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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

"English language learners are the fastest-growing student population group in our schools. Providing them with high-quality services and programs is an important investment in America's future." " Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association
The future of learning is blended. The U.S. Department of Education agrees, citing 11 studies that suggest students in online or blended learning environments outperform those in traditional face-to-face classrooms.1 The blended learning model - a hybrid of face-to-face instruction with online learning - is better-suited to meet the needs of today's career college students. Let's look at five ways blended learning can help your career college improve student performance.
Since the 2013 State of the Union address, the Department of Education has renewed emphasis on programs that prepare students with the skills employers demand, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math.1 The department's 2015 budget reflects this priority, with $170 million earmarked for programs that prepare students for STEM-related careers.2 While this policy is new, the principle is not. Promoting career skills has been the mission of Penn Foster for over a century, ever since Thomas J. Foster opened a correspondence school to teach mining engineering to mine workers in 1890.
To grow student retention rates, career colleges should focus on establishing and promoting an engaging and nourishing learning environment. Place more emphasis on the conditions of the learning environment rather than on the attributes and behaviors of students.
Kentucky and Maryland recently raised the legal age a student can drop out of high school. While Kentucky raised its dropout age from 16 to 18, Maryland raised its dropout age from 16 to 17, with plans to raise it again to 18 in 2017. With these new laws, both states hope to underscore the importance of a K-12 education and argue that keeping teens in school longer will help to combat the dropout crisis. However, a series of unintended consequences have challenged these new mandates, and others argue that states and school districts should be investing in other alternative solutions to the dropout age law.
Of the 3,436 career colleges that participated in federal financial aid programs in 2014-2015,1 approximately 1,400 - or nearly 41 percent - will not qualify for continued participation under new Gainful Employment regulations, the Department of Education estimates.2 Of course, high student loan default rates hurt students, but they also put educational institutions at risk of losing their Title IV eligibility. This makes promoting student loan literacy a priority. Offering student loan coaching is one way schools can help ensure that students follow responsible loan management practices.
Earlier this month, our team had the pleasure of heading down to Louisiana to visit the Blue Cliff College campuses located in Alexandria and Houma. During our visit, we had the opportunity to interact with current Penn Foster students, as well as those who graduated and matriculated into a Blue Cliff program.
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute recently published a new policy report on adult education. The report states that increased support for adult education is critical to supporting the state's economy. Nearly 866,000 Georgians ages 18 to 64 do not have a high school diploma or GED, ranking ninth out of all states with the highest percentage of adults without a HSD, while the state ranks fifth poorest state in the country. Additionally, only 37.5 percent of working adults in Georgia hold a two- or four-year college degree. The report argues that Georgia's economic well-being is directly correlated to the education of its citizens, and that with so many adults still lacking a high school degree, it's imperative the state reallocate funds for education initiatives.
The quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry has long been stigmatized as either a brief stop for teens to earn a little money before they move on or a dead-end job for those lacking training in more skilled professions. It's time for this misguided perception to end, for the truth is that the QSR industry holds a range of opportunities for people to grow and expand a promising career. According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and reported in QSR Magazine, 97 percent of QSR managers and 94 percent of shift workers had advanced to higher-paying jobs within the industry. And more than nine out of 10 employees age 35 or older had been promoted to a higher-paying jobs.1
America's Promise Alliance has recently published a report funded by the Ford Foundation titled Expanded Learning, Expanded Opportunity: How Four Communities Are Working to Improve Education for Their Students. The report examines case studies from four cities from around the nation, and their efforts to supplement traditional schooling with after-school learning time. The ultimate takeaway: due to the fact that each community differs from the next, there is more than one approach for providing young people with educational support they need to help them thrive in school.

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