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National Association of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc)

CTE Research Review

December 11th, 2014

The Manufacturing Institute’s “State Responses to the Skills Gap”: The Manufacturing Institute has collected promising state-level Research Image_6.2013best practices that encourage and promote a skilled manufacturing workforce in its newest report.

These areas, including state examples, are:

  • Industry Credentials
  • Industry Partnerships
  • Credit Articulation
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Comprehensive State Strategies

ACT Policy Platforms: Testing giant ACT recently rolled out a series of policy recommendations for K-12, postsecondary and workforce development.

“With more than 50 years of data to draw upon, ACT research suggests that for far too many individuals—often those from low-income, first-generation, or minority backgrounds—success along the K-career continuum is out of reach,” according to ACT.

In short the three platforms are:

  • K-12 policy platform: Focus on readiness for all students, support the implementation of a high school core curriculum and rigorous coursework and promote the use of high-quality student assessment systems.
  • Postsecondary: Support postsecondary readiness, advance efforts that reduce information barriers and adopt holistic approaches increasing postsecondary completion.
  • Workforce development: Improve foundational workplace skills, ensure that training is valuable to employers and employees and help individuals attain credentials.

Linked Learning 5th Year Evaluation: SRI International released its fifth annual report on California’s Linked Learning Initiative, which blends rigorous academics with career preparation including work-based learning.

This year’s report focused on the students themselves – Who participates? What are their experiences? How does their participation in a Linked Learning pathway affect their high school outcomes?

As such the report found:

  • Student Equity and Access: There is a pattern of disproportionately low female enrollment in engineering pathways and disproportionately high enrollment in health sciences. Also nearly 80 percent of all students who started out in a pathway in the lower grades remained in the same pathway in 11th
  • Student Outcomes: Students outperformed their non-Linked Learning peers in credit accumulation and to remain in the school district; there was no evidence of higher scores on standardized achievement tests, but minority student subgroup perform at least as well if not better on credit accumulation and test score outcomes than their peers at traditional high schools.

For another California-centric study, be sure to check out the new report from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, “Recognizing College and Career Readiness in the California School Accountability System.”

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE & Upward Mobility

December 4th, 2014

Earlier this week, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute hosted a day-long conference on “Education for Upward Mobility.” Over the course of the day, researchers, writers and thought leaders shared reflections on how education can move students out of poverty – and how lack of a quality education essentially shuts the door on economic success.

What was perhaps most remarkable is that no matter what topic each presenter and panel covered was that the conversation kept coming back to the role of Career Technical Education (CTE) in breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Tamar Jacoby from Opportunity America, Bob Lerman from the Urban Institute, and Bob Schwartz from Harvard University were on hand to talk about industry credentials and certifications, apprenticeships and Pathways to Prosperity, respectively, but many of their peers also championed CTE, work-based learning, career academies and related efforts.

We encourage you to check out all of the associated papers here, watch the panels here and scroll through very lively Twitter feed here.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

New Report: The State of Employer Engagement in CTE

December 3rd, 2014

Today, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) released a new report exploring how employers are partnering Untitledwith the CTE enterprise to help prepare students for success in careers.

The report drew from a survey of 47 State CTE Directors as well as a dozen interviews to understand how and in what ways employers were engaging with CTE across the country and to illuminate the state’s role in fostering employer engagement.

Overwhelmingly, the State Directors reported that employer engagement has increased over the past decade and they expect this growth to continue in the next five years. As the second installment in the “State of Career Technical Education” series, the report also examined the wide range of levers that states are using through state and federal policy.

At the state level, the most common tools used to foster employer engagement include interagency collaboration and pilot initiatives as well as standards development and credentials selection. Via the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, states also have the flexibility to levy additional requirements beyond what is detailed in the law for locals seeking Perkins funds. More than 40 states said they require local advisory committees, and another 10 states said they also require locals to incorporate work-based learning, employer-related professional development and/or monetary or in-kind contributions.

In addition to the report, NASDCTEc has created an extensive list of state examples that can be used as a resource. A recording and slides from today’s webinar will be posted in the coming days.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

CTE Research Review

November 21st, 2014

Closing the skills gap can be solved by applying supply chain management ideas to the talent pipeline, says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Research Image_6.2013Foundation (Chamber) in a new white paper.

At an all-day event at its Washington, DC office, the Chamber called on employers to fundamentally change their relationship with education and workforce providers by taking on a much more active role – or even the lead – to ensure a steady flow of qualified workers.

During a panel of employers, VarCOM President and Founder Danny Vargas had clear messages for companies – “show up or shut up” – and education/workforce providers – “adapt or die.”

Those two messages carried through the day as stakeholders from K-12, postsecondary, workforce providers and employers discussed the challenges of aligning needs and balancing priorities while also highlight successes across the country.

During the keynote address, Harvard Business School’s Joseph Fuller reminded the attendees not to expect immediate changes, because “30 years got us here … this won’t be solved in 30 days.” Citing the theory of collective action, Fuller said such comprehensive change must be institutionalized for it to work and none of it will be easy.

Much of the day’s discussion focused on how workforce training and postsecondary programs can work with local and regional employers on pipeline problems. However, one panel, featuring Georgia State School Superintendent John Barge, discussed how K-12 fits into the talent pipeline.

Barge said the K-12 system in Georgia is responding to these pipeline issues by adapting programs and ways of teaching. Georgia recently required all 9th grade students to choose a career pathway when entering high school. It’s never too early to expose students to career options, Barge said. In Georgia, this starts as early as elementary school and continues through high school to help students make informed choices about the post-graduation options.

“There is tremendous value of being exposed to what is out there before you get there,” Barge said.

Be sure to check out the white paper along with the accompanying case studies, resources and checklists.

Related: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has released a new country report looking at job creation and local economic development. Here is the full report, along with a section on each country. Of particular interest would be the chapter on the United States.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Study: State Strategies for Financing CTE

November 13th, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new study that explores how states fund their Career Technical Education (CTE) systems beyond the formulas prescribed in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins).

The study, prepared by the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education, focuses primarily on how state funding, which is often used to off-set the higher cost of technical instruction, is distributed to local secondary and postsecondary programs. The report used survey data collected by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) that asked State CTE Directors how categorical funds were distributed during academic year 2011-12, as well as the use and perception of performance-based funding for CTE.

In short, the survey found that state approaches to CTE funding varies in emphasis and complexity, and no single approach will meet the needs of every state. The study also called for more research to better understand what impact, if any, the each of the state funding approaches has on program and student outcomes.

Financing Secondary and Postsecondary CTE

State financing approaches broke down into three main categories: foundational funding only, funding for area CTE centers and categorical funding.

Foundational Funding Only – All states distribute basic state aid to finance secondary education programming using a variety of formulas. In this approach, local administrators decide how to distribute funds across instructional priorities, including CTE. Nine respondents indicated they rely exclusively on foundational funding. At community or technical colleges, 30 states reported distributing funds to postsecondary institutions through block grants and not distinguishing funding for CTE.

Funding for Area CTE Centers – Through this method, funds are dedicated to support programming at area CTE centers that deliver CTE services to part-time students. Centralizing CTE programs can be a cost-effective strategy. Seven states reported having separate state funding for these centers at the secondary level and sometimes use a categorical funding approach to distribute funds.

Categorical Funding – This approach dedicates funding to support career-related instructional services and typically targets state funding for the exclusive use of CTE programming. In fact, 37 states earmarked state funds for secondary CTE using one of the following formulas: student-based (21 states), cost-based (7 states) and/or unit-based (9 states). At the postsecondary level, seven states indicated providing categorical funding, while most opted to allocate funding through basic state aid.

Performance-based Funding

Just seven states use performance-based formulas to allocate secondary CTE funds by tying funding to performance measures such as placement of CTE students into postsecondary education or employment, attainment of industry-recognized credentials or CTE completion rates.

For federal Perkins dollars, two states (Texas and South Carolina) do this for secondary CTE. Five states (Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Missouri and West Virginia) indicated using this formula to allocate state CTE funds on the secondary level.

At the postsecondary level, four states (Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota and North Dakota) reported using this approach with state funding, while none reported doing this with Perkins funds.

For the vast majority of states that do not use performance-based funding, the most common reason was a lack of understanding from state leaders. Almost half of states expressed an interest in adopting this approach to allocate a portion of their Perkins funds; however, training would be necessary if required by legislation.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

November 13th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013New research offers insight into key workforce development issues as it relates to middle-skills jobs, a state’s STEM workforce and a sector-focused program for the career advancement of low-skilled adults.

Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America’s Middle Skills – New research from Harvard Business School, Accenture and Burning Glass Technologies found that 69 percent of human resources executives believe “their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their firm’s performance.” In a new analysis that take a closer look at the skills gap for middle-skills jobs, the authors examine job market data with a focus on competitiveness and offer a framework for business leaders to prioritize jobs that matter for their business, industry, community and region.

The report offers overarching recommendations for an array of stakeholders:

  • Educators in community and technical colleges must embrace their roles as employment partners;
  • Business leaders must champion an employer-led skills-development system; and
  • Policymakers must actively foster collaboration between employers and educators by improving access to labor market data, revising metrics for educators and workforce development programs and advocate for the critical role of middle-skills jobs.

Cracking the Code on STEM: A People Strategy for Nevada’s Economy – Nevada’s newly diversified economic strategy is beginning to work, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, but now the state must focus on growing the talent pipeline to fill the high-demand jobs, particularly in STEM-related fields. Although many of the currently available opportunities “require no more than the right community college certificate, insufficient numbers of Nevadans have pursued even a little STEM training.” Without a targeted effort from the state to address this critical workforce need, the skills shortages could limit the state’s growth.

Along with a series of policy memos, this new analysis looks at Nevada’s STEM economy and labor market as well as the actions of the state’s leaders – public, private and philanthropic – can take to develop a skilled workforce. Specifically, the report draws three conclusions:

  • Growth in Nevada’s STEM-oriented sectors such as Business IT Ecosystems and Health and Medical Services is challenging the state’s ability to deliver an adequate supply of both technical and professional STEM workers;
  • Significant challenges threaten to undercut the state’s ability to cultivate the workforce needed to advance its economic diversification; and
  • Nevada needs to create a people strategy to complement its economic strategy.

WorkAdvance: Meeting the Needs of Workers and Employers – A new report from MDRC presents the early findings of four WorkAdvance programs around the country that are implementing the sector-focused career advancement program for low-skilled adults. Sharing the programs’ successes and lessons learned, the report gives an early insight into the challenges of, and best practices for implementing a program like WorkAdvance, which are currently operating in Oklahoma, Ohio and New York City. In late 2015, MDRC plans to release a report examining the program’s effects on employment and earnings as well as costs.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

October 29th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013As talk of data increasingly dominates education and employment conversations across the country, 37 states are working to track the employment outcomes of participants in education and workforce programs, according to a new report from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC).

WDQC promotes a 13-point state blueprint for inclusive, aligned and market-relevant education and workforce data systems that identifies key features of high-quality data infrastructure to provide useful information for policymakers, educators, employers and more. NASDCTEc is a WDQC partner.

The report surveyed 40 states and the District of Columbia about their progress implementing the 13 indicators including:

  • Expanding use of labor market information;
  • Assessing employment outcomes;
  • Counting industry-recognized credentials;
  • Including all students and pathways; and
  • Ensuring data access and appropriate use.

The results found a majority of states had achieved or were progressing toward establishing cross-agency councils to oversee statewide data collection, capturing employment outcomes such as graduates’ employment status and cross-state data sharing, and creating scorecards for students and workers. More than half of states, however, reported not having starting initiatives related to industry-recognized credentials such as increasing the range of credentials being counted or developing a process for industry validation of credentials.

WDQC highlighted several standout states such as Utah, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Maine. Be sure to check out the report for many more outstanding state examples.

WDQC will host a webinar on Thursday, Nov. 6, to discuss the report and highlight the work being done to connect and use workforce data in Utah and Indiana.

In Case You Missed It:

Check out new research from Burning Glass, Education Development Center and more!

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Poll finds overwhelming support for more CTE, internships in high school

September 18th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013A new PDK/Gallup poll released Tuesday showed 87 percent of Americans believe high school students should receive “more education about possible career choices.” Further, a majority of Americans agreed that the factors that help students get a good job include working on a real-world project, possessing employability skills such as teamwork and dependability, and having a mentor or advisor.

These results came from the second installment of the 46th annual PDK/Gallup poll. Be sure to check out our coverage of the first data release here, which primarily focused on the Common Core State Standards.

The findings add to a growing cadre of support for CTE in preparing students for success in both college and careers. The disaggregated survey results were filtered into the following categories: national total, public school parents and political affiliation.

Public school parents strongly agreed that high school students should be required to participate in at least one paid or unpaid internship and should be allowed to earn credits toward graduation from instruction they receive outside of school or online. However, results were mixed about whether students should specialize in a career area of their choice during high school.

Given the enthusiasm shown here for exposing students to more career opportunities, there are clear opportunities to continue educating parents and the public about the benefits of CTE and further breakdown the mentality of CTE as an either/or decision for students — particularly when it comes to preparation for college and careers.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

Leaders, Laggards and the State of the Common Core

September 12th, 2014

2014 Leaders & Laggards

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released the newest version of its Leaders & Laggards, a state-by-state analysis of K-12 education. Seven years after its inaugural edition, the report found that every state had improved in K-12 education but results still vary greatly in student outcomes across the country.

The 2014 report graded states on an A-F system using 11 metrics including student achievement, return on investment, international competitiveness and postsecondary and workforce readiness. The American Enterprise Institute conducted the research in the report. This year’s report also showed how student scores changed over time since the initial report.

Tennessee was highlighted as a state that made tremendous progress since the 2007 rankings, receiving an A for progress but was still awarded D’s and F’s in categories such as academic achievement, Technology and international competitiveness.

The report drew from national data such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Advanced Placement exam passage rates, and high school graduation rates.

Citing the country’s high unemployment rate and persistently high number of unfilled jobs as evidence of a skills gap, the researchers attempted to look closer at how the K-12 system was preparing students for college and careers. However, they said insufficient data and the lack of a single accountability metric prevented them from being able to truly measure career readiness or post-high school outcomes.

Also, despite having a category that examined career readiness, CTE was visibly absent from both the report and the conversation at the public event in Washington, D.C. When asked about why CTE wasn’t included, AEI’s Frederick M. Hess called out the lack of quality, consistent national data on CTE as the reason for its absence from the report.

You can spend time with the report’s sophisticated web tool, which allows you to compare states by metric, see full state report cards and look closer at the data used.

Where does the Common Core stand now?

After months of heated debates over the Common Core State Standards, it might be easy to lose track of which states have kept, renamed, modified or overturned the new (or not so new) standards to measure college and career readiness.

Education Commission of the States have taken a state-by-state look at where the Common Core currently stands. While some more high-profile examples have made news headlines, other changes – sometimes in name only – have bypassed national news. In fact, though many states have maintained their commitment to the standards, 25 have quietly renamed the standards such as Iowa Core, Maine’s Learning Results and Wyoming Content and Performance Standards.

Check out the full overview to see where your state stands.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

September 4th, 2014

Data, Data, DatResearch Image_6.2013a! This week’s installment of the CTE Research Review takes a look at new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the New York Federal Reserve.

Analysts at BLS are diving deep into their datasets to pull out trends on manufacturing employment and reemployment rates by industry. Using its Current Employment Statistics datasets, BLS found that Los Angeles had the largest total population employed in manufacturing; however, when taken as a percentage, Elkhart, Indiana (also the “RV and Band Instrument Capital(s) of the World,” according to Wikipedia), took the top spot, 47.8 percent of the working population employed in manufacturing.

BLS also examined reemployment rates for displaced workers by industry – those who were employed for at least three years but lost their jobs through layoffs or because a company closed. Although the analysis does not consider whether workers were reemployed in the same industry, it showed that industries such as hospitality, construction and information (such as telecommunications) posted the highest overall reemployment rates.

Over on Liberty Street…

This week, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a series of posts on their blog, “Liberty Street Economics,” examining the value of a college degree, which are all related to an article it released in June.

The third post in the blog series found that a quarter of those who earn a bachelor’s degree reap little economic benefit. In fact, the bottom quartile of baccalaureate holders had nearly identical wages to those with a high school degree. Another post also points to the diminishing economic rewards for students who don’t finish in four years.

These numbers poke yet another hole in the baccalaureate-only focus of the college-for-all mantra. By overlooking the broader set of postsecondary pathways, students – and not just those who may fall in the 25th percentile – may be missing their chance to earn a family-sustaining wage with job security and mobility.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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