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IES Grant

Title: Postsecondary and Labor Market Effects of Career and Technical Education in Baltimore City Public Schools
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Stein, Marc Awardee: Johns Hopkins University
Program: Career and Technical Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (07/01/2021 – 06/30/2023) Award Amount: $498,528
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A210049

Co-Principal Investigators: Plasman, Jay; Durham, Rachel

Purpose: There is a growing body of empirical research into the efficacy of career and technical education (CTE) participation in high school in the United States. However, little of that work can be identified as truly causal, nor has much of this prior work empirically explored the theoretical mechanisms of change linked with CTE participation. This project will use a unique selection process into CTE Centers within a large school district, linked with longitudinal state data, to provide strong evidence on the benefits and mechanisms of CTE participation on secondary education, postsecondary education, and labor market outcomes.

Project Activities: The research team will explore specific mechanisms theorized to impact the postsecondary academic and labor market outcomes of students who progress through career and technical education (CTE) programs of study in the Baltimore City Public School (BCPS) system. The researchers will use a fuzzy regression discontinuity design where enrollment offers to CTE Centers are used as an instrument for actual enrollment in a two-stage least squares framework to examine the effects of CTE participation on high school and postsecondary education and labor market outcomes for Baltimore City youth.

Products: The research team will produce evidence that will add to the growing body of research employing rigorous estimation methodologies to understand the effectiveness of CTE programming at the secondary education level. Researchers will disseminate findings and results to researchers, policy makers and practitioners through the publication of peer-reviewed articles and policy briefs as well as through presentations to local, state, and national research and practice conferences and colloquia.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in a large urban school district in the state of Maryland.

Sample: Participants include approximately 30,000 rising 9th grade students across six cohorts who are representative of the school district in which they are enrolled.

Intervention/Factors/Assessment: The research team  will examine the effects of selective admissions CTE Centers (schools in which all students are enrolled in a CTE course of study) on student post-secondary academic and labor force outcomes.

Research Design and Methods: The research team  will leverage the centralized enrollment assignment process used by the school district to make enrollment offers as part of its universal high school choice process. Students who choose programs in selective CTE Centers are prioritized by a composite score based on middle school academics and are offered enrollment until all seats in the program are filled. The project will leverage these admissions cutoffs to implement a fuzzy regression discontinuity design where enrollment offers are used as an instrument for actual enrollment in a two-stage least squares framework.

Control Condition: Although this is an exploration study, students who were offered enrollment in a selective admissions CTE center will be compared to students who are offered enrollment in either non-selective or highly selective academic focused high schools.

Key Measures: The key measures include:

  • On-time graduation from high school;
  • Enrollment in a post-secondary educational institution within six months of graduation from high school;
  • Enrollment persistence in post-secondary education;
  • Completion of post-secondary program;
  • Labor market participation within six months of high school graduation;
  • Labor market persistence measured as continuous employment for four consecutive quarters post high school graduation;
  • Wages earned over four consecutive quarters post high school graduation;
  • Post-college labor market participation, wages, and persistence.

Data Analytic Strategy The research team  will employ exploratory and descriptive analyses to examine the types of students that apply to a CTE Center. The researchers will also leverage the centralized selective admissions process in a fuzzy regression discontinuity framework. Analyses will include parametric and nonparametric estimation of intent-to-treat and local average treatment effects using offers of admission as an instrument for CTE program participation through enrollment in a CTE Center.