Did you know that in Oregon:
- 32 percent of Oregon high school students fail to graduate on time.
- Seven of every ten new jobs created in Oregon between 2008 and 2018 will require some type of formal education beyond high school.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs will grow by 13 percent in Oregon between 2008 and 2018, and 94 percent of STEM jobs will require post-secondary education by 2018.
Developing Necessary Skill Sets
To overcome the challenges of the skills gap, we must train and re-train our current workforce. We must also develop skills in young people to ensure that they enter the workforce better prepared. To be equipped with the knowledge and abilities businesses now require, students must:
- Master Core Academic Content
- Think Critically and Solve Complex Problems
- Work Collaboratively
- Communicate Effectively
- Learn How to Learn
- Develop Academic Mindsets
Innovative high school education models, along with rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability systems, can help to address the skills gap affecting businesses across the country. Business leaders know the importance of educational standards and aligned assessments that will help students master core academic content, and train them to think critically, solve complex problems and communicate effectively (i.e. deeper learning skills) that they will need to be competitive in today’s highly-skilled workforce.
Bringing Career Relevance to High School Classrooms
In conjunction with these standards and assessments, innovative high school have shown promising results in preparing students for success in college and career. Often called “smaller learning communities,” education models such as “Career Academies” integrate career relevance training with a rigorous academic curriculum, equipping students with important skills highly valued by employers. These schools:
- Are comprised of a group of students who take classes together for at least two years and are taught by the same group of teachers
- Provide a college preparatory curriculum based on a career theme that helps students see relationships and connections between academic subjects and their application in the real world.
- Develop partnerships with employers, the community, and colleges.
Our 2014 Policy Priorities
Education policy at the federal and state levels needs to address the range of knowledge and skills needed for all students to be fully ready for college and careers. Policy opportunities include:
- Skill Development
- Measurable Results
- Professional Development and Teaching Practice
- Academic Standards and Aligned Assessments
Federal Policy Priorities:
America’s Edge members will be urging their Congressional delegation to do the following:
Strengthen our nation’s education system through federal education reform to:
- Provide incentives for States to shift away from the traditional K-12 approach towards an educational system that incorporates early learning into the educational structure so kids are ready to learn and succeed when they enter kindergarten;
- Promote and mobilize for innovative high school models, which promote deeper learning” through models such as “Career Academies,” “Career Pathways,” etc. to help vulnerable youth develop critical skills and be prepared for careers and/or post-secondary education;
- Improve graduation rates measurement and accountability, including supporting both data systems that can serve as an “early warning system” for kids headed towards dropping out, as well as the use of evidence-based programs to keep kids in school and on the path towards graduation;
- Provide the support of K-12 programs which enhance academic outcomes;
- Create a system of recruitment, professional development and retention for teachers so that more students – especially those most at-risk for adverse academic outcomes– have access to high-quality teachers; and
- Ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, funds are directed toward evidence-based approaches in the highest-need communities.
Oregon Members Release Report
On April 2, 2013, America’s Edge Oregon members released a report discussing the skills gap currently experienced and expected to continue in the future. (Click here to view the report.) On the upside, Oregon can look to significant growth in well-paying jobs requiring post-secondary education, particularly those in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. On the downside, the state won’t have nearly enough workers to fill them without a substantial shift in current education trends.
America’s Edge in the News
- February 11, 2014. Brooks, Martha. “Oregon’s poor school attendance.” The Oregonian.
- December 19, 2013. Harper, Michael. “Give kids an early, strong start.” Portland Tribune.
- December 19, 2013. Jones, Candee Clark. “Sheriff’s right: Preschool cuts crime.” Portland Tribune.
- September 26, 2013. Waterman, Roxanne. “Today’s skills gap threatens tomorrow’s economy.” Lake Oswego Review.
- September 26, 2013. Waterman, Roxanne. “Today’s skills gap threatens tomorrow’s economy.” West Linn Tidings.
- September 6, 2013. Evinger, Tim. “Ensuring students are college- and career-ready.” Herald and News.
- May 3, 2013. Riley, Katie. “Oregon’s businesses need skilled workers.” The Hillsboro Tribune.
- May 2013. Bell, Jon. “The STEM shortage.” Oregon Business Magazine.
- April 2, 2013. Burton, Steve. “Will today’s students be ready for tomorrow’s jobs?” Portland Business Journal.
- April 2, 2013. Young, Molly. “Oregon must close skills gap to meet changing workforce demands, new report says.” The Oregonian.
For more information, please contact Western States Regional Director, Martha Brooks.
Phone: (866) 512-3245