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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

Not all students learn the same way, but many students - whether traditional or nontraditional, who come from diverse backgrounds - have one thing in common: they have no idea what to do after high school.
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Our nation continues to combat the dropout crisis by increasing the high school graduation rate (from 80 percent in 2012 to 81.4 percent in 2013). It's progress for education, but what about the achievement gap?1 The National Center for Education Statistics defines the achievement gap as the result of when "one group of students outperforms another group and the difference in average scores for the two groups is statistically significant."2 In other words, the achievement gap is a disparity of educational performance measures among groups of students who differ by race and ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic status.
Youth who come from low-income families or challenging environments have plenty to deal with, and yet this group of students still must endure the preconceived notions and low expectations sometimes perpetuated by educators, learning institutions, communities and society as a whole. These young people are up against a lot, and the odds aren't in their favor.
It's no secret that the biggest challenge for career schools today is increasing enrollments. In recent news, Universal Technical Institute experienced a 9.79% decrease in their enrollments between March of 2014 and March of 2015.
The skills gap continues to dominate much of today's economy discussions. Despite steady improvements in college graduation rates and job availabIlity, employers and job seekers struggle to make a match. It's time for employers to gain control of talent management. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce proposes a new approach to recruiting, hiring and retention: Apply lessons from supply chain management to establish partnerships with education and workforce providers to hire, train and retain skilled employees.
High school educators have faced significant challenges within the past decade. The dropout crisis and graduation gaps continue to limit opportunities for high school non-completers, resulting in higher unemployment rates. As a result, our communities and economy suffer.
Penn Foster was in Denver last week to participate in the APSCU 2015 Convention and Exhibition. This conference brought together over 1,500 attendees from private sector schools to focus on innovations and enhancements in the higher education space. Having spent three days taking in the conference, here are my top 3 learnings I came away with from the show:
Your students already know the career industry they want to pursue - after all, that's why they came to you. But how well does the classroom prepare adult learners and recent high school grads for post-college success? According to USA Today, fewer than two in five hiring managers who had interviewed recent graduates in the past two years found them prepared for a job in their field of study.1
The primary purpose of the Higher Education Act (HEA) is to ease the burden of the cost of college by allocating federal student loans and grants to students. It is a large piece of legislation, and touches nearly every aspect of federal higher education policy. The HEA was first signed into law by President Johnson in 1965, and has been reauthorized 9 times. The most recent reauthorization was in 2008, so it's likely to be up for reauthorization by Congress this fall. The amendments that are being suggested for this year's reauthorization focus on (1) making higher education more accessible by providing more financial aid to students, and (2) streamlining the financial aid process to make it more intuitive for students and parents. These are noble, important goals, especially considering that student loan debt in the U.S. has now surpassed $1 trillion. However, economic realities that exist today in our global, "sharing economy" are vastly different than they were in the Johnson era that informed the original legislation.
April 30th 2015: New legislation aiming to protect students and taxpayers has been introduced to Congress by three Democrats, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), and U.S. Representatives Mark Takano (CA-41) and Susan Davis (CA-53). The Protections and Regulations for Our Students Act (PRO Students Act) is a comprehensive bill that calls for further restrictions on for-profit college activities. The bill aims to curb practices that take advantage of vulnerable students.

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