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

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

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