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IES Grant

Title: Understanding the Antecedents of STEM Career and Technical Education Coursetaking for High School Students with Learning Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Gottfried, Michael Awardee: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Special Topic: Career and Technical Education for Students with Disabilities      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (09/01/2019 – 08/31/2021) Award Amount: $182,428
Type: Exploration Award Number: R324A200233

Previous Award Number: R324A190202
Previous Awardee: University of California, Santa Barbara

Co-Principal Investigator: Dougherty, Shaun

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to investigate whether participating in applied STEM career and technical education (AS-CTE) courses in high school is related to students with learning disabilities pursuing and persisting in STEM majors and/or careers. High school AS-CTE courses emphasize the practical applications of academic math and science concepts to job experiences by incorporating "hands on" quantitative reasoning, logic, and problem-solving skills. Although a significant number of students with learning disabilities participate in CTE courses, little is known about their AS-CTE course-taking patterns and the extent to which taking these courses is related to postsecondary and employment outcomes. This project will use data from two nationally representative datasets to explore the AS-CTE course-taking patterns among students with learning disabilities, as well as the extent to which these patterns appear to promote advancement towards postsecondary STEM participation and/or careers in STEM. This descriptive evidence will have important implications for policy makers and educators regarding the facilitation and promotion of interests in STEM for students with learning disabilities and access to these courses.

Project Activities: Researchers will code data from two nationally representative datasets to understand AS-CTE course-taking and conduct analyses to examine relationships between participation in these courses and the high school, college, and career outcomes for students with learning disabilities. These two datasets include the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) and the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:2009).

Products: The products of this project will include preliminary evidence of the relationship between AS-CTE course-taking and postsecondary and employment outcomes for students with learning disabilities. The project will result in peer-reviewed publications and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that reach education stakeholders such as practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project will use data from two nationally representative, longitudinal studies, the ELS:2002 and HSLS:2009.

Sample: The researchers will analyze ELS:2002 data first collected in 2002 from approximately 15,360 tenth-grade students, who were followed up in 2004, 2006, and 2012, as well as HSLS:2009 data first collected in 2009 from approximately 23,000 ninth graders who were followed up in 2012, 2013, and 2016.

Malleable Factors: The malleable factor under investigation includes AS-CTE course-taking in high school.

Research Design and Methods: This is a descriptive study that relies on secondary data analysis to estimate correlations between AS-CTE course-taking and postsecondary education and career outcomes. First, data will be cleaned and coded to identify students with learning disabilities; classify which courses are AS-CTE courses; and identify high school, college, and career outcomes. Next, researchers will conduct analyses to describe the pattern of AS-CTE course-taking among all students and separately for students with learning disabilities. Finally, researchers will examine whether AS-CTE course participation is associated with college and career outcomes, and whether these relations differ by learning disability status.

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

Key Measures: Data from students' high school transcripts (course names, grades earned, and credits earned) will be used to classify which courses are AS-CTE courses. Three outcome measures from the longitudinal datasets include: (1) enrollment and graduation from college, (2) initial field of study and field of study upon completion of a postsecondary degree, and (3) type of employment. A variety of covariates will also be used at the student, family, and school levels such as student GPA, household income, and school size.

Data Analytic Strategy: Descriptive analyses will be used to examine the distribution of AS-CTE course-taking across the entire sample and by students with learning disabilities. To determine whether AS-CTE courses are associated with college and career outcomes, the researchers will use multivariate regression techniques, with clustered standard errors at the high school level to account for nested data. They will employ multiple imputation for missing data.

Related Projects: Does Applied STEM CTE Strengthen the College and Career Pipeline for Low-Income High School Students? (R305A180096)