Thursday, July 14, 2016

New report shows shift to college jobs and earnings; Kansas schools respond

A new national report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center) found that 99 percent of job growth in the United States since the Great Recession has gone to workers with at least some postsecondary education.

Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson told the State Board of Education this week the study underscores the importance boosting both high school graduation and college participation, two outcomes of the board’s “Kansans Can” initiative.

The report, “America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots,” says that out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million went to workers with more than a high school education and 8.4 million went to workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher, while employment of workers with a high school diploma or less only grew by 80,000 jobs in the recovery.

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“The modern economy continues to leave Americans without a college education behind,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and lead author of the report. In the report, “college” refers to any postsecondary education, including technical certificates and two-year associate’s degree.

Kansas Association of School Boards spokesperson Mark Tallman says Kansas schools have been responding to this trend. “According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.1 percent of Kansans aged 18-24 have some college education, including any postsecondary hours, a technical education certificate, an associate’s degree or higher; up from 51.9 percent in 2005. In 2014 Kansas ranked seventh in the nation in percentage of 18-24-year-olds participating in postsecondary education.”

The percent of 18-24-year-old Kansans who have completed a four year degree rose from 9.7 percent in 2005 to 10.3 percent in 2014. “Keep in mind that only about one-third of Kansans in that six-year age group - those who are 23 and 24 years old - could earn a four-year degree within that time period,” said Tallman. “This means the percent of Kansas who could have earned a four-year degree and did so within six years of graduation rose from about 29 percent to over 34 percent. Kansas ranked 19th nationally in the percent of 18-24-year-olds with a four-year degree.”

However, even with these improvements, Tallman says Kansas will still struggle to meet previous projections from the Georgetown Center, which said by 2020 about 71 percent of Kansas jobs will require some training beyond high school and 35 percent will require a four-year degree or higher.

Improving the rates of high school graduation and postsecondary participation and completion has been a key focus of the Kansas State Board of Education’s “Kansans Can” initiative. A second focus has been working with each student to develop an individual plan of study based on career interests.

Commissioner Randy Watson noted that the Kansas State Board of Education was already deeply engaged in increasing the percent of students with some type of post secondary credential. “The State Board of Education vision for education - ‘Kansas Will Lead the World in the Success of Each Student’, drives their belief that all students should be moving toward completing some type of education beyond high school.”

The recession and recovery have hastened a long-term change in the composition of the American workforce. In 2016, for the first time, workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are a larger proportion of the workforce (36 percent) than those with a high school diploma or less (34 percent). Workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree, who are typically employed in middle-skill occupations, comprise the remaining 30 percent of the workforce.

Nationally, the report found that workers with at least some postsecondary education now make up 65 percent of the total employment, and works with a four-year degree now earn 57 percent of all wages.

KASB research of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 64 percent of Kansans over age 24 have some postsecondary education, but earn 73 percent of wages; and 32 percent of Kansans over 24 have a four-year degree and earn 44 percent of all wages in the state.

Occupational and industry shifts have been major drivers of change in the labor market. Production industries, such as manufacturing, construction and natural resources, shifted from employing nearly half of the workforce in 1947 to only 19 percent in 2016. On the other hand, industries that employ managerial and professional workers such as healthcare, business, financial, education and government services accounted for 28 percent of the workforce in 1947 and have grown to encompass 46 percent of the workforce today.

The largest occupational group in the American economy, routine office and administrative support jobs, lost 1.4 million jobs during the recession and recovery, primarily because of automation and the rise in digital information storage. These occupations were a primary source of jobs for workers with a high school diploma or less, in many cases, so the decline of these jobs has hit less-educated workers particularly hard.

Other key report findings include the following.

  • In the recovery, graduate degree holders gained 3.8 million jobs, bachelor's degree holders gained 4.6 million jobs, and Associate’s degree holders (and those with some college education) gained over 3 million jobs, compared to workers with a high school diploma or less, who added only 80,000 jobs.

  • About 5.8 million high-skill jobs in the recovery are going to workers with a B.A. or higher, whereas low skill jobs are the only area of growth for workers with a high school diploma or less.

  • Among industries, consulting and business services added the largest number of jobs in the recovery (2.5 million), while manufacturing added the second most (1.7 million). Manufacturing, however, still has 1 million fewer jobs than it did before the recession began. Construction added 834,000 jobs during recovery, but is still 1.6 million jobs short of its pre-recession employment — the largest gap among all industries.

  • Management added the largest number of jobs of any occupation since the recession began (1.6 million), while healthcare professional and technical occupations added the second most jobs (1.5 million).

“While it’s reassuring to see the economy back on track, we can’t ignore this tale of two countries with vastly different economic realities for those with and without a college education,” said Tamara Jayasundera, senior economist at the Georgetown Center and co-author of the report. “Fewer pathways to the middle class for those with less education will continue to reshape the labor market and American culture as we know it.”

The full report, “America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots,” can be accessed at:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Does Kansas rank third in funding K-12 education?

Some legislators note that Kansas ranks third in the share of the state budget that is dedicated to public schools, but when considering all funding for education — which legislators say it is important to do — Kansas ranks below the national average. And when it comes to student achievement, the amount of dollars seems more important than the source of the funding.

Per Pupil Funding - All Revenues

When all school revenue sources are considered - federal, state and local - Kansas spends $11,596 per pupil, about $800 below the U.S. average and ranking 27th in the nation.

Those numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s report Public Education Finance for 2012-13 school year, the most recent data available. (A new report for 2013-14 should be released later this spring.

This ranking includes not only state appropriations (what we think about as state aid), but also all local revenue sources, including property tax levies, student fees and local gifts and grants; and all federal aid, included education programs and student meal support.

All School Revenues - Percent by State, Local and Federal

However, looking at the percent of education funding that comes from the state, rather than the amount, Kansas ranks 18th in the country. That is because since the early 1990s, the Kansas Legislature has chosen to rely more heavily on state funding rather than local funding to hold down property taxes and provide a more equalized funding system.

Education as Percentage of State Spending

A third way to measure state support for K-12 education is the portion of the state budget that goes to this function. It is this statistic, from the National Association of State Budget Officers, that shows Kansas ranking third.

The percent of a state’s budget spent on K-12 education really does not provide much information on overall funding of education in that state. Among the top fives state on the chart above, Vermont ranks near the top in total funding (6th), Indiana and Kansas rank in the middle (25th and 27th, respectively) and Utah and Colorado rank near the bottom (49th and 38th).

An example of how the share of state budget spent on K-12 or the share of K-12 received from the state can have no impact on overall K-12 funding is illustrated by the way Kansas shifted the 20 mill statewide levy from a local source kept by local districts to a state source collected and then appropriated back to districts by the state. That switch did not change school funding at all, but was a major reason the share of Kansas’ total budget going to K-12 increased from 25.9 percent in 2014 in 29.6 percent in 2015.

Likewise, when the state increased local option budget state aid in 2015 in response to the Gannon decision in 2014, many districts that had reached their maximum LOB amount were required to reduce local property taxes, rather than increase spending.

Education Funding and Student Success

What about the most important aspect of K-12 education: student achievement? KASB has identified seven states that exceed Kansas on 14 national measures of achievement, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math tests all student, low income and non-low income students, ACT and SAT tests measuring college readiness, and graduation rates for all students and certain subgroups.

As the following chart shows, neither the percent of state budget spent on K-12 education nor the share of total K-12 funding from the state seems to have a major impact on high achieving states. However, each of the states spends more than Kansas and ranks in the top half of states for TOTAL funding. In other words, the amount of funding seems more important than the source of the funding.

States exceeding Kansas on 14 key achievement measures (and Kansas)
2015 Percent of State Expenditures for K-12 (and U.S. rank)
2013 Percent of total K-12 Expenditures from State Funding (and U.S. Rank)
2013 Total funding per Pupil (and U.S. Rank)
14.7% (40th)
32.1% (49th)
$12,514 (20th)
New Hampshire
20.7% (40th)
35.5% (50th)
$15,320 (12th)
20.0% (2nd)
62.6% (9th)
$11,955 (25th)
11.6% (48th)
40.2% (44th)
$17,315 (7th)
New Jersey
24.9% (12th)
38.7% (47th)
$20,191 (2nd)
31.8% (1st)
76.2% (2nd)
$18,130 (6th)
16.3% (32nd)
51.7% (24th)
$12,072 (23rd)
29.6% (3rd)
56.4% (19th)
$11,596 (27th)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Big step forward for Kansas students

When the Kansas State Board of Education receives a report on new reading and math test scores today, the results will look lower than what the public, teachers, parents and students are used to.

And that is actually very good news.

Kansas has made its reading and math tests much tougher by raising expectations, which means that performance will look lower. The new tests measure more than just knowing the basic facts of reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, the tests are designed to tell if a student is learning to think critically and solve more advanced problems - to handle the more complex demands of college, technical education and the workplace.

These tests are different from the types of tests students have taken in the past, and certainly different from what most parents (and grandparents) experienced. Instead of asking students to simply give answers based on acquired knowledge, the new tests ask students to apply that knowledge to new situations. These skills take time to acquire. The test format is different from what students have experienced in recent years. However, the most important thing to remember is the new tests are designed to be more challenging.

Kansas: Rising Achievement, Rising Demands

Kansas has long ranked among the top states in education performance, such as national reading and math tests, high school graduation rates and preparation for college, and each of these measures has improved over the past decade. However, Kansas school leaders have recognized we will have to do even better to help students succeed.

For example, Kansas high school graduation rates are at an all-time high, but economic changes mean most jobs will require education beyond high school. In the 1970s, only about one-third of jobs required more than a high school diploma. By 2020, it is projected that over two-thirds of the jobs in the United States will require some type of postsecondary education: technical training or a two-year, four-year or advanced academic degree. In Kansas it will be even higher: over 70 percent - fifth highest in the nation.

The good news is Kansas education levels have been rising. From 2000 to 2013 (the most recent year statistics are available), the percentage of Kansans 25 and older with a two-year, four-year or advanced degree has grown from from 32 percent to 39 percent, the percent of Kansans with “some college” has held steady at 25 percent, and the number of students completing technical programs has increased, according to state higher education officials.

The educational level of Kansas adults should continue to rise because educational performance by Kansas students has also improved, including high school graduation rates, the National Assessment of Educational Progress fourth and eighth grade reading and math tests, and college preparation tests, such as the percentage of students meeting all four “college ready “benchmarks” on the ACT test. In fact, across 14 national indicators, Kansas ranks 5th in the nation.

It is worth noting that Kansas’ spending rank is 25th in the nation after adjusting for state cost of living differences, and Kansas spends less than any other state in the top 15 for student achievement.

Challenges Facing Kansas Schools and Students

However, being better than most states still leaves some big challenges.

First, too many students fail to prepare for college academic requirements and require remedial courses or simply drop-out of college without completing a credential. About 74 percent of Kansas graduating seniors take the ACT test and 93 percent of those students says they plan to enroll in college. However, about 20 percent of those tested self-report they did not take at least four years of English and three or more years each of math, social studies and natural science. Even students who do complete that “core” may not have passed the specific “college prep” courses required for qualified admission to state universities.

“College prep” courses are much more challenging than those required only for graduation. If students do not take courses to prepare for postsecondary education, they are much less likely to be successful in college. The new tests are designed to give parents, students and educators a better and earlier measure of student progress.

Second, as in all states, low-income, disabled, African American, and Hispanic students in Kansas lag behind in graduation rates and test scores, especially in preparation for college. Again, Kansas does better than most states with all groups of students, but it will be much harder to fill the educational needs of the state economy if these students do not make more progress.

This is particularly true when the numbers of low income, non-white students are growing rapidly. For example, Hispanic students were just 9 percent of ACT test-takers in 2011, but 13 percent in 2015. Only 15 percent of Hispanic students meet all four “college ready” benchmarks, compared to 37 percent of white students.

Improving educational levels is critical to individual economic well-being, as well as the state’s economy. Each higher level of educational attainment results in higher income, less unemployment, and less need for public assistance.

Third, academic preparation measured by state tests is not the only thing students need to be successful. Results of new Commissioner of Education Randy Watson’s “listening tour” of Kansas last Spring indicates Kansans place a high value on non-academic skills and characteristics. In addition, about one-third of Kansas jobs will NOT require postsecondary education. Many students are unlikely to want or even be capable of more rigorous academic courses. Kansas high school schools must provide programs to meet their needs, as well.

What It Will Take to Succeed

How do the new Kansas assessments address these issues? Because these tests are given in grades three through eight and in once in high school, educators, parents and students will have a better idea how well they are preparing for college and careers long before their junior or senior year in high school, and have more time to adjust plans, choose the right courses and seek additional academic help and career counseling if needed.

It is important to note the higher standards reflected in these tests does not mean Kansas education performance has declined or more Kansas students or schools are somehow “failing.” It does, however, mean more will be expected. Preparing for success after high school will require more challenging courses than many students - and parents - are used to. Many of these students will be the first in their family to attend college. It will require more from teachers and support staff, such as academic and career counselors. It will require more individualized instruction.

Finally, meeting these higher standards will require the right resources. The Kansas Legislature is setting out to develop a new school finance system while the Kansas Supreme Court considers legal challenges to both the previous system and the “block grants” that froze state operating funds for the current and next school year.

This give Kansas the opportunity to fund schools based on what it takes to educate a successful student, which is exactly the standard adopted by the Kansas Supreme Court through the so-called “Rose Capacities.” While those capacities, ranging from basic skills to civics, economic, health, the arts and preparing for postsecondary education, have not been completely defined, one thing is clear: the only states that outperform Kansas across all national measures of educational outcomes spend more money per per pupil and target additional resources at low income and other special needs students. These are the states Kansas will be competing against for high-paying, high-skill jobs.