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IES Grant

Title: CTE Teacher Labor Markets, Attributes, and Student Outcomes
Center: NCER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Kreisman, Daniel Awardee: Georgia State University
Program: Career and Technical Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2022 – 06/30/2026) Award Amount: $1,699,991
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A220172

Co-Principal Investigators: Carruthers, Celeste K.; Dougherty, Shaun M.; Goldring, Thomas; Theobald, Roddy

Purpose: The purpose of this exploration project is to better understand the landscape of career and technical education (CTE) teachers and the relationship of CTE teacher characteristics to student outcomes. Much is known about the role teachers play in student learning for core subjects and about the challenges districts face in recruiting and retaining teachers. Yet when it comes to CTE, there is little to no information about which CTE pathways have the most teachers with industry experience, whether students in high-poverty schools have more teachers with emergency certification, which types of CTE teachers are hardest to attract, nor which are most likely to leave the workforce. More importantly, there is a glaring gap in our knowledge base about how these factors are reflected in student outcomes, in high school or beyond. Every state in the country faces CTE teacher shortages. Yet, policy decisions as to what skills, experience, and certifications should be sought or required are made in the absence of this information. Further, amid an emergence of research on CTE effectiveness, the research field has failed to include a comprehensive understanding of the role CTE teachers play in the broader narrative. This project relies on both quantitative and qualitative methods to answer these questions and others using administrative data for all students and teachers in four representative states over six academic years.

Project Activities: The project has three broad parts. In the first part (year 1), the research team will conduct descriptive analyses to create a comprehensive overview of CTE teachers. In the second part of the project (years 2–3), the research team will use results from a quantitative evaluation of teacher attrition to guide a survey and semi-structured interviews with state and district-level administrators to contextualize strategies addressing CTE staffing. In the third part of the project (years 3–4), the research team will explore how student outcomes, such as test scores, college enrollment, employment, and earnings, vary by CTE teacher characteristics for similar students taking similar coursework with different teachers. The research team will obtain and analyze data from before, during, and after the pandemic.

Products: The descriptive overview will provide current and future researchers with a rich understanding of the CTE teacher workforce and context, and will offer the project's state partners much-needed detailed information to inform policy decisions. The mixed-methods analysis will provide an in-depth understanding of CTE staffing challenges, with context provided from surveys and interviews. Finally, the study of the relationship between teacher characteristics and student outcomes will offer a first look at the relationship between CTE teacher preparation and student outcomes. The research team will create individualized reports for each state partner, followed by public policy briefs freely available and written for lay audiences. Finally, the team will produce and distribute publications and data to the benefit of other researchers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project is made possible through an existing partnership of four states (MA, MI, TN and WA) via the Career & Technical Education Policy Exchange—a component of the Georgia Policy Labs—to study CTE policy. This partnership leverages administrative data for students and teachers in those states over six years. Data is in-hand and MOUs are signed.

Sample: The sample includes all students and teachers in each state (MA, MI, TN, and WA) for academic years 2010/11–2015/16. The sample across all states is over 2 million unique students who took a CTE course and over 15,000 unique CTE teachers. The dataset will include the same data for non-CTE students. For the qualitative component of the project, the research team will conduct interviews with state administrators and will distribute electronic surveys to 180 districts in two states (MA and WA). The team will recruit administrators from 10 percent of the districts for semi-structured interviews.

Factors: The research team will describe the relationship between teacher preparation and experience and student outcomes. They will also study challenges districts face in recruiting and retaining qualified CTE teachers. CTE licensure/certification and other requirements are malleable factors currently under consideration by many states facing shortages.

Research Design and Methods: The quantitative components consist of descriptive means, across and within programs and schools, and by student subgroups. Models estimating relationships between teacher characteristics and student outcomes—teacher attrition/retention, student enrollment, and student outcomes—create comparable comparison groups. The mixed-methods approach to staffing uses quantitative methods to inform the survey, semi-structured interviews, and sample frame.

Control Condition: There is no control condition, although the empirical work is designed with a clear understanding of selection bias.

Key Measures: The key measures concern teachers' background, particularly their certification/licensure type, whether they have non-teaching employment in their field and how many years, their years of teaching experience, their post-secondary training, and their teaching test scores in addition to demographic characteristics. Key student outcomes include CTE enrollment, CTE exam scores, CTE program completion, high school graduation, college enrollment and major, employment, earnings, and field of work.

Data Analytic Strategy: The descriptive overview will be observational, comparing measures of teacher characteristics across CTE programs both across and within schools. To study how outcomes vary with teacher characteristics, the team will conduct a series of comparisons that explicitly acknowledge potential biases from non-random assignment. For example, some models will compare across similar students who took the same CTE course in the same district and year with different teachers in different schools (because rarely is there more than one teacher per CTE course in a school). Other models will compare across similar students who took the same course in the same school but with different teachers in different years, exploiting changes in CTE staffing. Comparing across these models allows the team to gauge the direction and magnitude of potential biases. They will also explore whether teacher characteristics influence enrollment in the first place. The team will complement this with a mixed methods analysis of teacher attrition in which empirical results inform the survey design and semi-structured interviews with state and district administrators.