Education Attainment Division
The Buddy System: Chambers Supporting New Year’s Health Resolutions
It is often said that the key to sticking to your New Year’s resolution is using the buddy system: enlisting a partner to support your journey and report your progress to. In the New Year, chambers of commerce are taking on this role in their communities for members who want to support their employees’ workforce wellness resolutions. Both the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Saratoga (NY) Chamber of Commerce have announced new initiatives to boost the health of their communities in 2015:
- Along with community partners, the Greater Des Moines Partnership has unveiled a new Wellness Toolkit, in an effort to help its small business members make Iowa the healthiest state in the country by 2016. With one year to tackle this goal, the Chamber has created a business-friendly 12-month toolkit.
According to the press release, “many small business owners like the idea of helping their employees remain healthy, but don’t have enough time, knowledge, or resources to implement a program. The Get Active Wellness Toolkit seeks to remove those barriers by arming small businesses with ‘plug-and-play’ content to help them implement a wellness program within their offices.”
Each month in the toolkit represents a different health theme, from fitness to dental health. Each kit contains a poster that lays out wellness tips, facts, and resources. Employers can also download packets that contain more health facts, suggestions for activities to implement in the workplace, and daily health tips that they can email to employees.
Also found on its wellness homepage, the Partnership has created various fact sheets regarding health and fitness, compiled a directory of resources for wellness in the workplace, and even supports a mobile app that connects members of the Des Moines community who have committed to an active lifestyle.
- The Saratoga (NY) Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Blue Shield of Northeastern NY, is hosting Saratoga’s first-ever Health and Wellness Week from January 5-11. Enlisting the participation of member businesses, the event will showcase many of the health and wellness opportunities available in Saratoga, with the goal of inspiring the community to live healthier in 2015.
Throughout the week, member businesses will help create buzz and excitement around health and wellness by offering a wide range of workshops, classes, discounts and seminars. These mini-events are designed to help community members explore new health and wellness products and services. Examples include mineral water tours, free fitness classes, mini facials, and cooking classes.
The Saratoga Health and Wellness Week was the brainchild of the chamber’s new Health and Wellness Committee, which is charged with expanding the chamber’s already expansive initiatives to make Saratoga one of the healthiest communities to live in.
For more information on how chambers are helping create healthier communities:
- Visit the Workplace Wellness and Community Health Chamberpedia Page to learn how chambers support childhood obesity prevention, corporate wellness, and access to healthcare
- Download the Workplace Wellness Communication Briefs to disseminate to members and broader community to explain how businesses can support healthy communities and healthy economies.
Quickpoll Reveals Chamber Interest and Involvement in Supporting Common Core
ACCE recently conducted a QuickPoll:Common Core State Standards to learn if and how chambers were supporting higher K-12 academic standards and assessments in their states and communities. 140 Chamber Executives responded to the Quickpoll and revealed that chambers were indeed both interested and involved. 44 percent of surveyed chambers have a policy platform supporting more rigorous K-12 academic standards and assessments. If a chamber did not already have one 22 percent said they would like to adopt a policy platform supporting new K-12 standards and assessments.
Chamber involvement on this issue is vital because of the lack of awareness and understanding of CCSS. A national poll released by Achieve found that 63 percent of respondents know very little or nothing about CCSS. Of those who had heard of common core, 40 percent had an unfavorable impression and 37 percent had a favorable impression. But when the principles of CCSS were explained in more detail, favorability improved to 69 percent, with only 23 percent retaining their unfavorable impressions. Additionally, a recent public opinion poll by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce revealed that outside of educators and military leaders, the business community represents the most credible voice to advocate for higher K-12 standards and assessments.
Our Quickpoll provided a snapshot of how chambers are working to ensure college and career success for their community's future workforce.
- 88 percent of chambers said they were working with key stakeholders such as state education agencies, local school districts, and teachers
- 78 percent are communicating to their members about Common Core State Standards or higher academic standards based on common core
- 63 percent are holding events focused on CCSS and 58 percent are speaking to policy makers about CCSS or higher academic standards and assessments.
How Can ACCE Help?
When asked about the supports/resources/services ACCE could provide to help chambers engage in the successful implementation of new and more rigorous standards and assessments:
- overwhelmingly (93%) of chambers wanted examples of best practice documents/case studies and examples of policy platforms from other chambers
- 79% wanted tips on engaging membership and/or assistance identifying community-specific goals
- 68% wanted tips on getting started
- 60% requested conference calls/webinars with content experts
- 50% wanted peer to peer connections with chamber executives also working on starting an education platform
Did you know...
The Education and Workforce Development Chamberpedia section of the HERO portal contains resources chambers can use to engage their communities across the whole cradle to career spectrum. Chamberpedia's K-12 section features business-friendly tools, samples and FAQs catered to all levels of interest and engagement whether you are interested in simply learning more about Common Core State Standards or are actively working with business leaders, schools, higher education institutions, etc. to prepare your communities to successfully implement more rigorous standards and assessments. Materials found in the College and Career Readiness section include: blog posts from chamber executives; a communications toolkit to reach policymakers, the media and the general public (including your employees) with a consistent business message about the need for improvements to our nation’s education system; sample common core pledge and letter from business leaders; and customizable one-page PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) flyers that organizations can add their logo and website to on how business leaders can work in partnership with schools and districts to shape new policies and practices.
Did you know...
The Education Attainment Division hosts bi-monthly webinars and conference calls for members of the greater EAD Community featuring content experts and chamber practitioners discussing topics across the cradle to career spectrum. Join next week's webinar: Deeper Learning for Global Competiveness to learn how businesses can help ensure students have the skills required to succeed in a globally competitive workforce. You can also listen to audio from the November 2013 EAD Community Call: Common Core Messaging- How to Get Ahead of the Pushback, facilitated by Kelli Wells, Director of US Education, GE Foundation.
Did you know...
ACCE has recently launched a Mentor Program. Chamber executives can self-select a range of expertise, including education and workforce development, or search for a chamber peer that has expertise in their desired interest area. Sign up to become a mentor or find a mentor today!
Chambers are vital to helping communities understand the importance of a skilled workforce prepared for to meet the demands of both college and career. Our Chamberpedia pages and Samples Library are populated by your contributions, so we invite you to help us continue to grow and expand on these valuable resources. Have a case study for how your chamber is supporting next generation standards and assessments in your community? Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the EAD page to learn more information about the Education Attainment Division.
**NOTE:you will need your ACCE login (jsmith) and password (EAD123) to access the links on this post and HERO resources.
Greater Spokane Inc's Business AfterSchool Program Brings Companies & Students Together
Last week Greater Spokane Inc. hosted Engineering Week as part of its Business AfterSchool Program. Business AfterSchool brings area students and parents to Spokane's high-demand industry sectors and companies to teach them about different careers and the skills needed to land available jobs. The program will devote one week each to focus on these industries: health care, engineering, manufacturing and computer science.
Impacting Education: Where are the Resources?
Chambers can influence a broad spectrum of issues by harnessing the collective voice of their business communities. Trends in corporate social responsibility and the burgeoning number of chambers directly involved in increasing regional education outcomes signify growing business involvement in education and workforce development.
A concerted, collaborative effort by local institutions can help identify areas where partners can work together to address pressing educational issues, better leverage resources and have a measurable impact. One way to begin this process is to use external asset mapping to stimulate thinking about potential resources to support your education and workforce development goals.
Consider these steps
- Determine where along the cradle to career spectrum you would like to engage: Early childhood education, K-12, post-secondary, workforce development?
- Choose a focus for your activity: Programs, policy, systems reform, messaging?
- Consider potential funding sources: Corporate sponsors, foundations, government funding, government funding through competitive grants (e.g., Race to the Top), community-based organizations?
An ACCE Quickpoll of 236 chamber executives found that two out of three cited a lack of staff or funding as the main obstacle to becoming involved in education and workforce development. However, chambers have overcome this hurdle through leveraging the impact of their business leaders to attract strategic partners and funders.
- The Talbot (MD) Chamber was part of a community team that raised money to purchase a laptop computer for every student from 8th grade until graduation. This program grew into the One to One Laptop Initiative and is now funded through the local school district as a budget item.
- The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s education and talent development initiatives include K-12 education improvement, talent recruitment and retention, and workforce systems development. Most of the funding for these initiatives comes from their Partnership 2020 economic development strategy, a five-year, 10-county strategic plan. In addition, the chamber has received funds for specific projects and initiatives from area corporations and philanthropists, local and national foundations and the region’s three Workforce Investment Boards.
- UNITE-LA, the education and workforce development arm of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, works with member companies, corporate foundations, local community based-organizations and philanthropic foundations to foster education and workforce development systems that support Los Angeles’ youth and the development of a thriving regional economy. UNITE-LA seeks public grants to support and promote these collaborative partnerships.
- Through their multi-partner regional business, community, and economic development collaborative, Sarasota Tomorrow Next, the Greater Sarasota (FL) Chamber of Commerce allocates funds from membership pledges for education and workforce development initiatives.
- The Arlington (TX) Chamber of Commerce partnered with their local university, workforce investment boards and city government to establish a co-owned and operated Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding to the Kentucky Chamber Foundation to develop their communications and business outreach campaign to build a coalition of business leaders advocating for college-and-career-ready standards in Kentucky.
- In Texas, funding for the Austin Chamber’s wide array of workforce and talent development initiatives was derived from a line item within Opportunity Austin, a five-county initiative for job creation in Central Texas fueled by $14.4 million in business investments.
The business voice is the strongest force to address the need for a highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of our global economy, and this work is something that every chamber can lead. For more information about ACCE's Education Attainment Division email or call 703-998-3571.
GED® Test Evolves to Better Prepare Adults for Success in the Workforce
As more and more communities struggle to fill available jobs with a skilled and educated local workforce business and higher education have realized the need to join forces in tackling the talent and skills gap issue. Read what GED Testing Service is doing to help students and adults meet current and future workforce demands.
In response to feedback from employers and colleges across the country, the GED® test is making a dramatic change in 2014, aligning with college and career readiness standards and focusing on the skills adults need to be successful in the workforce.
Over the past five years, report after report have come out and highlighted that adult learners need more than just a high school diploma to succeed in today’s economy and to earn a family-sustaining wage. There are not enough low-skill jobs for low-skill workers and adults are recognizing that the jobs that are available are middle-skill jobs – jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a Bachelor’s degree.
We have also seen that too many high school students are not graduating with the right skills needed to be successful in the next step in life – going to college or enrolling in a job training or certificate program. Groups like state and local Chambers of Commerce have been outspoken in their support of raising standards for high school graduates, which is important to ensure employers have access to adults with the right skills to be successful in today’s economy.
As the primary high school equivalency test provider for adult learners, GED Testing Service also heard that message loud and clear from employers and colleges across the country. After reviewing our program and looking at the changing economic landscape, we joined the effort to raise standards and improve the resources available to adults so that they can be successful after earning a high school equivalency credential.
New Benefits of the 2014 GED Test for Employers
Below are some of the significant features of the new GED® Test that will be released in 2014 that are most valued by employers:
· 2014 GED® test aligned with Common Core and college and career readiness standards – GED Testing Service worked closely with employers, colleges, workforce professionals and researchers to ensure that the 2014 GED test is aligned with college and career readiness standards and measures the problem solving and critical thinking skills most valued by employers and colleges. We have also demonstrated that our new test is strongly aligned with the college and career readiness standards outlined by the US Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education.
· Provides college and career readiness target goals – While we will continue to measure high school equivalency, the 2014 GED® test will also measure where a test-taker’s performance level is in relation to college and career readiness in each of the four subject areas.
· Detailed score report – The 2014 GED® test will provide a wealth of information in the new detailed score report, which will outline the skills an individual has demonstrated and provide feedback on areas that need to be improved to demonstrate either high school equivalency or college and career readiness. This new feedback will better help employers, colleges, adult education instructors, and individual test-takers better understand the skills and competencies of a test-taker.
· Computer-based Testing – The 2014 GED® test will only be offered on computer, allowing adult learners to demonstrate basic technology skills and take advantage of some significant benefits like same-day score reports, online scheduling and a more flexible testing experience.
· GED Portal – The 2014 GED® test will also have an online portal that will help adults navigate the path of preparing for the GED® test, taking the test and connecting with jobs, college or certificate programs in their local community.
· GED Analytics – The 2014 GED testing system will provide states with a sophisticated analytics system that will allow states the ability to evaluate and report on the success of their adult education programs.
Some States Might Drop the GED® Test to Avoid College and Career Readiness Standards
While all of the new changes to the GED® test likely align with the education initiatives of your Chamber, some states are looking to replace the GED® test to avoid moving to college and career readiness standards. Given the leadership that Chambers have taken on this issue and the respect they garner from the states, we are hoping to partner with individual chambers to ensure that adult learners have access to a high school equivalency test aligned with college and career readiness standards.
GED Testing Service is excited to exhibit at ACCE’s 2013 Convention in Oklahoma City. Please stop by our booth to learn more about the changes and how you can help make sure your state is moving in the right direction.
Visit www.gedtestingservice.com for more information about the 2014 GED test.