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Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE Research Review

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

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