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IES Grant

Title: Sub-baccalaureate Career and Technical Education: A Study of Institutional Practices, Labor Market Demand, and Student Outcomes in Florida
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Estacion, Angela Awardee: WestEd
Program: Career and Technical Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2021 – 06/30/2025) Award Amount: $1,699,119
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A210289

Co-Principal Investigator: Sublett, Cameron

Purpose: New changes to federal career and technical education (CTE) policy require postsecondary institutions to ensure their CTE offerings are validated by proximal labor market demand, yet there is a very limited base of knowledge and best practices for institutions to draw upon as they carry out this mandate. The purpose of this project is to address existing policy and research gaps by, first, administering a statewide survey to catalogue the institutional practices that Florida community and technical colleges use to align CTE programming to the labor market. Second, by combining the survey data with student-level program participation and outcome data, the project team will ascertain the degree to which institutional practices and labor market conditions in students' geographical areas are correlated with students' choices and outcomes. Finally, the project team will analyze qualitative data collected from case studies of Florida community and technical colleges to describe the practices cited in the survey data and understand the process of aligning courses and programs with local labor market demand.

Project Activities: Researchers will begin by administering a statewide survey to describe and catalogue the institutional practices implemented at Florida two-year and district technical colleges that align CTE programs to the labor market. Then, they will use (1) county-level labor market data to understand labor market demand and (2) student-level data from the Florida Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) to empirically model the relationships between practices implemented at each institution, labor market demand, and student CTE course taking, CTE concentration and major declaration, and completion of a CTE credential. Finally, the research team will conduct 4-6 site visits as case studies to extend the findings from our quantitative analysis.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the relationships between institutional practices, labor market demand, and student outcomes. Researchers will produce peer-reviewed publications, and research briefs, and disseminate their findings to practitioners and researchers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place at community colleges and district technical colleges across the state of Florida.

Sample: The analytic sample for the quantitative analysis will include four longitudinal cohorts of approximately 160,000students each, who enrolled in the Florida College System and District Technical Colleges in 2016–2017 through 2020–2021. The statewide institutional survey will include the universe of Florida community and technical colleges during academic year 2020–2021. The sample for the case studies will include 4–6 Florida two-year colleges and district technical colleges, sampled using findings from the institutional survey and information from the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) that education agencies report to the state on their CTE programs.

Factors: This project will examine the relationship between institutional practices to align CTE programming to the labor market, county-level labor market demand, and student outcomes.

Research Design and Methods: The project uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to collect and analyze institutional practices gathered through a statewide survey of postsecondary institutions, student-level administrative data, region and CTE cluster-specific labor market data, and interview and focus group data collected from site visits. Researchers will use a series of descriptive analyses to describe and catalogue the institutional practices from the statewide survey. Descriptive analyses will also be conducted on the labor market and student-level data. A series of linear probability models will explore the relationships between the institutional practices, labor market demand, and student outcomes. Qualitative analysis of interview and focus groups collected during the site visits will be indexed, categorized, and thematically coded across a set of a priori institutional factors and practices, and then aggregated into case studies. 

Control Condition: The project employs an exploratory design without a formal, pre-defined control condition. Comparisons between institutions with greater/lesser degrees of alignment will be a key component of the research agenda.

Key Measures: Region-specific labor market demand data within Florida will be supplied by Economic Modeling Specialists Incorporated (EMSI) and will be operationalized using either workforce reductions, competitive shift-share or net changes in employment, the latter of which is a standard measure of labor market demand for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. From the Florida SLDS, researchers will construct student-level postsecondary outcome measures including course taking, CTE concentration (i.e., credit hours in a CTE Career Cluster) and major declaration, and attainment of a CTE credential.

Data Analytic Strategies: Researchers will use a sequence of linear probability models to estimate the relationships between institutional practices, labor market demand, and students' likelihood of enrolling, concentrating, and majoring in a CTE Career Cluster, and completing a CTE credential. The research team will analyze the case studies by coding transcripts of interviews and focus groups at site visits to explore themes that contextualize the findings from the quantitative analysis and provide opportunities for future research in this topic area.