Work-based Learning is Predictive of Future Job Quality, According to New Study

December 10th, 2018

The Brookings Institution looks at employment outcomes for low-income learners

It’s a question that has puzzled education researchers for decades: what is the right mix of experiences in early adolescence that is most predictive of future career success and lifelong learning?

For the longest time, the rule of thumb has been “get a bachelor’s degree and you’ll get a good job.” But we know that there are other experiences on the path to a four-year degree (such as participating in work-based learning or earning an industry-recognized credential) that are just as powerful in preparing learners for their future careers. What are these experiences? And how should they be delivered to maximize learner outcomes?

New research from the Brookings Institution sheds a little bit of light on this question. The study looks at different factors that are correlated with economic success among 29-year-olds from “disadvantaged” backgrounds. The study finds that:

  • Participating in work-based learning is correlated with attainment of “high-quality” jobs later in life
  • Working (and earning high wages) at a young age predicts higher job quality in adulthood
  • Earning credentials is still the biggest predictor of career success, but sub-baccalaureate credentials are also important

Specifically, the researchers find that participating in “relationship-focused CTE” (a term they use to refer to work-based learning and other activities where students interact with industry mentors) is significantly related to higher job quality scores at age 29. This would seem to suggest that building relationships with industry mentors and completing work-based learning at an early age can help learners, particularly low-income learners, get a leg up on their careers. While the data do not provide a full picture of the quality of work-based learning in the study, the evidence is promising.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers define “disadvantaged adolescents” as those who, when they were between the ages of 12 and 18, had a family income equal to or less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line; did not have a parent with more than a high school education; had a mother who was a teenager when her first child was born; or whose family received public assistance. They defined job quality based on four factors: earnings, benefits, hours of work and job satisfaction.

CTE Research Roundup

  • In a new research brief, MDRC summarizes findings from studies of three different career-focused learning programs: New York City’s Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP), YouthBuild and Year Up. Using a random assignment research design, the researchers find significant positive wage increases for completers of each program.
  • JFF explores how the scope and length of Registered Apprenticeships can vary and poses the question: Are apprenticeships the next stackable credential?
  • The NewDeal Forum Working Group, a national network of state and local leaders, published recommendations for policymakers to help the economy adapt to the future of work. The report includes recommendations for skill development and workforce training; modernizing the social safety net; and supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and access.  
  • Mathematica Policy Research shares an update on new partnerships and research focused on pathways to postsecondary education, including an examination of free tuition programs for adult learners, a study of the Better Careers initiative in California, and research into community college career planning through the Working Student Success Network. Keep an eye out for future research.
  • A new study from JFF looks at Maine’s proficiency-based education system and finds some promising early results. According to the study, high school students who received a medium amount of exposure to proficiency-based education had significantly higher reported engagement; however, exposure to proficiency-based education was negatively correlated with SAT scores.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

New Research Sheds Light on the Value of Credentials, Dual Credit and Apprenticeships

August 23rd, 2018

It is common knowledge that earning a postsecondary credential, particularly in a high-skill, high-wage, in-demand industry, can help learners land good jobs. But how do learners get there? New research sheds light on the different pathways learners take to get to a good job and the economic returns of credential attainment.

$224 million a year. That’s how much more money the most recent cohort of graduates from Tennessee public colleges and universities can expect to make every year compared to non-credential holders. That figure comes from a new report published by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in June. The report attributes much of the wage gains to the impact of community and technical colleges across Tennessee.

While a postsecondary credential pays a premium for graduates, many learners work through college. In fact, according to a new brief from the National Center for Education Statistics, 32 percent of students at public 2-year colleges worked full-time while enrolled in the 2011-12 school year. The study also finds that students were more likely to complete a degree if they worked 20 hours or less a week compared to students who worked full time or did not work at all. The study did not say whether or not these students were working in fields related to their program of study, however.

Learners can start working on their postsecondary credential even before they graduate high school. New research from the University of Texas system shows just how much of an impact dual enrollment has for Texas students. According to the study, dual credit students had higher college graduation rates and higher GPAs than their peers. And students who entered the University of Texas system with credits from both Advanced Placement and dual credit classes were five times as likely as their peers to graduate in four years.

Yet learners often do not complete their credential at their initial institution. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 38 percent – or 1,069,243 students – in the fall 2011 cohort transferred within six years. The study also revealed this startling statistic: only 5.6 percent of transfers from two-year colleges leave with a certificate or associate degree.

Postsecondary credentials reinforce the technical and academic skills learners will exercise in their future careers. But employers often look for candidates with a more rounded skill set that can only be learned through experience. A new survey from Bloomberg Next finds that 43 percent of employers say new recruits lack the soft skills to be effective, skills like teamwork, critical thinking and adaptability.

One way to build these skills is through work-based learning experiences like internships and apprenticeships. Adults in the U.S. are increasingly recognizing the value of apprenticeships. The American Staffing Association reports that 94 percent of Americans say that apprenticeships are helpful in leading to a new career and 62 percent even think apprenticeships make people more employable than going to college.

At any rate, learners have multiple pathways to lifelong career success – be it through an apprenticeship, a two-year college or a four-year university – and should be empowered to choose the path that is right for them.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

More Evidence Demonstrates How Postsecondary Credentials Can Help Learners Unlock Career Opportunities

June 11th, 2018

Earning a credential of value is still the surest path to success for American workers. A recent New America poll released last month finds that 80 percent of American adults believe there are more opportunities for those who pursue education after high school, compared to 14 percent who think it is better to enter the workforce right away.

For adult learners, the connection between education and careers is even more important. According to Public Agenda, 71 percent of adult prospective students — those who are actively working to go back to school — say that their primary motivation is either to get ahead in their current career or to get the skills they need to start a new career.

Studying the return on investment for credential earners can be quite an undertaking, however, considering the vast number and types of credentials on the market today. Credential Engine, a nonprofit dedicated to counting and cataloging every credential, estimated in April that there are more than 330,000 individual credentials available in the United States today, and only a fraction of them are available at four-year institutions. That count includes nearly 67,000 postsecondary certificates, 13,600 Registered Apprenticeships and 5,400 certifications.

It is well understood that a university education can improve career opportunities. But where to start? Does major matter? And what is the return on investment for other sub-baccalaureate credentials like associate degrees, postsecondary certificates and industry certifications?

More Advanced Credentials Lead to Higher Earnings, but Field of Study Matters

With so many credentials on the market, how can learners navigate the education marketplace and find the credential that best suits their career interests and economic goals?

New research out of the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce helps us begin to demystify the credential marketplace.

The report finds that, while median income rises with more advanced credentials, the field of study matters a lot. A bachelor’s degree in architecture and engineering, for example, will land you a median salary of $85,000, far above the $46,000 median salary for education majors. Further, less education can even lead to higher earnings, depending on the field of study. Associate degree holders who study science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) earn a median salary $13,000 higher than workers with bachelor’s degrees in psychology & social work. Certainly, credentials help learners unlock career success and earn a family sustaining wage, but field of study is far more important than level of education.  

A separate Georgetown study puts a magnifying glass up to one particular type of credential,  postsecondary certifications, examining earnings for individuals who earned a certification at an Oregon community college. The study finds that, on average, certification earners experienced a 19 percent increase in earnings. And Pell students experience an even larger premium, more than 50 percent of their wages prior to enrollment, further demonstrating the power of short-term certifications to provide an on-ramp to a sustainable career.

How Can States Help Learners Navigate the Credential Environment?

As the universe of postsecondary credentials continues to grow, learners will need support and guidance to help determine which credentials to pursue and where to pursue them. Already, a number of states have developed protocols to review, verify and publish a list of high-quality, industry-recognized credentials for secondary and postsecondary students. A new 50-state scan from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign finds that 30 states identify or plan to identify credentials of value at the state level. However, only 23 states report that they analyze employment and earnings outcomes and only 21 seek regular employer input.

If credentials are going to deliver on their promise, the credentialing system must be transparent and learners must be able to know which credentials are valued in the marketplace and recognized by employers. It is important for states to set up systems to regularly gather and put to use employer input. The evidence is encouraging, but there is still a lot of work to do to help demystify the credentialing marketplace and empower learners to achieve their career goals.

To learn more about credentials of value or state strategies to promote high-quality credentials, visit the Learning that Works Resource Center.

Austin Estes, Senior Policy Associate

Utah Valley University Charges Forward as a Dual-Role Community College and University

February 13th, 2018

Numerous states have begun to allow community colleges to grant four-year degrees. These changes have led to concerns over “credential creep,” where institution leaders push for the increased perception of prestige that advanced postsecondary degree offerings provide them, and neglect their CTE programs. This article from Inside Higher Ed highlights the work being done at Utah Valley University to maintain focus on providing high-quality degree programs, whether they be two- or four-year degrees.

The institution implemented a “structured enrollment” approach to preserve its open-door admissions policy. This approach enrolls underprepared students in one-year certificate programs that include numerous student support services. From there, students can enroll in a two-year degree program and eventually a four-year program, all within the same institution. “The certificates and degrees stack on top of each other, thus all credits move up with the student. For example, all of the certificate classes are required in the associate’s degree, and all of the associate classes are required in the bachelor’s degree,” a university spokesman said via email. “If the student doesn’t do well in the certificate track, university counselors will circle back to try to find a better fit.”

Report Offers Recommendations for Using Data and Evidence to Improve Student Outcomes

Colleges have long been working to use data more effectively to analyze and improve student outcomes. However, these efforts have often been the responsibility of individual institutions or systems, and are dependent on the resources available for data analysis and new technologies. A new report from Results for America offers recommendations for state governments to become more involved in these initiatives. Their recommendations fall into three categories:

  1. Improve measures of student success
    • Improve the accuracy of graduation rates
    • Publish employment outcomes by major
    • Develop measures of learning and civic outcomes
  2. Help colleges act on and analyze data
    • Invest in the data capacities of colleges
    • Generate evidence of what works
    • Kickstart evidence-based improvements
  3. Align resources behind student success
    • Make payoffs clear and certain
    • Prioritize equity
    • Consider post-graduation goals
    • Consider additional strategies to help low-performing colleges

White Paper Examines Overlap between Afterschool Programs and Workforce Development

The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) recently published a new white paper highlighting the shared goals and opportunities for collaboration between afterschool programs and workforce development initiatives. While both youth and workforce development initiatives implement programs and activities to help youth develop skills and competencies for the world of work, they often operate in separate and disconnected silos.

For example, afterschool programs have long focused on building the social and emotional skills of students, skills which also contribute to employability readiness. “Participation in high-quality afterschool programs has a positive impact on problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-control, leadership, and responsible decision-making, all of which are included within the employability and [social emotional learning] frameworks.” If efforts are better aligned and resources more coordinated, more of this training can be implemented.

The white paper examines case studies in Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois and from those extrapolates recommendations for further collaboration between the two types of initiatives.

Odds and Ends

This report from AEI examines common barriers for providing high-quality CTE at community colleges and suggest five strategies for overcoming those barriers, most of which are structural and policy barriers, but also include the perceived stigma of CTE.

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) recently launched this video highlighting the problem of “The Forgotten 500,000” – the 500,000 students who are in the top half of their high school classes but do not go on to complete a postsecondary certificate or credential. Among other recommendations, CEW believes this problem can be solved by tying education more deliberately to career pathways.

The American Institutes for Research released this infographic highlighting the importance of using CTE as a strategy for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who are CTE concentrators are five percent more likely to graduate high school on time and 20 percent more likely to be employed after graduation.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Guided Pathways Initiatives Require Major Overhaul of How Things are Done at Community Colleges

January 5th, 2018

A recent article from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) highlights efforts from CCRC and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to implement guided pathways reforms at community colleges. The goal of guided pathways reforms is to create college environments that learners can easily and confidently navigate to completion and successful employment upon completion, and includes four main practice areas:

  • Mapping pathways to student end goals;
  • Helping students choose and enter a program pathway;
  • Keeping students on a path; and
  • Ensuring that students are learning.

Reforms in all four of these areas require major changes to program structure, advising, administrative policies and classroom practice, and therefore require buy-in across the institution and a several-year commitment to the reform process. CCRC and AACC have been working with 30 colleges to implement guided pathways through the Pathways Project, and shared some of their lessons learned from the project’s first year.

For example, Jackson College in Michigan quickly realized that its four advisors for more than 5,000 students were not adequate for helping all students learn about and choose program pathways. The college has now hired “student success navigators,” who call every single student before orientation and work with each student in person multiple times in their first semester to design a pathway that works for them. San Jacinto College in Texas reorganized its 144 degree and certificate programs into eight meta majors, allowing a student to choose one of the eight early on and begin introductory courses without being locked into a specific degree or certificate program. The college also worked on transfer-oriented programs by creating maps for the college’s five most common transfer destinations to help students choose the courses that will allow them to transfer non-elective college credit to the new institutions.

For Effective CTE, States Should Adopt Eight Non-Negotiables

ExcelinEd recently released a new playbook for state policymakers related to effective CTE. The report argues that while the importance of CTE has been recognized at the federal, state and local levels, not enough has been done to ensure that CTE programs are meeting workforce needs effectively. This is largely attributed to common challenges of the broad spectrum of programs available, the disconnect between K-12 and industry, and the negative legacy of “vocational education.” To address these challenges, the report recommends that states adopt eight “non-negotiables” related to their CTE policies:

  1. All promoted programs of study align with state and/or regional industry and labor market data;
  2. Programs of study incorporate experiential learning and capstone experiences valued by industry;
  3. Secondary programs of study vertically align with postsecondary programs;
  4. Courses are sequential and progressive in a given program of study;
  5. Secondary programs of study incorporate courses and exams eligible for postsecondary credit or hours where appropriate;
  6. Course standards are robust and accurately represent the academic, technical and employability skills learners must master;
  7. Educators receive ongoing, progressive training and professional development to ensure their instruction is reflective of course standards and current industry work environments; and
  8. Federal, state and local funding are utilized to leverage and drive programmatic changes leading to the implementation of vertically aligned education-to-career learning pathways.

 

The authors propose that these eight non-negotiables be implemented in a four-phase plan, to ensure thoughtful and sustainable changes are occurring. They provide examples of successful implementation of each of the eight non-negotiables in Delaware, Florida and Tennessee.

Odds and Ends

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a new report on the integration of education and workforce data. The report focuses on states who have created publicly available data tools in five areas:

  • Education Projections, Business Expansion, and Workforce Quality
  • Program Alignment with Labor Market Demand
  • Curriculum Alignment with Workforce Requirements
  • Counseling and Career Pathways
  • Job Placement and Skills Gap Analysis

Education Commission of the States recently released a 50-state comparison of policies related to Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs). PLAs allow learners and institutions to determine the level of previous of knowledge and experience before entering a postsecondary program, and can be used to incentivize re-entry for older learners.

A new report from the American Enterprise Institute examines the barriers community colleges face in providing high-quality CTE, including funding allocations, accreditation requirements and credit-transfer policies, among others. The report also makes recommendations for community colleges to make the most of their CTE offerings and reduce the proliferation of general studies programs at community colleges.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

CTE & College-Going: One Advocate’s Read on the New Research

November 7th, 2017

Last week, a new research study made its way through the edu-sphere, exciting a lot of CTE advocates. The AERA study – Linking the Timing of Career and Technical Education Coursetaking with High School Dropout and College-Going Behavior – validated some long-held truths about CTE, most notably that it boosts high school graduation rate.

In brief, the study found that taking a greater number of CTE courses was associated with a lower chance of dropping out, estimated at a decreased probability of dropout of 1.2% per CTE course completed across high school.  The probability of not dropping out – or probability of graduating – increases to 1.6% for every CTE course taken during 11th grade or 12th grade.

This jives well with existing data showing higher graduation rates for CTE concentrators – and survey data that shows CTE students are simply more satisfied with their educational experience than students not involved in CTE.

However, some of the coverage of this new study left me scratching my head. For example, Education Week’s blog was titled “Career and Tech Ed. Courses Don’t Boost Chances of College-Going, Study Finds focusing on the research finding that CTE completion is generally not linked to college going, except for a small positive (but statistically significant) link between 11th grade CTE coursetaking and both probability of enrollment within two years (0.8%) and probability of ever enrolling in postsecondary education (0.8%).

To quote the researchers: “These results imply that CTE may not be strongly associated with later college-going behaviors, but it also does not appear to have any negative influence on a student’s decision to pursue further education beyond high school.”

Now, for a CTE advocate, this is actually a game changer!

Consider the change in postsecondary enrollment over the last 25 years:

So, to summarize the chart above, the direct postsecondary enrollment rate for CTE concentrators increased by 28 percentage points between 1992 and 2004, while the postsecondary enrollment rates stayed stagnant for non-CTE students, which is a pretty huge jump. Now, we have new data showing that students engaging in CTE are just as likely to go on to college as those not taking CTE coursework! (As an FYI, the data shared above is from the same dataset used by AERA, NCES’ Education Longitudinal Study).

For years, CTE leaders have been talking the talk on the value of CTE, and developing policies, programs and frameworks to ensure our programs also walk the walk. The bottom line is that the quality of CTE programs and policies are on the rise and the data is showing a very positive upwards trajectory.

Some of the light criticism following this report is that we “still have work to do” to ensure CTE is a successful college preparation program. But, honestly, CTE hasn’t been designed with college preparation as its core purpose. Rather, it’s designed to support career readiness, with college readiness as a byproduct – and is now doing a pretty impressive job of offering equally rigorous pathways to high school students.

Look, I’m not sugarcoating the fact that we still have a long way to go to ensuring every CTE program is of the highest quality and provides meaningful post-high school pathways for every learner. And, I join the researchers in calling for more research on the impact of CTE, particularly around how CTE coursetaking impacts the drop out and completion rate for 9th grade students, who are often a higher drop out risk, something that has not received adequate focus. We also know college enrollment is not a particularly strong indicator of success, when compared to college retention and completion. But this study validates the impressive and difficult work undertaken by states and local leaders to up the rigor and quality of CTE programs and should be celebrated as such.

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

New Report Examines Nondegree Credentials and Their Value

October 10th, 2017

The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a new report summarizing the results from the 2016 Adult Training and Education Survey, which gathered nationally representative data on U.S. adults’ training and education.

Overall, 27 percent of adults aged 16-65 have a nondegree credential, with 21 percent having an occupational certification or license and 8 percent having a postsecondary certificate. Among those who have an occupational certification or license, 67 percent prepared for their most important certification or license by taking classes from a college, technical school or trade school. Additionally, 21 percent of adults have completed an apprenticeship or internship, with 14 percent doing so as part of an educational program after high school.

According to the NCES’ blog post on the survey, “the data show that nondegree credentialing and work experience programs are particularly common in the healthcare field. In fact, health care was the most common field in which both certifications and licenses were held and the most common field for which adults had completed a work experience program.

The ATES also found that adults perceive nondegree credentials to be useful for many labor market outcomes. For example, 82 percent of adults who have a certification or license reported that it was very useful for ‘getting a job’, 81 percent reported that it was very useful for ‘keeping you marketable to employers or clients’, and 66 percent reported it that was very useful for ‘improving your work skills.’”

University Innovation Alliance Expected to Exceed Public Attainment Goals

A recent article highlights the successes of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), a group of 11 research universities who banded together to implement strategies that would help more low-income students complete postsecondary programs. Over the past three years, the universities have increased the number of low-income graduates at their institutions by 24.7 percent, and they are on track to surpass their initial goal of increasing the number of low-income graduates by 34,000 students.

Among other strategies, the universities encouraged students to take a minimum of 15 credits per semester to increase their likelihood of completion and shared data analyses and studies with each other to help problem-solve. Their approach has had noticeable effects, even over a short time period. A comparative study recently revealed that 31 percent of the UIA undergraduate students receive Pell Grants compared to 15 percent of undergraduates at Ivy League institutions and at 50 other selective liberal arts colleges. This information is significant in that these 11 research universities are serving vastly more low-income students than many universities, and they are actively committed to helping those students succeed.

Odds and Ends

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report showing the current and projected entry-level degree requirements for various employment sectors. Interestingly, 6.5 percent of entry-level employment in 2016 was in occupations that typically require postsecondary education for entry. From May 2007 to May 2016, the share of U.S. employment in occupations typically requiring a high school diploma or equivalent for entry fell by nearly 2.6 percentage points, from over 38.3 percent to slightly less than 35.8 percent. Over the same period, the share of employment in occupations typically requiring postsecondary education for entry rose by 2.3 percentage points, from 34.2 to 36.5 percent.

Gallup and the Strada Education Network released a report diving into how individuals choose their field of study, based on a survey of 22,000 adults. Respondents were asked from where they received advice about their major, with responses falling into four main groups: formal, informal social network, informal school-based and informal work-based. Somewhat surprisingly, the survey found that the majority of adults used their informal social networks for advice, rather than the more formal (and likely more helpful and informed) channels available to them.

More great news has emerged for the Tennessee Promise program, as results on student outcomes continue to come in. Fifty-six percent of Tennessee Promise students who entered college in 2015, the program’s first year, had graduated, transferred to a four-year university or remained in school two years later. Only 39 percent of recent high school graduates outside of Tennessee Promise had done the same — a difference of 17 percentage points. While officials agree there is still more work to do, they are encouraged by these results.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Colleges Play Important Role in Creating Alternative Credentialing Pathways

September 12th, 2017

A new report commissioned by The Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences examines the landscape of non-degree postsecondary training. The report focused on five categories: certificate programs, work-based training, skills-based short programs, massive open online courses and other online microcredentials, and competency-based education programs, and provides in-depth analyses of each. While these types of trainings vary widely across sectors and states, the authors found that they all tended to be shorter, more flexible, and more directly aligned with employer-defined skills than traditional postsecondary degree programs.

However, data on learner enrollment and outcomes for these programs is limited, so it is difficult to tell how effective an option they ultimately are for learners. With that in mind, the report also found that more traditional degree programs, which have clearer data on outcomes, are increasingly incorporating elements of alternative pathways into their programs to create programs that provide academic and non-academic instruction.

Survey Measures Student Interest and Readiness for Postsecondary

A recent online survey of over 55,000 high school students revealed some interesting findings related to the enthusiasm and readiness for postsecondary education. 84 percent of students indicated a desire to go to college, with only five percent definitely saying no to college. 68 percent of students had plans to attend a 2- or 4-year college immediately after high school.

Interestingly, only 50 percent of 12th grade students feel that their school has helped them develop the skills and knowledge they will need for college-level classes. Students are aware of the various support services offered, and they generally agree those services are helpful. However, not many students are actually choosing to take advantage of them. This could be for a number of reasons, but advertising these services and reducing the stigma of using them might help.

Odds and Ends

The Education Commission of the States launched a 50-state scan highlighting how states issue and analyze postsecondary feedback reports. An interesting finding is that 39 states publicly report high school feedback reports with data on postsecondary enrollment and/or performance.

A new report finds that English language learners are proportionally under-enrolled in New York City’s CTE programs, and that they are less likely to successfully complete the programs once enrolled. The report’s authors feel that this is a major opportunity to enroll more English language learners in CTE programs, as those who do complete their CTE programs graduate at a rate that is 30 percent higher than other English language learners in the city.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

New PDK Poll Shows that Americans Overwhelmingly Support Career Preparation in High School

September 5th, 2017

The 49th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was released recently, and once again showed the importance of career preparation in K-12 for American students. Respondents overwhelmingly supported the idea that students need classes devoted to preparing them for the real world, including training for specific careers and training on employability and interpersonal skills. Over 80 percent indicated that they would prefer career and jobs preparation courses even if it meant students spending less time in academic courses.

Fewer than half of public school parents (47 percent) expect their child to enroll in a four-year college full time. Other parents expected their child to enroll in two-year colleges or vocational programs, while others expect their students will enroll in postsecondary training part-time while also working. These findings indicate that parents are thinking deliberately and strategically about their students’ futures in the real world.

New Research Highlights Number of Jobs Available for Those without Bachelor’s Degree

A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase & Co. details the 30 million “good” jobs available in the US for workers without Bachelor’s degrees. These jobs pay a median wage of $55,000 annually, and are largely found in the manufacturing and skilled-services industries.

The research also points out that even though there is a wide public perception that there are no jobs available for those without Bachelor’s degrees, workers without them still comprise 64 percent of all workers. However, this does not mean that workers do not require any postsecondary training. Increasingly, jobs are requiring Associate’s degrees or other postsecondary credentials, so future job seekers should still plan on attaining some level of postsecondary experience.

Odds and Ends

The Education Commission of the States recently put together a comprehensive summary of state policy actions taken related to high-quality computer science education. These actions include adopting statewide computer science standards and creating banks of high quality resources for educators to use.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce also recently released a report detailing the effects of the current healthcare debate on the nursing profession. The report finds that a college education is increasingly important to be successful in nursing, and also finds that lack of diversity remains a challenge for the field.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

Top Findings from Reviews of State ESSA Plans

July 25th, 2017

How long does it take to read through and analyze 17 state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)? Two months seems to be the sweet spot for many of the nation’s education thought leaders. Since the first submission window closed this spring, a number of groups, Advance CTE among them, have released their takes on the first round of state plans.

Federal education policy inevitably draws opinions, advice and criticism from all corners of the country, and states’ planning around ESSA implementation has been no exception. Below we round up some of the latest takes and summarize conclusions from the first round of submitted plans.

ESSA: Early Observations on State Changes to Accountability Systems (Government Accountability Office)

Purpose: The GAO was requested by Congress to study and report on states’ progress and approaches toward amending accountability under ESSA. To conduct the report, GAO policy researchers interviewed national stakeholders and met with education officials in California and Ohio, two states that were identified as taking different approaches to accountability.

Key Findings: The report finds that states are taking advantage of increased flexibility under ESSA, though the degree of change ranges by state. The authors classify ESSA accountability development by four dimensions: 1) determining long-term goals, 2) developing performance indicators, 3) differentiating schools and 4) identifying and assisting low-performers.  

ESSA Equity Dashboards (Alliance for Excellent Education)

Purpose: To highlight strengths and draw attention to growth areas in ESSA plans, the Alliance for Excellent Education is developing ESSA Equity Dashboards that rate key components of state plans. Dashboards are available for five of the first 17 plans, with the remaining expected in August. The dashboards examine long-term goals, support and intervention, and accountability.

Key Findings: The Alliance for Excellent Education highlights Louisiana’s plan for its focus on academic outcomes and the design of the state’s “Strength of Diploma Indicator.” Reviewers flagged Colorado’s long-term goals for math and reading performance.

ESSA Leverage Points: 64 Promising Practices from States for using Evidence to Improve Student Outcomes (Results for America)

Purpose: This analysis from Results for America examines the first 17 submitted ESSA plans and evaluates the degree to which states aim to use evidence-based practices in certain parts of their plan. The analysis is based on 13 key ESSA leverage points identified by Results for America and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Leverage points include monitoring local education agency implementation, allocating school improvement funds, monitoring and evaluating school improvement, and more.

Key Findings: The reviewers found that:

  • Sixteen states included at least one promising practice for building and using evidence to
    improve student outcomes.
  • However, only four states emphasized the role of evidence-based practices through Title II and Title IV and only nine states prioritize evidence when reviewing and approving school improvement funding applications.

An Independent Review of ESSA State Plans (Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success)

Purpose: To supplement the Department of Education’s peer review process, Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success convened a peer review team of their own, drawing together more than 30 local, state and national experts to review and rate state plans. Their analysis focused on nine key elements.

Key Findings: The results of the peer review are broken down by state at https://checkstateplans.org/. Overall, the reviewers found that:

  • States are taking advantage of increased flexibility to broaden their accountability systems, focusing on college- and career-readiness, year-to-year student growth and other indicators including science, attendance, physical education, art and school climate.
  • However, many states could not describe how their proposals would play out in practice, neglecting to specify how many schools would be identified for improvement or how federal funds would be used to increase student success.

Leveraging ESSA to Promote Science and STEM Education in States (Achieve)

Purpose: This analysis from Achieve examines 17 round 1 state ESSA plans through the lens of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, pinpointing how states are leveraging assessments, graduation requirements and other goals to promote science and STEM.

Key Findings: Achieve’s analysis finds that, among the 17 round 1 state plans:

  • Only two states set clear achievement goals around science;
  • Ten states are including science in their accountability system (though many included measures under the academic achievement indicator, which has been disputed by the U.S. Department of Education); and
  • Several states are exploring opportunities to use grant funds under Title II and Title IV to support STEM education.

Making the Most of ESSA: Opportunities to Advance STEM Education (Education First)

Purpose: Education First, with support from the Overdeck Family Foundation, examined 25 state plans (including 17 submitted plans and an additional eight draft plans) to identify leverage points for STEM education and review whether and how states are taking advantage of these opportunities. Their review focused on four key dimensions of state plans: inclusion of state science assessments in accountability systems; including of Career Technical Education (CTE) indicators in accountability systems; inclusion of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate indicators in accountability systems; and STEM elements in 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Key Findings: The reviewers found that:

  • Seventeen states included or are strongly considering including performance on state science assessments in their accountability systems;
  • Seventeen states included or are strongly considering including CTE indicators in their accountability systems;
  • Nineteen states included or are strongly considering including Advanced Placement/ International Baccalaureate indicators in their accountability systems; and
  • Ten states are requiring or encouraging STEM activities in their 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants.

Reflections on State ESSA Plans (American Institutes for Research)

Purpose: Researchers at the American Institutes for Research reviewed 17 submitted plans and three additional draft plans to get a broad perspective on how states are prioritizing certain strategies. Their analysis covered plans for accountability, STEM, school improvement, technology and more.

Key Findings: Notably, the researchers at AIR found that, among the 20 plans reviewed:

  • State accountability systems are becoming more sophisticated, including indicators such as college- and career-readiness and chronic absenteeism.
  • However, states have a ways to go to more fully develop indicators of career readiness (a question recently explored at length by Education Strategy Group and the Council of Chief State School Officers).

Overall, reviewers seem impressed with states’ efforts to include more comprehensive indicators of student success in their accountability system. However, states were light on details about how their plans will be implemented and how schools will be supported to improve student performance. The remaining two-thirds of states planning to submit plans in September can draw on these findings, along with Advance CTE’s report on career readiness and ESSA, to ensure their plans are robust and sufficiently leverage all that ESSA has to offer.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

 

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