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IES Grant

Title: Supported College and Career Readiness (SCCR) for Secondary Students With Emotional and Behavioral Problems
Center: NCSER Year: 2020
Principal Investigator: Kern, Lee Awardee: Lehigh University
Program: Special Topic: Career and Technical Education for Students with Disabilities      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/2020 – 08/31/2023) Award Amount: $1,374,356
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A200097

Co-Principal Investigator: Liang, Chris; Freeman, Jennifer

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and pilot test a multi-componentprogram that augments typical school-based college and career readiness (CCR) activities. In recent years, there has been an increase in initiatives to ensure students are adequately prepared for college or career. Research suggests, however, that high school age students with or at risk for EBD, are neither prepared for college or career nor sufficiently benefiting from CCR activities. The current project aims to fill this void by developing and evaluating the Supported College and Career Readiness (SCCR) program. SCCR will adapt and supplement components of currently existing CCR programs.

Project Activities: An iterative development process will be used to design, refine, and pilot test SCCR. During Phase 1, the outcomes of literature reviews and focus groups consisting of community stakeholders will guide initial development of the SCCR program. In Phase 2, the SCCR program will be implemented with a small group of students, soliciting extensive feedback from students, parents, and educators to further refine the program. Subsequently, the SCCR program will be pilot tested using a randomized controlled trial. The resulting program will be manualized to facilitate CCR support for at-risk students.

Products: The primary product of this project will be a fully developed SCCR intervention program for improving CCR of students with or at risk for EBD, with preliminary evidence of the promise of the intervention for improving student outcomes. The program will be fully manualized for ease of implementation. This will be accompanied by a description of cost to implement the intervention. In addition, the project will result in peer-reviewed publications and presentations as well as additional dissemination products that will reach education stakeholders, including practitioners and policymakers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Diverse high schools in Pennsylvania and the Northeast Hub.

Sample: Development activities in Phase 1 will be informed by a community team consisting of administrators, general education teachers, special education teachers, career counselors, parents, and high school students with EBD. During Phase 2, the initial SCCR program will be evaluated with 20 high school students (grades 9 and 10) with social/emotional/behavioral problems and academic concerns. Subsequently, 160 students with the same characteristics as Phase 2 will participate in a randomized controlled trial.

Intervention/Assessment/Factors: The SCCR programwill enhance standard components of school-based CCR programs by: (a) conducting bi-annual assessment to identify student strengths related to potential careers, (b) providing students with assistance to bi-annually identify their top three career choices, (c) offering students assistance with course selection each semester aligned with top career choices, (d) providing a structured evidence-based curriculum to students that is focused on teaching essential CCR skills, (e) supporting students to secure an expanded range of work-based learning experiences, and (f) implementing structured interventions to increase parent involvement in their adolescent's CCR activities.

Research Design and Methods: Using a two-phase development process, College and Career Readiness activities will be modified and supplemented to better meet the needs of students with or at-risk for EBD. In Phase 1, comprehensive literature reviews will be conducted and extensive input will be solicited from community stakeholders (i.e., administrators, general education teachers, special education teachers, career counselors, parents, high school students with EBD) to initially develop the Supported College and Career Readiness (SCCR)program. During Phase 2, the program will be evaluated with 20 high school students, collecting detailed data and feedback from a range of consumers. Evaluation data will include student outcomes, feasibility and acceptability, and training and coaching needed for high integrity. Data will be used to revise and improve the program. Subsequently, a pilot randomized controlled trial will be conducted with 160 high school students. Students will be randomly assigned to SCCR or CCR as usual. Data will be used to assess whether SCCR leads to improved CCR readiness. In addition, cost of SCCR program will be assessed.

Control Condition: Students randomized to the business as usual control condition will receive typical CCR practices consisting of (a) annual (or less frequent) assessment of student strengths and potential careers, (b) expectation that students ascertain their top career choices, (c) expectation that students identify and enroll in courses linked to top career choices, (d) dedicated (but typically not highly structured) instruction in CCR, (e) work-based learning experiences identified and secured by students, and (f) expected parent involvement.

Key Measures: Student CCR skills, readiness, and school belonging will be assessed using the Comprehensive College and Career Readiness Survey, the Career Development Inventory, analysis of career goals and action plans, and the Georgia student health survey 2.0. Additional indicators of school engagement will be assessed via school attendance, homework completion, and grades. Engagement in CCR activities will be evaluated by examining career selection, course selection, attendance and engagement in CCR instruction, work-based experiences, student reflections, and parent involvement. Implementation fidelity will be assessed using researcher-developed forms aligned with intervention components. Intervention feasibility and acceptability will be evaluated using the School Intervention Rating Form (SIRF). Distal outcomes collected include grades, dropout, and post-graduation job or college attainment.

Data Analytic Strategy: During the development phase, literature review data will be descriptively summarized. In addition, community development team data will be categorized, coded, and triangulated. During initial implementation, student outcome data will be compared pre- and post-intervention. Integrity and consumer satisfaction data will be descriptively analyzed. During the pilot study, multiple regression will be used to assess the impact of the SCCR model on student outcomes. Data indicating intervention fidelity and acceptability will be descriptively analyzed.

Cost Analysis: The research team will calculate the cost of each SCCR component and make comparisons to students who receive basic CCR. An estimate a cost-benefit ratio will be determined by comparing the cost per SCCR student to estimated incremental costs of attendance, graduation, and employment stability.