In honor of CTE month, we wanted to provide more information about the recent additions to NCER’s CTE research portfolio: 7 new grants awarded across 2 grant programs in FY2021. A previous blog last summer announced these grants; this blog briefly describes each project (the hyperlinks will take you to the full online project abstract). Be sure to read to the end for links to other CTE work across IES!
Within the Education Research Grants program (305A), the following projects were funded in 2021:
College and Career Readiness: Investigating California's Efforts to Expand Career Technical Education Through Dual Enrollment
(PI: Michal Kurlaender, University of California, Davis)
This project is examining the result of policy changes due to California Assembly Bill 288 (AB288), enacted in 2015 to create the College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) partnership. CCAP increased the prominence of Career and Technical Education (CTE) at the high school level by allowing high schools and community colleges to enter joint partnerships and offer dual enrollment courses that count towards both a high school diploma and an associate degree from California community colleges.
Postsecondary and Labor Market Effects of Career and Technical Education in Baltimore City Public Schools
(PI: Marc Stein, Johns Hopkins University)
This project uses a unique selection process into CTE Centers within a large school district, linked with longitudinal state data, to provide strong evidence on the benefits and mechanisms of CTE participation on secondary education, postsecondary education, and labor market outcomes.
SREB Career and Technical Education Leadership Academy Study
(PI: James Stone, Southern Regional Education Board)
This project is developing, piloting, and studying the promise of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Career and Technical Education Leadership Academy to increase the capacity of school leaders at career and technology centers to work with their teachers as instructional leaders and thereby improve CTE outcomes for their students.
An Experimental Evaluation of the Efficacy of Virtual Enterprises
(Co-PIs: Fatih Unlu, RAND Corporation and Kathy Hughes, AIR)
In this project, the research team will provide the first causal evidence on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of Virtual Enterprises, a virtual school-based enterprise (SBE) program. SBEs are one form of work-based learning (WBL) in which students run a business that produces and sells goods or services. SBEs may offer unique benefits relative to other types of WBL by providing opportunities for more students to participate, reducing the need for transportation, and allowing students more room to make and learn from their mistakes. Note: Since this is an efficacy (causal impact) study, it has joined the CTE Research Network.
Sub-baccalaureate Career and Technical Education: A Study of Institutional Practices, Labor Market Demand, and Student Outcomes in Florida
(PI: Angela Estacion, WestEd)
The purpose of this project is to address existing policy and research gaps by, first, administering a statewide survey to catalogue the institutional practices that Florida community and technical colleges use to align CTE programming to the labor market. Second, by combining the survey data with student-level program participation and outcome data, the project team will ascertain the degree to which institutional practices and labor market conditions in students' geographical areas are correlated with students' choices and outcomes. Finally, the project team will analyze qualitative data collected from case studies of Florida community and technical colleges to describe the practices cited in the survey data and understand the process of aligning courses and programs with local labor market demand.
Within the “Using SLDS to Support State Education Policymaking” (305S) grant program, the following projects were funded in 2021:
The Distributional Effects of Secondary Career and Technical Educational (CTE) Programs on Postsecondary Educational and Employment Outcomes: An Evaluation of Delaware's CTE Programs of Study
(PI: Luke Rhine, Delaware Department of Education)
The Delaware Department of Education and University of Delaware is examining variability in participation rates among student subgroups in Delaware public high school CTE programs and link CTE high school participation to high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment, employment, and wages. Stay tuned to delawarepathways.org for more information as the project unfolds.
Analyzing and Understanding the Educational and Economic Impact of Regional Career Pathways
(PI: Jonathan Attridge, Tennessee)
The research team is conducting an evaluation of Tennessee Pathways (along with earlier career pathway programs), a state initiative to align K-12 education, postsecondary education, and employers so that high school students have a clear pathway to move into the workforce.
For a full list of CTE-related grants funded by NCER and NCSER across years, topics, and grant competitions, you can explore our “funded projects” search pages for NCER or NCSER. Here is a recent blog post about students with disabilities in CTE from NCSER. And don’t forget to visit the CTE Research Network frequently for many new CTE-related findings and resources!
NCEE and NCES have published multiple reports on CTE, including Career and Technical Education Credentials in Virginia High Schools: Trends in Attainment and College Enrollment Outcomes, as well as some great blogs such as this one on exploring the growing impact of career pathways from NCEE. You can see more on career readiness from NCEE here and from NCES here.
We are so pleased with the growth of this portfolio since our first call for more CTE research 5 years ago! However, there continues to be a need to better understand CTE. For instance, research is still needed on CTE measures and assessments, quality of programs (content, instruction, and opportunities for WBL), and variation in impacts across student subgroups and career clusters.
For more information about CTE research grants, including feedback on new project proposal ideas, please contact NCER program officer Corinne.Alfeld@ed.gov.