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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

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Career and college 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.

A Jeffersonian Solution for a Jeffersonian Problem: Inequality

All people may be created equal, but all schools are not.

by Gary Kaplan

Inequality will be a pervasive topic in the new decade. It won’t be a new topic. It’s been a front page story ever since Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century came out in English in 2014. But it seems to be coming up more frequently, and in more contexts, from the World Economic Forum in Davos to the sports page of the Boston Globe. Yet for the millions who live it every day, it’s hardly breaking news.

Summertime Studytime

Math and English Review

by Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

GPA ON THE LINE

The weather is finally nice. You’re sick of school. Going to the beach and hanging out with friends seems like a great idea. After ten months of stuffy classrooms, the last thing you want to think about is next school year. I hear you! You can have fun! But, if you use just a little of your precious summer time to do some studying, you will hit the ground running in September (or August). A little preparation over the summer can really pay off when you head back to class in the fall.

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.

MCAS Prep

Meet the new MCAS with confidence and success

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

I started teaching in 1998. My first year I filled in for a teacher in a Boston exurb. The school was my alma mater, so English department staff took me under their wings to help me do the best one could hope for a first-year teacher. They gave me lesson plans, coached me on practice and helped me develop some good curriculum. By all measures, I had a great year in my first year of teaching.

Thank you for your continued support

Dear Friend of JFYNetWorks,

You may remember a young man named Joey whom we have featured before. Joey was a pleasant, affable high school student with a winning smile and a low opinion of himself. “I want to go to college,” he said, “but I’m not sure I can do it. There’s too much to learn. How am I ever going to make it?” We have recounted how we helped Joey work his way through our College Readiness course by showing him the periodic reports that documented how much he had achieved and how much closer he was to the goal. Our blended learning specialist, Melissa, even counted the number of software modules he had to complete and checked them off as he did them. By the end of the year, he had learned enough to pass the college placement test. In the fall, he was admitted to community college without having to take any remedial courses. We’ll never forget his charmingly modest expression of triumph to Melissa: “I got this, Miss.”

Minding the Gap… GAP Year that is

Should you take a year off after high school?

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

If you’re a senior, you are probably thinking about college. The traditional pattern has been to attend college right after high school, but many students now are taking a year off before enrolling in college. The so-called “gap year” got a lot of attention when Malia Obama decided to wait a year before attending Harvard. Her decision attracted both praise and criticism. Was it a good decision? Let’s examine the gap year option.