In FY 2016, the Institute initiated a new grant program, Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice, to focus resources and attention on education problems or issues that are high priority for the nation, and to create both a structure and process for researchers who are working on these issues to share ideas, build new knowledge, and strengthen their research and dissemination capacity. Each Network consists of several research teams working on the same issue, and is coordinated by a Network Lead. The ultimate objective of the Networks it to advance the field’s understanding of a problem or issue beyond what an individual research project or team is able to do on its own, and to assist policymakers and practitioners in using this information to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes.
The Institute's newest network "Expanding the Evidence Base for Career and Technical Education Network" (CTE Network) was launched in FY 2018. CTE comprises instruction in the academic, technical, and employability skills and knowledge required to enter into and succeed in specific occupations. The CTE Network fulfills 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. The CTE Network’s specific aims are: 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.
CTE NETWORK LEAD
The Network Lead is responsible for administering and coordinating a CTE Network involving a group of three-to-six CTE evaluation projects funded under other Institute competitions. The Institute will identify the projects that will be invited to participate in the CTE Network and will cover the additional costs that projects may incur by joining. The Network Lead will bring these project teams together and provide the vision and support that is needed for the Network to meet its goals. Specifically, the Network Lead is responsible for four major sets of activities:
- Network administration and coordination. The CTE Network Lead will serve as the point of contact with the Institute, convene meetings and facilitate discussions among network members, and coordinate the network’s supplemental research activities.
- Research activities. The CTE Network Lead will conduct research projects that will complement the work of the research teams and contribute to moving the field forward.
- Research training. The CTE Network Lead will organize research training activities across the network to increase the capacity of the field and create a pipeline of new CTE researchers.
- Leadership and Dissemination. The CTE Network Lead will develop and host a network website, organize briefings or presentations for key stakeholders, and disseminate the Network’s products and findings.
CTE NETWORK MEMBERS
Three IES-funded CTE research projects with causal impact designs joined the Network in 2018; the Network will eventually include up to six member projects from future IES-funded CTE research projects with causal impact designs.
- 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 project is using 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 the state of Connecticut. The team will also collect primary data on the quality of CTE instruction and the allocation of resources at CTHSS schools 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 project is evaluating the impact of attending a CTE program in high school in New York City using 1) a lottery to approximate random assignment in a subset of oversubscribed CTE-focused high schools (not including P-Tech) and 2) 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 project 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.