News Roundup – 3/1

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Our weekly roundup of education technology, workforce technology, and venture capital news stories.

Beyond ‘College or Bust’: Apprenticeship as a Postsecondary Path to Opportunity – The Future of Education podcast featuring author Ryan Craig and school leader Diane Tavenner. This episode focuses on how K-12 educators approach apprentices and alternative pathways for high school students. An illuminating discussion about the current state of apprenticeships, how educators can move away from the “college or bust” mindset, and the obstacles to wide-scale adoption.

A race against time: 2 ways to push students toward higher retention, completion rates – An analysis of findings from a recent Ad Astra report that explores the relationship between how many credits students attempt to complete and retention and completion rates. According to the report, the more credit hours a student attempts, the likelier they are to graduate. The article also proposes two options to improve these figures: reframing student progress and improving program flexibility.

Drop In Venture Funding To Black-Founded Startups Greatly Outpaces Market Decline – Last year was the first since 2016 when venture funding to Black-founded startups failed to reach $1 billion, only hitting $705 million, outpacing overall startup decline. This 71% drop also means that Black-founded startups received their lowest market share since that same period. This signals a departure from the promises VC firms and investors made in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. While no real solutions are offered, the article goes into depth on the state of the market and the factors that contributed to the decline.

Revised Federal Edtech Plan Calls for Closing Digital Divides – The recently revised Edtech plan, released by the federal government last month, indicates a hopeful future for dismantling the digital divide. This update is the first that focuses on technology’s role in aiding students with disabilities, emphasizing digital equity, and the ubiquitous role of technology in students’ lives. It also highlights the accelerated adoption of digital devices and remote learning during the pandemic. However, despite those in the industry remaining optimistic, it does raise the question of whether the ambitious goals will be hindered by evaporating funds.

More Than Half of Recent 4-Year College Grads Underemployed – An overview of the findings from The Strada Education Foundation and Burning Glass Institute report on post-college underemployment outcomes. According to the report, a decade after graduation, 52% of four-year college graduates do not have a job that requires a four-year degree. This article explores the different outcomes that rely heavily on the initial path recent grads explore once they enter the workforce.

Employers don’t practice what they preach on skills-based hiring, report finds – A report from The Burning Glass Institute and Harvard Business School suggests that skills-based hiring initiatives are falling short of most companies’ ambitions, with most failing to make significant changes to drop degree requirements or increase the proportion of their workforce without degrees. Despite policy changes, many companies did not show any meaningful difference in hiring behavior.

U.S. Ed-Tech Venture Investments Fell Sharply in 2023 — But Still Land Above
Pre-Pandemic Levels
– According to a new analysis from Reach Capital, ed-tech venture funding in the U.S. is returning to pre-pandemic levels, with investments totaling $2.8 billion in 2023, marking a 46% drop from 2022’s $5.2 billion and a nearly 66% decrease from the record high of $8.2 billion in 2021. The report emphasizes that while the reduction in overall ed-tech investments aligns with a global pullback in venture capital, much of the slowdown can be attributed to increased interest rates and the uncertainty surrounding future cuts from the Federal Reserve. The article explores the market that led the list of top investments, the kinds of companies that received investments, and funding stage gaining traction due to AI.

Black, Hispanic Students More Likely to Drop Out – This short article explores the results of Gallup and Lumina Foundation’s survey of currently enrolled students, adults who enrolled in a postsecondary program after high school but did not complete it, and adults who have never enrolled. According to the survey, Black and Hispanic students are more likely to consider dropping out of college because of emotional stress, mental health, and cost. It also highlights the types of programs unenrolled students are interested in and the factors that drive different populations to enroll in higher education.

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