Dan Walters: Education Aimed at Specific Skills Begins a Comeback in California

The following is an Opinion piece from Dan Walters. It was recently published in the Fresno Bee.

As Californians worry – with good reason – whether the state will ever truly recover from recession and re-emerge as a global powerhouse, they know that education is one major factor.

They also sense, as demonstrated by a recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll, that California’s school system is very troubled, plagued by financial uncertainty and poor outcomes, such as a high dropout rate and low scores on national academic tests.

Clearly, improving education is vital to California’s future, and there’s no shortage of political, civic and academic discourse about reform – especially in light of the incredibly wide economic, linguistic, cultural and ethnic range of the state’s 6 million school kids.

Should we spend more money? If so, how should the funds be apportioned?

Should we have more charter schools? Should we give parents “vouchers” to be spent at private or public schools? Should teachers face greater scrutiny?

Should we require that all students be prepared to attend college, or should we restore what used to be called “vocational education” to our high schools?

The latter issue has become one of the most contentious. (Read more.)

Via Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee.

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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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Short-Term Vocational Programs Under Scrutiny

The Obama administration is set to release a controversial rule [today]that will cut federal aid to for-profit colleges if students in particular programs graduate with too much debt and worthless degrees.

Under the plan, schools will be required to demonstrate that short-term vocational programs, such as those offering certificates in the culinary arts, automotive technology or medical support, prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

Schools would lose access to billions of dollars of federal student aid if they fail to meet minimum requirements three times in a four-year period. The first year that a program could become ineligible would be 2015.

The regulation also affects public community colleges and private, non-profit vocational programs, but the administration’s focus is squarely on for-profit institutions, more than a quarter of which receive 80% of their revenue from taxpayer-financed federal student aid.

Read more or Download the Full Regulation.

Posted in CTE, Funding, Postsecondary (13-18). Tags: , . Comments Off on Short-Term Vocational Programs Under Scrutiny