May 22, 2014
noted in the April 24 edition of OCTAE
Connection, a “Request for Information on Adoption of Career Pathways
Approaches for the Delivery of Education, Training, Employment, and Human
was published in the Federal Register (Vol. 79, No. 78, April 23,
this request, the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and
Labor have joined to solicit information and recommendations from a wide
spectrum of public- and private-sector stakeholders on successful career
pathways systems. The RFI builds on a joint
letter the three departments issued in April 2012 that proffers a common
vision for the term “career pathways,” which generally refers to a “series of
connected education and training strategies and support services that enable
individuals to secure industry-recognized credentials, obtain employment within
an occupational area, and advance to higher levels of future education and
employment in that area.” The departments are now seeking innovative and
cost-effective ways to make steady progress toward helping future workers gain
the education and skills they need to “participate fully in our economy and our
society.” An expanded middle class, greater income equality and U.S.
competitiveness are the values driving this RFI.
will be analyzed to “inform and coordinate policy development, strategic
investments, and technical assistance activities” and to “improve coordination
of federal policy development with investments at the state, local, and tribal
levels.” For example, feedback may be used to inform future discretionary grant programs, as well as key conversations
impacting the reauthorization of legislation, such as the Workforce Investment Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
To comment, visit http://www.regulations.gov/ and enter
docket number ED-2014-OVAE-0044. Respondents are strongly encouraged to directly
address the 13 questions as worded in the RFI rather than provide general
thoughts or comments about career pathways. This will help the federal agencies
better analyze and evaluate the feedback received. .
must be received by June 9, 2014 — just 18
calendar days away!
visit the Federal
Register for more information.
Apply by June 18
The U.S. Department of
Labor’s Employment and Training
Administration (ETA) recently announced the availability
of $53 million to be awarded under the Workforce Innovation Fund
(WIF) grant program. The announcement notes that the ETA anticipates
awarding between eight and 15 grants to support innovative practices designed to “generate long-term improvements in the
performance of the public workforce system, outcomes for job seekers and
employers, and cost-effectiveness.” This is the
second round of grants available under the Workforce Innovation Fund.
According to U.S.
Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, "developing more efficient and
effective job training solutions is crucial to building the pipeline of skilled
workers needed to compete in the global economy." Many of the funded
first-round grantees “are now working with local and regional employers,
industry groups, and their state commerce and development agencies to
strengthen public-private partnerships.” This second round of funding is intended to help spur on and
expand similar efforts.
are encouraged to review the full solicitation for additional information, including grantee
eligibility. Adult education providers considering an application for this round
of funding may wish to review the work of first-round grantees. See the Workforce Innovation Fund website for more information, application tools, and resources.
Applications are due by Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 4 p.m. ET, and
awards will be made in September 2014.
Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the
U.S. Department of Education has announced its research grants competitions for
the 2015 fiscal year. The following two
opportunities may be of interest to community colleges and researchers.
Education Research Grant Programs supports
a variety of efforts by researchers to develop, improve, and evaluate education
policies and programs. One of the topic
areas for which the institute is currently accepting proposals is postsecondary
and adult education research (CFDA 84.305A).
For more details, see http://ies.ed.gov/funding/ncer_rfas/postsec.asp.
Partnerships and Collaborations Focused on Problems of Practice or Policy
program (CFDA 84.305H) provides funding for education practitioners and
researchers to work together to develop research plans, adopt a continuous
improvement strategy, and/or evaluate education policies and programs that are
already operating on a large scale. Postsecondary
and adult education programs qualify to be funded under this program. For more details, see http://ies.ed.gov/funding/ncer_rfas/partnerships_colab.asp.
each grant program the announcement lists an IES staff person who can answer
questions and provide technical assistance during the grant writing
process. IES also offers webinars on how
to prepare a research proposal.
apply, follow the instructions in each program link. Grant applications for
both programs are due on Aug. 7, 2014 by 4:30 p.m. ET.
for 17 Community Colleges
The American Association of
Community Colleges (AACC) recently announced $4.19 million to be awarded
from the Walmart Foundation for a
three-year grant to support the Job Ready, Willing and Able (JRWA)
initiative. The grant includes $2.67 million to directly support 17 community
colleges nationwide. All of the colleges were selected through a competitive
process—four of them were selected as mentor colleges and will provide guidance
to the other 13 mentee colleges. Entities providing and coordinating
services for adult learners may wish to follow
the work of and results from these community colleges in their respective
communities to inform their own work.
According to the AACC press release, the initiative “will provide middle-skill
training, industry recognized credentials, and access to employment across
varying industry sectors in each of the 17 communities.” The initiative builds on known findings that
“students who have access to high-quality education and training programs,
relevant and quality job opportunities, and public benefits and supports are
more apt to persist and succeed.”
The selected colleges will
work in close collaboration with local businesses, economic development
leaders, and local workforce systems to address the unemployment needs in their
communities. This initiative will
provide new skills, credentials, and jobs to over 5,000 unemployed adults.
According to AACC
president and CEO Walter Bumphus, “This initiative is a model for how community
colleges can connect students with specific, sustainable jobs in their
communities and contribute to long-term economic growth.”
Please see the AACC announcement for a list of the selected colleges and some of
their current community efforts.
The first Programme for International Student
Assessment (PISA) on the problem-solving skills of students in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) and other participating countries was released last month. “PISA
2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving: Students’ skills in tackling real-life problems
(Volume V)” focuses on the
problem-solving abilities of approximately 85,000 15-year-old students in the 44
participating countries and economies.
PISA defines problem-solving competence as “an
individual’s capacity to engage in cognitive processing to understand and
resolve problem situations where a method of solution is not immediately
obvious. It includes the willingness to
engage with such situations in order to achieve one’s potential as a
constructive and reflective citizen.”
Singapore (562) and Korea (561) produced the
highest-scoring students in problem solving, followed by Japan (552). U.S. students (508) performed slightly above the
average (500) of the 44 OECD countries and economies that participated in the
assessment. The U.S. also lagged behind
the leading nations in the percentage of high-performing students that can
“systematically explore a complex problem scenario, devise multi-step solutions
that take into account all constraints, and adjust their plans in light of the
feedback received.” Where top- performing
students made up 11.4 percent of those OECD countries and economies tested, again,
Singapore, Korea, and Japan scored highest, with more than one in five students
achieving at this level. For U.S.
students the percentage was 11.6.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, while only
7 percent of Japanese and Korean students are classified as low achievers, 18.2
percent of U.S. students fall into this category. The OECD average of low performers in the
participating nations and economies is 21.4 percent.
U.S. students compare worst with their Asian
counterparts in the highest-performing Asian nations on tasks where the student
must select, organize, and integrate the information provided and the feedback
On a somewhat more optimistic note, U.S.
students, on average, are significantly better at problem solving than students
in other countries who perform similarly in mathematics, reading, and
science. This is especially true for U.S.
students with strong performances in mathematics.
U.S. students perform strongest on interactive
tasks, when compared to students of similar overall performance in other
countries. These tasks ask students to
uncover some of the information required to solve the problem themselves.
The impact of socio-economic status on
performance is significantly weaker on problem solving than in mathematics, on
average, in both the U.S. and across OECD countries and economies.
When viewed along gender lines, boys in the U.S.
score at the same level as girls in problem solving, in contrast with the OECD
average difference of seven score points in favor of boys. However, more boys than girls in the U.S.
perform at the highest levels of proficiency.
barely scratch the surface of the wealth of information available in this
study. Those with a keen interest in the
correlates to successful problem solving will benefit from reflecting on the
in-depth data reported in it.