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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

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

Report Shows Successful Journey Toward Deeper Learning with Roadtrip Nation

July 10th, 2013

Roadtrip Nation is a non-profit organization that helps students explore pathways they never knew existed, through programs and resources focused on self-discovery. Their approach shows positive results and encouraging outcomes for students, as shared in the research report Journey Toward Deeper Learning: An Evaluation of the Roadtrip Nation Experience in the San Jose PLUS Academies.

rtn-logo

This study was conducted by Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC). The results of students participating in the Roadtrip Nation (RTN) study show several benefits to students, and among those include:

  • RTN students ended the school year with a higher average grade point average (GPA) than comparison students and they improved their average GPA by twice the rate of their peers
  • An improvement in the ability to think critically and solve complex problems
  • Increased student communication skills
  • Changes in behaviors, strategies and attitudes enhanced career readiness

According to Dr. Patrick Ainsworth, former State Director of California, “It is an approach that really resonates with high school aged students of all abilities and backgrounds. The schools participating in RTN love the model and are enthusiastic about the changes they see in their students’ attitudes and performance.”

In a keynote presentation and breakout session at the 2011 National Career Clusters® Institute, members of Roadtrip Nation shared the story of their movement – how they support, empower, and encourage individuals who want to define their own roads in life –and also shared stories that related to the Career Technical Education (CTE) vision as outlined in Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

CTE Research Review: Work Readiness in the U.S.

July 3rd, 2013

Research Image_6.2013ACT’s The Condition of Work Readiness in the United States, analyzes results from 4 million WorkKeys examinees to see if individuals with a given level of education have the skills needed for jobs requiring that level of education. The report looks at three areas of assessment – reading for information, applied mathematics, and locating information – and concluded the following:

  • A higher level of education does not always guarantee work readiness.
  • There is no significant gap between the skills needed for middle level education jobs and the skills possessed by middle level education examinees.
  • Education level is not always aligned with work readiness levels.

Career Technical Education (CTE) was among the strategies suggested for encouraging collaboration to develop real-world learning experiences that incorporate work readiness standards into educational instruction.

Recent poll results from Gallup indicate that most Americans identify “the percentage of graduates who are able to get a good job after graduating” as the most important factor when choosing a college or university to attend. The cost of attending the college or university ranked second most important. Gallup researchers found that, “Americans care a lot about whether the graduates of a college end up in good jobs but find it hard to find this type of data. If more data were available, it could help those currently weighing their options to make a quality choice based on likelihood for a strong return in the future.”

The National Center for Education Statistics released its annual Nation’s Report Card, which has monitored students’ academic performance on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) since the 1970s. Though 9- and 13-year-old students scored higher in reading and math in 2012 than students of the same age in the early 1970s, the report shows that 17-year-old students have not earned higher scores. The reasons for the stagnant scores were not explained, but while the overall cohort of 17-year-olds did not make gains in reading or math, 17-year-old students at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles scored higher in 2012 than in 1978.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

CTE Research Review: New Georgetown Report Projects Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020

June 26th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce just released an update of its widely-cited 2010 report, Help Wanted. The updated report, Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020, includes projections for two additional years – 2019 and 2020 – and provides pertinent labor market information such as which fields are expected to create the most jobs, the education requirements required to gain employment in the United States, and the skills demanded most by employers. A state report was also released.

New findings include:

  • There will be 55 million job openings in the economy through 2020: 24 million openings from newly created jobs and 31 million openings due to baby boom retirements.
  • 35 percent of the job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, 30 percent of the job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree, and 36 percent of the job openings will require a high school diploma or less.
  • STEM, Healthcare, and Community Services will be areas of fastest growth but also will require higher levels of postsecondary education.
  • The United States will fall short by 5 million workers with postsecondary education – at the current production rate – by 2020.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its annual analysis containing data on the structure, finances, and performance of education systems in more than 40 countries. This year’s study finds that the gap between those with some postsecondary education and those without is widening, with unemployment rates three times higher for those who haven’t graduated high school.

As OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria noted, “Leaving school with good qualifications is more essential than ever. Countries must focus efforts on helping young people, especially the less well-educated who are most at risk of being trapped in a low skills, low wage future. Priorities include reducing school dropout rates and investing in skills-oriented education that integrates the worlds of learning and work.”

The report found that countries with high percentages of “vocational graduates,” such as Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, experienced lower unemployment rates for 25-34 year olds in this category than high school graduates. Unfortunately, data for the United States were not included in this portion of the report. The report also found that more young women than ever, 45 percent, are graduating from secondary vocational programs. In many countries – such as Australia, China, Finland, and Belgium, vocational graduation rates are higher for women than for men.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

New Blog Series: CTE Research Review

June 19th, 2013

NASDCTEc is excited to launch a new blog series – CTE Research Review! This blog will feature the latest research and reports about CTE and other related education and workforce issues. 

Research Image_6.2013The Council on Foreign Relations released a new report, “Progress Report and Scorecard: Remedial Education,” that has been referenced several times this week by figures such as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to illustrate the importance of educating and training a globally-competitive workforce. The authors of this report stress that the United States is slipping in global competitiveness and that the achievement gap between wealthy and non-wealthy students is widening. The authors also write that “Human capital is perhaps the single most important long-term driver of an economy,” and challenge the federal government to put in place programs that will expand high-quality education for all students.

ACT’s “STEM Education Pipeline: Doing the Math on Recruiting Math and Science Teachers,” reviews the proposed federal STEM Teacher Pathway program – aimed at getting 100,000 qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals into the classroom over the next decade – and finds an insufficient number of STEM college graduates who would be qualified or willing to become STEM teachers. To meet the number of teachers needed, the authors suggest recruitment strategies targeted toward “STEM-capable students interest in education and STEM-capable students undecided of their college major.”

A new issue brief from the Education Commission of the States, “Reimagining Business Involvement: A New Frontier for Postsecondary Education,” lays out research-backed models and strategies to improve the quality of credentials and increase alignment with the needs of business and industry. Suggestions include possible methods of engagement to strengthen partnerships between business/industry and education, the role of state policy in building a statewide partnership plan, and economic benefits for states.

A recent study from the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education examines South Carolina’s programs of study and career pathways developed through the state’s Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA) and finds some positive impacts for the students. The study indicates that EEDA positively impacts career-focused activities at all schools and enhances the role of school guidance counselors.

The National Center for Education Statistics released its annual “Condition of Education” report. Two areas of relevance highlighted by this year’s report are “Trends in Employment Rates by Educational Attainment” and “The Status of Rural Education.” Not surprisingly, the report shows that employment for males and females (ages 25 – 64) was lower in 2012 than in 2008 regardless of education levels due to recovery from the economic recession. Between 1990 and 2012, employment rates for those with a bachelor’s degree remained higher than those with less than a bachelor’s degree.

The report on rural education found that students in rural districts experienced higher graduation rates (80 percent) than students in city (68 percent) or town districts (79 percent) but slightly lower rates than suburban districts (81 percent).

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

McKinsey Report Outlines Common Elements of Innovative Programs to Close the Skills Gap

May 24th, 2013

The McKinsey Center for Government surveyed 8,000 individuals – from employers to educational institutions to students – to answer one question: how can we close the skills gap? Their results include an examination of more than 100 innovative programs and suggest many strategies already implemented through Career Technical Education (CTE).

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2020 there will be a global shortfall of 85 million high- and middle-skilled workers. Nearly 40 percent of employers find that applicants lack the skills needed for entry-level jobs. And while 72 percent of education providers reported that graduates are ready to enter the job market, only 42 percent of employers and 45 percent of youth agreed. On top of this disconnect, the authors indicate that there is no comprehensive data on skills required for employment or on the performance of specific education providers in building those skills.

The report identifies common elements of innovative and effective programs, many of which reflect aspects of CTE as laid out in Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education, including:

  • Educators and employers actively partner to design program and curricula together.
  • The “education-to-employment journey” is treated as a non-linear continuum.

What is needed to close this knowledge and skills gap? Again, the authors suggest improvements that align with the work that many state and local CTE stakeholders are already putting into action:

  • Better data to inform students’ choices and manage performance.
  • Clearer expectations for students.
  • Partnerships between multiple education providers and employers within a specific sector.
  • An organization or institution at a high-level that can work to develop solutions, gather data and identify and disseminate best practices.

Access the full report here.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

 

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