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Quick Takes

CNA Education Quick Takes give you our latest articles, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more.

The Data Gap Dilemma: Supporting Transparency and Program Improvement through the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Education and the Workforce released the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, its proposal for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), the federal law that governs the administration of higher education programs.

Appalachia’s STEM Occupation Forecast: An Inside Perspective

By Brittany C. Cunningham, Research Scientist and Rikesh Nana, Research Specialist

As technical and scientific innovation continue to drive the global economy, the cultivation of high-quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and training has become a pressing matter for the nation’s educators and policy makers. STEM education continues to be closely aligned to the nation’s economic prosperity and helps students develop necessary critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and employability skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, organization) to successfully enter the workforce.

Appalachia's Stem Occupation Forecast: Projections of the High-Growth, High-Wage Stem Occupations Through 2024

The Appalachia's STEM Occupation Forecast identifies the high-growth, high-wage STEM occupations in four states in the Appalachian region — Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. School, district, and postsecondary staff, as well as state policymakers can use the brief as a resource to inform the development and expansion of STEM education and training in the region.

Inside Low-Performing Schools: The Student Perspective

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Student Voice Team and CNA Education developed a student-led research project to gain new insights into underlying causes and potential solutions to improve chronically low-performing schools. CNA researchers met with Prichard Committee staff, Student Voice Team members, and additional partners in April to develop a concept paper for the project. In addition, a video and flyer were developed to document the work.

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Measuring College Readiness Under ESSA: Admissions and Placement Exams

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides greater flexibility in state accountability systems than did previous federal legislation. In response, many states continue to refine their accountability systems to include college readiness tests, including college admissions and placement exams. This paper summarizes perspectives of K-12 educators, postsecondary educators, and researchers on these measures to inform policymakers as they revise accountability systems under ESSA.

Career Readiness: How Manufacturers Measure Readiness and Additional Training Needs

September 21, 2017

There are more than 12 million manufacturing workers in America, making up about 9 percent of the workforce and earning $26 per hour on average. Within this field, advanced manufacturing is a high-wage, high-growth industry that comprises occupations in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products and provides high-, medium-, and low-skill opportunities for workers. Over the next 10 years, an additional 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, but 2 million are projected to go unfilled because of gaps in skills. Career and technical education (CTE) can help fill these gaps, but educators need help understanding how to measure student readiness for advanced manufacturing careers.

Changing the Way Students Prepare for the Future

September 6, 2017

As the school year begins, CNA Education has released an interactive tool that will change the way students prepare for their future. The new market analysis tool will help Career and Technical Education (CTE) students determine what high-wage, high-demand jobs are available and whether the jobs are relevant to their interests and level of education. If a student is interested in obtaining an associate’s degree, the tool will list occupations such as dental hygienists, web developers, and engineering technicians. Or, if a student is interested in marketing jobs, the tool will list occupations such as market research analysts, public relations and fundraising managers, and sales representatives.

Will School Choice Policies Shape the Experience of the Most Underserved Students in the U.S.?

September 6, 2017

CNA Education Researcher Julie Harris recently published Eligiendo Escuelas: English Learners and Access to School Choice in Educational Policy.

School choice has emerged as the linchpin of President Trump’s urban education reform plan, but it remains unclear how school choice policies will shape the educational experiences of the most underserved student groups, particularly English learners (ELs). Using quantitative data from one large urban school district, we examine EL participation in a system of school choice. Specifically, we investigate the extent to which never, current, and former ELs enroll in a nonzoned school. We find significant differences in the likelihood that students across these groups engage in school choice, raising important questions about whether school choice reforms are accessible to current ELs.

An Interview with Chris Sun

August 24, 2017

Christopher Sun serves as an associate research analyst in CNA’s Education Division. Sun has more than eight years of quantitative and qualitative analytical experience, as well as program management and facilitation expertise in the field of education. He has worked directly with education stakeholders at all levels, including state board of education members, state education agency staff, state and district superintendents, and school-level staff.

A Glimpse Inside of Appalachia

July 17, 2017

The Journal of Research in Rural Education published an article entitled “Postsecondary Transitions for Youth in Appalachia’s Central Subregions:  A Review of Education Research, 1995-2015.”  The article was derived from Appalachia Rising, a larger review of education issues in Central Appalachia published by CNA Education.

This article reviews research on postsecondary transitions for youth in a region of Appalachia that faces numerous education challenges because of its geography, poverty, and economy. The examination of research finds that high school graduation rates have improved, many youth are committed to the region, and numerous initiatives are underway to support successful postsecondary transitions. Challenges include limited job opportunities, high unemployment, and lack of postsecondary education experience and understanding among many adults. Implications for policy, practice, and research include a need for more research on the nature and rigor of preparation in high schools and postsecondary institutions, development of place-based approaches, improved postsecondary transition awareness and support programs that involve parents, and more research on career choices of non-college-bound students

CNA Senior Research Scientist Patricia Kannapel and Michael Flory, formerly a CNA Senior Research Scientist, lead the research on Appalachia Rising and co-authored this article.

Assessing the Maryland Teacher and Principal Evaluation System

May 30, 2017

Research shows that teacher effectiveness is the most important in-school factor affecting student learning. In 2013 the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) established a new evaluation system to measure teachers and principal effectiveness. MSDE then wanted to know whether its new evaluation system was accurately measuring effectiveness. CNA Education is conducting a three-phase study to find out. So far the study has found that effectiveness scores correlate with student achievement and growth in particular ways. The findings hold implications not only for Maryland’s evaluation methods but for those of other states as well.

An Interview with Dr. Steve Lee, Research Analyst

May 30, 2017

Dr. Steve Lee is a quantitative analyst who studies college readiness, teacher evaluation, and career and technical education programs. He is currently a lead researcher assessing the validity of the Maryland State Department of Education’s teacher and principal evaluation system. In this interview, he shares the surprising findings from his many evaluations of various programs to help underprepared students.

STEMwire Live Episode 6: Assessing the Maryland Teacher and Principal Evaluation System

May 30, 2017

In this latest edition of STEMwire Live, CNA Education research analyst Dr. Steve Lee shares insights on what is and isn’t working in Maryland’s teacher and principal evaluation system. Research shows that teacher effectiveness is the most important in-school factor affecting student learning. In 2013 the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) established a new evaluation system to measure teachers and principal effectiveness. MSDE then wanted to know whether its new evaluation system was accurately measuring effectiveness. Lee discusses progress to date on the study, national implications of the study findings, and potential next steps for MSDE.

Do magnet schools need a renovation in today's modern education system?

April 25, 2017

Magnet schools were established 50 years ago as an option for integrating schools, but are they doing today the job they were originally intended to accomplish? CNA Education magnet and charter school expert Dr. Julie Harris explores this question in a new article. Using data from a large urban school district, Harris examines individual participation in magnet school choice, what student and school characteristics are associated with choosing a magnet school, and how school and district composition change as students leave traditional public schools for magnet schools.

STEMWire LIVE Episode 5: Do Magnet Schools Need a Renovation?

April 25, 2017

In this episode of STEMwire Live, CNA Education Research Analyst Dr. Julie Harris discusses her research on school choice and magnet schools and whether they are serving students to the greatest possible degree. She shares her expertise on the history of magnet schools, as well as her findings on why students and parents choose magnet schools over traditional public schools.

Interactive Map Tool Helps Students Find Cybersecurity Programs

Cybersecurity is a high-demand, high-wage field. There were a quarter of a million job postings in cybersecurity in 2014, and information security analysts currently receive a median salary of over $90,000. With that in mind, CNA Education produced a new interactive tool to help students, school counselors, career and technical education coordinators, and others find highly ranked cybersecurity programs across the country.

An Interview with Rikesh Nana

We talked with Rikesh Nana, creator of CNA Education's cybersecurity program tool, about why he became a researcher and his most interesting research findings thus far. Rikesh has a diverse background in education policy research, including areas such as college and career readiness, workforce development, rural schools, rigorous course access, and teacher evaluation. Rikesh is driven by a passion for equal access to quality education, and his favorite part of education research is interacting with teachers, principals, and other practitioners and policymakers and seeing the education world from their eyes.

It's no big deal to miss a day of kindergarten. Right?

March 20, 2017

Some may think missing school, especially in earlier grades, is harmless. Well, research strongly indicates otherwise. In a short article, CNA Education’s school crime and safety expert Simone Robers examines causes and consequences of chronic absenteeism and what data and research are still needed to effectively address the epidemic. She also discusses how research CNA Education is currently conducting could provide vital information about the state of absenteeism in the United States.

An Interview with Simone Robers

March 20, 2017

When she started her career as a kindergarten teacher, Simone Robers could not have imagined where her life journey would take her! Simone now has nearly a decade of experience in education research, analysis, and project management, and she is CNA Education’s expert on school crime and safety. Since joining the team in 2015, Simone has helped develop and execute the domestic business strategy and manage operations. In this interview, Simone shares about her journey from the classroom to the research field and why her work means so much to her.

STEMwire LIVE Episode 4: The Harm of Missing School

March 15, 2017

In this episode of STEMwire Live, CNA Education’s associate director and school crime and safety expert Simone Robers discusses chronic absenteeism in K–12 schools and its link to college and career readiness. Chronic absenteeism (defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year) is the single strongest predictor of dropping out of school, and it is of growing concern for educators and policymakers. Simone discusses the gaps in current absenteeism data and the importance of parental involvement in curbing the epidemic. She also shares a current CNA Education project that will provide a comprehensive picture of chronic absenteeism and truancy in public schools across the nation.

Career Readiness: An Industry Perspective

February 15, 2016

What is "career readiness"? How can it be measured? These are key questions states are asking as they review and revise career readiness policies under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). CNA Education's Dr. Michael Flory is leading a study to document how a high-wage, high-growth industry assesses the career readiness of recent graduates.

STEMwire Live Episode 3: This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s CTE

February 13, 2017

What is the next frontier for career and technical education (CTE)? CNA Education partnered with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to bring you a special podcast on promising trends and innovative, successful practices in CTE, featuring special guest Kevin Oshinskie of ACTE and Lul Tesfai of CNA Education.

Insights on the CTE Landscape in 2017

January 24, 2017

CNA Education's team has a new member! As Senior Policy Director, Lul Tesfai will lead our efforts to strengthen the CTE research base and support current and developing CTE programs, particularly those focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Lul's research expertise includes policy and strategy development for adult CTE. She most recently served as a Director of Policy for the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, where she refined the reauthorization strategy for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and provided technical assistance to Congress. She also has experience in quantitative and qualitative research and analysis of discriminatory federal, state, and local government housing policies and housing mobility initiatives.

In this short article, Lul shares her thoughts on the current education policy landscape and on how CNA Education's work is contributing, and will continue to contribute, to the advancement of CTE in the United States.

In a companion interview, Lul shares her insights on the most promising CTE policies in place, how CNA Education will use those policies as a catalyst for our work, and one of the greatest challenges to assessing CTE effectiveness.

STEMwire Live Special: Lessons Learned from REL Appalachia: Reflecting on 10 Years

January 24, 2017

For the past 10 years, CNA Education operated the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia, one of a network of 10 laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. REL Appalachia provides extensive technical assistance and research support to educators and policymakers in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In this feature podcast, former REL Appalachia director and deputy director Dr. Patricia J. Kannapel and Mr. Chris Sun talk about a decade of successes working with schools and teachers, as well as lessons learned.

CNA Education Research in 2017

December 19, 2016

The military has recently faced several challenges to gaining and cultivating quality servicemembers. At the same time, career and technical education (CTE) has been drawing attention for its ability to equip students with both concrete technical skills and more general skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. That is why CNA Education, in collaboration with CNA's Resource Analysis Division (RAD), will conduct a study in 2017 on how CTE can align with the military's training needs.

Evaluating Developmental Education Policy Reform in Florida

December 19, 2016

The number may surprise you—the annual national cost of developmental education is estimated at $7 billion. Many students leave high school underprepared for college, resulting in the need for developmental coursework once they enroll. In 2008, over half of Florida community college students required remediation. Florida has implemented two major policies within the last decade to reduce the cost of developmental education, and CNA Education is evaluating these policies' effectiveness. In this short article, CNA Education researcher Dr. Julie Harris explains how CNA Education is conducting the evaluations and shares some of our findings and their implications.

An Interview with Dr. Julie Harris, Research Analyst

December 19, 2016

Dr. Julie Harris is a research analyst with expertise in quantitative research on improving college readiness and college-going rates. Julie has experience studying English learner students, law, education finance, and issues surrounding school choice. Julie joined the Education team in 2015, and she is currently working on a five-year Institute of Education Sciences grant to evaluate Florida's College and Career Readiness Initiative. We asked Julie what her most interesting finding has been. Read the interview to find out her answer!

The Correlation Between Gender and Confidence in STEM: A Closer Look

November 29, 2016

A recent IES newsflash addressed gender-based differences in "how ... students perceive their math and science abilities as they move through high school" (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006). Although these results are interesting and useful to researchers and practitioners, they also raise several questions, which Dr. Daniel M. Leeds explores in greater depth in this short article.

An Interview with Dr. Daniel M. Leeds, Research Analyst

November 29, 2016

Dan is a quantitative research analyst with expertise in quasi-experimental research design. His research focuses on student responses to education policies such as financial aid, guaranteed college admission, and state accountability labeling. We talked with Dan about how he first became interested in education research and what his most important finding has been. We also asked him what he would be if he were not a researcher—his answer might surprise you!

STEMwire Live Episode 2: Connecting CTE Programs and Military Careers

February 13, 2017

Alignment between CTE programs and military training needs can benefit both students and the military. It can help students prepare for successful careers in the military and help the military reduce training costs. CNA Education is partnering with CNA's Resource Analysis Division (RAD) to conduct a study drawing connections between CTE student outcomes and success in the military. In this episode, experts from each division—Mr. Jeff Peterson (RAD) and Dr. Thomas Geraghty (Education)—discuss how this research can help strengthen the alignment between CTE programs and military needs.

Voices of CTE Video: Paula Potter, Principal, Ben Franklin Career Center

November 3, 2016

Ben Franklin Career Center is an exciting example of how career and technical education can prepare students for the future, whether they seek employment or further education after they graduate. Principal Paula Potter knows this better than anyone. In this video, she explains the specific benefits students reap from their participation in the school’s programs. She also points out the need for further research to help align the program’s offerings with the requirements of higher education programs.

This video is part of a series, Voices of CTE, which features leaders, practitioners, students, and policymakers who are involved in the world of CTE. Find more videos here!

Voices of CTE Video: Traevon Isabell, Student, Ben Franklin Career Center

November 3, 2016

Traevon Isabell is studying power and energy at Ben Franklin Career Center. Not only is the program preparing him to succeed in college and a career in engineering, but it is also bringing electric light kits to Native American communities that don’t have electricity.

This video is part of a series, Voices of CTE, which features leaders, practitioners, students, and policymakers who are involved in the world of CTE. Find more videos here!

Student Shares Perspective on Rural Barriers to College

October 27, 2016

Cameron Wright is a student from eastern Kentucky currently attending Yale University in Connecticut. Research shows that students from middle Appalachia who want to attend college often have few resources and little support to help them reach their educational goals (Appalachia Rising, Kannapel, Flory, Cramer, Carr, 2015).

In this video, Cameron shares some of the struggles he and other Appalachian students face in pursuing postsecondary education. He also explains how his family's support, help from teachers, and his own motivation and love of learning helped him overcome educational and cultural barriers to attend college. Cameron will graduate from Yale University in 2020. He is the first in his family to attend college.

STEMwire Live Episode 1: The Intersection of CTE and STEM

November 10, 2016

STEMwire Live is a podcast from CNA Education on career and technical education (CTE), how CTE can be improved and supported through research, and innovative people and CTE programs that are helping students prepare for success after high school.

In this episode, CNA Education researchers Dr. Steve Lee and Ms. Juliana Pearson discuss the intersection of CTE and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. They explain how CTE could help fill employment gaps in STEM and equip students with education and training for employment in high-growth STEM fields. Steve and Juliana also introduce STEMwire, a new initiative from CNA Education, and explain why CNA Education is committed to supporting CTE programs that prepare students for STEM careers.

Infographic on College and Career Readiness in Appalachia's Central Subregions

October 27, 2016

According to our review of education research, postsecondary readiness in Appalachia's central subregions (referred to here as "middle Appalachia") has improved. However, challenges remain in providing students with the high-level skills they are likely to need in a changing economy. This infographic lays out the stats and facts about college and career readiness in middle Appalachia and highlights areas of opportunity for supporting college and career readiness in the region.

Lessons Learned in Conducting a Statewide Education Survey

October 19, 2016

Conducting a statewide education survey is not always a simple task! Our researchers faced and overcame a number of challenges while conducting a study of the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative. We created an infographic and an animated video to share what they learned from the process so that others can learn from their experiences.

Voices of CTE Video: Dr. Wendy Oliver, Thrivist

September 12, 2016

Dr. Wendy Oliver, Chief Learning Officer at Thrivist, discusses CTE program needs. As an employer, Wendy understands the importance of mentorship as students enter the workforce. She also sees a need for CTE programs that teach critical thinking and problem solving, skills that employers look for and often do not find in candidates.

This video is part of a series, Voices of CTE, which features leaders, practitioners, students, and policymakers who are involved in the world of CTE. Find more videos here!

Voices of CTE Video: Doug Sands, Simulated Workplace Coach

September 12, 2016

In this video, Doug Sands, a coach for West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace program, discusses the importance of using partnerships with local businesses and industries, as well as data and research on current industry needs, to bridge gaps between industry needs and career and technical education (CTE) program offerings.

This video is part of a series, Voices of CTE, which features leaders, practitioners, students, and policymakers who are involved in the world of CTE. Find more videos here!

Voices of CTE Video: Dr. Aaron Thompson, Kentucky State University

September 6, 2016

CNA Education has published the first video in a series featuring leaders, practitioners, students, and policymakers who are involved in the world of CTE. The series, Voices of CTE, aims to spotlight new and innovative CTE programs and practices; highlight a variety of perspectives on CTE and workforce development; identify current gaps in CTE research; and generate conversations around how CTE programs can be used and improved to better equip students for promising careers, particularly those in STEM fields.

In this video, Dr. Aaron Thompson, Interim President of Kentucky State University, explains why career and technical education (CTE) shouldn’t be thought of as a separate track of education and why applied learning and certificate earning should be crucial elements of any education program. He also discusses the roles job market research, partnerships with employers, and meaningful conversations between policymakers and education leaders can play in informing CTE programs that lead to 21st-century education outcomes.

The Gender Gap in Cybersecurity

July 25, 2016

Women and students of color are often underrepresented in in-demand STEM fields. One of the goals of CNA's recently launched project STEMwire is to help policymakers and practitioners ensure that all students have equal access to high-quality STEM training. The gender gap in cybersecurity is a pressing example of inequities in STEM. Men are much more likely than women to pursue careers in cybersecurity, and recent research estimates that women make up only 10 percent of the cybersecurity workforce. This situation is especially alarming because the cybersecurity labor market is currently facing a shortfall of qualified candidates.

An Interview with Juliana Pearson

July 25, 2016

Juliana Pearson is a research analyst with expertise in education policy research—with an emphasis on college and career readiness, career and technical education, and workforce development—and experience in formative program evaluation data collection and analysis. We talked with Juliana about her journey to becoming a researcher, her favorite and least favorite parts of her work, and more!

The Mind Behind West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace: An Interview With Dr. Kathy D'Antoni

January 12, 2016

Through the leadership of Dr. Kathy D'Antoni, the West Virginia Department of Education transformed its career and technical education classrooms into "simulated workplaces." The Simulated Workplace initiative converts the traditional classroom into a real workplace environment, giving students an authentic workplace experience as they earn high school credit, work toward industry certifications, and in some cases earn college credit.

CNA Education had the opportunity to talk with D'Antoni about the Simulated Workplace initiative, its challenges, its successes, and its future, as well as about the Simulated Workplace model’s national impact on career and technical education.

CNA Brenda Dann-Messier Principal Research Scientist: The State of Career and Technical Education

November 18, 2015

Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, CNA Principal Research Scientist and former U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, discusses the state of career and technical education—its strengths, its weaknesses, and what we can do to ensure that CTE graduates are prepared for promising careers.