Over 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 Institute – Standardized 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:
- 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);
- Simplifying the eligibility and application process to ensure that the program reaches those who need it most;
- Strengthening incentives for student effort and timely completion, including providing more flexibility for when and how students earn credits
Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director