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IES Grant

Title: Florida CTE Certifications Study
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Glennie, Elizabeth Awardee: Research Triangle Institute
Program: Career and Technical Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2017 - 06/30/2021) Award Amount: $1,399,587
Goal: Exploration Award Number: R305A170222
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Benjamin Dalton

Purpose: This study has two principal aims: (1) to identify which high school practices supporting industry-recognized credentials (i.e., certifications) are associated with a higher likelihood of passing certification exams; and (2) to test whether obtaining a certification, a malleable factor, is associated with increased rates of high school attendance, high school graduation, and postsecondary enrollment and persistence. Despite the vital and growing role of industry-recognized credentials in the U.S. education and training system, little is known about the value of industry certifications, and very little research has been conducted on the implementation of certification programs in high school and the consequences of high school certifications for secondary and postsecondary outcomes. The overall goal of this project is to develop and test a model of the relationships among district characteristics and policies concerning access to certifications; school characteristics, practices, and procedures promoting certification curricula and exams; high school students' certification attainment; and students' secondary and postsecondary academic outcomes. Results of this study will help us understand how high schools and school districts promote certifications, which kinds of students are earning them, and the benefits and costs for students' secondary and postsecondary trajectories.

Project Activities: The researchers will develop a model of the relationships among district characteristics and policies concerning access to certifications; school characteristics, practices and procedures promoting certification curricula and exams; high school students' certification attainment; and students' secondary and postsecondary academic outcomes. They will investigate critical issues raised by policies promoting certifications in high school, including whether districts and schools promote certifications equitably; whether they encourage unprepared students to take certification exams, and what the consequences of certification failure are; and whether students at all levels of academic preparation—especially students unlikely to pursue a 4-year college degree—receive similar benefits from certification attainment.

Products: The products of this project include preliminary evidence of how obtaining an industry certification in high school affects students' education outcomes, and peer reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in Florida.

Sample: The study population is composed of all Florida students in public high schools who entered as first-time 9th-graders between 2012–13 and 2015–16.

Research Design and Methods: This study combines secondary data analysis and primary data collection (school and district surveys) to examine cross-sectional relationships using multivariate regression approaches. Specifically, the researchers will combine student-level longitudinal data from the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) with original data to be collected from a survey of staff responsible for coordinating the certification program in Florida's districts and schools. The researchers will use multilevel modeling, propensity score matching, and instrumental variables analytical techniques to explore associations among key institutional and student factors, analyze differential access to certifications, and test hypotheses about the varying impact of certifications for students from different demographic and academic backgrounds.

Intervention: Due to the exploratory nature of the design, there is no intervention per se. The research team will examine the operation and outcomes of a certification policy in the state of Florida. With the passage of the Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Act in 2007, the state of Florida embarked on a novel and ambitious program promoting high school certification statewide. Since then, the number of certifications earned annually by Florida high school students has grown exponentially (over 6300%)

Control Condition: Due to the exploratory nature of the design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: School and district practices surrounding certification and high school certification attainment are the key factors of interest. Outcome measures are high school attendance, high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment, and persistence into a second postsecondary year.

Data Analytic Strategy: To answer the first research question, the researchers will employ three-level multilevel (hierarchical) regression models to estimate relationships between district and school factors and student likelihood of certification. For the second research question concerning the relationship between certification attainment and student academic outcomes, the researchers will use (1) multilevel models with substantial prior ability and interest controls; (2) propensity-score matching approach that compares certification earners with non-earners matched across a rich array of student background variables and academic and CTE measures; and (3) an instrumental variables approach that takes advantage of information on CTE course and program offerings at the school level as an instrument for certification attainment.


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