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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE Research Review

November 21st, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Over the past few weeks, a number of new reports and research papers came out with with implications for Career Technical Education and state leaders. Below are summaries of a few of particular use.

The National Center for Education Statistics released a two-pager, Trends in CTE Coursetaking, showing a decline over the past 19 years in CTE enrollment at the secondary level, from about 4.2 credits earned by public high school graduates to 3.6 credits in 2009. In part this is due to higher enrollments in core academic courses, such as science, foreign languages, and mathematics, and it is also due to a change in NCES data collection and coding for CTE enrollment. Importantly, this NCES dataset does not take into account any CTE credits earned by high school graduates at the 1,200 area technical centers across the country.

Achieve released Closing the Expectations Gap: The 2013 Annual Report on the Alignment of State K-12 Policies and Practice with the Demands of College and Careers, its 8th report in this series. The report, based on surveys of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, notes significant progress on the adoption of college- and career-ready (CCR) standards (in English and mathematics), with every state having met that milestone, largely driven by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It also finds that progress on adopting graduation requirements and assessments aligned to those CCR standards has slowed, although the two consortia developing assessments aligned to the CCSS should accelerate progress over the next few years.

Finally, Achieve finds that no state has a reporting and accountability system that fully values (academic) college and career readiness for all students, as defined by the collection and use of a number of key indicators (e.g., percent of students completing a CCR curriculum, percent of students scoring at the CCR level on a high school assessment, percent of students earning college credit in high school, and the percent of graduates enrolling in remedial coursework upon entrance to a postsecondary institution). Achieve also surveyed states about their use of “career-ready” indicators, although this research was not reported out (NASDCTEc will follow up!).

The report also delves deeply into a number of policies and practices to support the implementation of the CCR standards and aligned assessments, including the state role in developing and/or supporting professional development and instructional materials, and provides a handy CCSS implementation timeline for all 46 states.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) obtained a comprehensive dataset detailing school district revenues and expenditures for every school district in the nation for federal fiscal year 2011  to determine the impact of sequestration and other budget cuts on school districts. The result of this analysis – Unequal Pain: Federal Public Education Revenues, Federal Education Cuts and the Impact on Public Schools – was released in November 2013.

Briefly, the report finds that about 12% of school funding comes from the federal level but that the distribution is unequal across the country:

  • In 15 states, less than 10% of funding for public schools comes from the federal government (mostly Northeast states);
  • In 17 states, between 10-15% of public schools funding comes from the federal government;
  • In 16 states, between 15-20% of public schools funding comes from the federal government;
  • In two states, Mississippi and South Dakota, over 20% of their school budgets come from federal funds.

Cut another way, over a third of schools received a federal share of 12% or more, about a quarter of schools had operating budgets in which federal revenues represented more than 15% of total budget revenues, and about 6% of schools had operating budgets in which federal funds represented 25% or more of total budget revenues. All of this is to say, sequestration and budget cuts will disproportionally impact schools and districts educating large number of high-need students. AASA partnered with ProximityOne to create a map where users can examine school district revenue and expenditure patterns.

Weighing in on the very real debate over whether states should primarily support credit-bearing postsecondary programs that lead to a degree, Learning Works in California offers a new brief urging a deep look at what the authors identify as “skills-builders,” or students taking (and passing) community college courses without earning a degree or certificate.  The Missing Piece: Quantifying Non-Completion Pathways to Success cites research showing that about a third of all students  in the California Community College system meet this construct of “skills-builders,” many of whom took courses in high-skilled areas and enjoyed a salary bump as a result. The brief encourages states to reconsider the ways they measure a community college’s success to not limit the full range of community colleges’ benefits.

Finally, the National Center for Education Statistics recently updated its State Education Reforms webpage, which compiles research from a wide range of organizations to provide a one-stop site for information on states’ accountability systems; standards, assessments and graduation requirements; staff qualifications and development; school choice policies; and students’ readiness and progress through school.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

New Tool Available for State Higher Education Leaders: Structured Pathways and Completion Policy Self-Assessment

November 6th, 2013

The Postsecondary State Policy Network, led by Jobs for the Future (JFF), has released a new tool to find out how well your state is implementing evidence-based policies to build structured pathways and encourage community college completion.
 
State higher education leaders can assess their state’s existing policies and compare them to those advocated by state and national reform leaders with the Structured Pathways and Completion Policy Self-Assessment Tool.

Since 2004, JFF and policy partners across 15 states have developed and codified policies that empower college leaders, enable useful data gathering and analysis, provide students with financial aid access and other non-academic supports, and reward institutions for student outcomes. This tool aims to help higher education leaders facilitate college completion discussions, prioritize needed policy changes, and track policy changes over time.

The Postsecondary State Policy Network is a multistate collaboration committed to advancing state policies that accelerate community college student success and completion.  Also available: you can also sign up to receive Achieving Success, the Network’s newsletter on postsecondary state policy.

For more information about the Structured Pathways and Completion Policy Self-Assessment Tool, please contact Lindsay Devilbiss, Project Associate, Jobs for the Future at [email protected].

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

CTE Research Review

November 5th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Over the past few weeks, a number of critical reports and research papers came out with wide-spreading implications for Career Technical Education (CTE). Below are summaries of a few that caught our attention.

The Center for Great Teachers and Leaders released 21st Century Educators: Developing and Supporting Great Career and Technical Education Teachers, a new special issue brief focusing on the human capital management policies impacting CTE educators: certification, performance evaluation and professional learning opportunities. The issue brief, which NASDCTEc had an opportunity to review, provides a comprehensive overview of the current policies in place across the country and raises issues for greater consideration as states refine their certification, evaluation and professional development systems. The brief also contains a useful glossary of key terms.

The Center for Education Policy issued Career Readiness Assessments across States: A Summary of Survey Findings, the result of a survey of 46 State CTE Directors on the range of assessments used in their states to measure students’ career readiness and how those assessments are used, which NASDCTEc also had the opportunity to review. Some key findings from the report include:

  • Nearly all (45) of the survey states reported facing challenges in assessing high school students’ career education or their level of career readiness
  • States are more likely to use career readiness assessments for federal accountability than school accountability
  • Most states are using multiple assessments to measure the various facets of students’ career readiness, including the academic, technical and employability skills.

U.S. States in a Global Context: Results from the 2011 NAEP-TIMSS Linking Study offers an analysis that allows state scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to be compared. In short, the study found that 36 states were above the TIMSS average in mathematics (with only six states lower) and 47 were above the TIMSS average in science for 8th-grade students. While this is heartening, it’s also important to note that Massachusetts was the only state to reach the “high benchmark” rating on TIMSS, defined as “students can apply their understanding and knowledge in a variety of relatively complex situations,” joined by five high-performing countries.

Similarly, in science, eight states (Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin) reached the “high benchmark,” defined as “students can reason with information, draw conclusions, make generalizations and solve linear equations.”

The first of its kind OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills presents the initial results of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), which evaluates and compares the skills of 166,000 adults from 24 countries. A major component is the direct assessment of key information-processing skills: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in the context of technology-rich environments.

A new report by the Brookings InstituteStandardized Testing and the Common Core Standards: You Get What You Pay For? – explores the (very minimal) impact states leaving either the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers have on the price of those assessments per student. The paper makes a strong case to states to not sacrifice test quality by presumably leaving either consortia, in order to save $10 or $20 per student – a drop in the bucket of an education system that spends more than $10,000 per student annually.

The Hamilton Project, out of the Brookings Institute, released a policy brief on Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century, calling for three major structural reforms to a policy that has largely remained unchanged over the past forty years since it was first launched:

  1. Augmenting the Pell program’s financial support with tailored guidance and support services that have been shown to improve academic and/or labor-market success (which has implications for One-Stop Career Centers);
  2. Simplifying the eligibility and application process to ensure that the program reaches those who need it most;
  3. Strengthening incentives for student effort and timely completion, including providing more flexibility for when and how students earn credits

 

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

Fall Meeting Recap: Panel Discusses OECD Report

October 28th, 2013

Last week the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) held its annual Fall Meeting where a distinguished group of panelists discussed a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report. As we shared previously, the publication critically assessed the challenges facing the postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) system in the United States. The authors argued throughout the report that the diversity and inherent decentralization of the postsecondary CTE system was both the United States’ biggest strength and its greatest weakness.

Mary Alice McCarthy, Senior Policy Analyst for the New America Foundation, gave the keynote presentation on the report’s findings which framed the rest of the panel discussion. Three overarching policy recommendations were given:

  • Tie funding to quality CTE programsState Map
  • Link certifications & credentials to needs of business and industry
  • Build better transitions from postsecondary to the workplace

McCarthy examined each of these recommendations in greater detail and identified specific policies for achieving them.  She argued that improvements in “quality, coherence, and transparency” would lead to better outcomes for students. Towards the end of her remarks McCarthy illustrated an alarming trend when comparing reading scores across generations—American’s scores, compared to the rest of the world, had plateaued or declined for the most recent generation of 16-24 year-olds. This “skill plateau” framed the remainder of the discussion and served as the basis of analysis for the rest of the panel.

The other members of the panel echoed many of the core sentiments found in the report and highlighted the many ways in which their organizations are helping to improve the postsecondary CTE system. Dalila Bonilla Wortman, Director of Engineering at Lockheed Martin, emphasized her company’s use of interns as a viable strategy for transitioning students from the classroom to the workplace. Michael Baumgartner, Vice President of Finance and Special Projects at Complete College America argued for the need to increase the number of U.S. adults with a postsecondary certification, credential, or degree to 60 percent or more and also noted the importance of programs, like Lockheed Martin’s, that provide work-based experiences as part of that process.

Scott Stump, Dean of Career Technical Education for the Colorado Community College System and current Vice President of the NASDCTEc Executive Board, brought the discussion full-circle by stressing the need for a “coherent postsecondary CTE system, when it was never designed to be coherent.” He and the other panelists remained optimistic about the future prospects of postsecondary CTE in the United States and agreed that the challenges facing them today can be solved with the right policies moving forward.

The full report can be found here and the McCarthy’s slides can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

UNESCO Releases Report on Global Trends in TVET

October 18th, 2013

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently published a digital volume of essays encompassing a broad swath of current practices, trends, debates, and ideas in the field of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). At its core TVET is the global terminology used to describe much of what the United States labels as CTE. According to UNESCO TVET is concerned primarily with, “the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work.”UNESCO

Titled Revisiting Global Trends in TVET: Reflections on Theory and Practice, this e-publication was produced by UNESCO’s International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNEVOC) at a time when global policymakers and stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and value of TVET programs around the world. This global appreciation culminated with the 3rd International Congress on TVET which took place in Shanghai in May of last year. At its core TVET is the global terminology used to describe much of what the United States labels as CTE. According to UNESCO TVET is concerned primarily with, “the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work.”

This international meeting provided a forum for discussion about the future trajectory of TVET and the challenges UNESCO member states and TVET stakeholders face. What resulted from this forum was a set of policy recommendations, known as the Shanghai Consensus, which put forward seven overarching principles for how to promote and better implement TVET programs worldwide. They were:

  • Enhancing the relevance of TVET
  • Expanding access and improving quality and equity
  • Adapting qualifications and developing pathways
  • Improving the evidence base
  • Strengthening governance and expanding partnerships
  • Increasing investment in TVET and diversifying financing
  • Advocating for TVET

These broad-based recommendations echo many of the core principles found in NASDCTEc’s vision paper Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education and put them into a larger global context. To that end, the set of essays contained in the UNESCO publication seeks to further develop, explain, and more fully realize the doctrine set forth in the Shanghai Consensus.

Please check our blog over the next few weeks as we examine in further detail specific chapters within this e-publication.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate

CTE Research Review: International Comparisons Show U.S. Adults Behind in Literacy and Basic Math Skills

October 11th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Adults in the U.S. are lagging behind in literacy and math skills compared to their international counterparts, according to a new study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD released findings from its Survey of Adults Skills, which measured the literacy, basic math, and technology skills of 16- to 65-year olds in 24 OECD countries, and found that American adults performed worse in these areas than almost every other country surveyed.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that, “These findings should concern us all. They show our education system hasn’t done enough to help Americans compete – or position our country to lead – in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills.” The report highlighted findings in the following areas:

Literacy: The report defines literacy as the “ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”

  • Fewer than 8 out of 10 American adults performed at a level 2 out of 5 in literacy, ranking the U.S. 16th out of 24 countries in this area.

Numerical Proficiency: The report defines numerical proficiency as the “ability to access, use, interpret, and communicate mathematical information and ideas in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life.”

  • Fewer than 4 in 10 American adults scored at a level 3 out of 5 or higher, ranking the U.S. 21st out of 24 countries in this area.

Technology: The report assessed adults’ abilities to problem solve in technology-rich environments.

  • In the U.S., nearly 16% of adults had proficiencies below level 1. The ranking in this area for the U.S. was 14th out of 24 countries.

According to OECD, the report “provides clear evidence of how developing and using skills improves employment prospects and quality of life as well as boosting economic growth. It helps countries set meaningful targets benchmarked against the achievements of the world’s leading skills systems and to develop relevant policy responses.”

Read the full report here.

In order to increase global competitiveness and catch up with the countries that are outpacing the U.S., more opportunities to develop and use in-demand skills are a must. High-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs – which blend academic and technical learning and results in an industry-recognized credential or degree – provide one potential solution for improving adult learner skill acquisition in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Education planned to release a report on the policy implications of the study; however, the federal government shutdown has delayed that release.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

CTE Research Review: Model for Blended Learning Improves Algebra I Scores

August 14th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013A study from the RAND Corporation and the U.S. Department of Education examines the effectiveness of blended learning – specifically using algebra curricula – for increasing student outcomes. Blended learning combines in-person instruction with computer-based activities, and dynamic education programs like Career Technical Education are more often integrating these highly-personalized learning experiences into curricula.

RAND’s two-year study involved over 18,000 students in 147 schools and in 7 states including Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas. Researchers found that schools that adopted the blended learning software, “Cognitive Tutor Algebra I” developed by Carnegie Learning, Inc., saw an overall jump of 8 percentile points on their students’ algebra scores; however, it is unclear whether this can be attributed to the blended learning program, to other activities in the classroom, or to a combination of activities. Still, the Carnegie software has been deemed successful in 46 other non-randomized studies and looks to be a promising model of blended learning.

Learn more in the full report and on a related website.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

CTE Research Review: OECD Report Examines Postsecondary CTE in the U.S.

August 8th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) examines strengths and challenges for postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) in the U.S.  The authors identified positive aspects including strong labor market returns on associate degrees and certificates, and the inclusiveness of U.S. postsecondary CTE. Broad recommendations were provided in three key areas – funding for quality, aligning credentials to industry needs, and strengthening transitions into and within postsecondary education and the labor market – and more specific recommendations included:

  • Linking Title IV student aid (Higher Education Opportunity Act) with stronger quality assurance
  • Establishing quality standards for industry certifications
  • Supporting postsecondary transitions more systematically
  • Developing better data
  • Strengthening career counseling
  • Improving use of work-based learning

The U.S. Department of Education also released a background piece on postsecondary CTE that was used to inform the study.

NASDCTEc and the College Board recently partnered on a webinar and issue brief to show the relevance of Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and exams to CTE Programs of Study. The issue brief includes information on each Career Cluster® and potential AP courses and exams that could apply to each area. Students, parents, counselors and teachers may find this document especially useful to help CTE students follow programs of study that lead to college and career readiness and success.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

July CTE Monthly: Driving the STEM, IT and Manufacturing Workforce

July 24th, 2013

CTE Monthly, a collaborative publication from the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, features the latest news on Career Technical Education (CTE) from across the nation for CTE stakeholders and Members of Congress.

In the July edition, read more about:

  • FY14 Appropriations Update: Investing in CTE is a Priority
  • Bachelor’s Degree Not Required for Many STEM Jobs
  • CTE: The Key to Economic Development in Advanced Manufacturing
  • Exemplary CTE Programs and Students in Florida, Washington and Oklahoma

View archived CTE Monthly newsletters and other advocacy resources on our Advocacy Tools webpage.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

New Book for State Leaders Highlights CTE and NASDCTEc

July 18th, 2013

The Council of State Governments (CSG), a forum that encourages the exchange of ideas that help state officials shape public policy, releases The Book of States annually to serve as a resource for state leaders and a catalyst for innovation and excellence in state governance. This year, CSG featured an article written by National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) to highlight initiatives that are underway to transform and guide Career Technical Education (CTE) programs across the nation.

The six-page article includes an overview of CTE, the CTE: Learning that works for America® campaign, and Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education. The article also describes current projects that support each principle of the State Directors’ vision for CTE. Lastly, the resource includes a table of CTE State Directors including contact information and Common Career Technical Core participation status as of April 2013.

Access the article on CTE and NASDCTEc here.

The Book of States includes chapters that consist of several articles and in-depth tables and cover the following areas: State constitutions; Federalism and intergovernmental relations; State legislative, executive, and judicial branches; State finance; State management, administration, and demographics; Selected state policies and programs; and State pages.

Read the full The Book of States here.

We encourage you to review the book and use it as a reference tool for accessing relevant, timely information and state comparisons.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

 

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