Community Colleges Rise as Leaders of Technological Education

Although the economy has slowly begun to piece itself back together, several new college graduates and incoming college students still have found themselves at a disadvantage in finding employment while holding liberal arts degrees, and thus, have continued to incorporate graduate school as a stepping-stone to either enter or elevate their career pursuits. Yet, instead of opting for admissions into some of the nation’s most prestigious and respected four-year institutions, many students have chosen community colleges in order to market themselves as competitive and qualified job candidates.

Traditionally attributed with their prevalent role in accommodating minorities and students from lower-income households, community colleges have become esteemed higher education programs within the last five years, servicing students from various backgrounds. With the community-oriented design of the two-year colleges, particularly in their tailored curriculum to accommodate the high demands of STEM careers, such institutions are reinventing themselves as the leaders of technological education.

“A lot of the STEM fields are occupationally defined programs that lead directly to employment. With many of our two-year associate programs, students enter our colleges and immediately begin studying in the field that they plan to work in,” said Chris Mullins, program director for policy analysis with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The customized studies that students encountered at community colleges has attributed largely to the surge of post-graduate students that the two-year institutions have begun to withhold. According to the National Post Secondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), 8 percent of students entering community college already completed some form of higher education, whether they received a bachelor’s, master’s or sometimes even a doctoral degree. In the study, NSPAS estimated that approximately 849,000 students received associate degrees during the 2009-2010 academic year, which is a 50.4 percent increase from the last 10 years. Among the rising numbers of associate degrees awarded, there was a 105 percent increase in STEM-related fields during the same academic period.

Mullins explained that a large majority of students seeking advanced training in STEM careers have found community colleges advantageous, especially in the networks that they have gained from the school’s direct links to local employers. “By having connections within local industries, it helps to make sure our programs are in line with employer expectations, especially since education is a large part of employment,” Mullins said. (Read more.)

Via Cherise Lesesne, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Posted in Community College (13-14), CTE, Technology. Comments Off on Community Colleges Rise as Leaders of Technological Education

U.S. Education Dept. Offers Tools for Evaluating Ed. Tech.

Education technology, to state the obvious, is everywhere. But how can school officials judge the effectiveness of the myriad tools and products being marketed to them, and their usefulness in terms of meeting the particular needs of teachers and students?

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology has released a draft report, “Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World,” designed to offer the education community some guidance for navigating the crowded tech landscape.

The report is meant to provide approaches for school officials and others seeking to gather evidence on digital learning systems, guidance that can be adapted to the needs of individual schools and districts. The document draws from the perspectives of education researchers, school technology developers, and educators themselves.

The report was released earlier this month in draft form for public comment, Karen Cator, the director of the office of educational technology, explained in an e-mail. Cator also discussed the goals of the document in a recent online blog post.

The document includes a “framework” meant to help educators and others evaluate the uses of education technology. One of the goals of the framework is to give school officials “greater confidence that investments in cost-effective and cost-saving technology-based interventions are wise, capable producing the outcomes sought,” the report says.

That framework includes an evidence “reference guide,” which focuses primarily on six approaches for using evidence to evaluate school technology, as well as other approaches commmonly used in education. It presents readers with an evidence “decision-making model,” that can be used to gather evidence on digital learning resources, once they have been selected, so that they can be implemented effectively. (Read more.)

Via Sean Cavanagh, Education Week.

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U.S. Department of Education Launches Enhanced Version of Online Learning Community for School Turnaround

The U.S. Department of Education today launched the School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC), an enhanced version of its online learning community for school turnaround. The site now features improved search and chat functions and a user-friendly reorganization of STLC resources and materials.

“Turning around the lowest performing schools is challenging work. Driving the dramatic changes needed in many of our hard-to-serve schools requires states, districts, and schools to collaborate and share promising practices in new ways,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The enhanced School Turnaround Learning Community can better support this important work by providing an easy-to-use, interactive and public platform for turnaround leaders and community members to connect with peers and learn about effective strategies.”

The STLC was first launched in July 2011 as a key element in the Department’s efforts to provide support to state, district, and school leaders working to turn around the nation’s persistently lowest-achieving schools through the School Improvement Grant (SIG). The site offers resources, training, and discussion tools enabling users to share and comment on school turnaround practices and lessons learned. To date, the site has over 4,300 subscribed members, offered over 500 school turnaround resources, and has hosted nearly 60 webinars on various topics including teacher and leader effectiveness, family and community engagement, increased learning time, early learning, and supporting rural and secondary schools.

Other improvements made to the STLC include opening the site to the public by eliminating required registration, and enhanced discussion and chat areas including a new “Ask the Expert” feature.

The SIG program makes funds available to states by formula to help them target the persistently lowest-achieving schools. When a school system applies to a state for SIG funding, it must indicate that it will implement one of four intervention models in each of its persistently lowest-achieving schools, based on school needs. The Department has awarded close to $4.5 billion to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico since the SIG program was redesigned in 2009.

To view or explore the upgraded School Turnaround Learning Community, visit

To learn more about the School Improvement Grants program, visit or the Department’s School Turnaround Office website at

Via The U.S. Department of Education.

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State Unveils New Website For Students

The new California Career Center website was unveiled today to help middle school and high school students explore their options and plan their next steps toward careers. The website is the state’s first central, comprehensive website of career and college resources for students. Students can use the free interactive website to build a personalized account that allows them to save information or use the left-hand navigation bar as a tool to help them through the exploration process.

View the News Release.

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Entrepreneurship Mini-Grant Teleconference

Posted in Data/Research, Faculty, Funding, Technology. Tags: , . Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Mini-Grant Teleconference