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IES Grant

Title: The Distributional Effects of Secondary Career and Technical Educational (CTE) Programs on Postsecondary Educational and Employment Outcomes: An Evaluation of Delaware's CTE Programs of Study
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Rhine, Luke Awardee: Delaware Department of Education
Program: Using Longitudinal Data to Support State Education Recovery Policymaking      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/2021 08/31/2024) Award Amount: $999,999
Type: Exploration and Efficacy Award Number: R305S210008
Description:

Co-Principal Investigators: Shores, Kenneth; May, Henry; Farley-Ripple, Elizabeth

Partner Institutions: Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and University of Delaware

Purpose: The Delaware Department of Education and the University of Delaware will examine variability in participation rates among student subgroups in Delaware public high school CTE programs and link CTE high school participation to high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment, employment, and wages.

Project Activities: The project team will carry out three research activities:

  • Document students' secondary CTE participation to understand the factors that influence students' enrollment in CTE, their choice of program of study, and success within CTE,
  • Explore the links between students' secondary CTE participation, and their postsecondary educational and occupational outcomes, and
  • Determine the overall and subgroup impacts of attending a dedicated and intensive CTE high school versus a traditional high school.

Products:The research team will provide evidence about CTE participation and the impact of CTE participation on longer-term learner outcomes. Researchers will generate both peer-reviewed publications and policy briefs. Representatives from the Delaware Department of Education will disseminate the findings to state legislative bodies, local school leaders, school counselors, CTE teachers, employers, and students and their parents.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project takes place in the state of Delaware.

Sample: The analytic sample will include 10 cohorts of Delaware students attending public schools in grades 6-12 for school years 2010-2011 to 2019- 2020.

Key Issue, Program, or Policy: Delaware offers CTE programs of study in 41 out of 45 public high schools including its three technical school districts (six high schools), 16 comprehensive or traditional school districts (26 high schools), seven charter school districts (seven high schools), and two state institutions serving at-risk youth (two high schools). These programs vary in the number of CTE courses, the types of aligned postsecondary coursework, the intensity and duration of work-based learning placements, and school or district instructional philosophy.

Research Design and Methods: The project team will use different methodologies depending on the research activity. The team will carry out a descriptive analysis of students' secondary CTE participation to understand the factors that influence students' enrollment in CTE, choice of program of study, and success within CTE. The team will complete an exploratory analysis to identify which CTE programs of study are linked to greater postsecondary success, as measured by college enrollment, employment, and wages. The team will also carry out a causal analysis to determine the overall and subgroup impacts of attending a dedicated and intensive CTE high school versus a traditional high school using an experimental design based on student enrollment lotteries at oversubscribed technical high schools.

Control Condition: The descriptive analysis does not have a control condition. The control condition for the exploratory analysis are students with observationally equivalent test scores prior to high school entry. For the causal analysis, the control condition includes students who participated in a lottery to attend a technical high school but lost the lottery.

Key Measures: Student-level outcomes include course-taking patterns in high school along with the letter grade and certifications earned, high school completion, college enrollment, employment status and wages. School-level variables include the number of CTE programs available at the school, the number of CTE postsecondary credits a student can earn at the school, and the number of technical certifications a student can earn at the school, and the industry/occupational focus, type, and duration of CTE program that is offered. Data are from the DDOE, the Delaware Data Service Center, the National School Clearinghouse, and the Delaware Department of Labor,

Data Analytic Strategy: For the descriptive study, the project team will estimate the link between student outcomes in high school, and student and school characteristics using a 2-level hierarchical linear models (students nested in schools) modified as necessary into a logistic, multinomial logistic, or ordinal logistic model to align with the specification of the dependent variable. For the exploratory study, the project team will estimate the link between student postsecondary and labor market outcomes and student and school characteristics using a 2-level hierarchical linear models that also addresses school fixed effects and programs of study fixed effects to address variation in associations by school and program and also allows for their interaction with student demographic variables to further examine subgroup variation. The project team will estimate the complier average causal effect of attending an intensive CTE high school using the lottery outcome (win/lose) as an instrumental variable predicting attending/not attending an intensive CTE high school.

State Decision Making: The findings will be used as DDOE considers:

  • CTE and dual enrollment policies including equity in access to these programs
  • Revision of CTE programs of study
  • School counseling and student advisement policy
  • State accountability policy
  • Technical assistance to local education agencies
  • Fiscal incentives or pay-for-performance systems to influence local education agency behavior and actions.
  • Communication to engage students and their families in decision making regarding secondary and postsecondary education decision making including its links to the labor market.

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