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GAO REPORT URGES U.S. DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR AND EDUCATION TO WORK TOGETHER ON DROPOUTS

A new report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) is recommending that the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education coordinate efforts to clarify the ways in which schools can work with workforce officials to connect high school dropouts to youth services provided by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

The report, Labor Actions Can Help States Improve Quality of Performance Outcome Data and Delivery of Youth Services, notes that research has shown that young people can achieve positive outcomes when paired with caring adults, engaging in hands-on education and training activities, and receiving support for personal growth. The WIA program has sought to make these experiences available to both in-school and out-of school youth. It was enacted in 1998 as a way to help the nation’s emerging workforce realize its full potential and to help address unmet labor demands due to too few workers with the necessary skills. The program receives approximately $1 billion annually and serves an estimated 721,000 of the nation’s most at-risk young people.

The report found that local WIA youth programs largely focused on preemptive strategies to help in-school youth avoid academic failure that often leads to dropping out of school. In fact, 70 percent of WIA programs serve in-school youth, half of whom received summer employment services that were linked to classroom learning. For example, a service provider in rural California enrolled in-school youth in a six-week summer enrichment program where students worked part-time while learning reading skills. One urban area in Virginia reported that “while a local school provided one counselor for as many as 300 students, the WIA program funded one counselor for every fifty WIA participants.”

Out-of-school youth were difficult to identify because schools did not always ensure that dropouts were connected to the WIA program. Even when identified, out-of-school youth were more difficult to track down and often favored the money from immediate employment over WIA’s long-term youth development activities. Out-of-school youth who were served through the program were more likely to receive occupational skills training and supportive services, such as child care assistance, transportation, and housing, as opposed to in-school youth.

The complete report is available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04308.pdf.

Spotlight on Educational Research

 

U.S. Department of Education to Fund Research Training in the Education Sciences

 

In order to develop a new generation of researchers capable of producing scientific evidence that will guide education policy and classroom practice, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences recently announced funding for graduate training programs in the education sciences.

Each of the new training grants will be funded for up to $1 million per year for up to five years. Ten or more training grants could be awarded in the first year of the program. This program marks the first time that the U.S. Department of Education will provide significant support to colleges and universities to develop programs for students interested in pursuing careers in education research. Currently, schools of education are not producing sufficient numbers of researchers to meet the burgeoning demand for rigorous, quantitative research on the effectiveness of education programs and practices.

For more information, visit http://www.ed.gov/programs/edresearch/applicant.html#predoc04.

National High School Alliance Offers Catalog of Research on Secondary School Reform

A new product, the Catalog of Research on Secondary School Reform (CoRSSR) is available online through the National High School Alliance. The online catalog, which will be continually updated, describes research that is currently in progress or has been recently completed but not yet published.

The featured research focuses on questions of implementation, effectiveness, and/or policy that specifically address one or more of the key attributes of effective schools, as identified by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: common focus, high expectations, personalization, climate of respect and responsibility, time for teacher collaboration, performance-based assessment, and the use of technology.

Researchers interested in having their work included the in the catalog should contact Monica Martinez, Project Director (martinezm@iel.org) Shayna Klopott, Research Associate (klopotts@iel.org) or Nina Frant, Program Assistant (frantn@iel.org).

To access the catalog, visit http://www.hsalliance.org/research/index.asp.

 

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