Posts Tagged ‘Access and Equity’

Leveraging Federal Policy to Strengthen Rural CTE

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

New Resource from Advance CTE Identifies Key Leverage Points

Today Advance CTE released a new cheat sheet to help state leaders identify and leverage federal policy to strengthen rural CTE. The brief, developed as part of Advance CTE’s CTE on the Frontier initiative, examines policy and funding intersections between the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins), the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The resource is designed as a conversation starter to help state leaders align supports and services in their states.

Rural America is home to 9.1 million K-12 students and more than half of the nation’s school districts. Many of these students do not go on to earn a postsecondary credential or degree. Only 28 percent of rural adults above the age of 25 held at least a 2-year degree in 2015, compared to 41 percent of urban adults.

CTE can help close this gap and prepare rural learners for the world of work. Already, states are adopting creative measures to ensure programs are high quality, connect rural learners with authentic work-based learning experiences, expand the breadth of options available in rural institutions and strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline. Many of these efforts are supported with state and local funds, but states are also leveraging Perkins reserve funds as well. 

The reserve fund is one of many leverage points in federal legislation that states can use to strengthen CTE in rural areas. Under the Perkins Act, states can set aside up to 10 percent of local funds to provide formula or competitive grants to recipients with either rural populations, high numbers of Career Technical Education (CTE) students or high percentages of CTE students. In Montana, state leaders have used the reserve fund to strengthen Big Sky Pathways in rural schools and focus dollars and supports on state priorities such as expanding dual credit opportunities.

According to a recent survey from Advance CTE, 38 state CTE directors reported using the reserve fund option in 2017, and 27 of those said that supporting rural students is one of the focus areas for their reserve funds this year. States can change their reserve fund priorities from year to year, but the fact that more than half are using the fund to augment rural CTE efforts is a testament to the need in rural communities.

Another example of how federal education programs can be leveraged to support rural communities is the Rural Education Achievement Program under ESSA, which provides supplemental funds to rural schools and districts that can be used to support other local activities. With ESSA’s renewed focus on career readiness and well-rounded education, schools and districts can use these funds to design and expand CTE programs of study, provide professional development for CTE and academic teachers, expand dual credit opportunities, and more. By braiding funds, aligning policy priorities, coordinating service delivery and working to remove barriers across programs, state leaders can better meet the needs of rural learners.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Publications, Resources
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Analysis Suggests Metrics for Measuring Impact of Community Colleges

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

March 9, 2017

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report in partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees examining which metrics best tell the story of the services community colleges provide and the supports they require. They determined that the three important indicators of community college progress are:

The report makes a distinction between measuring college retention and college persistence, as retention only measures how many students return for the following Fall semester at the same institution. Using persistence as a measure for community colleges captures the large number of students who transfer either to other community colleges or to four-year institutions. This requires a more systematic approach to tracking enrollment across different institutions and across state lines. When enrollment was tracked this way using Student Clearinghouse data, they found that almost half of all bachelor’s degree recipients were enrolled in a community college at one point before transferring to a four-year institution, a fact that demonstrates the clear role community colleges play in student success.

Study Finds Girls Turn Away from STEM Subjects Early

A new report published in Science found that girls tend to turn away from STEM subjects as early as first grade. The report attributes this partly to their findings that girls begin to associate boys as being smarter and therefore tend to shy away from subjects intended for more intelligent people. Boys around that age seem to also believe themselves to be inherently smarter. The findings in this study echo previous studies that correlated boys’ and girls’ performance in math and science with their self-reported levels of confidence and anxiety with the subjects.

The authors of the report suggest that schools must begin working to break down gender stereotypes far earlier than many might expect. They also recommend that families work to foster girls’ interest in STEM subjects as early as possible.

Odds and Ends

As you know, last month was CTE Month. To celebrate, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) launched a newly redesigned CTE statistics website, which provides national-level information on CTE at the secondary and postsecondary education levels, as well as information on occupational certification and licensure.

Several pieces related to equity have been released lately. CCSSO and the Aspen Institute released a report on the role SEA chiefs can and should play in defining and promoting equity in schools. Chiefs For Change also released a report on equity, with a focus on using ESSA and financial transparency to improve equity.

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education recently released a technical assistance document to support communities working with in-school youth in accordance with WIOA. Additionally, the National Conference of State Legislatures launched a database that tracks state legislation related to WIOA implementation.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Research
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Early Achievements and Innovations from Phase One of the New Skills for Youth Initiative

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Last spring, 24 states and Washington, D.C. began a national, six-month effort to examine and transform their career readiness systems and expand opportunities available to students in their states. Under the initiative, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative, states were required to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and use the results to construct a three-year action plan. States were provided grant funds to conduct the needs assessment and begin early implementation of their action plans.

Today, Advance CTE, Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group released a series of snapshots documenting state efforts under Phase One of the New Skills for Youth initiative. The snapshots profile some of the significant achievements and lessons learned through this early work, drawing out strategies that other states can emulate. A holistic summary of the cross-state Phase One work is available here, along with individual state snapshots.

These resources were developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

While all states had CTE and career readiness policies in place prior to the start of the initiative, each began the work at different starting points. Nonetheless, states made considerable progress during the grant period. Cross-sector ownership was one area of focus, as many states worked to distribute the work across various stakeholders — particularly within business and industry — and secure commitment from cross-sector leaders. These efforts paid dividends, ensuring that employers were not only aware of the work, but were empowered to lead key initiatives. Additionally, states that engaged stakeholders early and often found it easier to distribute the work and clarify roles during the planning process. Rhode Island, for example, gathered input from business, secondary education, postsecondary education, the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office, which enabled the state to assign activities in its action plan to individual staff members within each partnering organization.

The snapshots also detail trends related to:

The Phase One planning and early implementation grant period concluded in October, but ten states were selected to receive additional funds and still more have elected to work as a cohort to implement their three-year career readiness action plans. Stay tuned for periodic updates from states’ ongoing New Skills for Youth work.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Publications, Research, Resources
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