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IES Grant

Title: Exploring the Role of Career and Technical Education in Putting Michigan High School Students on a Path to Economic Success
Center: NCER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Jacob, Brian A. Awardee: University of Michigan
Program: Career and Technical Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (07/01/2020 – 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $469,463
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A200046

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to identify the relationship between career and technical education (CTE) participation and key long-term outcomes like employment, earnings, college enrollment, and college completion. At the same time as poverty and inequality are becoming entrenched in society, college completion rates have stagnated and far too many students never reap the benefits associated with higher education. As a result, high school CTE programs have recently risen in popularity among policymakers as a way to strengthen the talent pipeline. However, there is presently a dearth of evidence about these programs' efficacy in preparing young people for the workforce. This study aims to fill this gap.

Project Activities: The research team will carry out a series of exploratory analyses using state administrative data to examine how participation in high school CTE programs is related to high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment, college completion, quarterly employment, and quarterly earnings.

Products: The project will provide evidence of the relationship between CTE participation in high school and longer-term learner outcomes. Researchers will also produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This study will focus on the state of Michigan.

Sample: The analytic sample will include the complete universe of Michigan students who attended public high schools in 10 recent cohorts: the graduating classes 2010 to 2019.

Factors: This project will examine the relationship between student participation in high school CTE programs and long-term outcomes such as employment, earnings, and postsecondary enrollment.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a descriptive, exploratory analysis as opposed to a causal analysis. That said, prior research indicates that students who choose to participate in CTE and ultimately complete programs are observationally different than those who do not. As such, the researchers will pursue a number of quasi-experimental methods to address selection bias.

Control Condition: Researchers will use matching methods to identify students who are observationally similar to CTE participants, though there is no experimental control condition.

Key Measures: The researchers will use state administrative data to measure students' level of CTE participation and program of study. These data will serve as predictors in the analyses. They will draw from state, National Student Clearinghouse, and Michigan Workforce Development Agency data to measure the outcomes of interest, including high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment, college completion, quarterly employment, and quarterly earnings.

Data Analytic Strategy: The analysis will proceed in three stages. First, researchers will conduct simple univariate and multiple regression analyses to estimate differences in outcomes between CTE participants and non-participants. Second, they will use matching methods to relax OLS restrictions. Third, the researchers will perform basic instrumental variables analysis along with a two-step procedure based on a discrete choice framework. Finally, they will probe the mechanisms through which CTE might influence labor market outcomes using mediation analysis.