In FY 2018, IES and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) co-sponsored a research network focusing on career and technical education (CTE) through the Research Network Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice grant program. This research network, called the Expanding the Evidence Base for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Network, fulfilled the requirement in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act for a National Research Center [Section 114(d)(4)] to carry out scientifically based research and evaluation for the purpose of developing, improving, and identifying the most successful methods for addressing the education, employment, and training needs of CTE participants in CTE programs.
Expanding the Evidence Base for CTE had two specific aims: (1) to increase the evidence base about the impact of CTE programs and policies on student outcomes and (2) to increase the pipeline of new CTE researchers. The network comprised a network lead and six research grant projects, which were funded through other NCER competitions and subsequently invited to join the network.
OCTAE and IES continued their partnership in FY 2023 by co-sponsoring a second CTE research network, called Extending the Reach of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Research Network.
Descriptions of each of the six projects in the Expanding the Evidence Base for CTE Network are as follows:
Expanding the Evidence Base for Career and Technical Education (CTE) — Research Network Lead
Principal Investigator: Katherine Hughes, American Institutes for Research (AIR)
This team serves as the research network lead. They are responsible for the CTE network administration and coordination, and they will carry out research, training, and dissemination activities designed to increase the number and quality of CTE impact evaluations and strengthen the capacity of the field to conduct future CTE research and evaluation.
The Causal Impact of Attending a Career-Technical High School on Student Achievement, High School Graduation, and College Enrollment.
Principal Investigator: Shaun Dougherty, Vanderbilt University
This research team uses a regression discontinuity (causal) design to examine the impact of attending a CTE high school on students' achievement, high school graduation, and college enrollment in Connecticut. The team will also collect primary data on the quality of CTE instruction and the allocation of resources across schools in the Career Technical High School System to understand how these schools differ from traditional high schools and, therefore, what might be contributing to student outcomes.
Assessing the Implementation, Impact & Variation of CTE Innovation: NYC as a Lab for Rigorous CTE Research.
Principal Investigator: James Kemple, New York University
This research team is evaluating the impact of attending a CTE program in high school in New York City using a lottery to approximate random assignment in a subset of oversubscribed CTE-focused high schools (not including P-Tech) and propensity score matching to replicate the findings on a larger set of schools. The project will also include a cost study and an examination of mediators and moderators.
P-TECH 9–14 Schools: An Impact, Implementation and Cost Study.
Principal Investigator: Crystal Byndloss, MDRC
This research team is examining the effect of attending a P-Tech (specialized STEM-focused) CTE high school in New York city using a lottery to approximate a random assignment design.
The Evaluation of Career and College Promise
Principal Investigator: Julie Edmunds, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
This research team is examining the impact of Career and College Promise, a set of three structured dual-enrollment pathways in North Carolina (college transfer, career and technical education, and cooperative innovative high schools) using rigorous quasi-experimental designs.
Choice and Information: The Impact of Technology-Based Career Advising Tools on High School Students' CTE Choices and Academic Performance
Principal Investigator: Rachel Rosen, MDRC
This research team is using a three-armed randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effects of technology-based career advising tools on high school students' awareness of career choices, their career course taking patterns, and their academic performance.
An Evaluation of the Efficacy of Virtual Enterprises
Principal Investigator: Lindsay Daugherty, RAND
This research team is using a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of student participation in Virtual Enterprises (VE), a virtual work-based learning curriculum adopted by over 430 schools across 18 states in which high school students run a virtual business.