May 23, 2014
by Haley Sinklair and Matt Crumb
In a world where marketplace and occupational demands are constantly changing, some are questioning whether school curriculum is staying relevant for students who hope to one day become valuable in the job market.
A new initiative called EDUindex Inc. is emerging as a tool for Wisconsin schools to gauge how well their curriculum matches local and state workforce needs. The visionary for EDUindex is Dr. Gail Gessert who holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. Dr. Gessert’s ultimate goal is to move K-12 education in a meaningful direction so that it encourages appropriate skill development for employment after high school or college.
Instead of measuring how well a student, teacher, or administration is doing using standardized testing, EDUindex uses statistics about employer demand and school course offerings in a defined area, such as a zip code or city, and determines if they match up. For example, if the city of Milwaukee has a need for engineers, architects, and lawyers, but the curriculum of the local school districts lack relevant course offerings to those professions; the EDUindex score could be lower.
The correlation is expressed as a numerical value between 0 and 1.0 with 1.0 being perfectly relevant to the region’s employment market. The index can be calculated across geographical areas such as school districts, zip codes, metropolitan regions, or entire states.
After assigning a numerical value to the curriculum, EDUindex prepares a “GAP” report that is accessible to schools and parents. GAP reports offer perspective to classes already provided, as well as identifying classes that may be needed based on market demand.
A total of 71 schools in the Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee area have already participated in the analysis. In January, the company published the Top Ten Milwaukee EDUindex list with Oak Creek High School, Brookfield Central High School, and Kettle Moraine High School holding the highest scores.
EDUindex will soon begin to suggest curriculum solutions for schools to aid in better aligning what gets taught in the classroom to what Wisconsin employers are looking for.
Time will tell if workforce alignment metrics will become prominent in Wisconsin’s school districts. As many businesses express concern over lack of an appropriately skilled workforce, alternative measures of educational success may provide a valuable perspective for future debate.