Obama Administration Awards Nearly $500 Million in First Round of Grants to Community Colleges for Job Training and Workforce Development

Congrats to West Hills College in Lemoore!

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter today announced nearly $500 million in grants to community colleges around the country for targeted training and workforce development to help economically dislocated workers who are changing careers. The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to good jobs, including building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs.

This installment is the first in a $2 billion, four-year investment designed in combination with President Obama’s American Jobs Act to provide additional support for hiring and re-employment services to increase opportunities for the unemployed.

“Making it possible for unemployed Americans to return to work is a top priority of President Obama’s. This initiative is about providing access to training that leads to real jobs,” said Secretary Solis. “These federal grants will enable community colleges, employers and other partners to prepare job candidates, through innovative programs, for new careers in high-wage, high-skills fields, including advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care and STEM occupations.”

Today’s announcement represents an initial round of community college and career training funds, which are being awarded to 32 grantees. The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

“The president knows that building a well-educated workforce is critical to reviving and strengthening the American economy,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will help community colleges and businesses work together to give students the skills they need to compete for good jobs in growing industries.”

Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor, joined the Labor and Education departments in celebrating the goals of the program, and the hard work of the grant applicants and recipients. Read more.

Via  Joshua Lamont, Labor Department Office of Public Affairs.

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As Hispanics Surge Into College, HSIs Are On the Rise

A new statistical portrait of Hispanic-Serving Institutions shows them showing up in unexpected places but still concentrated geographically along the country’s southern border and Puerto Rico.  >> See Chart

Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C-based education advocacy group, reports that HSIs are appearing in states that are thousands of miles from Mexico, such as Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

But HSIs represent only about 10 percent of all institutions of higher education and most are located in states long associated with large Latino populations.

“Over half of all Latino undergraduate students in higher education (54 percent) are enrolled in less than 10 percent of institutions in the United States,” the report says. “This concentration of Latino enrollment in higher education was first recognized by educators and policy makers in the 1980s and contributed to the invention of a new construct, which came to be known as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).”

HSIs now number 293, located in 17 states and Puerto Rico, the Excelencia analysis found.

HSIs were first formally recognized by the federal government in 1994, and defined as colleges with Hispanic enrollments of 25 percent of more. Then, 135 colleges met the criteria.

Today, colleges such as Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn., and Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Kan., meet the definition of HSI’s, according to Excelencia. Community colleges account for 47 percent, or 137 colleges, of the nation’s HSIs.

Coupled with a new surge of young Hispanics into college, as documented by the Pew Hispanic Center, the growing roster of HSIs underscores a demographic shift now under way in American higher education. While the number of young non-Hispanic whites attending college is on a downward trend, the number of Hispanics going to college is headed in the opposite direction. Read more.

Via Paul Bradley, Community College Week.

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Career Clusters and the Arts

In Narric Rome’s earlier post, he summarized a very exciting meeting that spoke to the heart of this blog salon—arts and careers.

One of his components mentioned career clusters and as a former career and technical education secondary school director, I wanted to describe this work in more detail for those unfamiliar with it, using the arts cluster as an example. (It should also be noted that the field owes much to the work of the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education).

Career clusters categorize all possible careers into 16 groupings called clusters and further subdivides them into pathways. The cluster most germane to the arts is called Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications. Its definition and pathways can be found here.

The career clusters work created standards. There are standards necessary for every cluster (calledEssential Knowledge and Skill Statements), additional standards needed that are unique to a given cluster (here is the one for the arts cluster) and standards that are necessary and unique to each pathway (here is one for the performing arts).

The career clusters work created templates for programs of study. These are non-duplicative sequences of coursework spanning grades 9–14 that will lead to an industry recognized credential in a chosen career. These templates are further refined and expanded at the state and local level and utilized in career academiesHere is the program of study for visual arts.

Putting aside the career cluster content area in the arts and considering this whole body of work, many points of convergence emerge between this work in career clusters and the arts. Here are a few:

1.  Both think of standards in terms of depth of knowledge rather than merely a flat, uni-dimensional equivalency most common among academic standards.

2.  Both emphasize the practical application of education: to improve your art and improve your world and/or to gain career credentials and contribute to your field.

3.  Both conceptualize their work long-term whether in 9th through 14th grade programs of study or in understanding that perfecting an art is a lifetime study.

4.  Both recognize that success comes only through effectively integrating the academic, technical, theoretical, and practical.

With these similarities, what great things can we create together?

Via Brad Hull, Arts Blog

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Arizona College to Require 7th Grade Skills

Pima Community College in Tucson will restrict admission to high school graduates or GED holders with at least seventh-grade proficiency in reading, writing and math, starting in 2012. The new admissions standards will encourage success, writes Roy Flores, the college president, the Arizona Star.

“Students who test below this level have little chance of succeeding in a college environment,” Flores writes. Only 5 percent of students in remedial classes advance to college-level work.

Pathways to Pima will replace PCC’s lowest-level developmental education classes with counseling, diagnostic testing and “self-paced, computer-based or face-to-face learning modules” that will prepare low-skilled students to meet the seventh-grade standard and start college. Students in Pathways programs will not earn college credit or be eligible for federal aid.

Of 35,000 students at PCC, about 2,300 students — 6.3 percent — test below the seventh-grade level.

Pima is abandoning its mission to save money, argues Pamela Powers in the Tucson Citizen.

With the new entrance procedures and the elimination of remedial classes, Pima will cut approximately 200 adjunct professor positions.

PCC has done little to help low-skilled students, writes Greg Hart, a former adult education dean at the college. A 2000 task force recommended replacing remedial classes with a “skill-mastery model,” but nothing was done.

Via Joanne Jacobs, Community College Spotlight.

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Report Examines Education Globally, Finds CTE Worth the Investment

In this year’s annual Education at a Glance report, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that students participating in “vocational education” have much higher employment rates (8.5 percent) than their general education peers. Based on these and other findings, the OECD report concluded that “Investments in vocational education is money well spent in most countries.”

The report examines various aspects of education across the globe, including educational output and the impact of learning, investments in education, and the organization of schools.

A chapter of this year’s report delves into labor market outcomes between general education and “vocational or technical education” through a pilot study of several countries, not including the United States. Still, the findings made clear that Career Technical Education (CTE) is an often-used strategy for preparing students around the world for high-demand careers.

Findings from the report’s analysis section include:

  • Vocational education and training is chosen by an average of around 50 percent of students in upper secondary education
  • Pre-vocational and vocational graduation rates are over 70 percent in Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Switzerland
  • Across upper secondary vocational programs in the countries examined, over half of boys graduated from engineering, manufacturing and construction programs. One-third of girls studied social sciences, business, and law, followed closely by health industries and service occupations
  • About one-third of the adult population across these countries attained a vocational upper secondary education
  • Young, vocationally-educated individuals have substantially higher employment rates (8.5 percentage points) than their counterparts with a general education

Click here to view this year’s report. CTE-specific information begins on page 33.

Via Kara Herbertson, CTE Blog

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