To the Editor:
Your May 24, 2006, article “Ambiguity About Preparation for Workforce Clouds Efforts to Equip Students for Future” makes reference to my report from the Educational Testing Service Policy Information Center on welfare reform and work. The article also refers to an ACT Inc. report, which concluded that not only did college-bound high school students need stronger academic preparation than they were getting, but also that those going to work instead of college needed this as well.
There have been comments that I did not deal in my study with the ACT analysis (it was not available when mine was written).
The ACT report examined “Zone 3” jobs in the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET database, positions just under the tier of jobs that require a four-year college degree. But these jobs require substantial postsecondary education, such as an associate’s degree, a diploma from a technical school, a certificate, or long-term classroom and on-the-job training in an apprenticeship program.
However correct the report’s analysis of these jobs, they are not the ones that high school graduates go into if they do not go on to postsecondary education. Such jobs are in the tier down, or below that.
Paul E. Barton
This writer is a senior associate at the Educational Testing Service, in Princeton, N.J.
A version of this article appeared in the June 21, 2006 edition of Education Week as On Workforce Data and Jobs’ Education Needs