STEM and the Community College

Where are tomorrow’s hot jobs? 
“STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future,” a report by the United States Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration, paints a rosy picture for people working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The report shows that growth in STEM jobs has been three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs through the last 10 years. And throughout the next decade, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent, compared to 9.8 percent growth for other occupations.

The report predicts bright futures for those trained in the STEM fields. For example, when compared to their non-STEM counterparts, STEM workers earn 26 percent more on average and are less likely to experience joblessness. STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of their occupation. And no matter what their major, college graduates who work in a STEM job enjoy an earnings premium.

Unfortunately, many U.S. businesses have frequently voiced concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers, according to the report. Companies operating on the forefront of technological innovation need more of them. Yet in higher education, only about a third of bachelor’s degrees earned in the U.S. are in a STEM field, compared with approximately 53 percent of first university degrees earned in China, and 63 percent of those earned in Japan.

“When China has more gifted kids than we have kids there’s going to be a problem,” says Ray Mellado, CEO, chairman of the board, Great Minds in STEM. All is not lost, however. The Obama Administration made a $206M commitment toward STEM training and related programs in the 2012 budget. (Read more.)

Via Amy Milshtein, College Planning and Management.

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Report on High Schools: Dramatic Increase in Distance Education, Decrease in Student Employment

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released last week its annual Condition of Education report that examines trends in education. This year’s report focuses on the transformation of high schools in the United States over the last 20 years, and includes several pertinent points for Career Technical Education (CTE).

  • High School Enrollment: Since 1990, the number of enrolled high schools students has risen slowly to 14.9 million, and the report projects that this number will increase by 4 percent over the next decade.
  • Distance Education: Enrollments in distance education have rapidly increased over the last five years. Today, more than half of public school districts have high school students who are enrolled in distance education for a total of more than 1 million students – up from about 200,000 only 5 years ago.
  • Student Employment: Only one in six high school students today are employed, compared to one in three in 1990.
  • STEM: More students are taking courses in science and mathematics. Sixteen percent of 2009 high school graduates took calculus, and 11 percent took statistics. In 1990, only seven percent took calculus courses and one percent took statistics. In 2009, 70 percent of students took chemistry and 36 percent took physics, compared to 49 percent and 21 percent respectively.
  • High School Graduation Rates: Over the last two decades, high school graduation rates have improved slightly and dropout rates have declined. In 1991, 73.7 percent of freshman students graduated in 4 years with a high school diploma. By 2009, the high school graduation rate increased to 75.5 percent. In that time, the percentage of students who dropped out of high school declined from 12 percent to 7 percent.
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: Between 2000 and 2010, undergraduate enrollment increased from 13.2 million to 18.1 million students, with enrollment in 2021 projected to be 20.6 million students.

The entire Condition of Education 2012 report is available on the NCES Web site. A webinar that accompanied the release of the report can be accessed here.

Via Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst, CTE Blog.

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2012 Funds Now Available for Third Round of Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-up and Validation Grants

The U.S. Department of Education released [yesterday]the 2012 notice inviting applications for new “Scale-up” and “Validation” grants available through the Investing in Innovation (i3) fund.

“This next round of i3 projects will build on the fund’s growing portfolio of promising education programs that help close achievement gaps, personalize learning, and accelerate student achievement,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
School districts and nonprofit organizations in partnership with school districts or schools are eligible to compete for nearly $150 million. Grant awards will be made to those with the strongest proposals for expanding promising or effective educational practices to improve learning for high-need students.

This is the third i3 competition, and the Department expects that this year’s funding opportunity will draw hundreds of applications. As Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton said, “The interest in i3 proves there is widespread need for new approaches to help students reach greater levels of achievement, and that a wealth of ideas exists for how to do so. We are pleased to support new efforts to increase student learning and enhance our collective knowledge of how to tackle persistent challenges in public education.”

Grants of up to $25 million, termed “Scale-up” grants, will be awarded to projects with strong evidence of improving student achievement, and up to $15 million in “Validation” grants will be available to those with moderate evidence.

The i3 fund also provides smaller grants—up to $3 million—for “Development” projects that support promising practices to improve student learning that merit further exploration and research. A pre-application for this category was announced last month.

The 2012 Scale-up and Validation competitions will fund projects across five priority areas: supporting effective teachers and principals; promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; supporting the implementation of high academic content standards and high-quality assessments; turning around low-performing schools; and improving graduation rates in rural schools.

In addition, competitive preference will be given to applications that focus on up to two of these priorities: improving early learning outcomes, increasing college access and success, addressing the unique needs of students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency, improving productivity, or using technology.

Applications for the Scale-up and Validation grants are due May 29. Pre-applications for i3 Development grants are due April 9. Peer reviewers will determine the highest rated applicants in all three categories.

The Department plans to announce highest rated applicants in the fall. Each potential grantee will then be required to secure a private sector match of 15% for Development grants, 10% for Validation grants, and 5% for Scale-up grants in order to receive an i3 award. Awards will be announced no later than December 31, 2012.

To access the Scale-up application package, go to:

For the Validation application package, go to:

To learn more about the Investing in Innovation Fund, visit:

Via U.S. Department of Education,

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Got Questions About Women in STEM? Get Answers.

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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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