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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

CTE Research Review

August 27th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013As postsecondary institutions work to ease students through higher education with an increasing number of interventions such as statewide articulation agreements and common course numbering systems, students moving from one postsecondary institution to another still find that their earned credits often will not move with them.

Against the backdrop of increasingly complex transfer patterns, the National Center for Education Statistics has taken a closer look at a crucial piece of the transfer process – postsecondary credit transferability. This report focuses on transfers between postsecondary institutions not the high school-to-college credit transfer through dual enrollment and other agreements.

This new study examines how often, and under what conditions, students transfer from one postsecondary institution to another and how many of their earned credits will transfer with them. The study also considers to what degree institutional and student characteristics affect credit transfers. It should be noted that the study captures only first-time, full-time students.

Analyzing data from the 2009 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study, NCES found that 35 percent one-third of first-time beginning undergraduates transferred at least once in six years, and more than 10 percent of students transferred more than once.

The study found two factors consistently contributed to successful credit transfers – academic performance prior to transfer and the direction by which a student was transferring. Overall, when a student transfers in a way that the higher education system is designed to accommodate, a student’s credit was much more likely to transfer. More than half of transfer students started in community colleges, and were more likely to have successful credit transfers than “reverse or horizontal transfers,” when students move from a university to a community college or between institutions of the same type.

Be sure to check out the full 60-page report to take a closer look at the student transfer experience.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

August 20th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The 46th annual “2014 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes toward the Public Schools” is being released in two parts this year, with part one debuting Wednesday. The findings present a complicated picture of public attitudes toward the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), standardized tests and issues surrounding local control. This year’s topics were selected by an expert panel that included NASDCTEc member Katherine Oliver, Assistant State Superintendent at the Maryland Department of Education.

Making headlines were results indicating that support for CCSS is fading fast. This may be tied to misunderstanding of its purpose, as the study found that most Americans oppose public education efforts that they believe were created or promoted by the federal government and strongly support local control of what schools teach. While CCSS is neither a federal initiative nor designed to mandate specific curricula, the poll indicates that many Americans see CCSS as an example of federal overreach. According to the poll 56 percent say local school boards should have the greatest influence in deciding what is taught in public schools. Almost 30 percent of respondents indicated that state governments should have the greatest influence on what public schools teach.

Persistent across age, income and education levels, a majority of Americans also oppose using the CCSS to guide instruction, though opinion splits by political affiliation — Republican (76 percent), Independents (60 percent) and Democrats (38 percent). Nationally, just one in three people said they favored the standards, primarily because they will help students learn what they need to know regardless of where they go to school.

Each year, the study asks the public to grade the President’s performance in support of public schools. This year, President Barack Obama received the lowest grade since becoming president in 2009. Underscoring the deep divides over education in the country, respondents equally gave the President an A or B (27 percent) or a Fail (27 percent).

The study’s co-author and CEO of PDK International, William J. Bushaw, said policy makers are often faced with a tough reality when public opinion and public policy conflict, with the question being whether to modify the policy to align with public opinion or launch a communications campaign to better explain the new policy.

“To address higher achievement and greater equity, the United States needs standards of excellence, and there is wide agreement that the Common Core State Standards offer these standards. In this case, modifying policy is not a solution,” Bushaw wrote. “… Working together, education professionals through their associations, along with business and political leaders can work together to mount a nonpartisan communications campaign explaining to Americans why the Common Core State Standards are essential to the nation’s future and to the success of all children. Public support for the standards is declining — we need to fight for these standards since we are losing in the court of public opinion.”

Check back on September 17 for the second part of the 2014 poll with topics such as preparing students for college and careers, importance and affordability of college, preparing and evaluating teachers, support for reforming America’s schools, and student well-being.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review

August 14th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Although apprenticeships make up just 0.2 percent of the U.S. labor force, they are garnering more attention this summer thanks to recent reports, including from the White House’s Ready to Work initiative and a set of policy recommendations from The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.

American University economics professor Robert I. Lerman posited that investing, expanding and re-branding U.S. apprenticeships has “the potential to reduce youth unemployment, improve the transition from school to career, upgrade skills, raise wages of young adults, strengthen a young worker’s identity, increase U.S. productivity, achieve positive returns for employers and workers and use limited federal resources more effectively.”

Despite such findings, the size of the U.S. apprenticeship system stands in stark contrast to other major developed countries such as Canada (2.2 percent), Britain (2.7 percent) and Australia and Germany (both 3.7 percent). In Britain, apprenticeships are coming back into favor after years of decline, much like the United States’ system. Recent surveys show that students and the wider public have a “growing appetite” for apprenticeships.

Federal investments would be one part of the approach to expanding the U.S. apprenticeship program. According to Lerman, the United States spends less than $30 million annually, whereas Britain spends about £1 billion (or $1.7 billion). If British spending on apprenticeships were adjusted to match the U.S. population, Lerman estimates that figure would be $8.5 billion.

Calling the expansion of apprenticeships a “potential game-changer”, Lerman offers recommendations for federal and state governments as well as examples of successful youth apprenticeship programs in Georgia and Wisconsin

Be sure to check out additional apprenticeship-related recommendations from the Center for American Progress, through their series of issue papers as well.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

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