Posts Tagged ‘certifications’

Navigating CTE During COVID-19: How Are States Addressing Industry-recognized Credential Attainment?

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Industry-recognized credentials are an essential component of any high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. They indicate the entry-level competencies learners need in a given career field and signal to employers that an individual is prepared for work. But in the midst of a global pandemic, with nearly every state issuing, to varying degrees, stay at home orders that have resulted in school closures and limited access to testing facilities, how can learners continue to earn industry-recognized credentials? 

Over the last decade, there has been a groundswell around industry-recognized credentials. Driven by the Lumina Foundation’s campaign to ensure that 60 percent of U.S. adults hold a credential beyond high school by 2025, nearly every state has set its own postsecondary credential attainment goal. What’s more, many states are also counting industry-recognized credential attainment in their high school accountability systems or are promoting credential attainment through programs such as Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program. 

Challenges for Industry-recognized Credential Attainment

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) threatens to stall many of these policies and initiatives. The requirements for earning an industry-recognized credential vary by type and by provider, but are hard to deliver remotely. Industry-recognized credentials commonly require one or a combination of the following:  

As states have shut down one by one, credentialing opportunities have slowed to a trickle. School districts, institutions of higher education and training providers have been challenged to offer the learning and practical experiences learners need to be eligible for credential exams. Further, testing providers have had to shut their doors or limit access in order to comply with stay at home orders. 

The State Policy Response

The implications of this credentialing slowdown are myriad. For one, many states have baked credential attainment into high school graduation requirements, accountability systems and postsecondary performance-based funding structures. These requirements will need to be waived or loosened in a way that limits harm to learners. In Ohio, the Department of Education has already amended high school graduation requirements for learners pursuing industry-recognized credentials and is allowing learners to earn credentials as soon as it is safe to do so – even if they already have been awarded a diploma. 

Other states are exploring remote proctoring so learners can sit for an industry-recognized credential exam at home. Florida issued guidance for at-home testing for industry certifications, which will allow learners to access exams for credentials on the state-approved Career and Professional Education Act (CAPE) list as long as the credential providers meet certain conditions. However, while a number of credential providers are now offering online proctoring opportunities that are secure and monitored, the technology is expensive to scale and requires the learner to have access to a computer and reliable internet at home. 

The second implication is that credentialing is slowing down at a time when states hit hardest by the coronavirus are experiencing a critical shortage of licensed healthcare workers. In response, governors are issuing emergency licensing waivers in order to permit nursing and medical students as well as retired professionals or those with expired licenses to support the relief effort. In California, for example, the state Board of Registered Nursing has developed guidance on different roles nursing students can play in the field based on competencies developed through prior course taking. 

Finally, with economists already predicting a severe economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus, states will need to accelerate credentialing opportunities for learners transitioning back to work. Even as schools and testing facilities remain closed, states can start thinking now about their economic recovery plan and how to bolster industry-recognized credential attainment in the months and years ahead. 

Austin Estes, Manager of Data & Research

By Austin Estes in COVID-19 and CTE
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New Research Shows Positive Employment Outcomes for CTE Learners

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

One of the most important considerations for learners choosing to enroll in secondary and postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs is whether that pathway will lead to a successful career and a good salary. The new Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) requires states and local recipients to set goals around post-program outcomes for CTE concentrators. Several recent studies suggest that learners are finding gainful employment and increased salaries after completing CTE programs. 

A study in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice analyzed data from the California Community Colleges CTE Outcomes Survey. Using three years of survey data from over 46,000 former CTE participants, the researchers found that these learners reported positive employment outcomes and obtained greater increases in wages than they were earning before beginning their program.

Another study using administrative data on a cohort of high school CTE concentrators from Washington State found that CTE learners who go on to college, compared to non-CTE learners, are significantly more likely to enroll in and complete vocational programs. They are also more likely to earn postsecondary credentials such as associate degrees and industry certifications, especially in the applied Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and public safety fields. Additionally, secondary CTE learners who do not go on to college are also more likely to obtain full-time employment within the first three years after graduation compared to non-CTE learners. 

Lastly, a study of admissions and learner outcomes within Connecticut’s system of 16 stand-alone CTE high schools found that males who attend a technical high school are 10 percentage points more likely to graduate than comparable males who attend a traditional high school. Male learners attending technical high schools in Connecticut also have approximately 31 percent greater post-graduation quarterly earnings, higher 9th grade attendance rates and higher 10th grade testing scores than comparable males. There was no evidence that female learners had significantly different outcomes based on the type of school attended. 

As CTE month comes to a close and states finalize their Perkins V plans and invest substantial resources in CTE programs, the findings in these three studies highlight the value that CTE programs have in positive academic and employment outcomes for learners. Additionally, these findings reaffirm the value CTE programs have in preparing learners for the real world and the many postsecondary paths they can pursue. The Washington State and Connecticut studies found that CTE concentrators were slightly less likely to go on to college than comparable learners but still more likely to earn vocational credentials, obtain full-time employment with higher earnings, and have better attendance and test scores than comparable learners. State leaders are encouraged to continue investing in these programs proving to work for learners in their states. 

Other Notable Research 

A report on Idaho’s education and earnings gap revealed that those with bachelor’s degrees earn substantially more in income than those with less education. Among its recommendations, the report suggests the state adopt explicit policies encouraging school districts to develop secondary CTE course sequences or certified programs focusing on two to three specific career pathways that play to their local strengths. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

By Brian Robinson in Uncategorized
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CTE Research Review: Making Sense of Credentials

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

The number of high-demand jobs requiring an occupational license has grown over the past several years. This shift requires changes from the education community when considering the requisite training and preparation that students will need to enter these careers.

A new report from the White House offers policymakers a framework for the growing field of occupational licensing as well some best practices to consider.

Some interesting facts:

Also, licenses are just one type of credential that students can obtain in their educational journey, and with states working to meet the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), understanding the different types is more important than ever.

The Association of Career and Technical Education recently published a primer on credentials, in particular the postsecondary space between high school and a two-year degree. Check out the full brief here.

Finally, the two-year degree attracts students of all ages, but which of those age groups are most likely to continue on to earn their bachelor’s degree? A quick fact sheet from the American Association of Community Colleges’ “Data Points” series has the answer.

certs

Source: Association of Career and Technical Education

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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