The simple fact is that Cryptic messed up their ship class system with the mechanics they intend to use.
By using a DPS aggro mechanic they should have made the aggro magnet... the highest DPS dealer. As such, Escorts should actually be doing LESS damage than Cruisers if you ever want them to stop taking the fire.
The cruisers are basically wallowing whales with turn rates to match while the escorts are all about serious forward firepower in a tight manuverable package. In order to fix this Cryptic need to increase the damage power of beam weapons for cruisers.
Perhaps give them an inherrant buff to phaser mounted just like Escorts get a penalty to their shields. That way, a cruiser can draw the aggro properly while the Escorts actually ESCORT the cruiser into the fight.
Alternatively, Cryptic need to drop the tanking aspect of the Cruiser and just accept the fact the current mechanics make Escorts the ones that are going to be taking the fire. Thus remove their penalty to their shields and / or offer them natural resistance armor.
If the Escorts are given the chance to actually survive LONG enough for their friends to help them then that would be a big help, as it is Escorts die far too quickly in furballs.
If a death penalty is introduced, Escort pilots are going to be getting completely wasted in these fights and possibly unworkable depending on this penalty. Lose all your crew at the first torpedo ? - Yeah, thanks man, I only have 50 crew members compared to the hundreds or thousands of a cruiser which reduces my poor repair rate from abysmal to non-existant on a ship that actually needs it.
I find that if I'm taking to much damage, I can often use my Science BOf's 'Jam Targeting Sensors' to stop the enemy being able to target me, followed by my Engineering BOf's 'Emergency Power to Shields'. All through out this procedure, I'm still firing my weapons, so I'm stil doing damage.
That's the closest to 'Aggro' that I can find in STO and it's all that is needed, IMHO.