Summer Update

Summer Update
August 13, 2018
As children across both Kansas and Missouri head back to school, we wanted to take a minute to give you a quick update on how we spent our summer.
Bouncing Forward
More than 150 Business leaders and education advocates convened in Kansas City in early June for the Age of Agility Summit presented by America SucceedsDr. Greg Washington from the University of California at Irvine explained how we can embrace technology to propel learning, our workforce panelists discussed job transformation and our education leaders shared how business partnerships bring innovation to the classroom. 
If you missed the event, contact us for a one-on-one debrief session. Also, click hereto read the Age of Agility report.
Dr. John Jasinski, President of Northwest Missouri State University explains that bouncing forward means making his students ready for the change in the future of work.
Kicking Off
Early childhood advocates convened last week in Jefferson City to learn more about the formation and implementation of the Early Childhood Quality Assurance Report. As we mentioned in previous updates, Aligned worked to secure funding and extend the sunset on this voluntary pilot program that will outline quality standards and improvement goals for early care and education.
The Office of Early Learning at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)  will host listening sessions across Missouri and distribute surveys that will help policy makers determine the type of framework that will work best for providers and families. The goal will be to collect data and recruit participants by the end of the year so the pilot can begin in 2019.
Jo Anne Ralston, Early Learning Coordinator for DESE, will host listening sessions and distribute electronic surveys to collect feedback over the next several months that will inform the framework of the Quality Assurance Report.
Getting Out
We attended the annual State of the St. Louis Workforce report reveal at St. Louis Community College last week. While the workforce data was particular to the St. Louis region, the findings are generally applicable to economic conditions across both Kansas and Missouri. As expected, employers continue to struggle to find talent and the trends suggest the problem will only worsen. Director of Economic Development for Missouri Rob Dixon said, “If everyone on unemployment had a job, we would still have a labor shortage.” Daniel Davis from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank says we need better alignment using sector strategies, more apprenticeships, improved employer training, coordination among service providers and changes in employee behaviors. Click here to download a copy of the report.
DED chief Rob Dixon says we can tackle our workforce problems at the state level by scaling up, “We must get past the pilot phase and address issues across the board. “
Measuring Up
Aligned is working with the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to measure post-secondary effectiveness in high schools across the state. In looking at who is thriving beyond high school, the big question is why some districts are posting better results than others. Click here to see individual district data.
Statewide totals on post-secondary success rates in Kansas
Other Bits
Aligned helped pass legislation in Kansas that funded Communities Aligned in Early Development and Education (CAEDE) to launch a 3-year pilot program to improve child care in Wyandotte County and increase access to high-quality, full-year child care for working families.
We also attended the Administrator’s Conference at the Lake of the Ozarks hosted by DESE to learn what’s next for school accountability, early childhood education and career education. Click here to access conference presentations.
We are in the middle of planning our strategies for 2019 but expect to focus on how we can scale good career education programs, expand quality and access for birth-to-five education and increase transparency in our K-12 systems.
We welcome new partners and are eager to engage community leaders. Please let us know if you would like to get more involved.
Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442

Another way business leaders can get involved in education…

These St. Louis educators spent a week learning about in-demand jobs to help connect their students with great careers. Awesome workforce collaboration!

Show-Me Careers Educator Experience

These St. Louis educators spent a week learning about in-demand jobs to help connect their students with great careers. Awesome workforce collaboration!

Posted by Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hands-on, transfer learning is key to getting hired.

Hands-on learning is a necessary part of college, but here’s what it doesn’t teach students

As college students nationwide work in part-time jobs or internships this summer, it’s unlikely many will think about how they’re using their undergraduate courses on the job or how they might apply what they’re learning at work when they get back to campus.

For students, college is a series of disconnected experiences: the classroom, the dorm, the athletic field, the internship. Yet what employers tell me gets college students hired is the ability to translate what they learned in one place (the classroom, for instance) to another that is far different from where they originally learned a concept (a project on an internship).

Educators call this “transfer learning” — the ability to generalize core principles and apply them in many different places, which becomes more important as the skills needed to keep up in any job and occupation continue to shift in the future.

The concept sounds simple enough. But today’s students, facing the constant pressure to prepare for standardized tests, rarely have the chance to learn through problem solving or to be involved in projects that reinforce skills that can be used in multiple settings. Our ability to drive almost any car on the market without reading its manual is an example of knowledge transfer, as is our ability to solve math equations involving any number once we learn the formula.

Knowledge transfer is what gets students hired, because it’s the ability to show in job interviews what they cannot easily display on their résumé or in an application. “The workers who are in highest demand are those who can think across complex systems,” Joseph Aoun, the president of Northeastern University, told me last week at a conference about the impact of artificial intelligence on higher education.

In response to demands from students, parents and employers, colleges and universities are adding hands-on experiences to the undergraduate curriculum.

Arizona State University, where I’m a professor of practice, is testing a curriculum across a dozen majors in which students learn nearly half of the subject matter through group projects instead of a specified schedule of classes. Engineering students might build a robot and learn the key principles of mechanics and electronics from faculty members during the project. The hope is that students will be more engaged if theories from the classroom are immediately applied in the outside world instead of years after students graduate.

That’s the same approach encouraged by co-ops, offered by a handful of colleges in the United States, including Northeastern. Although they are often conflated in the minds of students and parents, co-ops are not internships. While internships are an add-on to a degree, co-ops are part and parcel of the undergraduate experience, making up from one-third to almost all of the time a student spends in school.

The problem with the hands-on learning experiences being added by colleges to the undergraduate curriculum? They’re often not accompanied by the guidance that students need to help them transfer what they learn. So students become adept in job interviews at describing what they did during a co-op or a project, but have difficulty talking about what they learned and how they can apply that to where they want to work.

College students find the concept of transfer learning particularly difficult to grasp, because for most of their schooling, their learning was directed by someone else — parents and teachers — who spelled out how to transfer knowledge between disparate ideas. Learning in the workplace, however, is mostly self-directed.

That’s why Northeastern created a program to help its co-op students take an inventory of their learning throughout the undergraduate curriculum. Beginning just before freshman year, the program, called SAIL (Self-Authored Integrated Learning), provides a technology platform for students to align their learning experiences across school and work. It breaks the experiences into five pillars: intellectual, civic, wellness, global and professional. By tracking their progress, students can visualize what they have done in all five areas and where they have grown, which could provide useful information for them during a job interview

Teaching students how to transfer their knowledge has a side benefit on campuses, too. It helps faculty see extracurricular experiences as part of the academic fabric of the institution, rather than just something that happens outside the classroom. When you ask college graduates what they most value about their undergraduate career, they often rate extracurricular experiences the highest. But those experiences don’t count toward their degree.

If colleges simply add hands-on learning opportunities for students without assisting them in transferring what they learn to life after school, it’s as if  they never provided those experiences in the first place.

Wonkathon asks: What standards should students meet to graduate from high school?

Every year, Fordham invites members of the education reform community to share their thoughts on an issue of critical importance. They call it the “Wonkathon” and this year’s question is: What standards should students meet to graduate from high school?  

Check it out!  This year’s twenty-two submissions were excellent and we encourage you to check them all out here.