Preparing Learners for Careers through Work-based Learning and Career Advisement: A Roundup of Recent Research

September 14th, 2016

Three Approaches to Connecting CTE Programs and Registered ApprenticeshipsNC

Work-based learning, an educational strategy that provides students with technical skills and knowledge in an authentic work setting, is often delivered through a Career Technical Education (CTE) or Registered Apprenticeship (RA) program. Both have overlapping structures and content, including experiential learning and career exploration coursework, which has led many states to build more deliberate linkages between the two. Earlier this summer, the National Center for Innovation in CTE released a report profiling six states — North Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Washington and Rhode Island — that are working to align secondary CTE and RA programs. The report identifies three approaches that these states have taken:

  • Registered Apprenticeship: High school students participate directly in an apprenticeship, applying CTE coursework to the RA requirements and applying RA work experience towards a high school diploma.
  • Pre-apprenticeships: High school students participate in programs that prepare them for an apprenticeship, often applying credit towards RA program requirements. Participation on a pre-apprenticeship often allows the student to get preferred entry into an RA program.
  • Registered CTE Curriculum: Students earn credits toward RA completion by enrolling in and completing CTE coursework aligned to RA programs in high-demand industries.

No matter the approach, states frequently face the same challenges with aligning CTE and RA programs, including lack of resources, misperceptions about pre-apprenticeship and RA programs, and difficulty engaging employers. The report further describes strategies that these states have taken to address these challenges.

A Customer Service Approach to Career Advisement

On a related note, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently released the third installment in its youth employment series, outlining the role that the employer community can play in building career knowledge and competency through career advisement. The brief encourages employers not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to adapt their existing business practices to support career advisement through a “customer service” approach. Key activities through this approach would include: representing the business community within schools, serving as subject matter experts, matching students with employers, validating skills acquired during work-based learning experiences, and organizing talent sourcing networks. By playing a larger role in career advisement, employers can do well by doing good: helping students gain clarity about their career choices while simultaneously strengthening the talent pipeline.

Odds and Ends

Executive Advice: Noting the limited discussion of education issues this election cycle, Bellwether Education Partners took it upon themselves to publish 16 education policy ideas for the next president to consider. Among the recommendations? Connecting secondary CTE to postsecondary opportunity by integrating academic, socio-emotional and technical learning; creating pools of federal grants to launch new models of youth preparation; expanding allowable uses of federal aid; and accelerating investments in technology to support personalized career pathways. Read more here.

Career Readiness: Last month, ACT released its 2016 report on the condition of college and career readiness. The report finds that at least 68 percent of test takers are making progress towards career readiness, a new indicator based on the ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate. A record 64 percent of U.S. high school graduates took the test this year.

A World-class Education: After conducting an 18-month study of international education systems, the National Conference of State Legislatures released a report that identifies “a highly effective, intellectually rigorous system of career and technical education” as one of four elements of a world-class education system.

CTE Dual Enrollment: In a new blog post, the Education Commission of the States updated its policy components for dual enrollment to reflect opportunities for CTE. While the framework is still in draft form, it provides guidance related to access, finance and quality of CTE dual enrollment.

Americans Prefer CTE: “By a broad 68 percent to 21 percent, Americans say having their local public schools focus more on career-technical or skills-based classes is better than focusing on more honors or advanced academic classes.” That’s according to PDK’s 2016 poll of attitudes toward public education, which was released earlier this month.

Free College: Hillary Clinton’s free college plan, which aims to eliminate tuition for in-state students whose families make less than $125,000, has been getting a lot of buzz this election cycle. New research from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce projects a 9 to 22 percent increase in enrollment at public 2- and 4-year colleges and universities if her plan is seen to fruition.

Remedial Coursework: The National Center for Education Statistics conducted a descriptive analysis of students taking remedial coursework at public 2- and 4-year institutions. The report finds that students who completed remedial courses saw positive postsecondary outcomes (including persistence, transfer to a 4-year institution, credit completion and credential attainment) compared to students who partially completed or did not complete a remedial course. It is also worth noting that students in the sample who attended 2-year institutions took remedial courses at much higher rates (68 percent) than students at 4-year institutions (40 percent).

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Exploring Work-Based Learning across the Globe…and throughout Baltimore

August 4th, 2016

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Strengthening Work-based Learning in Education and Transition to Careers Workshop in Baltimore, Maryland.  This workshop was co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Adult and Technical Education (OCTAE) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Advance CTE, along with other federal agencies, non-profit organizations and philanthropies served on the event’s steering committee.IMG_3585

Over the course of two days, the workshop featured a series of sessions exploring work-based learning (WBL) and apprenticeship systems in a range of countries – from Germany and Switzerland to the U.K. and Denmark – as well as the impact of such programs and policies on the key stakeholders, notably students and employers. Established research on the major components of a WBL systems, such as WestEd’s well-regarded WBL continuum, was shared, along with brand new international analyses on the intersection of apprenticeship participation and youth engagement, basic skills and equity.

The workshop also highlighted local “trailblazing” programs and a session on the state role in supporting WBL, which I had the opportunity to participate along with leaders from the National Governors Association, The Siemens Foundation, Colorado and Tennessee.

image1Probably the most fun part of the event was the afternoon dedicated to visiting WBL in action at programs throughout Baltimore. I had the chance to visit Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 486 and FreshStart-Living Classrooms, two very different programs supporting individuals through rigorous technical instruction and on-the-job training.

This workshop is part of OECD’s research and technical assistance project, entitled “Work-based Learning in Vocational Education and Training,” which is being implemented and funded jointly by Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. We’ll be sure to share the research as it is released!

Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

CTE Research Review: The Value of Rigorous High School Programs

August 3rd, 2016

New Research Highlights the Value of “And” in College And Career

Path Least TakenCollege is often considered a safe bet, but new research from the Center for Public Education (CPE) finds that comparable opportunity can be found in rigorous high school programs that result in a professional certification. In the third installment of its “Path Least Taken” series, CPE compares social and economic outcomes between students with a four-year college degree and “high-credentialed” students with no degree (the paper defines “high-credentialed” students as those who demonstrated success in high school academic and technical courses and obtained a professional certification).

The study finds that “high-credentialed” students with no degree were just as likely to be employed full-time, be satisfied with their jobs and to vote in a recent election by age 26 as students with four-year degrees. The study also finds that, among students who pursued but did not complete a postsecondary degree, those who graduated from a rigorous high school program had more positive social and economic outcomes overall. This demonstrates that rigorous college and career preparation in high school can serve as a powerful economic safety net along the path to a higher degree.

Evaluation Finds Opportunity in Accelerating Opportunity Program

In other news, Urban Institute and the Aspen Institute released an evaluation of Accelerating Opportunity (AO), a program designed to help adults with low basic skills earn occupational credentials and obtain well-paying jobs. One innovation that AO uses is to change the delivery of adult education by pairing basic skill instruction and technical education so that students can earn Career Technical Education (CTE) credits and a high school credential concurrently, placing adults without a high school degree on a path towards a high-wage, high-skill job.

The evaluation finds interesting outcomes from the first three years of the program. Of the more than 8 thousand students enrolled in evaluated states (Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana), one-third engaged in work-based learning and 30 percent found a job related to the occupational area of their pathway within the first three years. The report highlights further opportunities for states to align adult education and CTE in community colleges.

Diving Into Postsecondary Data Systems

Without labor market outcomes and participation data for students in CTE programs, it is difficult for policymakers to identify challenges or scale successes. That’s why a strong state-level data system is core to an effective CTE strategy. At the postsecondary level, linked data systems (also known as postsecondary student unit record systems or PSURSs) can improve program efficiency, advance student success and provide useful information to policymakers.

A new report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) examines national trends across state data collection agencies. The report draws on survey data to illustrate the scope of state-level PSURSs and the strategies states are using to link their data systems with others in the education and workforce continuum. The report finds that 26 states currently enable the linking of postsecondary, workforce and K-12 data in a P20W data warehouse — up from eight in 2010. While these trends are promising, the report issues four concluding recommendations for policymakers to improve and further expand state-level PSURSs:

  • Tie the PSURSs to strategic planning efforts;
  • Engage agency leadership regarding the capabilities of the data system and collaborate on research priorities;
  • Address privacy concerns head on; and
  • Serve the needs of constituents.

WDQC InfographicThe report precedes an infographic released last week from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, the Postsecondary Data Collaborative and SHEEO. The sleek infographic maps postsecondary and workforce data systems and illuminates the most common gaps in state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). Filling these gaps is important not only to provide data to policymakers and researchers but also to increase transparency for college-going students and their parents.  

Odds and Ends

  • The National Center for Education Statistics released a “Data Point” brief that compares postsecondary outcomes for two cohorts of public high school graduates: the class of 1992 and the class of 2004. The brief finds the largest increase in enrollment rates for graduates earning four or more CTE credits.
  • Families can play a critical role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning, but many of them are not equipped to support their children along a STEM career pathway. To combat this challenge, the National PTA Association’s new white paper, STEM + Families, draws on findings from a national scan of the family engagement landscape to provide recommendations for engaging families around STEM learning.
  • Omicron Tau Theta (OTT), a national honorary professional graduate society in CTE, released its quarterly compilation of research, trends and teaching strategies in the field. This month’s issue of Professionalism to Practice features research around agricultural education and strategies for CTE instruction.
  • A Snapshot Report from the National Student Clearinghouse examines postsecondary degree records to reveal an interesting finding: two in five associate degrees led to bachelor’s degrees within six years. This emphasizes the need for strong alignment between two-year and four-year institutions of higher education.
  • Researchers from Cornell University recently found that, while CTE programs in blue-collar communities do lead to high-wage jobs after high school, many women in these communities are being left out. As a result, women in blue-collar communities end up with worse professional prospects and lower salaries than men in the same communities.
  • The National Skills Coalition is out with a follow up to its 2014 playbook for implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), appropriately titled Realizing Innovation and Opportunity in WIOA. Among other strategies, the playbook discusses how states can integrate effective career pathways into their WIOA state plans.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

CTE Research Review: Youth Employment, Reverse Transfers and More

June 13th, 2016

We are back with another CTE Research Review. In this edition we explore business-facing intermediaries and a new study on reverse transfer students. And below the fold, we feature some studies and stories you may have missed in the last month.

How Intermediaries Create Shared Value by Connecting Youth with Jobs

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is out with a new report in its Youth Employment Series titled Talent Orchestrators: Scaling Youth Employment through Business-Facing Intermediaries. The report challenges the notion that employer engagement is only a civic or philanthropic venture and outlines how business-facing intermediaries can create shared value by matching businesses with skilled youth. Already, intermediaries around the country are stepping up to the plate by managing employer demand, equipping youth with professional skills and job-specific training, and facilitating the onboarding process to connect youth with employment opportunities.

Consider STEP-UP Achieve, a career-track youth employment program started by Minneapolis-based intermediary AchieveMpls. The program partnered with the Minneapolis Regional Chamber to develop a curriculum and establish a certification endorsement for youth participants who successfully complete a pre-employment work-readiness program. This program, and others like it, created shared value by both preparing youth for the workplace and providing employers with a signal of job readiness. STEP-UP Achieve has provided more than 8,000 internship opportunities since 2004.

For Reverse Transfer Students, Going Backward Could Be the Best Path Forward

Speaking of alternative pathways to employment, a new research study from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) examines academic and labor outcomes for struggling students who transfer from a four-year to a two-year postsecondary institution (aka “4-2 transfer students”). The study, Do Students Benefit from Going Backward? The Academic and Labor Market Consequences of Four-to Two-Year College Transfer, finds that struggling 4-2 transfer students are more likely to earn a postsecondary credential than similar students who do not transfer. What’s more, these students were no less likely than similar students to earn a bachelor’s degree and had similar earnings and employment rates. The outcomes of the study are promising because they suggest that struggling students can benefit from the flexibility and affordability of transferring to a two-year college without putting degree completion or future employment at risk.

ICYMI

And in case you missed it, here are some other studies and stories making a splash this month:

  • The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released a series of 11 policy papers about state and federal data policy. The series, Envisioning the National Postsecondary Infrastructure in the 21st Century, highlights recommendations for improving the national postsecondary data infrastructure from a working group of policy experts.
  • A two-page brief from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) examines how states and LEAs can leverage policy opportunities to integrate Career Technical Education (CTE) into their college and career readiness strategies post-NCLB.  
  • Two months after the Lumina Foundation released its April update on college degree attainment, Inside Higher Ed examines how the Foundation’s new method of calculating postsecondary degree attainment, which now factors credential attainment into the total, affects Louisiana’s college completion goal.
  • And if you haven’t already, you should check out The Journal of School & Society’s special issue on The Future of Vocational Education, which shares voices from educators and academics.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

CTE Research Review: Work-Based Learning, Teacher Shortages and Longitudinal Data

May 11th, 2016

In this week’s Research Review, we take a deep dive into New York City’s CTE movement, examine state teacher shortages, and explore strategies and challenges to building longitudinal data systems.

Work-based Learning and Industry Credentials in New York City

The Manhattan Institute released a new report looking at the state of Career Technical Education (CTE) in New York City, titled “The New CTE: New York City as a Laboratory for America.” While the authors largely praise the success of New York City’s instructional CTE programs — which have demonstrated less variable attendance and higher graduation rates — they offer two policy recommendations to further improve the quality and effectiveness of the system:

  • Mandate and fund schools to secure work-based learning opportunities for students. To do this, schools must engage industry partners that continue to treat CTE like a philanthropic endeavor rather than a strategic investment.
  • Improve state processes for certifying CTE teachers and approving industry-recognized credentials to be more flexible and responsive to industry advances and emerging occupations.

How are states responding to teacher shortages?

The Education Commission of the States’ (ECS) new series on staffing policies, “Mitigating Teacher Shortages,” provides an optimistic outlook on the national staffing crisis. The number of schools reporting a vacancy is down 15 percentage points overall since 2000. However, ECS finds there is a struggle to fill positions in hard-to-staff subject areas and in high-poverty, low-achieving, rural, and urban schools. This five-part series examines research on teacher shortages and recommendations from state task forces, finding five common policy interventions to address staffing shortages: alternative certification, financial incentives, induction and mentorship, evaluation and feedback, and teacher leadership. Each brief explores extant research in each focus area and provides state examples and policy recommendations.

Stitching together Longitudinal Data Systems

Two new reports — one from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) and the other from New America — explore how states can align data systems to better track student outcomes after high school.

  • WDQC’s report, “Making the Most of Workforce Data,” highlights best practices from Kentucky, Minnesota and New York, each of which has established linked systems that facilitate data sharing and evaluation to varying degrees. In Kentucky, for example, interagency data-sharing agreements allowed the state to evaluate outcomes for students taking college-level coursework through AdvanceKentucky, providing evidence to increase funding for the program.
  • In “Is Stitching State Data Systems the Solution to the College Blackout?,” Iris Palmer at New America proposes a different solution to the nation’s data sharing woes — a state-based federal data system. She argues that this system, which would be operated by a third party and would only share anonymized data, could build on existing data infrastructure and allow states to examine cross-state student outcomes for more detailed analysis. A pilot project between Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington helped close gaps, uncovering outcomes data for more than nine percent of individuals missing from the labor records in Washington alone.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part II)

April 7th, 2016

In Part II, we dive into the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s newest report, “Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?” Provocative title notwithstanding, the report’s short answer is: Yes.

The report opens with a caveat that CTE is not a meaningful prat of students’ high school experience, and unlike most industrialized countries, it has been chronically neglected by leaders and policymakers.

“American students face a double-whammy: Not only do they lack access to high-quality secondary CTE, but then they are subject to a ‘bachelor’s degree or bust’ mentality,” the report states. “And many do bust, dropping out of college with no degree, no work skills, no work experience and a fair amount of debt.”

But according to data examined by University of Connecticut’s Shaun M. Dougherty, students do benefit from CTE coursework, in particular those course sequences aligned to certain industries. Based on the report’s findings, it calls for policymakers and education leaders across the country to invest more heavily – and strategically – in high school CTE, and to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act and increase federal support for high-quality, labor market-aligned programs that are available and appealing to all students.

The report’s findings will be discussed on April 14 in Washington, DC, and will also be streamed. Register here to hear from the report’s author and Arkansas State CTE Director Charisse Childers, among others.  The study uses the wealth of secondary, postsecondary and labor market data from the Arkansas Research Center to better understand the state of CTE, both of those students who take CTE courses and those who take three or more CTE courses within a career field.

Key findings include:

  • Students with greater CTE exposure are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed and earn higher wages.
  • CTE students are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers. There was little evidence of “tracking.”
  • The more CTE courses students take, the better their education and labor market outcomes. Among other positive outcomes, CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school by 21 percentage points when compared to otherwise similar students.
  • Though white and female students are more likely to concentrate, CTE provides the greatest boost to students who need it most – males and students from low-income families.

The report offers recommendations similar to what has taken place in Arkansas:

  • Examine state labor market projections to identify high-growth industries
  • Offer CTE courses aligned to skills and industry-recognized credentials in these fields and encourage (or require) high school students to take them)
  • Encourage (or require) students take a concentration of CTE courses
  • Support and encourage dual enrollment and make credits “stackable” from high school into college, so that high school CTE courses count toward specific postsecondary credentials

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

fordham

Major New Research Highlights Value of CTE (Part I)

April 7th, 2016

This week, two leading education organizations – the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Trust – have published new research that illustrates how K-12 CTE can and should be used to create meaningful education experiences that prepares students for future success in college and careers. First up, an analysis of high school transcripts to pull back the curtain on college and career readiness.

Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates

In “Meandering toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates,” Ed Trust finds that while students may graduate high school, too many are leaving with no clear path forward.

For nearly a decade, college and career-readiness for all students has been the foundational rhetoric of U.S. education, but high school transcripts show that this rhetoric didn’t bear out in reality for most graduates in 2013. In fact, fewer than one in 10 recent graduates had taken a foundational set of courses necessary to be both college- and career-ready. Additionally, the data shows that 47 percent of graduates completed neither a college- nor career-ready course of study. The study defined college- and career-courses of study as the standard 15-course sequence required for entry at many public colleges, as well as three or more credits in a career-focused area such as health science or business.

Of those who had completed a course of study, only eight percent in those graduates completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Further, less than one-third of graduates completed a college-ready course of study and just 13 percent finished a career-ready course sequence. Because seat-time is not a sufficient indicator of readiness, the report also looks at who in the college- and career-ready cohort, particularly students of color or disadvantaged backgrounds, had also demonstrated mastery of the curriculum. When looking at mastery, an additional 14 percent of graduates fail to meet this benchmark.

Rather than aligning high school coursework with students’ future goals, the report found that high schools are continuing to prioritize credit accrual, which reinforces the idea that high school graduate is the end goal in a student’s educational journey. The report identifies state-, district-, and school-level levers including transcript analysis, master schedule, credit policies and graduation requirements.

To truly prepare students, school structures, culture and instruction must shift to prepare students for postsecondary studies aligned to their career interests, and this can be done without risk of recreating a system of tracking students into prescribed pathways.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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CTE Research Review Part II

March 11th, 2016

If you missed yesterday’s post, you can catch it here. And now a quick look at new papers exploring competency-based education, the value of credentials, and many others!

Competency-based Education

Competency-based education continues to garner the attention of policymakers, educators and the research community. Here are a few new pieces on competency-based education in both K-12 and higher education.

In Case You Missed It:

CTE Research Review Part I

March 10th, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve brought you an update on relevant research from the field. There’s so much to cover we’ve broken it into two parts.

A Look at Postsecondary Education

From the New America Foundation, researcher Mary Alice McCarthy challenges the artificial distinction between education and training and calls for “upside-down degrees” to reinvent the outdated concept of what the postsecondary education experience can be.

McCarthy offers reforms to state and federal education policies to create this flipped paradigm. She also points to states and institutions that are building pathways to four-year degrees that start with a career-training program. Others are developing “applied” bachelor’s degrees to help students build on and extend their technical expertise.

Other postsecondary-focused research:

  • The New York Federal Reserve has a report taking a closer look at unemployed college graduates and found that those who major in more technically oriented, occupation-specific fields have much lower underemployment rates than their peers in more general fields.
  • Columbia University’s Community College Research Center looks at institutional and state effectiveness in helping students transfer from community college.

Research from the Center for Education and the Workforce

New from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW), you can take advantage of their new State Initiative, which is a portal to help states use data more effectively to inform policy and planning around education and careers.

Don’t miss CEW’s other new reports:

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Preparing Students for Careers in the Global Economy

January 6th, 2016

Today, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), Asia Society, Longview Foundation and Association for Career and Technical Educators (ACTE) jointly released a new white paper: Preparing a Globally Competent Workforce Through High-Quality Career Technical EducationThis paper explores why it is so critical that global competencies are embedded throughout CTE programs of study to ensure students are fully prepared for the competitive economy, and offers examples of local CTE programs successfully integrating global concepts through partnerships, projects and other student experiences.

Learn more about the paper and this key issue in a blog co-authored by NASDCTEc, Asia Society, Longview Foundation and ACTE at Education Week.

This paper is intended to spark  conversations at the national, state and local levels about ways in which CTE and global competencies can be integrated. To be part of these conversations, please join us for a special #GlobalEdChat on Twitter on Thursday, GlobalPaperJanuary 7 at 8 pm ET as well as an interactive webinar on January 13, 2016 at 3:00 pm ET.

 

 

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