Center on International Education Benchmarking

The Study Guide

1. New National Data on U.S. Career and Technical Education Programs

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report this week on Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in the U.S. based on self-reported data from a 2017 survey of public school districts. The report presents a variety of data points on CTE including which districts and schools offer CTE programs, whether work-based learning activities are included, and the role of employers in program design and support. Districts were also asked about challenges. They reported the following as large or very large barriers to offering CTE to high school students: lack of funding or high cost of programs (50 percent of districts), finding or keeping teachers for in-demand industries and occupations (44 percent of districts), and facilities or space limitations (43 percent of districts). Districts reported that large or very large barriers to student participation in CTE programs include: lack of time in students’ schedules (25 percent of districts), students’ difficulty finding work-based learning (23 percent of districts), and transportation for work-based learning (20 percent of districts).

2. OECD Study Finds Increase in Internet Use by 15-Year-Olds

A new study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that Internet use among 15-year-olds increased significantly between 2012 and 2015, and the digital divide in most industrialized countries has vanished. The study found that, on average in OECD countries, 15-year-olds spent 29 hours a week on the Internet in 2015, compared with 21 hours in 2012, and most of the increase took place during the school week. The study also found that disadvantaged students had about as much access to the Internet as advantaged students in most OECD countries. However, the study also found that 15-year-olds who used the Internet most frequently performed lower in science than those who were online less frequently; those who used the Internet moderately—up to 30 minutes a day at school and 1 to 4 hours on weekdays outside of school—scored above those who never used the Internet or who used it more frequently. More information is available from the OECD.

3. As AI Race Builds, China Invests Heavily in Computer Science Education

For China’s President Xi Jinping, the defeat of a world champion human Go player—an ancient Chinese game—at the hands of a U.S.-owned computer, DeepMind’s Alpha Go, was a Sputnik moment of sorts. Within twelve months of the historic first, Xi pledged to lead the global artificial intelligence industry by 2030.  He planned to do this by heavily investing in science and technical education generally and computer science education specifically. While the U.S. tech industry has thrived because strong U.S. universities can attract foreign talent, China intends to focus on developing domestic talent to compete in the global AI race. Despite popular conceptions of China as a drill-and-test culture, its focus in education is increasingly on creative problem solving and innovation. That shift in focus is apparent in China’s work to dominate the future of the US$150 billion AI industry.  Read more at Wired.

4. Lessons from Quebec’s Child Care System for Other Provinces in Canada

When British Columbia’s New Democratic government announced in February plans to develop a universal child care system, its architects looked to Quebec for lessons. Currently in British Columbia there are only enough child care spaces to serve 18 percent of the children in the province. In this year’s budget, the province announced a three-year, CAN$1 billion (US$790 million) investment in the system including the creation of 22,000 new spaces and increased subsidies for low- and middle-income families. Quebec has offered a highly subsidized universal daycare program since 1997. Quebec’s program is credited with enabling 87 percent of women to participate in the workforce, one of the highest rates in the world. Pierre Fortin, an economist at the University of Quebec said that while the system has been very successful at allowing women to work and in recouping its investments in that way, “…there are a lot of challenges remaining to get the best education and health quality standards.”  For more see The Star.

Young Children

5. Hong Kong Government Commits US$6.1 Million to Promote Reading in Schools

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has announced a plan to provide annual subsidies of HK$40,000 (US$5,096) for primary schools and HK$70,000 (US$8,917) for secondary schools to buy books and promote a “reading culture” among students. This funding, which will begin with the 2018-19 school year, will replace a similar subsidy plan that was discontinued in 2016. The government will also explore providing additional support to promote reading in the pre-primary sector. In her announcement this week, Ms. Lam explained that teachers will have flexibility in implementing the plan: “I am sure teachers are very innovative, so they will find the best way to promote reading among the students.” She pointed to collaboration between schools and public libraries as one way to provide more reading activities for students. Read more from The South China Morning Post and The Standard.

6. Seoul Releases “Future Education City” Plan

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) and the Seoul Metropolitan Government jointly released a plan to make the South Korean capital a “future education city” by 2021.The four-year project is intended to ensure that students are ready for jobs of the future and is being funded with US$1.76 billion. The plan outlines four major goals: boosting youth creativity, increasing the number of science classes, providing early career experience opportunities, and encouraging lifelong education. Classrooms will be upgraded to offer wireless internet and teachers and students will use smart devices in class. The city will create a collaborative “maker space” using high-tech tools and increase the number of “job experience” centers that let students explore career options. The SMOE plans to operate 52 model schools in the capital by 2021. Read more in The Korea Times.

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