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CTE Research Review, Community College Edition

February 24th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) released “Where Value Meets Values: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges,” quantifying the value of community colleges in terms of economic impact (i.e., to the national economy) and return on investment (i.e., to individuals and society).

Specifically, AACC found that, in 2012 alone, former American community college students generated $806.4 billion in added income, based on increased productivity and wages. Foreign community college graduates added another $1.5 billion in new income. AACC also found a 4.8 benefit-cost ratio for students based on the return to their investment into the community colleges (or $4.8 dollars in higher future wages for every dollar invested in their education). In total, AACC estimates $371.8 billion as the net present value of community colleges in terms of increased wages for individuals, after accounting for the money invested in the education.

At the societal level, AACC finds a benefit-cost ratio of 25.9 and a net present value at nearly $1.2 trillion, based on added income and social savings (i.e., lower health care costs, reduced crime rates, etc.) which are associated with more education and employment.

In addition to the report, AACC has created four fact sheets breaking down the data.

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) released a two-page policy brief on “Performance Funding: Impacts, Obstacles, and Other Intended Outcomes.” To date, 32 states have implemented some form of performance funding, with mixed results. The brief delineates performance funding 1.0 (where institutions receive a bonus over and above regular state funding) and performance funding 2.0 (where performance is built into the state allocations for institutions), and provides an overview of research-based lessons learned about performance 1.0. The CCRC is currently exploring the 2.0 model, as discussed in this working paper, “The Political Origins of Performance Funding 2.0 in Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee: Theoretical Perspectives and Comparisons with Performance Funding 1.0,” also released this month.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

CTE Research Review

January 30th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013The U.S. Census Bureau released its long anticipated Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials: 2012, a study designed to measure the impact that non-academic or “alternative educational credentials” —including professional certifications, educational certificates and licenses— have on job placement, earnings and career advancement. Designed to establish the labor market value of alternative educational credentials, the study offers unique insight into the importance of educational achievement outside of and in conjunction with traditional measures such as high school diplomas, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and advanced degrees.

The survey reveals that about one in four adults holds some form of alternative credential, and that these individuals represent a broad cross-section of the American workforce. Notably, the study revealed that an individual possessing an alternative credential was significantly more likely to be employed during the course of the study than an individual without one, and that among individuals with some college (but without a degree) or less, the possession of an alternative credential carried a significant earnings premium. A similar pattern also exists among those with professional degrees.

The report concludes that “while traditional educational attainment provides one route to a productive career, it is not the only path.” As the education system evolves and the market demands greater flexibility and expertise from job seekers, these data make a strong case for reexamining the definition of educational attainment, the value of professional certifications and the importance of Career Technical Education (CTE).

The Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) published Making Workforce Data Work on January 23, 2014. Along with a series of policy proposals, the report makes the case for accurate workforce data, revealing critical contributions workforce data can make to decision making among students, educators, policymakers and industry leaders.

WDQC’s proposals for improving current data collection practices are myriad, but are coherently distilled into a clear set of proposals. By adopting five key reforms, WDQC’s report lays out a pathway to significant improvement in workforce data management. In brief, they are:

1.     Including all students and pathways in charting student progress, not only those in K-12.

2.     Counting industry recognized credentials alongside traditional high school and college degrees in measuring academic achievement.

3.     Assessing employment outcomes for all participants, matching student records to wage records for all participants, allowing analysis of the impact education and training programs have on participants’ careers.

4.     Expanding use of labor market information so that stakeholders can assess the value of educational and training programs against the backdrop employer needs.

5.     Ensuring data access and appropriate use to enable stakeholders to identify programs that lead to individual success after completion.

The report continues with a series of policy proposals for federal and state reform, identifying actionable items to make the five goals outlined above a reality. Taken as a guidepost for future workforce data collection and analysis, the report’s proposals could change significantly how education and training decisions are made, and is worthy of consideration.

Earlier this month, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) unveiled Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2014, its prospectus on the year ahead in higher education. In the report, AASCU identifies 10 key issues —including career technical education, STEM initiatives and promoting college readiness— likely to confront education policymakers over the next year.

The report identifies Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce’s projection that  nearly two-thirds of the occupations projected to grow the fastest by 2022 will require some form of postsecondary education as the main impetus for expanding the role of CTE in the year ahead.

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

CTE Research Review

January 15th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013In case you missed it….

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at 2002 High School Sophomores 10 Years Later,  a report  literally ten years in the making. The ELS:2002 followed a cohort of sophomores over the last decade, out of high school and into their next steps. The report has some fascinating findings, largely around post-high school outcomes. A third of students earned a bachelor’s degree or higher (33 percent), 9 percent earned an associate’s degree, 10 percent a postsecondary certificate, and another third (32 percent) had or were still enrolled in postsecondary without having earned a credential. The remaining students either only had a high school diploma or equivalent (13 percent) or less (3 percent).

What’s truly striking is the impact of enrolling immediately in postsecondary education had on completion: among those who began their postsecondary education within 3 months of graduating, 53 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2012. Comparatively, among those who began their postsecondary education 13 or more months after graduating, only 7 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, although students did become more likely to earn a certificate or accrue postecondary credits without a degree or certificate.

Another, not-very-surprising, but disheartening piece of data from the report is the attainment gap between income-levels. Over 70 percent of students from the highest income quartile had a postsecondary certificate or more by 2012 compared to just 35.5 percent of students from the lowest income quartile.

Finally, the report reinforces the concern over high unemployment for young adults – as well as the notion that education and training beyond high school is critical for career success. While about 18 percent of 26-year olds are unemployed or out-of-the labor force, this figure jumps to 37 percent for individuals with less than a high school diploma and 24 percent for high school graduates, compared to 11 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 14.6 percent for those with an associate’s degree and 18 percent for those with a postsecondary certificate. For this cohort, more education does equate to greater job stability.

This report offers a wealth of self-reported data on job conditions and benefits, debt and aspirations and is well worth a read.

MDRC released Beyond the GED: Promising Models for Moving High School Dropouts to College  this month, a review of research-based strategies for increasingly GED test-taking and success for the millions of Americans without a high school diploma. Specifically, the report focuses on three types of reforms: (1) efforts to increase the rigor of adult education instruction and the standards for achieving a credential; (2) GED-to-college “bridge” programs, which integrate academic preparation with increased supports for students’ transition to college; and (3) interventions that allow students to enroll in college while studying to earn a high school credential. Indiana and Washington are two states highlighted for their comprehensive approaches to adult education and training.

Finally, Education Commission of States has a new brief - Career/Technical Education, Not Your Father’s Vocational Education – which explores  some state approaches to increasing career readiness, including offering CTE endorsements, tying scholarships to career assessments, building career readiness into accountability systems,  integrating academics and CTE content, and increasing dual enrollment. However, much of the discussion around scholarships, endorsements and accountability is limited to the use of WorkKeys, which only measures a slice of a students’ career readiness.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

 

CTE Research Review

December 19th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013

Welcome to the final CTE Research Review of 2013! Below are some new and notable reports on issues impacting Career Technical Education.

The Education Commission of States (ECS) launched a 50-state database of dual/concurrent enrollment policies, including state reports, comparable data and links to specific legislation and regulations. The database includes information on access, finance, quality assurance and transferability. With about a third of all dual/concurrent credits earned by high school students in CTE disciplines, this is a key issue for CTE leaders and students.

The Afterschool Alliance released a new brief, Computing and Engineering in Afterschool, which explores why and how afterschool programs can help equip students with the skills they need to pursue engineering and computer science education and careers – and help fill gaps in traditional K-12 education. For more on STEM and the Afterschool Alliance, check out their STEM Impact Awards.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has released two briefs in the last two months focusing on reforms in the higher education space: Meeting Students Where They Are: Profiles of Students in Competency-Based Degree Programs” and “A Path Forward: Game-Changing Reforms in Higher Education and the Implications for Business and Financing Models.” The first report explores various competency-based education models at the postsecondary level. In addition to laying out these models – from direct assessment to hybrid degrees – the brief also captures students’ perspectives and experiences earning degrees at their own pace and leveraging knowledge already gained in school and the workplace. It’s a compelling read and was discussed at a recent CAP event, which can be watched here.

The latter report focuses on some identified “game changers” for postsecondary education, notably stackable credentials, competency-based education and the Guided Pathways to Success model, laying out the benefits and the barriers that need to be removed to ensure more Americans have access to high-quality postsecondary learning, aligned with the demands of industry.

Finally, this week the National Center for Education Statistics released the annual Trial Urban District Assessment results, which was designed to explore how feasible it is to use the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at the district level. For the 2013 administration, 21 districts participated. While a number of districts posted gains over previous years’ assessments, the results are by and large still very low across these urban districts, particularly for minority students. For a good (and honest) analysis of these results, check out Education Next.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

New NASDCTEc Paper & Webinar: CTE Is Your STEM Strategy

December 17th, 2013

Today the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) released a new policy paper entitled CTE Is Your STEM Strategy, exploring the inherent relationship between CTE and STEM goals, elements and expectations.

Simply put, STEM must not be viewed as a separate enterprise from CTE. While a state’s CTE programs may not encompass everything within a state’s STEM strategy, high-quality CTE programs can provide a strong foundation for and serve as a delivery system of STEM competencies and skills for a broader range of students. Too often, STEM strategies are created separately from and without a clear understanding of how CTE can support and strengthen such efforts. This paper aims to bring this disconnect to the forefront and demonstrate the natural connection for the many stakeholders working to advance CTE and STEM in their communities.

Looking ahead, state and local leaders should work collaboratively to identify where CTE is delivering high-quality STEM skills and competencies successfully, where efforts need to be shored up, and how to best scale those programs with the greatest value to students, employers and our nation.

The paper was released during a webinar featuring Tina Marcus, Project Manager, STEM Education and Leadership, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools in North Carolina; Dr. Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation; and Kate Blosveren, NASDCTEc’s Associate Executive Director.

Click here to download CTE Is Your STEM Strategy and access the recording and slides from the webinar here.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

CTE Research Review

December 4th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Yesterday, results from the 2012 Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) were released. PISA assesses literacy in mathematics, science and reading for over 500,000 15-year olds from across over 60 countries. The major takeaway is that U.S. students’ scores have remained flat from the last assessment, released in 2009, although scores are largely remained unchanged since 2000. However, as the U.S. stood still, other countries demonstrated progress, surpassing the U.S.

On the math portion, 28 countries tested better than the United States, including Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Korea, Japan, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Germany, Slovenia and others. In reading, 19 countries had higher scores than U.S. students, while 22 countries posted better results than the United States in science.

For the first time, three states — Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida — participated in the test and were ranked as if they were individual countries to see how their students compared internationally. Students in Massachusetts and Connecticut scored above the U.S. and PISA average in all three content areas, while students in Florida lagged in math and science and was on par with the U.S. and PISA average in reading.

Education Week created an interactive tool for comparing PISA results, found here.

A new report out of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research by Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA calls on the private sector to engage in Career Technical Education (CTE). Vocational Education 2.0: Employers Hold the Key to Better Career Training makes the case that CTE can provide reliably effective pathways to skilled and well-paying careers, but only with strong engagement and support from the business community. The policy paper tracks the evolution of CTE from old-school vocational education to a more rigorous career-focused set of programs and explores the role CTE is playing as more attention is put on middle-skill jobs, or those that require some education and training beyond high school, but less than a four-year degree.The paper lays out a few models for business engagement in CTE; from Germany’s apprenticeship model and ProStart, which is supported by the National Restaurant Association among other companies, to the National Center for Construction Education and Research, which provides standardized assessments and credentials in the construction trades.

The Data Quality Campaign (DQC), of which NASDCTEc is a partner organization, released its annual state progress report: Data for Action 2013. Data for Action tracks states’ progress on the adoption and implementation of its 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use, which include linking data systems across the K-12, postsecondary and workforce systems; developing funding and governance structures; implementing systems to provide timely access to information for stakeholders; creating progress reports using individual student data to improve student performance; among others. For the first time, two states (Arkansas and Delaware) have met all 10 Actions, while most other states continue to make progress, including 15 states that have met eight or nine Actions.

However, only 19 states have linked their K-12 and workforce data, leaving the majority of states limited in their ability to measure districts’ and schools’ success at supporting students’ career readiness.

The College & Career Readiness & Success Center at the American Institutes for Research has developed the CCRS Interactive State Map, which provides snapshots of each state’s key college and career readiness initiatives, including CTE programs of study, dual enrollment and early college high schools, progress on state longitudinal data system and many others.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

CTE Research Review

November 21st, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Over the past few weeks, a number of new reports and research papers came out with with implications for Career Technical Education and state leaders. Below are summaries of a few of particular use.

The National Center for Education Statistics released a two-pager, Trends in CTE Coursetaking, showing a decline over the past 19 years in CTE enrollment at the secondary level, from about 4.2 credits earned by public high school graduates to 3.6 credits in 2009. In part this is due to higher enrollments in core academic courses, such as science, foreign languages, and mathematics, and it is also due to a change in NCES data collection and coding for CTE enrollment. Importantly, this NCES dataset does not take into account any CTE credits earned by high school graduates at the 1,200 area technical centers across the country.

Achieve released Closing the Expectations Gap: The 2013 Annual Report on the Alignment of State K-12 Policies and Practice with the Demands of College and Careers, its 8th report in this series. The report, based on surveys of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, notes significant progress on the adoption of college- and career-ready (CCR) standards (in English and mathematics), with every state having met that milestone, largely driven by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It also finds that progress on adopting graduation requirements and assessments aligned to those CCR standards has slowed, although the two consortia developing assessments aligned to the CCSS should accelerate progress over the next few years.

Finally, Achieve finds that no state has a reporting and accountability system that fully values (academic) college and career readiness for all students, as defined by the collection and use of a number of key indicators (e.g., percent of students completing a CCR curriculum, percent of students scoring at the CCR level on a high school assessment, percent of students earning college credit in high school, and the percent of graduates enrolling in remedial coursework upon entrance to a postsecondary institution). Achieve also surveyed states about their use of “career-ready” indicators, although this research was not reported out (NASDCTEc will follow up!).

The report also delves deeply into a number of policies and practices to support the implementation of the CCR standards and aligned assessments, including the state role in developing and/or supporting professional development and instructional materials, and provides a handy CCSS implementation timeline for all 46 states.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) obtained a comprehensive dataset detailing school district revenues and expenditures for every school district in the nation for federal fiscal year 2011  to determine the impact of sequestration and other budget cuts on school districts. The result of this analysis – Unequal Pain: Federal Public Education Revenues, Federal Education Cuts and the Impact on Public Schools – was released in November 2013.

Briefly, the report finds that about 12% of school funding comes from the federal level but that the distribution is unequal across the country:

  • In 15 states, less than 10% of funding for public schools comes from the federal government (mostly Northeast states);
  • In 17 states, between 10-15% of public schools funding comes from the federal government;
  • In 16 states, between 15-20% of public schools funding comes from the federal government;
  • In two states, Mississippi and South Dakota, over 20% of their school budgets come from federal funds.

Cut another way, over a third of schools received a federal share of 12% or more, about a quarter of schools had operating budgets in which federal revenues represented more than 15% of total budget revenues, and about 6% of schools had operating budgets in which federal funds represented 25% or more of total budget revenues. All of this is to say, sequestration and budget cuts will disproportionally impact schools and districts educating large number of high-need students. AASA partnered with ProximityOne to create a map where users can examine school district revenue and expenditure patterns.

Weighing in on the very real debate over whether states should primarily support credit-bearing postsecondary programs that lead to a degree, Learning Works in California offers a new brief urging a deep look at what the authors identify as “skills-builders,” or students taking (and passing) community college courses without earning a degree or certificate.  The Missing Piece: Quantifying Non-Completion Pathways to Success cites research showing that about a third of all students  in the California Community College system meet this construct of “skills-builders,” many of whom took courses in high-skilled areas and enjoyed a salary bump as a result. The brief encourages states to reconsider the ways they measure a community college’s success to not limit the full range of community colleges’ benefits.

Finally, the National Center for Education Statistics recently updated its State Education Reforms webpage, which compiles research from a wide range of organizations to provide a one-stop site for information on states’ accountability systems; standards, assessments and graduation requirements; staff qualifications and development; school choice policies; and students’ readiness and progress through school.

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

CTE Research Review

November 5th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Over the past few weeks, a number of critical reports and research papers came out with wide-spreading implications for Career Technical Education (CTE). Below are summaries of a few that caught our attention.

The Center for Great Teachers and Leaders released 21st Century Educators: Developing and Supporting Great Career and Technical Education Teachers, a new special issue brief focusing on the human capital management policies impacting CTE educators: certification, performance evaluation and professional learning opportunities. The issue brief, which NASDCTEc had an opportunity to review, provides a comprehensive overview of the current policies in place across the country and raises issues for greater consideration as states refine their certification, evaluation and professional development systems. The brief also contains a useful glossary of key terms.

The Center for Education Policy issued Career Readiness Assessments across States: A Summary of Survey Findings, the result of a survey of 46 State CTE Directors on the range of assessments used in their states to measure students’ career readiness and how those assessments are used, which NASDCTEc also had the opportunity to review. Some key findings from the report include:

  • Nearly all (45) of the survey states reported facing challenges in assessing high school students’ career education or their level of career readiness
  • States are more likely to use career readiness assessments for federal accountability than school accountability
  • Most states are using multiple assessments to measure the various facets of students’ career readiness, including the academic, technical and employability skills.

U.S. States in a Global Context: Results from the 2011 NAEP-TIMSS Linking Study offers an analysis that allows state scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to be compared. In short, the study found that 36 states were above the TIMSS average in mathematics (with only six states lower) and 47 were above the TIMSS average in science for 8th-grade students. While this is heartening, it’s also important to note that Massachusetts was the only state to reach the “high benchmark” rating on TIMSS, defined as “students can apply their understanding and knowledge in a variety of relatively complex situations,” joined by five high-performing countries.

Similarly, in science, eight states (Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin) reached the “high benchmark,” defined as “students can reason with information, draw conclusions, make generalizations and solve linear equations.”

The first of its kind OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills presents the initial results of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), which evaluates and compares the skills of 166,000 adults from 24 countries. A major component is the direct assessment of key information-processing skills: literacy, numeracy and problem solving in the context of technology-rich environments.

A new report by the Brookings InstituteStandardized Testing and the Common Core Standards: You Get What You Pay For? – explores the (very minimal) impact states leaving either the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers have on the price of those assessments per student. The paper makes a strong case to states to not sacrifice test quality by presumably leaving either consortia, in order to save $10 or $20 per student – a drop in the bucket of an education system that spends more than $10,000 per student annually.

The Hamilton Project, out of the Brookings Institute, released a policy brief on Redesigning the Pell Grant Program for the Twenty-First Century, calling for three major structural reforms to a policy that has largely remained unchanged over the past forty years since it was first launched:

  1. Augmenting the Pell program’s financial support with tailored guidance and support services that have been shown to improve academic and/or labor-market success (which has implications for One-Stop Career Centers);
  2. Simplifying the eligibility and application process to ensure that the program reaches those who need it most;
  3. Strengthening incentives for student effort and timely completion, including providing more flexibility for when and how students earn credits

 

Kate Blosveren, Associate Executive Director

CTE Research Review: International Comparisons Show U.S. Adults Behind in Literacy and Basic Math Skills

October 11th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013Adults in the U.S. are lagging behind in literacy and math skills compared to their international counterparts, according to a new study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD released findings from its Survey of Adults Skills, which measured the literacy, basic math, and technology skills of 16- to 65-year olds in 24 OECD countries, and found that American adults performed worse in these areas than almost every other country surveyed.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that, “These findings should concern us all. They show our education system hasn’t done enough to help Americans compete – or position our country to lead – in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills.” The report highlighted findings in the following areas:

Literacy: The report defines literacy as the “ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”

  • Fewer than 8 out of 10 American adults performed at a level 2 out of 5 in literacy, ranking the U.S. 16th out of 24 countries in this area.

Numerical Proficiency: The report defines numerical proficiency as the “ability to access, use, interpret, and communicate mathematical information and ideas in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life.”

  • Fewer than 4 in 10 American adults scored at a level 3 out of 5 or higher, ranking the U.S. 21st out of 24 countries in this area.

Technology: The report assessed adults’ abilities to problem solve in technology-rich environments.

  • In the U.S., nearly 16% of adults had proficiencies below level 1. The ranking in this area for the U.S. was 14th out of 24 countries.

According to OECD, the report “provides clear evidence of how developing and using skills improves employment prospects and quality of life as well as boosting economic growth. It helps countries set meaningful targets benchmarked against the achievements of the world’s leading skills systems and to develop relevant policy responses.”

Read the full report here.

In order to increase global competitiveness and catch up with the countries that are outpacing the U.S., more opportunities to develop and use in-demand skills are a must. High-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs – which blend academic and technical learning and results in an industry-recognized credential or degree – provide one potential solution for improving adult learner skill acquisition in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Education planned to release a report on the policy implications of the study; however, the federal government shutdown has delayed that release.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

CTE Research Review: Model for Blended Learning Improves Algebra I Scores

August 14th, 2013

Research Image_6.2013A study from the RAND Corporation and the U.S. Department of Education examines the effectiveness of blended learning – specifically using algebra curricula – for increasing student outcomes. Blended learning combines in-person instruction with computer-based activities, and dynamic education programs like Career Technical Education are more often integrating these highly-personalized learning experiences into curricula.

RAND’s two-year study involved over 18,000 students in 147 schools and in 7 states including Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas. Researchers found that schools that adopted the blended learning software, “Cognitive Tutor Algebra I” developed by Carnegie Learning, Inc., saw an overall jump of 8 percentile points on their students’ algebra scores; however, it is unclear whether this can be attributed to the blended learning program, to other activities in the classroom, or to a combination of activities. Still, the Carnegie software has been deemed successful in 46 other non-randomized studies and looks to be a promising model of blended learning.

Learn more in the full report and on a related website.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager

 

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