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IES Grant

Title: California Community Colleges and Career Technical Education: A Research-Practitioner Partnership
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Kurlaender, Michal Awardee: University of California, Davis
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/2015-6/30/2017) Award Amount: $399,871
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H150073

Co-Principal Investigator: Alice van Ommeren (California Community College Chancellor's Office), Ann Stevens (UC-Davis)

Partner Institutions: UC-Davis and California Community College Chancellor's Office

Purpose: The goals of this project are to identify (1) students that enter community college with clear career technical education (CTE) aims; (2) CTE programs that lead to good-paying employment; and (3) policies and practices that promote student success in CTE programs. Although many students look to community colleges for CTE, community colleges often struggle to identify these students, pinpoint their training needs and degree goals, and structure programs and supports to help them meet their goals. This partnership will work to identify students with CTE objectives as they enter college, and the factors that lead to successful completion of CTE degrees and certificates for these students in the California Community College (CCC) system. The partnership will build research capacity within The Chancellor's Office of the California Community College (CCCCO) system to hold colleges accountable for student success, and to identify programs and policies that facilitate student success. The partnership will consider several malleable factors for increasing student success, including the pre-requisites for programs of study, policies for assigning students to programs with limited seats (e.g. lotteries and other models), and CTE-specific Chancellor's office grants and K–12 partnerships.

Partnership Activities: Researchers at the University of California at Davis (UCD) will collaborate with the CCCCO on analysis of system data aimed at improving programming and policies for CTE students, and developing measures for CCCCO's accountability system. UCD researchers will also work with the CCCCO to develop analytical models and data analysis procedures. Partnership members will meet on a monthly basis to discuss research progress and policy issues.

Setting: This research project will take place in California at all 112 campuses within CCC.

Population/Sample: The sample will include all students with CTE goals, approximately 2.5 million annually, to CCC (in years 2010–2016), and the partnership will focus on the subset of these students with CTE goals and/or course-taking behaviors.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will conduct a quantitative analysis (both exploratory and quasi-experimental) with detailed individual-level longitudinal data from the CCCCO as well as employment and wage data from the State of California Employment Development Department. To address returns to specific CTE credentials, researchers will use individual fixed-effects models with covariates for student characteristics and prior work history. To identify non-degree seekers, researchers will use regression with covariates including students' course-taking behaviors and stated objectives. To assess factors associated with degree completion, the research team will use discrete-time survival analysis with covariates to explain students' persistence and completion trajectories.

Outcomes: The partnership will produce improved metrics for use by CCCCO in its accountability system, and policy and research briefs for non-academic audiences of practitioners and leaders in higher education, government and industry. In addition, the partnership will produce at least one manuscript for a peer-reviewed social science journal.