Education Week - November 12, 2014 - (Page 8)
Study Finds Few Payoffs in Short-Term Career Certificates
Bigger boosts seen
for longer routes
By Caralee Adams
Career-related certificates that
students earn in less than a year
at a community college are gaining
popularity, but a new study finds
they produce limited earnings gains.
Researchers discovered wide variations
in wages, depending on whether
students earned a short-term certificate,
a long-term certificate, or an
associate degree and what field they
studied, according to the analysis,
which looked at about 24,000 firsttime
community college students in
Washington state from the 2001-02
to 2008-09 academic years.
Despite an increase of 151 percent
in the number of short-term certificates
from 2000 to 2010, the paper
published last week in the journal
Educational Evaluation and Policy
Analysis found "minimal to no positive
effects" for those credentials,
which make up 24 percent of sub-baccalaureate
studies and are sometimes
integrated into high school-based career
technical education programs.
Students can earn short-term certificates
in allied health, nursing, cosmetology,
mechanics, welding, transportation,
and other fields of study.
With more than one-third of students
enrolled in college now attending
two-year institutions, school
counselors can use this information
to help students decide on career
pathways, said Madeline J. Trimble,
the data analyst at the Community
College Research Center at Teachers
College, Columbia University in New
York and a co-author of the study.
"A lot of the time the K-12 world
tells people to follow their dreams-
and not that they shouldn't follow
their dreams and take what they
are interested in-but that should
be balanced," Ms. Trimble said.
"There are some very interesting
programs that may not leave students
in a position to earn a living
wage after they graduate, and students
should be aware of that."
Wage Gains Quantified
The study in Washington state,
based on college transcripts and
found that compared with women
who attended college but did not
finish a degree, women who completed
an associate degree had 6.3
percent higher wage returns, and
that female long-term credentialholders
(those taking more than
a year of study) had a 15 percent
edge. Men earned only 2 percent
more in wages with an associate degree
over men leaving college with
Short-term certificates were not
associated with wage gains or a
greater likelihood of employment
in comparison to just earning some
community college credits. Where
there are positive returns for shortterm
certificate holders, studies
show the average increase in earnings
is not much more than $300 per
quarter, according to Ms. Trimble.
Boston Rebuffs School Police
On Request to Carry Pepper Spray
| RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT | School police in Boston will
not be permitted to carry pepper spray during their daily
duties, acting Superintendent John McDonough told the
The district had been holding hearings about the subject.
The unarmed officers said the spray would give them a tool to
subdue violent intruders, the newspaper reported.
"I think what we are hearing so far has persuaded me
that pepper spray, no matter how well-developed the
policy, and no matter how well-crafted the training, and
no matter their good intention-might serve to drive a
wedge between our students and the school police who do
a great job protecting them every day," McDonough wrote
in a statement.
Around the country, civil rights advocates have pushed for
thoughtful agreements between districts and school police
that outline the rights of students and limit the amount of
force officers can use in schools.
School police in other districts carry pepper spray. In 2010,
more than a dozen St. Louis students were treated at a
hospital after school security guards used pepper spray to
break up a fight.
Md. Parents Seek Legislation
To Shift IEP Burden of Proof
| ON SPECIAL EDUCATION | Parents in the Maryland school
district that was at the heart of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court
case that determined the burden of proof in disputes over
individualized education programs are lobbying lawmakers
for the third time to pass a change they consider to be more
family-friendly, reports a local newspaper.
The educational blueprint for students with disabilities,
ieps are created in partnership with teachers, administrators,
8 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 12, 2014 | www.edweek.org
and parents. Disputes are rare, but a case brought against
the 146,000-student Montgomery County, Md., district went
to the nation's highest court.
The high court ruled in Schaffer v. Weast that the party
that initiates a complaint over an iep bears the burden in
proving that the educational plans are insufficient. Usually
parents are the parties that complain, so advocates for
families said the ruling pitted them against well-financed
districts that have many experts at their disposal.
The ruling did not preclude states from enacting their
own laws on the issue. That's what states like New Jersey
and New York did in the following years, passing legislation
that shifts the burden of proof back to districts, which must
prove that an iep is appropriate.
"Right now, parents can lose cases that they should be
winning on the merits because they're so out-resourced and
they have the burden of proof," Julie Reiley, the founder of the
Maryland Coalition for Special Education Rights and Burden
of Proof, told The Gazette newspaper.
More High School Sports Teams
Grappling With Hazing Allegations
| SCHOOLED IN SPORTS | It hasn't been a good school year
when it comes to hazing allegations and high school
sports. Seven football players in Sayreville, N.J., are facing
criminal charges stemming from their alleged role in hazing
incidents, while the Central Bucks district in Pennsylvania
canceled the remainder of its football season in response to
"allegations of improper conduct."
Then, two more hazing allegations surfaced late last
month. New York's Eldred High School forfeited its
football team's season finale "amid reports of widespread
and pervasive hazing," says a statement on the district's
website, while Pennsylvania's Cheltenham High School
released information about a reported hazing incident
that occurred in September with its boys' soccer team.
In Eldred, "members of the football team engaged in
such inappropriate hazing acts commonly referred to as
'tea-bagging,' as well as students sitting on each others'
faces, and pushing their face into the other student's
'junk' while on school grounds," says the statement.
The district notified police, who are working to determine
whether any students violated the law.
In Cheltenham, members of the boys' soccer team were
"dangled by their underwear" in a hazing incident in
September, district spokeswoman Susan O'Grady said in a
statement published by local media. The incident, she said,
was investigated, and unspecified actions were taken against
some athletes and district personnel.
"I think the mere fact that [Sayreville officials] took a
stand certainly had a domino effect across the nation,"
Claudio V. Cerullo, the founder and executive director of
Teach Anti Bullying, a national anti-bullying organization,
told local news media.
-CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS
U.S. Census Considers Ditching
Question About College Majors
| INSIDE SCHOOL RESEARCH | The U.S. Census Bureau is
considering cutting seven questions for individuals from
its annual American Community Survey, one of which asks
Americans who have bachelor's degrees about their majors.
Like the other questions on the chopping block, the collegemajor
question is not required by law or regulation, and in
a recent comprehensive review of the survey, the query was
found to have only "programmatic" uses.
Researchers interested in the pipeline of students to
the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, for
instance, probably find questions like this useful, as may
high school principals working with local businesses to
plan career academies.
Is that enough to include the question in the survey?
Considering that only 43 percent of Americans have any
sort of college degree, is there another question that might
serve educators and researchers' needs more? -SARAH D. SPARKS
Much of the difference was linked
to area of study. Students with associate
degrees tend to focus on liberal
arts, which may not translate
into lucrative income by itself, but
many such students aim to transfer
There are some very
that may not leave
students in a position
to earn a living wage
after they graduate,
and students should
be aware of that."
MADELINE J. TRIMBLE
Community College Research Center
to a four-year college when they're
done. Also, long-term certificates
often are in high-return fields such
as health care that drive up the average,
the authors note.
Women's wages increased by 38
percent with an associate degree in
nursing and 29 percent for a longterm
certificate in nursing, according
to the study.
For short-term certificates, the one
bright spot was for men who had a
22 percent wage increase after receiving
a short-term certificate in
The new research is consistent
with other studies in Kentucky,
North Carolina, and Virginia that
found only small economic returns
from short-term programs. The 2010
report from Complete College America,
a national nonprofit based in Indianapolis,
called the rapid growth
of those programs "troubling" and
noted that long-term certificates
were more valuable because of their
greater academic rigor and their
range of job-related skills.
Getting in the Door
The Washington state study underscores
the value of short-term certificates
as a "stackable" credential that
can lead to more training, and students
should think of it as part of a
broader educational program, said
Kate R. Blosveran, the associate executive
director of the National Association
of State Directors of Career
Technical Education Consortium, in
Silver Spring, Md.
"It can be a foundation that gets
you in the door, and it gives you
something you can work towards,"
Ms. Blosveran said of a short-term
certificate. Alternatively, for instance,
a welder already on the job
can go back for a short-term program
to specialize further.
Ms. Blosveran points out that
this recent research does not compare
the wage return to those with
only a high school diploma, which
could result in greater value for the
certificate programs over no postsecondary
There can be benefits to short-term
credentials for some students in
some fields, said Mina Dadgar, a coauthor
of the paper and the research
director at the Career Ladder Project,
an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit
that works with community
colleges, high schools, and industries.
"For many who work full time,
a short-term certificate can be a
good steppingstone," Ms. Dadgar
said. "Make sure they are designed
with intention and they are stackable,
so credits can be applied to a
long-term certificate or an associate
Kent A. Phillippe, the associate vice
president of research and student
services for the American Association
of Community Colleges, in Washington,
said the new study aligns with
research showing the value of associate
degrees and long-term certificates
and variation by field.
"A lot of our colleges are looking
at short-term certificates and
saying, 'This is not necessarily
enough in and of themselves,' "
Mr. Phillippe said. "To be of real
value to the student, they need
to put some of these together to
continue their education toward
a longer-term certificate or associate
Scan this tag with your
smartphone for a link to
"Screen Twice, Cut Once:
Assessing the Predictive
Validity of Teacher Selection Tools."
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 12, 2014
Education Week - November 12, 2014
Republicans Enhance State-Level Advantage
Broad Poverty Index Gives Fuller Picture Of Stressed Schools
Chromebooks Gaining Popularity in Districts
Key Obama Priorities Facing Lack of Allies
News in Brief
Study: Close Screening Process Can Improve Teacher Hires
Study Finds Few Payoffs in Short-Term Career Certificates
Blogs of the Week
Chromebooks Ascend in K-12 Market to Challenge iPads
Perceived Threat to Net Neutrality Sparks Furor
GOP Leaders in Congress Outline Education Priorities
More Than $60 Million Later, Scant Payoff for Teachers’ Unions
California Chief’s Win a Bright Spot For Teachers’ Unions
Election 2014 Results
Blogs of the Week
RANDI WEINGARTEN: Collaboration Takes Two
FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Overlooked and in Need: Black Female Students
JOE FELDMAN: Grading Standards Can Elevate Teaching
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
APRIL BO WANG: What About Helping Rural Schools?
Education Week - November 12, 2014