November 2015
This Moment in U.S. Education
In the press of daily work demands, it is difficult to think much beyond the next deadline or due date. But that is exactly what I am going to ask you to do.

I would like for you to reflect for a moment on the broader landscape of education and the promise and perils it holds. At the national level, we see key pieces of legislation such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Perkins Act failing to generate sufficient consensus for reauthorization. Meanwhile, policymakers nationally and across states are rethinking major initiatives such as No Child Left Behind and the Common Core State Standards. Even teacher training programs are being challenged with demands for increased rigor. It appears we are in a period of uncertainty.

Are we at a watershed moment in the history of U.S. education? Perhaps we are. If so, educators--teachers to state superintendents--have never been more important. And, for all their supposed shortcomings, educators and the education system they serve have shown themselves to be remarkably resilient.

In an age of accountability and testing, teachers and administrators have made remarkable progress in assuming ownership of tests and test results for both formative and summative assessment of students' learning needs. They have engaged in classroom-based action research, and begun to work collaboratively with data around achievement issues of the greatest concern. Understanding students' learning needs has been further complicated by the sheer diversity of the students sitting in classrooms. For many in the United States, the influx of English learners, the high incidence of learning disabilities, and the record number of children in poverty are simply statistics. For teachers, these problems have faces and hearts and minds; they are the reality of the students they teach.

Even as we increase expectations of students' academic performance, teachers and principals spend greater amounts of time trying to ensure students are fed and nurtured socially and emotionally so that it is possible for them to learn.

If there is some good news here, it is that we make fewer assumptions about whom and what we teach and how to teach it. Research has helped establish the efficacy of various education reforms that can serve as models for wider implementation. Importantly, workforce data have reinforced the value of education not just to the individual but to the society as a whole. Development of new state longitudinal data systems helps researchers and practitioners take a longer, more systematic view of education, both raising issues (e.g., the school-to-prison pipeline) and suggesting new areas for more intense focus (e.g., early childhood and school readiness).

There is some hard work going on to help all our students succeed academically and in life. We should take stock of these efforts and celebrate them.

Deborah Olsen, Ph.D., CNA Education
Of Interest
Upcoming Presentations 

Dr. Christine Mokher will be attending the IES Annual Principal Investigator Meeting
in Washington, DC, on December 10-11, 2015, for the Assessment of the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative.

New Resources

"Assessment of the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative"
CNA Education's presentation slides from the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University meeting, November 19.

"Changes in High School Course-Taking Patterns under the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative (FCCRI)"

CNA Education's poster from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management 2015 Fall Research Conference, November 13.

"Reading Skills for Students in Grades 5 through 8"
Video and presentation slides from REL Appalachia September 15, 2015, webinar.

"Teaching Rational Numbers to Middle Schoolers"
Presentation slides from REL Appalachia August 26, 2015, webinar.

CNA Education released a report on CTE programs and their alignment to workforce needs in Florida and Tennessee on October 21. Read the report on Florida here and the report on Tennessee here.
New CNA Education Study Maps Career and Technical Education Programs to Future Jobs
Last month, CNA Education released a report that explores whether the jobs that career and technical education (CTE) programs are preparing students for are in high-growth/high-wage career fields, or not. In other words, will students + programs = good jobs for CTE graduates?

CTE programs play an important role in preparing high school students for life after graduation. CNA's report, The CTE Equation, maps CTE Career Clusters to high-growth/high-wage jobs for the states of Florida and Tennessee. Previous research shows that many states struggle to align education and training with workforce trends, and this type of mapping can be used to assist educators, policymakers, and employers throughout the nation to identify whether the CTE programs that schools and colleges offer are aligned with current and future labor market needs.

The report also spotlights the need for appropriate education/training. In order for students to be more competitive in the marketplace, it is essential that they receive education/training that provides for sustained and successful career development. This can be accomplished through alignment, collaboration, and innovation:

The researchers stress that education and workforce systems should use labor market data to identify the high-growth/high-wage career areas that would enable CTE students to increase their number of Industry Recognized Credentials (IRCs), postsecondary certifications, and degrees.

Click the images below to view a snapshot of report highlights or to view the full reports on Florida and Tennessee.

CTE Equation Q & A
Report author Dr. Christine Mokher talks about key findings from CNA Education's recent report, The CTE Equation.

How did this report come about?
This report is an update of a study conducted approximately five years ago when Tennessee was in the process of implementing new career and technical education (CTE) career clusters, model course sequences, and Programs of Study. The original report provided information on concentrations in high school CTE program areas to support planning and decision-making by the Tennessee Department of Education in its efforts to redesign its CTE program.

Tennessee recently transitioned to a new CTE Career Cluster framework, so it was an ideal time to revisit the original report and update the findings with more recent data on labor market projections and student course concentrations. Because we, the researchers, also wanted to show how the same methodology could be applied to other states, we replicated the results for Florida, where we have already conducted research and technical assistance related to college and career readiness.

What was most the impactful piece of information found, and how can it be used?
The information on labor market needs, in combination with data on the rates of student concentration within each career cluster, can be used to help educational and private industry CTE stakeholders identify whether the CTE Programs of Study offered in high schools and postsecondary institutions are well aligned with current and projected local labor market needs.

For example, in Tennessee we found that among students who concentrated in one of the 16 Career Clusters, the most common was Health Science. This Career Cluster is also among the top 5 high-growth/high-wage career clusters, so the large percentage of students concentrating in this area is well-aligned with the labor market. Student concentration is weaker for other Career Clusters with the largest projected increase in high-growth/high-wage jobs. For example, Education & Training and Advanced Manufacturing are two such clusters, but each represents only 1 percent of students concentrating in one of the Career Clusters.

The report also includes appendices that provide detailed information on which occupations are high-growth and high-wage in each region, along with the projected annual openings, median wage, minimum experience or education needed, and associated CTE Career Cluster. CTE instructors and counselors could share this information with their students to help inform their career plans.

In what areas did the study's results indicate we need more research?
The CTE Equation spotlights the need for education/training that is relevant and effective. In order for students to be more competitive in the marketplace, it is essential that they receive the education/training that provides for sustained and successful career development. More research is needed to identify evidence-based strategies and promising innovative solutions to create CTE systems that are responsive to job market trends.
New Video: The State of Career and Technical Education
Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, CNA Principal Research Scientist and former U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, discusses the state of career and technical education in the U.S.--its strengths, its weaknesses, and what we need to do to ensure that all CTE graduates are prepared for jobs that are high-demand, high-growth, and high-wage.

Where We've Been
CNA Education has been out and about! Our researchers have attended and presented at several conferences and meetings during the past few months. Here is where you might have seen us:

Appalachian Higher Education Network November Meeting
Portsmouth, OH
November 20
Dr. Patricia Kannapel and Dr. Michael Flory presented findings from the report, Appalachia Rising. The audience included Jeff Schwartz, Education Program Director for the Appalachian Regional Commission; AHEN leads from higher education organizations in nine Appalachian States; school district leaders; and Shawnee State University faculty and undergraduate students.

The Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL
November 19
Dr. Christine Mokher and Dr. Julie Harris presented findings from an evaluation of the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative.

Learn more about this study here.
Get the presentation here.

Council of Chief State School Officers 2015 Annual Policy Forum
Charlotte, NC
November 19-20
REL Appalachia Director Dr. Deborah Olsen attended the Forum and met with education leaders from the REL's four states (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia).

Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management 2015 Fall Research Conference
Miami, FL
November 13
Dr. Christine Mokher presented a paper examining how course-taking patterns have changed among high school students under the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative.

Learn more about this study here.
Get the poster here.

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, Appalachian Renaissance Initiative National Board of Directors Meeting
Pikeville, KY
October 27
Dr. Patricia Kannapel and Dr. Michael Flory presented findings from the report, Appalachia Rising. The audience included representatives from the Rural Policy Research Institute, Center for Rural Strategies, University of Kentucky, Forward in the Fifth, Bluegrass Community & Technical College, and KVEC.

National Rural Education Association (NREA) Annual Convention and Research Symposium
St. Louis, MO
October 17
Dr. Patricia Kannapel and Dr. Michael Flory presented findings from the report, Appalachia Rising.

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About CNA Education
We focus on:
  • Making Effective Use of Data
  • Teacher Quality
  • K-12 Program Effectiveness
  • Transitions from Secondary School
  • College and Career Readiness / Workforce Development
We provide:
  • Applied Research
  • Program Evaluation
  • Policy Analysis
  • Technical Assistance

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