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CTE Research Review

May 8th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013A new Gallup-Purdue University survey takes a look, for the first time, at the relationship between the college experience and graduates’ lives. The study found that the type of institution matters little to a graduates’ workplace engagement and current well-being. More important was the support and experiences that a graduate had while in college. The survey showed that respondents were twice as likely to be engaged at work if they had an internship or extra-curricular in college where they were able to apply their classroom learning. Similar results were found if graduates reported having had a professor who excited them about learning and encouraged them. The report concludes that when colleges look to attract students they should consider “what students are doing in college and how they are experiencing it. Those elements — more than many others measured — have a profound relationship to a graduate’s life and career. Yet too few are experiencing them.”

High School Journal recently published a paper from researchers at the National Research Center for Career & Technical Education (NRCCTE) that attempts to create a more nuanced definition of CTE concentrators. Currently, CTE concentrators are defined generally as students who take 2-3 CTE courses out of a high school career. James R. Stone, director of NRCCTE, and his co-writers argue that although this satisfies accountability requirements, it may not truly illustrate how high school students use CTE courses. [NOTE: To access the entire paper, you will need an authorized log-in through a subscribing institution to use the MUSE website.]

On its blog this week, the Economic Policy Institute aired skepticism over media stories that claim there is a serious shortage of construction workers. EPI said the best proof of such a shortage would be in wages, and for residential construction, the evidence isn’t there. Though construction wages have risen over the past two years, they are still 4.2 percent lower than the 2009 levels. Check out this blog and EPI’s “Great Recession” feature, which is updated monthly as new employment data are released.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review (Part 2)

May 2nd, 2014

ResearchNote: This is the second part of our regular CTE Research Review series. Be sure to check out yesterday’s post for new research finding about education and the labor market.

This week, Northeastern University released a new survey called, “Innovation Imperative: Enhancing the Talent Pipeline,” which is its third in a series of public opinion polls on higher education and the global economy. Among the survey’s key findings, 96 percent of business leaders believe innovation is crucial to remain globally competitive while more than half of business leaders believe the U.S. higher education system is lagging behind most developed and emerging countries in preparing students for the workforce. Three-quarters of business leaders surveyed believe there is a skills gap among today’s workforce and 87 percent believe graduates lack the most important skills to succeed.

A new report from CareerBuilder, “The shocking truth about the skills gap,” asked employers, academics and job seekers (employed, unemployed and underemployed) about their perceptions of the “skills gap.” Although the U.S. economy continues to climb out of the Great Recession and positive signs of growth and recovery abound, 81 percent of employers say they are having a difficult time filling open jobs. This fact alone would support the idea that there is a gap between the skills needed for vacant jobs and the skills job seekers possess. This CareerBuilder report, however, uncovered a few surprising pieces of this complex puzzle.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

CTE Research Review (Part 1)

May 1st, 2014

ResearchNote: Today’s post will focus on new research findings about education and the labor market. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, which will bring you some new public opinion surveys from the field.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute released Thursday shows that while the Great Recession may have ended officially in June 2009, the labor market’s slow recovery has been particularly devastating for young college and high school graduates and will likely have lasting consequences. The study found that unemployment rates for young graduates are improving, but remain substantially higher than before the recession began, and the overall rates for young graduates mask substantial disparities in unemployment by race and ethnicity, which are substantially higher than their white non-Hispanic peers. Also, graduating in a bad economy will have lasting consequences for this cohort. The study projected that for the next 10 to 15 years, those in the Class of 2014 will likely earn less than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that the high school graduation rate has reached 80 percent for the first time in U.S. history. The numbers – released by ED’s statistics arm, the National Center for Education Statistics – also project that graduation rates could hit 90 percent by 2020, if states continue at this pace. This week, the America’s Promise Alliance also released a report that offered a detailed state-by-state look based on 2012 data.

Also, this week, Education Commission of the States takes a look at legislative activity in 2013 as it related to CTE and workforce development. The report, titled “Career and Technical Education: States Aligning Programs to Meet Workforce Needs,” cites activity in areas such as blending high school and postsecondary learning opportunities, incentivizing industry credentials, expanding internships, and formalizing governing structures. In case you missed it – NASDCTEc and ACTE released their own “2013 Year in Review: State Policies Impacting CTE,” in March.

Earlier this month, the Lumina Foundation launched a new issue paper series that focused on college costs and prices for students as well as institutions and states. In particular, the report takes a state-by-state look at the connection between the Great Recession, college tuition and affordability.

Understanding the federal appropriations process is already a steep challenge. An important facet of this process is when the money will be obligated as well as the difference between forward funding, advance appropriations and advance funding. Many programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education are advance or forward funded. Knowing how and when federal programs obligate funds is crucial in order for recipients – whether on the state, district or institution level – to plan accordingly. This brief from the Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress, takes a closer look at these varying types of appropriations.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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

 

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