Posts Tagged ‘STEM’

Top Findings from Reviews of State ESSA Plans

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

How long does it take to read through and analyze 17 state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)? Two months seems to be the sweet spot for many of the nation’s education thought leaders. Since the first submission window closed this spring, a number of groups, Advance CTE among them, have released their takes on the first round of state plans.

Federal education policy inevitably draws opinions, advice and criticism from all corners of the country, and states’ planning around ESSA implementation has been no exception. Below we round up some of the latest takes and summarize conclusions from the first round of submitted plans.

ESSA: Early Observations on State Changes to Accountability Systems (Government Accountability Office)

Purpose: The GAO was requested by Congress to study and report on states’ progress and approaches toward amending accountability under ESSA. To conduct the report, GAO policy researchers interviewed national stakeholders and met with education officials in California and Ohio, two states that were identified as taking different approaches to accountability.

Key Findings: The report finds that states are taking advantage of increased flexibility under ESSA, though the degree of change ranges by state. The authors classify ESSA accountability development by four dimensions: 1) determining long-term goals, 2) developing performance indicators, 3) differentiating schools and 4) identifying and assisting low-performers.  

ESSA Equity Dashboards (Alliance for Excellent Education)

Purpose: To highlight strengths and draw attention to growth areas in ESSA plans, the Alliance for Excellent Education is developing ESSA Equity Dashboards that rate key components of state plans. Dashboards are available for five of the first 17 plans, with the remaining expected in August. The dashboards examine long-term goals, support and intervention, and accountability.

Key Findings: The Alliance for Excellent Education highlights Louisiana’s plan for its focus on academic outcomes and the design of the state’s “Strength of Diploma Indicator.” Reviewers flagged Colorado’s long-term goals for math and reading performance.

ESSA Leverage Points: 64 Promising Practices from States for using Evidence to Improve Student Outcomes (Results for America)

Purpose: This analysis from Results for America examines the first 17 submitted ESSA plans and evaluates the degree to which states aim to use evidence-based practices in certain parts of their plan. The analysis is based on 13 key ESSA leverage points identified by Results for America and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Leverage points include monitoring local education agency implementation, allocating school improvement funds, monitoring and evaluating school improvement, and more.

Key Findings: The reviewers found that:

An Independent Review of ESSA State Plans (Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success)

Purpose: To supplement the Department of Education’s peer review process, Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success convened a peer review team of their own, drawing together more than 30 local, state and national experts to review and rate state plans. Their analysis focused on nine key elements.

Key Findings: The results of the peer review are broken down by state at https://checkstateplans.org/. Overall, the reviewers found that:

Leveraging ESSA to Promote Science and STEM Education in States (Achieve)

Purpose: This analysis from Achieve examines 17 round 1 state ESSA plans through the lens of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, pinpointing how states are leveraging assessments, graduation requirements and other goals to promote science and STEM.

Key Findings: Achieve’s analysis finds that, among the 17 round 1 state plans:

Making the Most of ESSA: Opportunities to Advance STEM Education (Education First)

Purpose: Education First, with support from the Overdeck Family Foundation, examined 25 state plans (including 17 submitted plans and an additional eight draft plans) to identify leverage points for STEM education and review whether and how states are taking advantage of these opportunities. Their review focused on four key dimensions of state plans: inclusion of state science assessments in accountability systems; including of Career Technical Education (CTE) indicators in accountability systems; inclusion of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate indicators in accountability systems; and STEM elements in 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Key Findings: The reviewers found that:

Reflections on State ESSA Plans (American Institutes for Research)

Purpose: Researchers at the American Institutes for Research reviewed 17 submitted plans and three additional draft plans to get a broad perspective on how states are prioritizing certain strategies. Their analysis covered plans for accountability, STEM, school improvement, technology and more.

Key Findings: Notably, the researchers at AIR found that, among the 20 plans reviewed:

Overall, reviewers seem impressed with states’ efforts to include more comprehensive indicators of student success in their accountability system. However, states were light on details about how their plans will be implemented and how schools will be supported to improve student performance. The remaining two-thirds of states planning to submit plans in September can draw on these findings, along with Advance CTE’s report on career readiness and ESSA, to ensure their plans are robust and sufficiently leverage all that ESSA has to offer.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

 

By Austin Estes in Public Policy, Research, Resources
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States Pave Way for More Flexible, Integrated Pathways to Graduation

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE reinforces the principle that all learning should be personalized and flexible. Education should meet learners where they’re at, allowing them to pursue pathways and experiences aligned to their career interests. To that end, a number of states this summer have taken steps to expand flexible pathways to graduation by amending graduation requirements and exploring opportunities to enhance career advisement and integrate workforce skills throughout the K-12 curriculum.

In Connecticut, for example, Governor Dannel Malloy signed SB1026, amending graduation requirements set to take effect this year. Those requirements were adopted in 2010 in an effort to raise expectations, but were too prescriptive in terms of which courses learners would need to take to graduate. Specifically, the requirements increased the minimum number of credits needed to graduate from 20 to 25 and specified that students would need to earn eight credits in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), nine credits in humanities, three in career and life skills, and three and a half in other areas, including a senior demonstration project.

The new law makes some changes to the required number of credits but ultimately provides school districts and learners more flexibility on the path to graduation. For one, students will now be required to earn nine, not eight, credits in STEM, but local school boards have the liberty to choose which courses qualify. Additionally, the law gives students the option to receive credit by demonstrating subject matter competency through alternative means, such as work-based learning, Career Technical Education (CTE), virtual learning and more. And instead of the senior demonstration project, learners must complete a mastery-based diploma assessment.

Washington Takes Credit Equivalencies Statewide

Over on the west coast, Washington State’s budget for the 2017-19 biennium includes provisions to accelerate the state’s ongoing credit equivalency work. Under the enacted budget, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is directed to help expand and support the implementation of course equivalency credits statewide. This builds upon an ongoing state effort to streamline graduation pathways and allow students to earn math and science credit by demonstrating competency through technical coursework. Since 2015, the State Board of Education has established course equivalency frameworks for 32 courses, including the Core Plus curriculum, a model developed in partnership with the Boeing company to help students develop knowledge and skills in manufacturing.

Additionally, the budget provides for a competitive grant fund to help school districts implement the course equivalency frameworks, such as by developing rigorous assessments, raising awareness and providing professional development for educators.

Rethinking Education and Workforce Development in Idaho, Michigan and California

Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Idaho, Michigan and California to align K-12 education with workforce development priorities. In Idaho, Governor Butch Otter’s Workforce Development Task Force, launched by executive order in January, released its findings and recommendations from a five-month study into the state’s workforce development needs. Among the task force’s recommendations are strategies to connect K-12 education to career pathways, strengthen career advisement in the state, expand CTE programs and apprenticeships, and incentivize schools to integrate workforce skills into secondary curricula.

In Michigan, the Career Pathways Alliance —  a Governor-led, cross-sector effort — released a series of 16 recommendations to dramatically strengthen career preparation at the secondary level. Proposals range from continuing a statewide communications campaign to enhancing career counseling efforts and introducing more flexibility into the Michigan graduation standards, an effort currently making its way through the state legislature. While many of the Alliance’s recommendations require legislative approval, State Superintendent Brian Whiston issued a directive immediately after the recommendations were released to begin implementing some of the strategies.  

Meanwhile, California is taking steps to develop and integrate computer science standards into K-12 curricula. The state’s budget directs the superintendent to convene a Computer Science Strategic Implementation Advisory Panel to provide recommendations for implementing K-12 computer science standards. Specifically, the panel’s recommendations, which are due to the superintendent by July 2019, will address professional development for teachers, define principles for meeting the needs of K-12 students, and identify strategies to expand access to computer science education.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in Public Policy
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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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American Students Demonstrate Lackluster Performance on International PISA Exam, but Signal Interest in Science-Related Careers

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Earlier this week, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released results from the 2015 international PISA examination. The examination, which is administered every three years by the OECD, is designed to measure science, reading and math literacy for 15-year-olds in 35 OECD member countries in order to identify trends in student achievement and provide recommendations for international education policy. Each administration of the exam focuses on a different content area, and the emphasis for the 2015 exam was science literacy.

Performance in the United States was lackluster at best, with students placing 19th in science, 20th in reading and 31st in math compared to 34 other OECD countries. While there has been relatively no change in performance for science and reading over the past two iterations of the exam, math scores have fallen 11 points since 2012.

In response to this year’s assessment results, the OECD released five recommendations for policymakers in the U.S. to improve teaching and learning and promote equity:

  1. A clear education strategy to improve performance and equity should be implemented.
  2. Rigorous and consistent standards should be applied across all classrooms.
  3. Teacher and school leader capacity should be improved.
  4. Resources should be distributed equitably across schools – preferentially to those schools and students that need them most.
  5. At-risk students and schools should be proactively targeted.

 

These results are sobering, but they also spark a renewed urgency to improve the quality of education and leverage opportunities such as Career Technical Education (CTE) to equip students with academic and workforce-relevant skills and set the national economy on track for future growth.

Student Performance and Economic Growth

Performance on the PISA exam serves not only as a signal of student academic achievement, but also of career readiness. This is a research focus of Eric Hanushek’s, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In a recent panel discussion with the Alliance for Excellent Education, he argued that academic performance is tightly related to a country’s future economic health. Using PISA performance as a proxy for educational quality, Hanushek finds a positive correlation between international performance and future GDP growth. In other words, the more students learn, the stronger the economy is likely to be in the future. He also uses scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a U.S.-administered assessment, to find a similar relationship across individual states.

However, Hanushek makes sure not to conflate educational quality with quantity. He runs the same analysis using years of educational attainment instead of PISA scores and finds almost no relationship with economic growth. He draws the conclusion that “if you have more education without developing the skills, it doesn’t count.” This conclusion echoes a finding from this year’s PISA that, in terms of science literacy performance, how science is taught is a more important factor than investments in equipment and highly-qualified instructional staff. In the intersection between education and economic growth, it is not the inputs that matter as much as the skills, knowledge and abilities students develop along the way.

Students Signal High Interest in Science-Related Careers

In addition to testing subject literacy, the PISA examination surveys student attitudes and career preferences. Interestingly, the 2015 survey found that 38 percent of American 15-year-olds expect to work in a science-related career field by the age of 30, with health and science and engineering the two most prominent industries of interest, demonstrating that high school students are putting consideration into their future career goals. 

One strategy to prepare students for future careers in science is to increase participation in related programs of study. Programs of study guide learners through a sequence of aligned, non-duplicative courses that integrate academic and technical learning, span secondary and postsecondary systems and culminate in a credential of value. Participating in a program of study enables students to focus in a Career ClusterⓇ of interest and develop the skills and experiences they need to be successful in that industry. Rather than sampling a basket of different electives without developing depth of experience in any, program of study concentrators go deep in their learning. And research indicates that this could lead to positive student outcomes. According to a recent study, participating in a program of study increases the likelihood of graduation, overall grade point average and CTE grade point average. At scale, increased participation in programs of study may lead to increased academic performance and career readiness, spurring future economic growth.

With the release of the 2015 international PISA exam scores, there is newfound urgency to improve the quality of learning and increase opportunities for students to learn workforce-relevant skills, particularly in science-related fields. By leveraging high-quality programs of study, education policymakers can prepare students for future careers and spur national economic growth.

Austin Estes, Policy Associate

By Austin Estes in News, Public Policy, Research
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NASDCTEc Legislative Update: Focus Shifts to Higher Ed as ESEA Work Continues Amid Duncan Retirement

Friday, October 16th, 2015

United States CapitalA lot has happened over the past few weeks on Capitol Hill, particularly with regards to Congressional efforts to reauthorize key pieces of legislation for K-12 and postsecondary education. With fall in full swing, we wanted to take a moment to re-cap all of the activity over the past few weeks as we look ahead for what the rest of the year has in store for the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. Below is Part II in a two-part series of autumnal legislative updates.

Senate CTE Caucus Highlights Importance of CTE within HEA

Late last month, the Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a briefing for congressional staff titled “Postsecondary Pathways to Success: Strengthening Career and Technical Education in the Higher Education Act.” John Cech, Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs for the Montana University System who is also a NASDCTEc member and State CTE Director for Montana, participated in this briefing.

John’s remarks grounded the panel’s discussion with a sense of relevancy and urgency saying, in part, “. . . the basic infrastructure of our society depends largely on our nation’s ability to produce new graduates at the two-year college level, in addition to the university degrees that are the traditional focus of the national postsecondary dialogue.”

The panel had four overarching recommendations for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) which would infuse the law with a much-needed focus on CTE:

Duncan Makes for the Exit as ESEA Work Continues

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that he will resign from his post at the end of the year. Duncan is the longest serving cabinet member in the Obama Administration and came into the position after serving as CEO of Chicago Public Schools for seven years.

John B. King Jr., who has been Deputy Secretary of Education since January of this year, will replace Duncan as the next Secretary of Education pending Senate approval.

Duncan’s tenure as the head of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), particularly the ESEA flexibility system granting waivers to states from many provisions contained in No Child Left Behind (NCLB), has been one of the main motivations behind Congressional activity to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this year.

As we have shared previously, both Chambers of Congress were successful in passing rewrites of the law earlier this summer. Currently, lawmakers from the Senate and House Education Committees have been engaged in conference negotiations to reconcile the differences between the two bills. These discussions are still ongoing.

More recently, Democratic Senators Murphy (D-CT), Warren (D-MA), and Booker (D-NJ) hosted a roundtable discussion with Secretary Duncan and Deputy Secretary King focused on accountability issues within ESEA reauthorization. Holding states and local communities accountable for student achievement has been one of the most polarizing issues during the reauthorization process for ESEA and many Congressional Democrats, along with the White House, hope to strengthen such accountability provisions in a final bill when conference negotiations wrap-up.

Despite the progress being made in ESEA conference negotiations, a pathway forward for a bill containing stronger accountability requirements than what is currently in either the Senate or the House rewrites— something the Obama Administration and many Democrats would like to see— remains an uphill battle. As with much of the Congressional agenda this fall, the outcome of the race to replace Speaker Boehner will likely have a significant impact on ESEA’s chances of passage in the 114th Congress. As the Thomas B. Fordham Institute points out, ESEA’s chances are a hard “maybe” at this point.

Obama Administration Pushes Forward on a Number of Higher Ed Initiatives

Congressional efforts to reauthorize HEA are still ongoing and in lieu of a comprehensive proposal from Congress, the Obama Administration has continued to prioritize higher education issues. For instance the Office of Management and Budget, recently released the Admisntration’s final set of ‘Agency Priority Goals’ which outlines ED’s objective to increase the percentage of adults aged 25-34 who have an associate’s degree or higher to nearly 50 percent by 2017.

Late in September, ED also released much anticipated guidance for experimental sites who are pursuing innovative models of awarding federal financial aid for competency-based education (CBE) programs. These sites were first announced in 2014 as part of the experimental sites initiative authorized under HEA. The new “CBE Experiment Reference Guide” can be used both for the institutions and accrediting bodies participating in the initiative, as well as for institutions who might like to pursue CBE programs in the future. More information on the guidance can be found here. U.S. Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell has also announced that ED intends to expand this initiative by the end of the year.

Another round the experimental sites initiative was announced earlier this week. Named the “Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships” (EQUIP) experiment, ED is currently soliciting applications to support partnerships between colleges and universities and “non-traditional” providers of education, such as shorter-term job training programs or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Eligible programs would need to lead to a degree or certificate, articulate to academic credit, and be aligned to high-demand, high-growth economic sectors. More information on the announcement here.

Earlier this summer, the White House celebrated innovation within CTE and First Lady Michelle Obama announced that ED and her office’s “Reach Higher Initiative” would work together to launch a mobile app development challenge to create a user friendly tool for students to learn more about career pathways and other educational opportunities available to them. This month the First Lady officially launched the competition, making available $225,000. Applications are due no later than December 6, 2015—more information on the challenge can be found here and here.

Odds & Ends

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager

By Steve Voytek in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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CTE Research Review: Manufacturing Edition

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Mind the Gender Gap

It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry faces a serious recruiting problems in recent years – with a predicted shortfall of 2 million workers by 2025 and an ever-increasing skills gap.

A new study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute takes a closer look at the industry’s gender gap. Only 26 percent of the U.S. manufacturing workforce is female. Meanwhile, nationally, women make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce. The study found that by overlooking or under-recruiting women into the field, manufacturers are missing an important pool of talent that could help them close the skills gap.

Compared to other sectors, the above reasons contribute to the manufacturing gender gap, according to the study.

Compared to other sectors, the above reasons contribute to the manufacturing gender gap, according to the study.

Study: Parents still don’t understand STEM jobs

Women aren’t the only group that manufacturers need to continue targeting. A new survey from the Alcoa Foundation and SkillsUSA found 87 percent of parents believe STEM education is important for their children, yet there remains a clear disconnect between STEM education and its related careers, particularly in manufacturing.

Preparing the next generation of manufacturers

The Brookings Institute has also weighed in on the state of the manufacturing industry. During a recent forum focusing on preparing the next generation of manufacturers through community colleges, panelists called for new more technical training in new manufacturing technologies.

Be sure to check out three excerpted videos of the daylong discussion, as well as two blog posts: “Preparing the Next Generation of Manufacturers through Community Colleges” and “New Skills Needed for New Manufacturing Technology”.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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CTE Research Review

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Nursing Shortage Projected

Select figures from the report, “Making Skills Everyone’s Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States.” Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW) has released a new report, “Nursing: Supply and Demand Through 2020,” which says the country will soon face a shortfall of 193,000 nursing professionals. Yet despite the coming shortage and a growing interest in the nursing profession from young people, the report finds that postsecondary programs reject up to half of qualified applicants.

The researchers cite inadequate faculty, facilities and clinical placements as barriers to training all of the qualified applicants. Programs providing training for Associate’s Degree in Nursing rejected 51 percent of qualified applicants, while programs for a Bachelor’s in Nursing rejected 37 percent.

New PIAAC report: Making Skills Everyone’s Business

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) has launched a new report, “Making Skills Everyone’s Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States.” Using data from the 2013 Survey of Adult Skills report, the report renews the call to “upskill” those 36 million U.S. adults with low skills in numeracy, literacy and problem solving in technology-rich environments.

As a result of a nationwide listening tour to solicit feedback on the state of U.S. adult education and the 2013 survey findings, this new report takes a deeper look at the 2013 data and outlines seven strategies to transform U.S. adult education. The recommended strategies are:

In Case You Missed It

Image Caption: Select figures from the report, “Making Skills Everyone’s Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States.”

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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CTE Research Review

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013New research offers insight into key workforce development issues as it relates to middle-skills jobs, a state’s STEM workforce and a sector-focused program for the career advancement of low-skilled adults.

Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America’s Middle Skills – New research from Harvard Business School, Accenture and Burning Glass Technologies found that 69 percent of human resources executives believe “their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their firm’s performance.” In a new analysis that take a closer look at the skills gap for middle-skills jobs, the authors examine job market data with a focus on competitiveness and offer a framework for business leaders to prioritize jobs that matter for their business, industry, community and region.

The report offers overarching recommendations for an array of stakeholders:

Cracking the Code on STEM: A People Strategy for Nevada’s Economy – Nevada’s newly diversified economic strategy is beginning to work, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, but now the state must focus on growing the talent pipeline to fill the high-demand jobs, particularly in STEM-related fields. Although many of the currently available opportunities “require no more than the right community college certificate, insufficient numbers of Nevadans have pursued even a little STEM training.” Without a targeted effort from the state to address this critical workforce need, the skills shortages could limit the state’s growth.

Along with a series of policy memos, this new analysis looks at Nevada’s STEM economy and labor market as well as the actions of the state’s leaders – public, private and philanthropic – can take to develop a skilled workforce. Specifically, the report draws three conclusions:

WorkAdvance: Meeting the Needs of Workers and Employers – A new report from MDRC presents the early findings of four WorkAdvance programs around the country that are implementing the sector-focused career advancement program for low-skilled adults. Sharing the programs’ successes and lessons learned, the report gives an early insight into the challenges of, and best practices for implementing a program like WorkAdvance, which are currently operating in Oklahoma, Ohio and New York City. In late 2015, MDRC plans to release a report examining the program’s effects on employment and earnings as well as costs.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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Catching up with … State Legislatures (Part 4)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Catching Up SeriesEditor’s Note: This is part of a series that will highlight some of this year’s major state legislative activity as it relates to Career Technical Education (CTE). Further explanation of the series can be found here and thepreviousinstallments. For a comprehensive look-back at the 2013 legislative sessions, check out the “2013 CTE Year in Review,” which was published jointly by NASDCTEc and the Association for Career and Technical Education in March.

As STEM education and jobs continue to garner attention across the country, state legislatures this spring devoted funds, attention and policy language to help increase awareness and opportunities for students in this critical field.

In Utah, lawmakers directed the state’s STEM Action Center to award competitive grants to school districts and charter schools to fund STEM-related certification programs for high school students.  The legislation calls for successful grantee programs to include preparing high school students to be job ready for available STEM-related positions and result in a “nationally industry-recognized employer STEM related certification.” The law also allows grantee schools to partner with community colleges or a private sector employer to provide the certification program.

Drawing from a 2012 report calling for improvements to the state’s STEM education and workforce, Oklahoma lawmakers passed legislation for the new “Oklahoma – A STEM State of Mind” program. The legislation creates a designation for a city or region to be named a “STEM community or region” as a means to shore up the awareness about STEM fields and jobs in Oklahoma. Those seeking to be designated a STEM community or region must a gather a broad base of stakeholders from the area to form partnerships with education and industry as well as develop and execute action plans for improving STEM education and training. The act, which was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in April, codifies part of the state Department of Education’s STEM strategy, and specifically cites that the state’s CTE centers should be included in these efforts.

Legislatures in Oklahoma and Washington also passed laws changing high school graduation requirements to allow students to take STEM or STEM CTE courses as an equivalent for a traditional math or science credit. Iowa lawmakers dedicated $1 million to STEM internships with Iowa employers that will be administered through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

By Andrea Zimmermann in Legislation, Public Policy
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CTE Research Review

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Research Image_6.2013Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has been the focus of much research and discussion as a catalyst for innovation and economic growth.  With recent publications from the Brookings Institution and the National Center for Education Statistics, new research supports the idea that a STEM degree pays off – both in salary and rate of employment.

The Brookings report, “Still Searching: Job Vacancies and STEM Skills,” used labor market information to analyze the skill requirements and duration of online job postings, and found that job openings for STEM positions take an average of 50 days to fill – compared to the 33-day average for non-STEM jobs. In particular, advertisements for health science and information technology jobs within the STEM sphere were advertised 23 and 15 days longer, respectively, than non-STEM jobs, and professional STEM vacancies are staying vacant longer on average than before the recession. The study’s author suggests that these indicators show a short supply of STEM skills in the labor market despite clear demand, particularly in tech hubs such as Seattle, San Jose and San Francisco.

The report also pointed to an important variation that is often lost in data aggregation – STEM jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree were harder to fill than non-STEM jobs that required a bachelor’s degree. At the high school level, the hardest job to fill are STEM-intensive health care practitioners, such as medical and lab technicians, jobs that often pay in excess of $20/hour.

“These job openings data provide new evidence that, post-recession, STEM skills, particularly those associated with high levels of educational attainment, are in high demand among employers,” author Jonathan Rothwell wrote. “Meanwhile, job seekers possessing neither STEM knowledge nor higher education face extraordinary levels of competition for a scarce number of jobs.”

Another report, released this week from the National Center for Education Statistics, further supported the economic value of STEM skills through a four-year longitudinal study of baccalaureate graduates and their rates of employment.

As part of its ongoing “Baccalaureate and Beyond” data collection series, NCES surveyed a nationally representative sample of graduates who completed their bachelor’s degrees during the 2007-2008 school year. Of the 17,000-person sample, about 16 percent were STEM majors (including computer science, engineering, biological/physical sciences, math and agricultural sciences) and 83.8 percent were non-STEM majors.

In general, the data show that STEM degree-holders generally fared better than non-STEM degree holders in nearly every way including overall employment, number of jobs held since graduation, percentage of months spent unemployed, and average salary. Important to note, the NCES survey, unlike the Brookings report, classifies health sciences as a non-STEM degree, yet still STEM fares better overall. However, even with its NCES classification as a non-STEM degree, health sciences graduates still outperform their non-STEM peers in almost every category.

To learn more about how STEM fits into the CTE enterprise, check out our issue paper, “CTE is Your STEM Strategy”.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

 

By Andrea Zimmermann in Research
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