Purdue University survey takes a look, for the first time, at the relationship between the college experience and graduates’ lives. The study found that the type of institution matters little to a graduates’ workplace engagement and current well-being. More important was the support and experiences that a graduate had while in college. The survey showed that respondents were twice as likely to be engaged at work if they had an internship or extra-curricular in college where they were able to apply their classroom learning. Similar results were found if graduates reported having had a professor who excited them about learning and encouraged them. The report concludes that when colleges look to attract students they should consider “what students are doing in college and how they are experiencing it. Those elements — more than many others measured — have a profound relationship to a graduate’s life and career. Yet too few are experiencing them.”

High School Journal recently published a paper from researchers at the National Research Center for Career & Technical Education (NRCCTE) that attempts to create a more nuanced definition of CTE concentrators. Currently, CTE concentrators are defined generally as students who take 2-3 CTE courses out of a high school career. James R. Stone, director of NRCCTE, and his co-writers argue that although this satisfies accountability requirements, it may not truly illustrate how high school students use CTE courses. [NOTE: To access the entire paper, you will need an authorized log-in through a subscribing institution to use the MUSE website.]

On its blog this week, the Economic Policy Institute aired skepticism over media stories that claim there is a serious shortage of construction workers. EPI said the best proof of such a shortage would be in wages, and for residential construction, the evidence isn’t there. Though construction wages have risen over the past two years, they are still 4.2 percent lower than the 2009 levels. Check out this blog and EPI’s “Great Recession” feature, which is updated monthly as new employment data are released.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review (Part 2)

May 2nd, 2014

ResearchNote: This is the second part of our regular CTE Research Review series. Be sure to check out yesterday’s post for new research finding about education and the labor market.

This week, Northeastern University released a new survey called, “Innovation Imperative: Enhancing the Talent Pipeline,” which is its third in a series of public opinion polls on higher education and the global economy. Among the survey’s key findings, 96 percent of business leaders believe innovation is crucial to remain globally competitive while more than half of business leaders believe the U.S. higher education system is lagging behind most developed and emerging countries in preparing students for the workforce. Three-quarters of business leaders surveyed believe there is a skills gap among today’s workforce and 87 percent believe graduates lack the most important skills to succeed.

A new report from CareerBuilder, “The shocking truth about the skills gap,” asked employers, academics and job seekers (employed, unemployed and underemployed) about their perceptions of the “skills gap.” Although the U.S. economy continues to climb out of the Great Recession and positive signs of growth and recovery abound, 81 percent of employers say they are having a difficult time filling open jobs. This fact alone would support the idea that there is a gap between the skills needed for vacant jobs and the skills job seekers possess. This CareerBuilder report, however, uncovered a few surprising pieces of this complex puzzle.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review (Part 1)

May 1st, 2014

ResearchNote: Today’s post will focus on new research findings about education and the labor market. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, which will bring you some new public opinion surveys from the field.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute released Thursday shows that while the Great Recession may have ended officially in June 2009, the labor market’s slow recovery has been particularly devastating for young college and high school graduates and will likely have lasting consequences. The study found that unemployment rates for young graduates are improving, but remain substantially higher than before the recession began, and the overall rates for young graduates mask substantial disparities in unemployment by race and ethnicity, which are substantially higher than their white non-Hispanic peers. Also, graduating in a bad economy will have lasting consequences for this cohort. The study projected that for the next 10 to 15 years, those in the Class of 2014 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that the high school graduation rate has reached 80 percent for the first time in U.S. history. The numbers – released by ED’s statistics arm, the National Center for Education Statistics – also project that graduation rates could hit 90 percent by 2020, if states continue at this pace. This week, the America’s Promise Alliance also released a report that offered a detailed state-by-state look based on 2012 data.

Also, this week, Education Commission of the States takes a look at legislative activity in 2013 as it related to CTE and workforce development. The report, titled “Career and Technical Education: States Aligning Programs to Meet Workforce Needs,” cites activity in areas such as blending high school and postsecondary learning opportunities, incentivizing industry credentials, expanding internships, and formalizing governing structures. In case you missed it – NASDCTEc and ACTE released their own “2013 Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE,” in March.

Earlier this month, the Lumina Foundation launched a new issue paper series that focused on college costs and prices for students as well as institutions and states. In particular, the report takes a state-by-state look at the connection between the Great Recession, college tuition and affordability.

Understanding the federal appropriations process is already a steep challenge. An important facet of this process is when the money will be obligated as well as the difference between forward funding, advance appropriations and advance funding. Many programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education are advance or forward funded. Knowing how and when federal programs obligate funds is crucial in order for recipients – whether on the state, district or institution level – to plan accordingly. This brief from the Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress, takes a closer look at these varying types of appropriations.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

NASDCTEc and ACTE Release Report on Developments in CTE

March 28th, 2014

NASDCTEc and ACTE wrapped 2013 by conducting an extensive poll to track developments in CTE state by state. The report, “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2013 Year in Review” contains several key findings indicating that CTE Picture6has not only weathered the storm of tight budgets and shifting education policy, it has thrived in most states.

Crucially, 47 states and the District of Columbia were found to have taken action on CTE in 2o13, many with multi-year initiatives to shake up the structure and practice of CTE in their state. 31 states increased funding to CTE programs in the last year, and multiple governors have already conveyed an interest in expanding funding and access further in 2014.

The report features a state-by state breakdown of policy developments, as well as an overall summary. Check the table (right) for more details and read the whole report at the link above!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

 

Series

Archives