ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
The STEM Education Act, a bipartisan effort by members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, was signed into law by the president last week. The legislation establishes a definition for STEM education, specifically incorporating computer science among science, technology, engineering and math subjects, for the purposes of providing funding opportunities that support STEM education through federal agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Energy and NASA. This will not impact grant funding provide thought the U.S. Department of Education. The new law directs NSF to continue to award competitive grants for STEM education programs in afterschool or “informal” STEM learning environments, which may include libraries, museums and science centers. Additionally, it expands the educator recruitment and training grants under the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to include eligible computer science teachers. Many states already include computer science in their STEM education efforts, as well as STEM-focused CTE programs.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 10/14/2015 at 10:45 AM in STEM | Permalink
Many young people, despite being immersed in a digital environment, have little experience of using technology to solve problems.
According to an analysis by Change the Equation of results from the 2012 Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), 58 percent of young people between 16 and 34 years of age have low skills in using technology to solve problems. This means they are unable to, for instance, sort columns in a spreadsheet, locate a piece of information and send it via email. Younger people perform better than older adults—70 percent of 35-64-year-olds have low skills in using technology to solve problems—but neither score is comforting.
This is particularly disturbing as 80 percent of middle-skills jobs require skills in using technology, and those with the highest technology skills earn 40 percent more than those at the lowest level.
To address this, the brief suggests that schools need a better technological infrastructure, teachers need more help learning how to use and teach with technology, and curriculum must incorporate technology into project-based, real-world learning, facilitated by employer partnerships. Examples of programs that are succeeding in this sphere include Project Lead the Way and its STEM curriculum, as well as the National Academy Foundation career academies.
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 06/25/2015 at 04:53 PM in Data and Research, STEM | Permalink
On Wednesday, May 6, the Department of Education (ED) held a briefing for administration staff and other interested stakeholders titled “Family and Consumer Sciences: Foundational Career Readiness Education.” The event, organized in part by the National Association for State Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS), featured speakers from the Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) community outlining the opportunities that their classrooms offer to prepare students for personal and professional success.
A major component of the briefing was identifying the ways that FACS classrooms teach skills that can give students a leg up in today’s competitive job market. The presenters noted the connections between FACS curriculum and highly sought STEM skills through teamwork-intensive and project-based lessons, as well as the unique opportunity FACS classrooms have to engage female students in nontraditional fields. In addition, NASAFACS President Gayla Randel emphasized in her remarks the employability skills that are taught through FACS curriculum, including critical thinking, problem solving and communication.
The briefing provided attendees with critical information about how FACS and CTE classrooms are preparing students to graduate college-and career-ready. To learn more about ACTE’s FACS division and the opportunities available to students in these programs nationwide, visit its webpage here.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 05/11/2015 at 12:48 PM in Career Readiness, Executive Branch, In the News, STEM | Permalink
When Eric Koehlmoos began his research on the sustainability impact of grasses in the ethanol industry, he probably didn’t realize that his work would receive national attention. However, after winning first place for his project at the 2014 National FFA Agriscience Fair, he was invited to take his work one step further by presenting at the 2015 White House Science Fair. The event celebrates the accomplishments of a wide variety of leading students in STEM fields, and in the five years since its launch has called national attention to students who are applying their knowledge in innovative and unique ways.
Koehlmoos’ work connected his academic interests in agricultural sciences with a real-world problem through his project, titled “Grass to Gas,” – how to produce much-needed energy in a sustainable and efficient way. By applying his knowledge to this issue, he explored his interests and refined his postsecondary career plans – he hopes to continue his research throughout college and to put his ideas to work in a career in commercial farming.
ACTE welcomes the opportunity to recognize leaders among CTE professionals and students, and applauds Koehlmoos for his accomplishment. Opportunities to raise public awareness of CTE’s potential through events like the White House Science Fair build critical support for programs that are preparing students today for the careers of tomorrow.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 04/03/2015 at 03:09 PM in In the News, STEM | Permalink
President Obama addressed the National League of Cities Monday to announce the launch of the “TechHire” initiative, the administration’s latest effort to boost skills training and economic opportunity nationwide. The TechHire initiative will provide $100 million in competitive grant funding to create partnerships between employers, local governments and training institutions to train low-skill individuals for the more than 500,000 available careers in information technology fields.
“We’ve got to keep positioning ourselves for a constantly-changing global economy, and that’s something that all of you understand – doesn’t matter whether you’re the mayor of a big city or a small town,” said Obama. “If we’re not producing enough tech workers, over time that’s going to threaten our leadership and global innovation, which is the bread and butter of the 21st century economy.”
The program will be funded by the Department of Labor’s H-1B funds, and will support best practices and innovations in programs through traditional educational institutions including four-year universities and community colleges, but also online courses and short-term non-degree granting programs that provide participants with specialized job training.The Department of Labor is expected to release the official grant application in the fall of 2015, and awards will be made in 2016.
According to the White House’s fact sheet on the initiative, more than 20 communities and 300 employers nationwide have committed to participation by creating “fast track tech training opportunities.”
To learn more about available careers in information technology and how CTE programs prepare students for these opportunities, click here.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 03/10/2015 at 05:09 PM in Executive Branch, In the News, STEM | Permalink
ACTE recently co-hosted a congressional reception with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and the Senate CTE Caucus to showcase the role of CTE and STEM curriculum in preparing students for college and careers. The event was held in a science fair-style format, with demonstrations set up around the room by students from the DC, Maryland and Virginia area currently enrolled in PLTW curriculum, who explained their work and how it has prepared them for their future as professionals. With exhibits featuring work on everything from biosciences and robotics to engineering and computer programming, the event provided a fantastic opportunity for congressional staff and other education stakeholders to learn more about CTE and how it is preparing the professionals of tomorrow.
During the event, attendees also had the chance to hear from Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), two of the co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus. They spoke on the importance of the students’ involvement in PLTW and CTE coursework in providing them with advanced technical skills and career exploration opportunities, as well as the employability skills, such as teamwork, critical thinking and creative problem solving that they are obtaining through their coursework. In addition, ACTE Executive Director LeAnn Wilson, PLTW Vice President of Policy, Advocacy, and Research Tom Luna and PLTW Vice President of Engagement Glade Montgomery spoke about the organizations’ partnership and shared goal of a STEM trained workforce with robust CTE skills.
Click here to visit ACTE’s Facebook page to see more photos of the event, and here to learn more about the intersection of STEM and CTE!
Posted by Sean Lynch on 02/05/2015 at 05:57 PM in Career Readiness, CTE Caucus, In the News, STEM | Permalink
The STEM interest of high school graduates taking the ACT assessment has increased slightly over the past five years, according to ACT’s Condition of STEM 2014. About half of ACT-tested 2014 high school graduates expressed an interest in further STEM education or a STEM career. Interestingly, only half of the respondents who expressed STEM interest also scored as interested in STEM on the ACT Interest Inventory, indicating a potential mismatch between students’ education and career plans and students’ level of interest in STEM job activities. The sub-field in which STEM interest has most increased is engineering.
Despite the large percentage of students interested in STEM, STEM achievement still lags: less than half of graduates met ACT math and science benchmarks.
In related STEM news, the National Science Board has launched an online STEM data resource that pools the available data relevant to such questions as "how proficient are U.S. 12th graders in math and science?," "how many S&E [science and engineering] graduates attended community colleges?" and "what level of education do U.S. S&E workers have?"
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 01/07/2015 at 01:36 PM in Data and Research, STEM | Permalink
On December 3, Change the Equation and Business Roundtable partnered to host an event on employer perspectives and strategies to overcome the skills gap and provide a STEM-skilled workforce. The event began with a brief introduction to the topic and an overview of Business Roundtable’s recent report on how the skills gap is affecting American businesses, as well as the results of Business Roundtable and Change the Equation’s STEM Survey on Workforce Skills. The survey indicated that CEOs nearly universally consider the skills gap to be a real problem for their businesses, and that 57 percent of them consider a lack of industry-recognized credentials as a problem for their organization.
The CEOs surveyed estimate they will need to replace almost a million employees over the next five years with workers with basic STEM literacy, and about 600,000 with advanced STEM knowledge. However, according to 38 percent of respondents, more than half of job applicants lack these skills. The specific skills most in need are advanced computer/IT knowledge, general business skills and advanced quantitative knowledge.
To close the skills gap, the CEOs cited the following as the most effective strategies:
The second half of the event included a panel discussion with leaders from major U.S. employers on their perspectives on the skills gap and how their organizations are working to overcome it. Panelists included:
The panel emphasized the need not only for students to enter the workforce with stronger STEM skills and advanced literacy, but also employability skills. “It’s not just math and science,” said Wilderotter, “It’s what it takes to work in the workforce.”
Posted by Sean Lynch on 12/04/2014 at 04:28 PM in Career Readiness, In the News, STEM | Permalink
Recent reports foster middle-skill STEM pathways, recommend how to improve the manufacturing talent pipeline and describe the potential of digital badges.
A Jobs for the Future/Achieving the Dream publication outlines research on the prevalence and benefits of middle-skill STEM occupations and recommends actions for a middle-skill STEM state policy framework, including:
The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0 steering committee has made recommendations in a Report to the President on how to improve the manufacturing talent pipeline, including:
Finally, if you’re interested in digital badges, check out the Alliance for Excellent Education's publication, Digital Badge Systems: The Promise and Potential. It describes how digital badges are being used by schools to capture a wide range of skills and experiences, such as work-based learning and employability skills, and by after-school/out-of-school environments.
Posted by Catherine Imperatore on 11/17/2014 at 02:34 PM in Data and Research, STEM | Permalink
The Columbus Dispatch published an article today about the growing trend of women entering nontraditional fields through career and technical education (CTE) programs. According to local education institutions, female students have increasingly chosen to pursue education in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as welding. This increase in the number of female CTE students is helping to meet increased workforce demands while empowering them for career success.
The article explains that a variety of factors have contributed to the increase in gender equality in these high-wage, valued careers, including federal legislation that strengthens robust CTE programs. Furthermore, a local CTE educator stated that an increased demand among leaders from business and industry has opened doors for these students.
In addition, ACTE’s Deputy Executive Director Steve DeWitt was quoted on the role CTE programs have taken in breaking down barriers for women, as well as the remaining hurtles faced by schools:
“For sure there are some programs doing a very good job attracting females into nontraditional jobs,” said DeWitt, deputy executive director for the Virginia-based Association for Career and Technical Education.
“Generally, it has been challenging for schools. A parent may not want their daughter to be a welder. It’s very difficult for a school to fight that.”
ACTE supports effective public policies that drive equitable access for all to rigorous CTE programs, and has reported previously on CTE’s success in attracting women to in-demand careers in STEM fields.
Posted by Sean Lynch on 10/29/2014 at 12:31 PM in In the News, STEM | Permalink
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