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 unemployment-insurance records, 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 some credits. 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. BLOGS 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 Boston Herald. 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 | 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. -EVIE BLAD 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 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." 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 protective services. 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 education. 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 degree." 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 degree." Scan this tag with your smartphone for a link to "Screen Twice, Cut Once: Assessing the Predictive Validity of Teacher Selection Tools." -BRYAN TOPOREK

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
Report Roundup
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