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IES Grant

Title: College and Career Readiness:  Investigating California's Efforts to Expand Career Technical Education Through Dual Enrollment
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Kurlaender, Michal Awardee: University of California, Davis
Program: Career and Technical Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (07/01/2021 – 06/30/2024) Award Amount: $1,700,000
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A210217

Co-Principal Investigator: Martorell, Francisco

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the result of policy changes due to California Assembly Bill 288 (AB288), enacted in 2015 to create the College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) partnership. CCAP increased the prominence of Career and Technical Education (CTE) at the high school level by allowing high schools and community colleges to enter joint partnerships and offer dual enrollment courses that count towards both a high school diploma and an associate degree from California community colleges. The state's high school accountability system now includes CTE pathway completion, an important expansion from previous school accountability frameworks that relied mainly on traditional academic metrics. The research team will explore CTE course offerings, course-level participation in CTE, and the relationship between CTE course-taking and postsecondary outcomes using a rich longitudinal administrative dataset that they assembled in partnership with numerous state agencies in California.

Project Activities: The project activities are as follows: (1) identify where dual enrollment CTE opportunities exist for California high school students across the state, by investigating the characteristics of sending high schools and receiving community colleges, as well as the types of fields represented in these programs; (2) analyzing  how participation in CTE has changed over time and the extent to which enrollment differs by student characteristics; and (3) identifying  the longer-term postsecondary outcomes of CTE students.

Products: The research team  will disseminate findings through academic, peer-reviewed research conferences and journals, and through outlets aimed at informing practice and policy. For example, in addition to academic venues, researchers  intend to disseminate results broadly to practitioners and policymakers through Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) and Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place using California's nearly 3000 public high schools and 116 community colleges.

Sample: Participants include the census of California public high school graduates between 2014–15 and 2022–23. With approximately 450,000 high school graduates each year, the sample will include over 4 million students across nine cohorts.

Factors: This exploratory project investigates California's efforts to expand CTE course taking opportunities in high school, including via dual enrollment at community colleges.

Research Design and Methods: Using descriptive statistics and regression models, the researchers will examine the distribution of California high school and community college characteristics for career-technical education (overall and specifically dual enrollment) participating institutions. They will use regression models with school random effects to investigate student-level and school-level determinants of CTE enrollment and CTE dual enrollment participation. To explore associations between CTE enrollment and postsecondary outcomes, they will examine both unadjusted differences in outcomes, and then use statistical matching to account for selection bias in the unobservable characteristics that plausibly contribute to both differences in CTE participation and in the postsecondary outcomes of interest.

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

Key Measures: The dataset will include  administrative records from the California Department of Education and the California Community College Chancellor's Office. The measures of CTE course-taking include the type of CTE enrollment (high school or community college), completion of a CTE pathway in high school, performance in CTE courses; and CTE field of study. To capture postsecondary success, the researchers will construct measures for college enrollment type (e.g., two-year, four-year, other technical sub-BA), persistence, unit accumulation, degree/certificate attainment, employment, and industry type. They will consider multiple student characteristics as covariates, including prior academic achievement, demographic characteristics, and participation in instructional support programs. They will also include a variety of high school-level and community college-level measures such as enrollment characteristics, geographic characteristics, and demographic composition.

Data Analytic Strategy: The primary analytical strategies for this project include descriptive statistics, regression models using school random effects and statistical matching.