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Posts Tagged ‘community colleges’

Report: “Indispensable” Role of Transfer for Community Colleges

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Recently, the nation’s education agenda has placed considerable focus on increasing college completion rates. While this worthy goal is critical to the country’s economic success, a new report implores the education community not to lose sight of other valuable functions of community colleges, namely transfer, as schools work toward graduating all students.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) released this month an issue brief on the “indispensable” role of transfer for community colleges and students. More than one-quarter of those who earn a bachelor’s degree began their college experience at a community college and transferred to a four-year institution along the way. Nearly half of bachelor’s degree recipients take at least one course at a community college.

Research shows that transfer from a community college to a four-year institution not only works, but also saves money. The AACC brief states that students who start at a community college and transfer to a four-year university are just as successful as those who begin at a four-year institution. For the nine institutions studied in this case, an estimated $22 billion were saved by students who first attended community college first and then transferred.

Part of what makes transfer work, the AACC brief shows, is that the receiving institution prioritizes the success of transfer students. Eighty-two percent of transfer students earn a bachelor’s degree on time when their receiving institution accepted all of the student’s community college credits. When colleges accept some community college credits, forty-two percent of transfer students earned a bachelor’s degree on time.

The AACC brief also takes into account questions to consider as post-completion measures and program effectiveness are evaluated, such as “Should an institution that provides just the last few credits before earning a degree be considered the institution of record for the student’s ultimate ‘success’?”

Click here to access the full report.

Kara Herbertson, Research and Policy Manager 

By Kara in Public Policy, Resources
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First Presidential Debate Addresses Economy, Education and Deficit

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Last night President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney met in Denver for the first of three presidential debates. This debate, moderated by Jim Lehrer, focused on domestic issues, with both candidates frequently citing the need to improve public education in order to prepare students with the skills they need to succeed. When asked about how he would go about creating new jobs, President Obama stated that we have improve our education system, hire more math and science teachers, keep college affordable, and create two million more openings at community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that exist today.

Governor Romney explained that his plan for economic recovery would include streamlining workforce training programs. He referenced the finding from a GAO report that there are 47 job training programs (including Perkins, according to GAO) reporting to eight different federal agencies. Romney suggested that these programs would be better managed at the state level, saying, “Overhead is overwhelming. We’ve got to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to get in the training they need for jobs that will really help them.”

Lehrer then moved on to how each candidate would tackle the growing deficit. Romney said that, firstly, he would apply the following test to all federal programs: Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, he would eliminate it. Second, he would move programs that he believes could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to the state. Finally, he would increase government efficiency by reducing the number of employees, and combining some agencies and departments. President Obama stated that, in addition to raising revenues, he would cut programs that are not helping the economy grow. He pointed out his Administration has already eliminated a number of federal programs, including 18 ineffective education programs.

In response to a question about the role of the federal government in public education, Governor Romney said that he thinks that federal education funds should follow the student, allowing parents to decide where to send their child to school. President Obama stated that the great work being done by community colleges with business support to train people for jobs, also requires some federal support.

Obama and Romney then sparred over budget proposals and how they can impact choices about support for federal education programs. Obama questioned how Romney would be able to pay for his support of education programs when his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan’s, budget proposal would cut federal education spending by 20 percent. Romney countered by saying, “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and—and grants that go to people going to college…I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I want to make it more effective and efficient.” However, if Romney were to implement Ryan’s budget plan, and keeps his promise to not cut education that would mean deeper cuts for other areas of the federal government.

The next Presidential debate will take place on October 16, 2012 and will focus on foreign and domestic policy. Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Ryan will meet for their only debate next Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST and will also cover foreign and domestic policy.

Nancy Conneely, Director of Public Policy

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Secretary Duncan Outlines Progress Made and Goals for the Future

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

This afternoon Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the National Press Club about the state of American education. Duncan highlighted the Obama Administration’s achievements and challenges over the last four years and offered his take on the obstacles facing public schools in the years ahead.

Chief among the Department’s endeavors are raising standards, improving student performance, reducing dropout rates, and strengthening the teaching profession. But, as we in the CTE community know, education also plays an important role in strengthening the economy and closing the skills gap. Said Duncan: “With more than three million unfilled jobs in this country, [the public] understand[s] that we have a skills gap that will only be closed if America does a better job training and preparing people for work.” The public supports investing in education, but as Duncan pointed out, they worry about where the money will come from.

Duncan laid out the areas where there is still work to be done, including reforming CTE programs in high schools and community colleges, state-driven accountability, recruiting more math and science teachers, and closing the skills gap.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Administration announces $500 million in community college grants to expand job training

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced $500 million in community college grants to develop and expand innovative training programs through local employer partnerships. The Labor Department is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, which is intended to promote skills development and employment opportunities in fields including advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care. All states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will receive at least $2.5 million in funding for community college career training programs, according to the Labor Department.

The grants are the second installment of a $2 billion, four-year initiative. In total, 297 schools will receive grants as individual applicants or as members of a consortium. The grants include awards to community college and university consortia totaling $359,237,048 and awards to individual institutions totaling $78,262,952.

Learn more about the grant program at http://www.doleta.gov/taaccct.

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By Erin in News
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Senate Hearing Focuses on College Affordability; Witness Calls for Streamlining Federal Reporting Requirements

Friday, September 14th, 2012

At a hearing this week — Improving College Affordability: A View From the States – members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee heard from higher education stakeholders about the obstacles that keep postsecondary education out of reach for many students. Dr. Camille Preus, Commissioner of the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, spoke about how the Federal government can encourage and support states in making postsecondary education more affordable:

The federal government also could help states in their efforts to be more efficient by aligning the various reporting requirements that it imposes on institutions of higher education. These requirements differ for various programs, such as the HEA and the Workforce Investment and the Carl D. Perkins Act, and these in turn differ from information that states themselves require. A concerted effort needs to be undertaken to eliminate these inefficiencies. Many community colleges have only one individual who is responsible for meeting all reporting requirements. Sometimes states becoming directly involved in providing needed information. In addition, the federal government needs to be much more aggressive in ensuring that appropriate state educational entities have access to data that will enable them, in concert with institutions, to identify the earnings of students after they have left institutions. These data in turn will help colleges to maximize resource allocation.

In the context of better aligning workforce and training programs, NASDCTEc has also recommended that common measures across programs such as WIA, Perkins, Trade Adjustment Assistance, and Adult Education would provide more interconnectivity in the workforce system as programs collaborate and work together to ensure the alignment of goals. Our recommendaitons also call for data sharing across federal programs in order to ease the burden that programs and providers face in collecting accountability information, and foster an environment of collaboration and efficiency in the workforce and education systems.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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State-Level Community College Leaders Voice Concern Over Higher Expectations, Less Funding

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Community colleges are widely recognized for their distinct position within the postsecondary education system; two-year colleges offer accessible options for certificate and degree attainment to a diverse population. As the economy continues to recover, many employers embrace high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) and training opportunities that community colleges provide for a relatively low cost. Meanwhile, community college leaders struggle to meet employers’ rising expectations with stagnant or decreasing community college budgets.

A new report from the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama analyzes survey results from 49 state-level community college leaders, and examines the role of community colleges in developing the workforce.

The authors specify that community colleges are different than many other postsecondary institutions because they are “place-based” – that is, their service delivery areas are determined by law. This causes community colleges to be especially committed to developing their state and local economies, and makes partnerships with business and industry critical. Partnerships with employers are common – 92 percent of those surveyed said that employers are increasingly leaning on community colleges to train their employees –- but one-third of respondents reported that training funds, such as those from the Workforce Investment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, are decreasing or have been depleted.

Further, over 60 percent of respondents said they are pressured by businesses to offer more short-term job training programs in non-credit areas. Though short-term certificates can be valuable, research shows that longer-term certificates and training programs are more lucrative for students. Moreover, the many job vacancies currently contributing to the “skills gap” would require applicants to have advanced training in highly-skilled areas. The authors note that an investment in these long-term education and training opportunities will be beneficial to both students and employers. They also suggest continued funding of Pell Grants at the current level.

Read the full report here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in Publications
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Democrats Support Career Academies and Technical Training in Party Platform

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

This week in Charlotte, the Democrats released their party’s platform which outlines how their policies will help America out-education, out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world. As we reported last week, the Republican party’s platform included their support for CTE at the secondary and postsecondary levels. The Democrats also voiced their support for secondary CTE, saying that they would “continue to strengthen all our schools and work to expand public school options for low-income youth, including magnet schools, charter schools, teacher-led schools, and career academies.”

At the postsecondary level, Democrats called for greater access to higher education and technical training. To that end, the party supports the following proposals that would improve the skills of students and adult workers:

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Republican Platform Highlights CTE

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

With the presidential election just around the corner, convention season is upon us. Republicans are meeting in Tampa this week to formally nominate Governor Mitt Romney as the party’s candidate for President. Part of the convention process includes releasing the party’s “platform” or statement of principles. The Republican party’s platform covers a broad swath of issues, including education, jobs and the economy, agriculture, and government reform. The party’s education plank underscores the value of CTE in preparing students for the workplace:

School choice—whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits—is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools…We support the promotion of local career and technical educational programs and entrepreneurial programs that have been supported by leaders in industry and will retrain and retool the American workforce, which is the best in the world.

The platform also states the party’s belief that the status quo is not working for the higher education system, and calls for “new systems of learning” that can compete with traditional four-year institutions, including community and technical colleges, private training schools, and work-based learning in the private sector. The party also believes that the acquisition of advanced skills is necessary for the 21st century economy, and should focus on STEM fields.

Democrats will convene in Charlotte next week to officially nominate President Obama as their candidate, at which time they are expected to release their party’s platform.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Department Issues Guidance in Response to Court’s Gainful Employment Ruling

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

As we reported last week, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has vacated part of the U.S. Department of Education’s gainful employment regulations. The Court instructed the Department to review the regulations for further action. The Department is now evaluating next steps, but in the interim has released the following guidance for postsecondary institutions.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Court Strikes Down Portion of Gainful Employment Regulations

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has vacated part of the U.S. Department of Education’s gainful employment regulations related to the debt-repayment measure. Under the regulations, career training programs that receive federal financial aid must show that they “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” One measure schools were asked to use to show this was that 35 percent of their graduates are repaying their loans. The court ruled that 35 percent is “arbitrary and capricious,” and not based on any expert study or industry standard. While the court ruled that the Department had the authority to issue gainful employment regulations, they will now have to reexamine their benchmarks for loan repayment rates.

The court also struck down other provisions of the regulations, including one that requires institutions to get approval from the U.S. Education Department before offering new career training programs. Meanwhile, the court upheld reporting requirements related to program costs, on-time graduation rates, placement rates, and median loan debt.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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