Earlier this year, the Obama Administration announced its intention to create a college ratings system where postsecondary institutions would be sorted into three broad categories of high, medium, and low performing schools. Many stakeholder groups, including NASDCTEc, provided feedback on this proposal to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and many groups had significant reservations about the newly proposed effort.
After taking these comments into consideration, ED announced earlier this summer that they would change direction with this initiative and create a new public-facing information tool that would make institution specific information available to consumers to make more informed choices about their postsecondary education options without making a value judgement.
Last week, the Department released this tool, known as the College Scorecard which is now available on their website. The tool offers information on an institutionâ€™s costs, graduation rates, the percentage of students receiving federal aid, and significantly, the median earnings of graduates 10 years after completion. Most of this information comes with caveatsâ€”as a related technical paper from ED notes, the earnings information only covers those students receiving federal grants or loans, includes graduates and non-completers alike, and excludes currently enrolled students.
More detailed information on the scorecard can be found via the Workforce Data Quality Campaign of which NASDCTEc is a national partner.
While the scorecard is a significant step in the right direction, more can still be done to improve upon this work such as refocusing the effort to look at program-level data where it would be far more useful to students and their families. In the coming weeks, NASDCTEc plans to work with its partners to provide comment on the scorecard and will continue to think through ways in which the tool could be improved.
Administration Announces More Funding for Apprenticeships
Another big development happened last Wednesday when President Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced the 46 grantees for this yearâ€™s U.S. Department of Laborâ€™s (DOL) American Apprenticeship grant program (AAG). Using Macomb Community College in Michigan as a backdrop for the announcement, this $175 million investment is part of the Admisntrationâ€™s wider effort to double the number of apprenticeships in the countryâ€”a realistic goal considering the U.S. lags behind nearly every other advanced country when it comes to participation in apprenticeships. While this is the second year for the AAG program, the Admisntrationâ€™s move to increase the amount of funding available by an additional $75 million underscores their strong commitment to what theyâ€™ve dubbed the â€œearn and learnâ€ model for the coming years.
The grantees plan to create training opportunities for 34,000 apprenticeships at these 46 public-private partnerships, mostly in areas such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology while scaling up many existing programs in construction, transportation, and energy over the next few years. Many of the grantees plan to develop or build upon existing state or local career pathways, sector partnerships, and the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium initiative that have boosted activity in this area throughout the country in recent years.
For instance, the Illinois Advance Apprenticeship Consortium grant, which will receive $3.9 million in grant funding, plans to create 600 new apprenticeship positions that link to the stateâ€™s career pathway initiative, in order to create new on and off ramps for students to pursue these opportunities.
NASDCTEc applauds the Admisntrationâ€™s commitment to investing in the nationâ€™s workforce and looks forward to the work that lies ahead as these grants start to reap benefits for students across the country. More information on the announcement can be found here and here.
Administration Launches â€œHeads Up Americaâ€ Campaign and Continues to Push College Promise Proposal
Apprenticeships were only half of the conversation when President Obama and Dr. Jill Biden spoke at Macomb Community College last week. The President has continued to advocate for his Americaâ€™s College Promise proposal which would make the first two years of college tuition free for qualifying students.
As part of that effort, the President has announced the creation of an independent advisory board for this effort, chaired by Dr. Jill Biden and former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer, to convene like-minded postsecondary leaders, share best practices and models for the effortâ€™s expansion, and to serve as recruiting tool to get more individuals involved in the work to expand the initiative throughout states and local communities. A full list of the board members is located here.
To that end, one of the core functions of this new board will be to spearhead a public awareness and grassroots campaign called â€œHeads Up Americaâ€. The goal of this effort is to spread awareness about community colleges and to create a nationwide movement to support the Presidentâ€™s call for lawmakers to take action on his Americaâ€™s College Promise proposal. More information on this effort can be found here.
Odds & Ends
- With the Fiscal Year 2016 funding deadline on September 30th fast approaching, lawmakers are currently working to avoid a government shutdown over Republican opposition to any funding measure that contains support for Planned Parenthood. While no deal has been reached as of today, the likelihood of a temporary stop-gap spending measure, known as a Continuing Resolution or CR, is growing increasingly likely. NASDCTEc will provide further information about that process next week.
- The Workforce Data Quality Campaign hosted a Congressional briefing on the need to more effectively leverage education and workforce data to improve education and employment outcomes for students. The briefing also examined ways in which data systems could be improved, from local, state, and federal perspectives. More information on the event can be found here.
- Chairman John Kline (R-MN) of the House Education and Workforce Committee recently announced that he will not seek reelection in 2016. While he will remain Chair of the Committee through next year, his likely replacement still remains uncertain, but includes among others, Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Joe Wilson (R-SC).
- The U.S. Secretaries of Labor and Education recently wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for a renewed focus on improving the K-12 education experience. The piece highlights IBMâ€™s P-Tech model as one way to improve student learning and outcomes. More here.
Steve Voytek, Government Relations ManagerÂ