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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

Career Readiness
Career Readiness

Skills for the post-pandemic economy. Is college still necessary?

by Eileen Wedegartner, JFYNet Learning Specialist

Is college still necessary?

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people to decide to take a year off from higher education. The ballooning price of college tuition combined with the uncertain job outlook for recent college graduates make this decision understandable. But a longer view of the value of a college degree, beyond the immediate crisis, might lead to a different calculation.

In a recent blog, labor market guru Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce noted, “…this recession has highlighted the stark divide between white-collar and blue-collar work. As many businesses turned to telework to avoid interpersonal contact among workers, it became obvious that white-collar work — and, therefore, jobs that require postsecondary education and training — is generally easier to perform from home than blue-collar work.”

Workers with a college degree have long fared better in the job market, with fewer jobs lost and a quicker transition to recovery. Carnevale pointed to the long-term trend in the labor market as automation takes hold in more places: “As interest in automation technology grows, there likely will be a greater demand for workers who have the education required to invent and use this technology.”

The future of automation is not a matter of whether, but rather of how quickly, it will happen. In every occupation from grocery check-out to surgical assistance, robotics is taking on a broader role. The jobs of the future will require the skills to develop, work with and tune technology as robots perform more and more of the manual jobs that human workers used to do.

In another blog titled “More of Today’s Manufacturing Workers Have Bachelor’s Degrees than Ever Before,” Carnevale said, “The glory days of American manufacturing are gone and unlikely to return, as the industry plays a smaller role in an economy now dominated by services. But despite its decline, manufacturing has become more productive with the help of technology and more highly skilled workers.”

Taking a break from college might seem a reasonable way of reacting to the shock waves of COVID-19. But the long-term outlook for post-secondary education is only getting more compelling. The shutdown has transformed remote working from an exception to a rule, and technology is steadily making it more efficient and more effective. The need to graduate from high school ready for the challenges of college and a career in the tech-saturated workforce has grown more urgent.

At JFYNetWorks, we maintain our focus on helping students develop the skills they will need to ensure readiness for the challenges of transition from high school to post-secondary training and the workforce. These skills include language and math fundamentals, as always. But to be ready for the fluid jobs of the evolving labor market, young people now need new-economy skills like planning, self-advocacy, realigning work, and continuous improvement. This is the emerging post-pandemic profile of “College and Career Readiness.”

It’s not the pre-COVID economy anymore. The virus has changed more than we anticipated. The playing field of work is more virtual and more volatile, and the goal posts are continuously moving.


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JFYNet Connects Learning to Goals

by Joan Reissman, JFY Learning Specialist

Standards-based instruction includes MCAS, SAT, grade-level skills

MCAS is back on the schedule for the current school year. Teachers are struggling to cope with remote and hybrid learning models, and to comprehend the impact of six months’ learning loss. JFYNet is adapting its connected learning help them meet the compound challenges of this shortened and complicated school year.

Cracks in the Bedrock, The destabilizing effects of inequality

by Gary Kaplan

History doesn’t repeat itself, Mark Twain observed, but it often rhymes.

Because of our peculiar history, the current calls for redirection of police funding to social programs fall with a familiar cadence at JFYNetWorks.

We are often asked what JFY stands for. It stands for Jobs For Youth, the original name of the nonprofit organization. Jobs For Youth was founded in 1976 with a Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant from the US Department of Justice. Our original mission was to help high school dropouts find jobs. Low-income youth were dropping out of high school at rates rising toward 20% nationally and 40% in the cities. In the early 1970s the Nixon Administration, predating Reagan, thought the best social program was a job. And so, our history began as a juvenile justice delinquency prevention program.

Education and Workforce: What’s New?

Old Year, New Year, New Decade. Same Story.

by Gary Kaplan

For readers of education and workforce journalism, the turn of the decade was neatly bracketed by two articles that summed up the year’s main themes: low student performance and labor shortage. First was a New York Times piece on December 28 headed “Year in Education: Stalled Test Scores…” Under the sub-head “Stagnant Student Performance and Widening Achievement Gaps” it reminded us that the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), our “gold standard” nationwide assessment, had found only one-third of fourth and eighth-graders proficient readers, while student achievement in both reading and math was flat over the past 10 years. That wasn’t all: the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an 80-country international test under the auspices of OECD, found that American 15-year-olds have been stagnant in reading and math for two decades. Both tests noted widening achievement gaps between low-performing and high-performing students. The article did not delve into the demographics of the gaps, but we know all too well how that maps.

Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating Students

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

A teacher is not unlike a gardener.

Time flies so quickly, especially as we get older. It’s now fall and a new school year is underway.

Last weekend as I prepared my garden for winter I started to think about how educators are like gardeners. A gardener sows seeds and then watches the flower seeds turn into beautiful flowers and the vegetable seeds yield their harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, beets and squash. No two flowers are the same, even if the seeds came from the same package. I love seeing the different colors of zinnias and marigolds and the shapes and sizes of tomatoes, each one unique, even on the same plant.

Another New Beginning-Start of school

It is exciting. It is exhausting. It is a time of transition for everyone.

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

It’s that bittersweet time of year again, the start of school. We pack away our summer gear, bags loaded with suntan lotion, flip-flips, towels and sand, and trade them in for book bags stuffed with new notebooks. Schools have been freshly cleaned and waxed and everything has a glimmer of hope. It’s that glorious time when every desk is shining, every pencil is sharp, and every Expo marker works.

The Year in Review - Looking back on a busy 2018-19

Looking back on a busy 2018-19

by Gary Kaplan

The end of a school year is a traditional time for reflection. This year offers a wider than usual range of events to reflect on.

Education occupied an unusual amount of front page real estate. The quarter-century anniversary of Education Reform last year kicked off a long process of re-evaluation that continues to the present moment. The Legislature is still working on a new funding formula to correct the flaws in the old formula that widened the gaps in resources between wealthy towns and poor cities. These dollar gaps correlate with longstanding student performance gaps. There is a wide opinion gap on the degree to which correlation is causation, and on how to ensure that increased funding produces higher performance in the places where it is most needed. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education are untangling the strands of three competing proposals and weaving them into a tapestry of consensus.

Fate Faith in Classroom-Reflections on Hadestown

Reflections on Hadestown

by Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

We have many figures of speech in our language that refer to hell:

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
    “Going to hell in a handbasket.”
    “Heaven doesn’t want me, and hell is worried I’ll take over.” (That one has been ascribed, perhaps erroneously, to Rudy Giuliani.)

I recently had the pleasure of seeing the new Broadway musical Hadestown, in which there is actually a train to hell. (MBTA riders will understand.) I was struck by the show’s contradictory appeal. While the script frankly admits that the story is sad, the message is nevertheless one of unyielding hope. How is that possible? The story and the outcome, based on Greek myth, are totally predictable. So how does the script manage to convey a message of unwavering hope? And why, by the final curtain, had comparisons to the world of education become unavoidable, at least to me?

Reflections on the Blue Line - A school year draws to a close

A school year draws to a close

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

Here I am at the tail end of another school year. It’s been busy getting students ready for MCAS, both in ELA and Math, and ready for college. This year I have been responsible for two schools, Revere High and East Boston High. Though only a few stops apart on the Blue Line, they present very different challenges. I’ll get off at Maverick first and save Revere for next time.

What is College Readiness? Are You Ready?

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

It goes beyond quantitative data points

Measuring “college readiness” is quite the conundrum. Some say it is about test scores, class rank, SAT and GPA. But I think it goes beyond those quantitative data points. While they are all important indicators of skill, there are other measures that cannot be captured in scores but are inherent in “readiness.” These qualities or capacities include executive function, time management in general, prioritizing work and planning for due dates.