Student data privacy. There are few issues that have so captivated the attention of the education community. Whether it be state-administered student proficiency tests, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) provisions, or student identifiers such as social security numbers, the topic of what student data is available and how it is safeguarded is now front and center in most education discussions.
It is impractical to suggest, as some have for years, that student data just should not be collected. In the current digital, information age, electronic student data is central to effective teaching and learning. From student registration data to formative/interim/summative assessments, good data is now an essential piece to effective teaching and learning.
Our most effective educators use student data to personalize instruction, ensuring that the lessons in the classroom best match with student needs and learning styles. Schools use student data to effectively manage everything from attendance to student discipline to teacher effectiveness. And school districts and states utilize the data to demonstrate the success of our schools, our teachers, and our kids. Good data is at the heart of all of these activities.
Research from the Department of Labor, academic researchers, and consulting companies tells us a great deal about the jobs of the future – and about what students should be studying in college today.
But we have recently been looking at another valuable indicator of the skills that are in demand to fill jobs . . .
The microdegree courses that are being offered by different providers
As you know, microdegrees (which can also be called nanodegrees, badges, certificates, and by other names) are surging in popularity, and for a very good reason. They allow students to earn a marketable credential in far less time than it would take them to go back to college, full or part-time, to earn a full-blown degree. And because microdegree programs teach skills that are in demand in the workplace, they serve as a good indicator of the skills that are needed to fill jobs today.
It’s hard to avoid news stories these days detailing the teacher shortage gripping public schools across the United States. Last year, the Learning Policy Institute wrote of the teacher pipeline crisis. LPI even developed an interesting map that addressed the issue, state by state.
Some organizations have sought to address the issue by focusing on the quality and rigor of teacher preparation programs. Others, like Educators Rising, have taken on the issue by trying to expand the teacher pipeline, including by recruiting high school students for future careers in the classroom.
Regardless of which way one approaches the issue, it is clear that much work must be done to inform today’s students on tomorrow’s careers as educators. Recent data from our research partners show that just 3.6 percent of today’s high school students aspire to become teachers.
While we often talk to kids about cyber security and the need to protect their personal online information, are we properly educating them about the possibilities of cyber-security careers and the skills and knowledge to obtain such jobs?
As we recognize National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the answer to that question is that there is a shortfall. With so much discussion of STEM in the classroom, the focus is largely on science and math. The lucky students will get some form of technology instruction, while many will miss the opportunity.
Yet not a week goes by when we don’t see cyber security in the news and understand the need for student interest in the field. According to recent statistics, cyber-security jobs are expected to increase 18 percent by the year 2024, with median job pay of $90,000 per year. Yes, it is a growth industry, but it is not one that parents are discussing with their children.
We hear more often that students are beginning to consider career pathways at earlier and earlier ages. But as today’s students dream about their futures, it is essential that they have access to research-based knowledge of those career pathways.
Last year, educators from across the country worked with their students to gather valuable information on what today’s learners believe is most important when it comes to career knowledge. While the results may be surprising to some, they provide valuable insights on career aspirations of our students and how educators can help them achieve those goals.
The below info graphic, developed by the Student Research Foundation, provides just one piece of the information gained from the student perceptions data gathered by ERCA and its partners. In the coming weeks, we will share additional data points, information that can help all teachers better guide their students toward meaningful college and career paths.