Confronting the Skills Crisis And Workforce
Challenges of the New World Economy

Newsletter

Volume 2, Number 1

Please submit articles and news items to Barbara Bolin for inclusion in future newsletters and on the CRCC web site.

In this issue:

  • Conference News
  • Workforce Development News
  • News from the CRC Consortium
  • Free On-line Resources
  • Recommended Reading

CONFERENCES

  • The Southeastern WorkKeys conference is scheduled for January 23-25 in Chattanooga, TN. The event will be held at the Marriott at the Convention Center. See you there!
  • The next Midwest WorkKeys™ conference will be hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce in partnership with the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. The only details available so far are that the conference will be at the end of October 2008 in Oklahoma City.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT NEWS

  • The December 11 issue of Education Week included "Policy Focus Turning to Principal Quality" by Lynn Olson. This provocative article highlights a renewal of interest in a voluntary national certification for school principals. This has occurred because of concerns that Congress will define a "highly qualified principal" as part of the renewal of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Previously, Congress defined a "highly qualified teacher" as part of NCLB. Research has yet to specify the precise mix of leadership knowledge, skills, and behaviors that are apparently linked to student-achievement gains. The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has published guidelines for evaluating effective principals that describe the qualities of outstanding principals. They also advocate for the use of both quantitative and qualitative data--not just test scores-- to evaluate the effectiveness of principals.

    Because there is concern about the possibility of the federal government getting involved in telling school systems how to make better principals, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) is supporting the concept of more voluntary efforts, such as national board certification for principals. In the past, funding this initiative has been a barrier to implementation but the AASA is more confident now that funding can be found. The federal government is paying for some experimentation with performance-based pay for principals through the nearly $100 million Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). Although pay incentives alone will not improve principal quality, TIF grants have already jump-started the certification initiative, and it is hoped that additional funding can be found through foundations and private sources.

  • In November, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) published a study that reported on the comparitive performance of 8th. graders in individual American states with students in top-performing foreign nations, such as Japan and South Korea, and lower-scoring nations like Bulgaria and Jordan. While the mathematics and science news was not all gloomy, it did indicate that students who have scored well on recent US exams (in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Dakota, for example) do not match students in top-performing foreign countries. This comes at a time when employers are increasingly concerned about students' ability to compete in the global economy. Gary Phillips, a Chief Scientist at the AIR describes the challenges facing the US and the world in science, health, and other areas as "daunting". He continues, "The solution to them requires that we have a literate citizen-public." He suggests that policymakers need to focus on improving the math and science skills of students, particularly in the early grades. This will encourage more students to pursue math- and science-related careers.
  • Also in November, the New York Times ran an article, English, Algebra, Phys Ed . . .and Biotech by G. Pascal Zachary that highlights the work of a former researcher who now teaches at a high school in San Francisco. Formerly with Genetech, George Cachianes started a biotechnology course at Lincoln High as a way of marrying basic biotechnology principles with modern lab practices and insights into how business harvests biotech innovations for profit. As a scientist, Mr. Cachianes realized what we have have known for centuries but have increasingly ignored in our classrooms--students learn best by doing, experimenting, and relating classroom learning to the real world. He divides his classes into teams of 5 students, and each team "adopts" an actual biotech company. The students write annual reports, correspond with company officials and learn about products in development. They also learn the latest lab techniques--such as cutting DNA, recombining it, purifying proteins, and sequencing their own cheek DNA. This approach is gaining attention as a way of cultivating home-grown scientists, engineers, and lab technicians.
  • The National Science Foundation reports that secondary science and mathematics education is on the rise, with more students in higher level classes. Enrollment in advanced biology and physics courses doubled from 1997 to 2004, nearly doubled for advanced math, and rose 50% for advanced chemistry.
  • The UTeach program at the University of Texas, a collaboration between the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Education, has gained national recognition in recent years as a model for revamping the preparation of math and science teachers. Predicated on a combination of an academically challenging course schedule resulting in a firm grounding in content, and early and frequent experiences in the classroom, the UTeach program currently has 480 students. The students are math and science majors who are offered financial support to stick with the program. One of the interesting aspects of the program is the involvement of university professors in pedagogical studies and discussions. I wonder if a study has been conducted to see if this involvement has improved the teaching skills of the professors.
  • As the competition for skilled labor becomes more pronounced, 58% of workers polled recently say they are more likely to negotiate a better compensation package today than they w ere 12 months ago. This percentage is double what it was last year.
  • The November issue of The Career News contains two items that refer to the advantages of reading business and trade literature. George Blomgren in Reading Is Fundamental to Successful Interviews points out that when you are talking to an interviewer who is well-read, "your ability to refer to contemporary business literature (periodicals or books) can create a very positive impression." He suggests that trying to anticipate relevant ways of working books and their ideas into questions and answers may be helpful to an interviewee.

    Then, in Business and Trade Magazines Increase Marketability, a staff writer recommends reading business and trade magazines as a way of staying "sharp, well-informed, articulate, and in-demand." Keeping up with the news and trends of your profession can give you a competitive edge, and The Career News is offering subscriptions FREE. See the FREE ONLINE RESOURCES section for more details.

NEWS FROM THE CRC CONSORTIUM

  • There is exciting news from Arkansas! Full statewide deployment of the CRC will come to fruition early in 2008. So Arkansas will move into the left column of the CRC matrix. More news and details soon.
  • As promised in the last newsletter, there is news from Oklahoma on their progress and adoption of the CRC+. Susan Kuzmic has submitted the following information. The new total of CRC's issued in the state is 12,003 made up of 2,536 Gold, 6,370 Silver, and 3,097 Bronze. The state is also ready to go with their CRC+ initiative. This expanded certificate uses Alchemy and Keytrain assessments to add soft skills to the CRC (but remember that neither of these assessments actually CERTIFY the attainment of skills). Susan attributes OK's outstanding successes to Norma Noble's vision and energy, and to the cooperation demonstrated by the members of the Governor's Council for Workforce & Economic Development. Eight leaders of state agencies sit on that Council and that too is an important success factor.

    For more news, please catch up with Susan at the Southeastern WorkKeys Conference this month or contact her at susan_kuzmic@okcommerce.gov

  • About three years ago, Michigan adopted the ACT and two WorkKeys assessments (RFI and AM) to replace the state standardized test. In December, the State WIB, the Council for Labor and Economic Growth, agreed to support the inclusion of a third WorkKeys assessment (LI) to allow all high school graduates the opportunity to receive a CRC in addition to the high school diploma. This is terrific news, and I hope that the Council will continue to promote the CRC as a valuable credential for ALL Michigan residents. While Michigan's numbers are already impressive, we can expect to see them grow exponentially with this latest decision by the Council.
  • I am pleased to report renewed interest in deployment of the CRC in Utah.
  • Please send me your news and updated CRC numbers for inclusion on the web site and in my presentations.

In case you haven't visited the CRCC web site recently (www.crcconsortium.org), here is what the Consortium currently looks like.

CRC DEPLOYED CRC IN PROGRESS INTERESTED IN CRC
Kentucky Kansas Idaho
Indiana Pennsylvania DC
Virginia Colorado Utah
Louisiana Iowa Nebraska
Missouri West Virginia California
North Carolina Wyoming Delaware
Oklahoma Arkansas Maryland
Alabama Nevada Rhode Island
Tennessee Washington Illinois
New Mexico Ohio New Jersey
Florida Arizona Montana
Georgia Alaska Minnesota
Mississippi Massachusetts North Dakota
Michigan Texas  
South Carolina Oregon  
  Vermont  
  New York  
     
15 states
17 states
13 states
     

     

FREE ON-LINE RESOURCES

  • The Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center has announced a free on-line resource that allows the public, policy-makers, educators and others to compare graduation rates across the country. This mapping tool provides comparable, reliable data on graduation rates for every school district in the country. Special reports may be downloaded, with details on where students drop out of the educational pipeline. Check out this useful tool at http://www.edweek.org/apps/maps/
  • The Career News is offering free online subscriptions to trade magazines. Go to http://www.thecareernews.com/TradePub and sign up!

    RECOMMENDED READING

  • From Cradle to Career: Connecting American Education from Birth to Adulthood, available from Education Week. More information at http://www.edweek.org
  • Reforming Principal Compensation, a report from the Center for American Progress.
  • Guidelines for Evaluating Effective Principals, from the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

 

We could learn a lot from a box of crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors--but they all have to live in the same box!

Best Wishes for 2008

 

 

The NOCC™ is a 501(c)(3) organization supported by public donations. To make a contribution, or for more information contact:

Barbara Bolin, Ph.D.
President, NOCC

1133 May Street, Lansing, MI 48906
804-310-2552
bolinb@earthlink.net

© NOCC, January 2008