Posts Tagged ‘afterschool programs’

Can Afterschool Programs Help Address CTE’s Equity Challenges?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Afterschool programs can give students access to enriching career exploration opportunities outside of the school day, but many of these programs are not accessible to all middle schoolers. Last month, the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, organized a panel on making the most of middle school career exploration. This panel’s particular focus was the important role that afterschool programs can play in exposing students to career pathways. 

The panel included:

Afterschool programs encompass a wide range of activities that keep students engaged in their own learning outside of the regular school day. When students participate in an afterschool program in middle school, they are more likely to graduate high school. These programs offer opportunities for students to improve their skills in subjects ranging from computer science to agriculture. Learning these skills and interacting with professionals in a variety of fields allows students to explore and pursue different career paths of interest.

Expanding Access to High-quality Career Exploration After School

Despite all these programs have to offer, there are still major barriers to creating and expanding access to high-quality, career-focused afterschool programming in middle school. When panelists were asked about the largest barriers facing afterschool programming, their responses ranged from the difficulties of creating community partnerships to the lack of funding. Andrew Coy—whose organization, Digital Harbor, focuses on developing technology skills like computer programming, video game design and 3-D printing— summed up these issues as the need to have “formal support for informal learning.” This problem remains largely in communities of lower socioeconomic status, limiting access to enriching learning opportunities for students who could benefit the most.

The impacts that these programs have on middle schoolers make them worth the investment. Student panelist Jacob excitedly talked about the experiences he had with Digital Harbor—such as going to museums, participating in the White House science fair and learning to 3-D print—showing how important it is to give students a place to be creative. Jacob even earned certifications in Information Technology through the program. Having such a space outside of the classroom to encourage hands-on learning and career exploration allows students like Jacob to develop real world skills and get a leg up on both college and their careers. 

Afterschool programs can also help close equity gaps by equipping learners with skills that may not be offered in the regular classroom but are highly valued in the job market. Exposing learners to new and different career pathways allows for diversity in these fields as more students can see themselves inhabiting those roles. Panelist Daniela Grigioni discussed how her organization, After-School All-Stars, engages middle schoolers, predominantly students of color, to help them build skills through programs in business and STEM. Early introduction to career exploration can help promote more equity within these fields.

By expanding career exploration in and out of the classroom, state leaders can foster creativity and passion among middle school students. This opens a pathway for students to imagine careers for themselves by giving them a sense of their options and what they do and do not want to do at an earlier age. 

To read more about middle school CTE, check out Advance CTE’s report, Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learning Success

Jordan Dreisbach, Policy Intern

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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Utah Valley University Charges Forward as a Dual-Role Community College and University

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Numerous states have begun to allow community colleges to grant four-year degrees. These changes have led to concerns over “credential creep,” where institution leaders push for the increased perception of prestige that advanced postsecondary degree offerings provide them, and neglect their CTE programs. This article from Inside Higher Ed highlights the work being done at Utah Valley University to maintain focus on providing high-quality degree programs, whether they be two- or four-year degrees.

The institution implemented a “structured enrollment” approach to preserve its open-door admissions policy. This approach enrolls underprepared students in one-year certificate programs that include numerous student support services. From there, students can enroll in a two-year degree program and eventually a four-year program, all within the same institution. “The certificates and degrees stack on top of each other, thus all credits move up with the student. For example, all of the certificate classes are required in the associate’s degree, and all of the associate classes are required in the bachelor’s degree,” a university spokesman said via email. “If the student doesn’t do well in the certificate track, university counselors will circle back to try to find a better fit.”

Report Offers Recommendations for Using Data and Evidence to Improve Student Outcomes

Colleges have long been working to use data more effectively to analyze and improve student outcomes. However, these efforts have often been the responsibility of individual institutions or systems, and are dependent on the resources available for data analysis and new technologies. A new report from Results for America offers recommendations for state governments to become more involved in these initiatives. Their recommendations fall into three categories:

  1. Improve measures of student success
    • Improve the accuracy of graduation rates
    • Publish employment outcomes by major
    • Develop measures of learning and civic outcomes
  2. Help colleges act on and analyze data
    • Invest in the data capacities of colleges
    • Generate evidence of what works
    • Kickstart evidence-based improvements
  3. Align resources behind student success
    • Make payoffs clear and certain
    • Prioritize equity
    • Consider post-graduation goals
    • Consider additional strategies to help low-performing colleges

White Paper Examines Overlap between Afterschool Programs and Workforce Development

The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) recently published a new white paper highlighting the shared goals and opportunities for collaboration between afterschool programs and workforce development initiatives. While both youth and workforce development initiatives implement programs and activities to help youth develop skills and competencies for the world of work, they often operate in separate and disconnected silos.

For example, afterschool programs have long focused on building the social and emotional skills of students, skills which also contribute to employability readiness. “Participation in high-quality afterschool programs has a positive impact on problem-solving, conflict resolution, self-control, leadership, and responsible decision-making, all of which are included within the employability and [social emotional learning] frameworks.” If efforts are better aligned and resources more coordinated, more of this training can be implemented.

The white paper examines case studies in Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois and from those extrapolates recommendations for further collaboration between the two types of initiatives.

Odds and Ends

This report from AEI examines common barriers for providing high-quality CTE at community colleges and suggest five strategies for overcoming those barriers, most of which are structural and policy barriers, but also include the perceived stigma of CTE.

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) recently launched this video highlighting the problem of “The Forgotten 500,000” – the 500,000 students who are in the top half of their high school classes but do not go on to complete a postsecondary certificate or credential. Among other recommendations, CEW believes this problem can be solved by tying education more deliberately to career pathways.

The American Institutes for Research released this infographic highlighting the importance of using CTE as a strategy for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who are CTE concentrators are five percent more likely to graduate high school on time and 20 percent more likely to be employed after graduation.

Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager

By Ashleigh McFadden in Research
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