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Posts Tagged ‘credentials’

Sec. Duncan: “Voc. Education Hit Its Heyday in the 60s and 70s”

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Leaders in industry and education convened last week to unravel factors contributing to the current skills gap and to debate possible solutions that would strengthen the workforce. Though many panelists, including heads of Google, Snap-On, and the Manufacturing Institute, and keynote speaker Senator Mark Warner (VA), voiced support for Career Technical Education (CTE), one major participant was less optimistic about the role of CTE.

After sharing her observations of successful vocational programs in countries such as South Korea and Finland, an interviewer asked her guest, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, why America doesn’t talk more about career readiness. Duncan replied that “Vocational education hit its heyday… in the 60s and 70s,” and that the country has backed off of the approach since then.

Duncan said that vocational training needs to prepare students for viable careers in fields like technology and healthcare, and not in outdated fields. When asked why he thinks the “heyday” of vocational education was a half-century ago, the Secretary stated that:

“At that point, we maybe had a clearer sense of what we were preparing students for. And my concern today – there are some amazingly high-performing ‘voc’ and career programs in high schools – but you honestly have too many schools today that are still preparing students for the jobs of 30 or 40 years ago. So for me, it’s – are you getting industry-recognized credentials? Are you getting a certificate? Are you getting a piece of paper? Are you getting the training that’s going to lead you to a good job and to a career coming out of high school? And we want to put a lot more resources behind places that are doing that.”

Click here to view Sec. Duncan’s interview (begins at 16:53).

Today’s CTE programs are vastly different than the vocational education programs offered 50 years ago. NASDCTEc developed a new vision for all CTE programs last year that clearly frames principles and actions to ensure high-quality CTE nationwide. States and CTE programs across the country have taken enormous steps to provide students with multiple options and transferable skills through innovative programs. CTE students can participate in a variety of pathways, each providing real-world opportunities for knowledge and skill attainment.

Still, Duncan continues to point to the same measures – rates for credential and certificate attainment, graduation and placement – as the most convincing evidence of a CTE program’s effectiveness. The lack of outcomes data for CTE programs was part of the Department of Education’s rationale for cutting CTE funding in FY 2011.

If your state or CTE programs can provide positive statistics in the above areas, please share this information with NASDCTEc and your Members of Congress. Providing this data is a critical step towards showing the impact of CTE on your state and saving CTE funding!

Please send examples of CTE success, including state or program data, to Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst at [email protected]

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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ACT Report Presents Workforce Skills Credentialing Framework

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The shifting economy requires highly-skilled workers in areas of job growth, such as manufacturing, energy, information technology, and health care. But while job vacancies exist, employers continue to report that applicants’ skills do not match those needed to fill the empty positions. ACT, Inc., an education and workplace assessment company, recently released a framework that provides a first step to tackling this mismatch.

ACT’s report proposes the creation of a national credentialing system for workforce skills.

The report suggests reorganizing the credentialing system so that workers’ skills and credentials better align with the needs of industry. This would streamline the current approach by creating a nationally-recognized, stackable credentialing system. ACT suggests that workers begin by earning a “foundational skills credential,” and subsequently layer on more focused, job-specific credentials.

Ideally, implementation of the national workforce skills credentialing system would result in:

Click here to view the full report, Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing System.

By Kara in News
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Legislative Update: AMERICA Works, 21st Century Careers, Every Student Counts, Financial Literacy, Middle Schools

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Amid all of the budget action over the last few weeks, Congress has also introduced a number of bills that may be of interest.

AMERICA Works Act

Rep. Joe Donnelly (IN) introduced H.R. 1325, the AMERICA Works Act, which would require that certain Federal job training and career education programs give a priority to programs that provide an recognized and nationally portable credential. This bill is similar to the one introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan (NC) last session. The bill would amend Perkins such that state plans would describe how the eligible agency would give priority to programs of study that lead to a skills credential that is in high demand in the area served and listed in the registry described in the AMERICA Works Act.

Providing Innovation to 21st Century Careers Act

Sen. Patty Murray (WA) introduced S. 830, the Providing Innovation to 21st Century Careers Act, to establish partnerships to create or enhance educational and skills development pathways to 21st century careers. The bill would fund $912 million in competitive grants to be used by state and regional partnerships to help students graduate high school and enter postsecondary education or a skilled career. State and regional partnerships would include representatives from secondary, postsecondary, business, labor, workforce, and economic development organizations. These partnerships would develop career pathways for high school students that include counseling, mentoring, work-based experiences, and support to obtain degrees, apprenticeships, and other postsecondary credentials.

Every Student Counts Act

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) introduced S.767, the Every Student Counts Act . The goal of the bill is to improve the calculation of, reporting of, and accountability for high school graduation rates. The bill would also give credit to schools, districts and states for graduating students in more than four years, as long as they graduate the majority of all students in four years. The bill also provides incentives for schools, districts and states to create programs to serve students who have already dropped out of school, are over-age or under credited. The Every Student Counts Act builds on the National Governors Association’s Graduation Rate Compact that was signed by all 50 of the nation’s governors in 2005. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) introduced companion bill, H.R. 1419, in the House.

Financial and Economic Literacy Improvement Act

Sen. Patty Murray (WA) introduced S. 787, the Financial and Economic Literacy Improvement Act, which aims to provide grants to promote financial literacy for students and adults. The grants would provide funding to states for resources to teach financial literacy in K-12 schools and 2-and 4-year colleges. The bill also proposes a clearinghouse of resources, tools, and best practices for financial and economic literacy education.

Success in the Middle Act

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) introduced S. 833, the Success in the Middle Act, which would fund grants for states to help school districts improve low-performing middle schools. The grants would be used for early intervention systems for at-risk youth, transition programs between elementary, middle, and high school, professional development, extended learning time, and personal academic plans. While the bill does not specifically mention CTE, there does seem to be a clear connection between the purposes of this bill and the work being done by the CTE community.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Community College Students Thrive under Programs of Study

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Community colleges are lauded for their accessibility. Most two-year institutions have open admissions policies and comparably low tuition rates. However, the challenge lies not in admitting more students to community colleges, but in guiding more students through programs of study to credential completion.

A new paper from the Community College Research Center states that most community college students drop out before attaining a credential. The author, Davis Jenkins, attributes the low completion rates to a lack of clear goals; many students do not enter a college-level program of study and instead complete a less planned series of coursework.

According to Jenkins’ analysis, students who do not commit to a program of study within the first year of enrollment are less likely to earn a credential at all.

The study suggests a method that community colleges can use to track first-time student outcomes over a period of five years. Jenkins encourages community colleges to guide more students through programs of study to increase levels of credential completion.

The full paper, Get with the Program: Accelerating Community College Students’ Entry into and Completion of Programs of Study, can be accessed here.

By Kara in Research
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What Should College Graduates Know and Be Able to Do? New Lumina Report Provides Framework

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

What are the expectations of a student graduating with an associate degree? Or a bachelor’s or master’s degree? Answers to these questions are varied and may indicate a need for more clearly defined expectations for postsecondary degree attainment in the United States. This week, the Lumina Foundation released The Degree Qualifications Profile, a framework illustrating “what students should be expected to know and be able to do once they earn their degrees – at any level.”

The Degree Profile suggests specific learning outcomes that benchmark all associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It also proposes much more extensive use of field-work and experiential learning throughout all degrees, aspects that are often present in career technical education. Through its framework, the Lumina Foundation encourages institutes of higher education to increase all students’ skills and experiences in analysis, adaptation, and application. The report particularly emphasizes its application component, describing the importance of “educational experience rich in field-related projects, performances, investigative essays, demonstrations, and other learning-intensive activities.”

The Degree Profile can improve the quality of learning at many levels and for many stakeholders:

While President Obama’s call to increase the number of college graduates in America has been widely publicized, greater attention must be paid to the quality and the meaning of degrees to be conferred upon a record number of students. To increase the quality of degrees at all levels, the Degree Profile helps colleges and universities to make changes in five basic areas: Broad, Integrative Knowledge; Intellectual skills; Applied Learning; Civic Learning; and Specialized Knowledge. Under each area, Lumina identifies specific learning outcomes for each degree (associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees). With the input of two accrediting agencies (Western Association of Schools and Colleges and The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and the Council of Independent Colleges, the organization plans to test and make adjustments to the degree profile. For more detailed information, please see the Lumina Foundation website.

By Kara in News, Resources
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News article: In a tough economy, new focus on job-oriented certificates

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Reports and articles continue to echo the same message: postsecondary credentials will play a critical role in securing a job. A recent article in The Bellingham Herald, a Washington state newspaper, highlighted a recent national reports and state statistics that reinforce the notion that credentials are no longer an option for individuals who cannot succeed in traditional four-year institutions.

The article features reports such as Projection of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, Certificates Count: An Analysis of Sub-Baccalaureate Certificates, which both suggest that credentials will play a key role for individuals who seek employment.

Further, in Florida, a recent report based on the state’s employment data shows that “students who earn certificates or associate of science degrees can make more money in their first year out of college than four-year graduates of Florida’s university system,” the article said.

Willis Holcombe, chancellor of Florida’s fast-growing community college system was quoted saying that the unemployment numbers are “a powerful case for some postsecondary credential, not just going to classes, but completing a credential…If you want to insulate yourself against unemployment, you need a career.”

By Erin in News, Research
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Half of Postsecondary Students Earn Credentials Within Six Years, Report says

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Nearly half (49 percent) of students who began their postsecondary education earned a credential – ranging from an educational certificate to a bachelor’s degree — within 6 years, according to a recent National Center for Education Statistics First Look report.

Early assessments of data collected for Persistence and Attainment of 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After Six Years provides findings from a study starting in 2003-04 through June 2009. Data indicated that 15 percent of students remained enrolled, but had not yet completed a program of study; and about one-third (36 percent) of students left postsecondary education without earning any credential by June 2009.

Such findings may help underscore the nation’s need to ramp up college completion and credential acquisition rates, particularly as economic forecasts predict that well-paying and growing jobs will require some type of postsecondary credential.

By Erin in Publications
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Degree and Certificate Attainment Linked to Strong Employment Outcomes, Report Says

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Students with both an associate degree and a certificate in information technology (IT) had the strongest employment outcomes in terms of likelihood of employment, hours worked, and earnings, according to a recent Community College Research Center (CCRC) issue brief that examined Washington state students.

The Employment Outcomes of Community College Information Technology Students explored the role of community colleges in educating IT workers and examined two key issues:  students’ employment outcomes by the type of community college IT preparation they complete, and the type of employers that tend to hire community college IT students. CCRC assessed data on students who were enrolled in an IT program at any Washington State community and technical college during the 2000-01 academic year and who completed their program or left college by the spring of the 2004-05 academic year.

The students who followed in likelihood of employment, hours worked, and earnings were those with an IT associate degree, and then followed by students with an IT certificate. Students who earned no credential but focused their studies in IT had the weakest employment outcomes, according to the brief.

By Erin in Publications
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