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CTE Research Review

July 16th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) recently released a review of the state budget landscape for fiscal year (FY) 2015, which began on July 1. Career Technical Education (CTE) receives its funding through a variety of streams – including from these state budgets. While the report does not speak to CTE funding directly, understanding a state’s fiscal health is important, particularly after many continue to recover from the recession.

According to the governors’ proposed budgets, state spending is projected to grow moderately for the fifth consecutive year – to $750.1 billion, a 2.9 percent increase from FY 2014.  Though state revenues are projected to grow, gains are expected to be constrained by economic growth and a weak labor market, as they were in 2014. On average, states expected to see an estimated 5 percent increase in FY 2014, but in the end, only saw growth of 4.3 percent. While many states are expected to surpass pre-recession spending levels in FY 2015, 10 recommended states budgets remain below pre-recession highs.

Mid-year program cuts can be a clear sign of fiscal distress, according to the report. In FY 2014, nine states made mid-year cuts to K-12 and five made cuts to higher education. With modest fiscal advances for FY 2015, 39 governors have proposed increases to core services such as K-12 ($10.9 billion) and postsecondary education ($3.5 billion). Three states have proposed overall cuts to K-12 and five recommended slashing higher education funding.

Be sure to check out the full NASBO report for a state-by-state breakdown of changes to state aid, expenditures, revenues and much more.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

July 8th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has been the focus of much research and discussion as a catalyst for innovation and economic growth.  With recent publications from the Brookings Institution and the National Center for Education Statistics, new research supports the idea that a STEM degree pays off – both in salary and rate of employment.

The Brookings report, “Still Searching: Job Vacancies and STEM Skills,” used labor market information to analyze the skill requirements and duration of online job postings, and found that job openings for STEM positions take an average of 50 days to fill – compared to the 33-day average for non-STEM jobs. In particular, advertisements for health science and information technology jobs within the STEM sphere were advertised 23 and 15 days longer, respectively, than non-STEM jobs, and professional STEM vacancies are staying vacant longer on average than before the recession. The study’s author suggests that these indicators show a short supply of STEM skills in the labor market despite clear demand, particularly in tech hubs such as Seattle, San Jose and San Francisco.

The report also pointed to an important variation that is often lost in data aggregation – STEM jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree were harder to fill than non-STEM jobs that required a bachelor’s degree. At the high school level, the hardest job to fill are STEM-intensive health care practitioners, such as medical and lab technicians, jobs that often pay in excess of $20/hour.

“These job openings data provide new evidence that, post-recession, STEM skills, particularly those associated with high levels of educational attainment, are in high demand among employers,” author Jonathan Rothwell wrote. “Meanwhile, job seekers possessing neither STEM knowledge nor higher education face extraordinary levels of competition for a scarce number of jobs.”

Another report, released this week from the National Center for Education Statistics, further supported the economic value of STEM skills through a four-year longitudinal study of baccalaureate graduates and their rates of employment.

As part of its ongoing “Baccalaureate and Beyond” data collection series, NCES surveyed a nationally representative sample of graduates who completed their bachelor’s degrees during the 2007-2008 school year. Of the 17,000-person sample, about 16 percent were STEM majors (including computer science, engineering, biological/physical sciences, math and agricultural sciences) and 83.8 percent were non-STEM majors.

In general, the data show that STEM degree-holders generally fared better than non-STEM degree holders in nearly every way including overall employment, number of jobs held since graduation, percentage of months spent unemployed, and average salary. Important to note, the NCES survey, unlike the Brookings report, classifies health sciences as a non-STEM degree, yet still STEM fares better overall. However, even with its NCES classification as a non-STEM degree, health sciences graduates still outperform their non-STEM peers in almost every category.

To learn more about how STEM fits into the CTE enterprise, check out our issue paper, “CTE is Your STEM Strategy”.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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.

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 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

 

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