EDC Receives IES Grant to Examine Career-Tech Education Outcomes

Young woman working on robotics

With a $1.38M grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences, Katherine Shields, Ilene Kantrov, Lynn Goldsmith, Sarah Ryan, Tracy McMahon, and David Bamat are examining relationships between high school students’ academic outcomes and their participation in different modes of career and technical education (CTE). The study is timely. With career and technical education in the presidential administration’s spotlight, and with several states including accountability measures for career readiness in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans, it is important to advance the field’s knowledge of the links between CTE approaches and student outcomes

The EDC study team is carrying out the study in partnership with a large public school district in California that serves a culturally and socioeconomically diverse student body. Over four years, they are following a group of over 3,000 grade 9 and 10 students and comparing their GPA, standardized academic assessment scores, graduation rates, and college enrollment outcomes as they participate in three modes of CTE. The three modes include:

  • Career academies that engage students groups of students (cohorts) in a complete program of academic and technical classes and an integrated academic-technical curricula, built around the thread of a coherent sequence of CTE courses
  • Non-academy pathways that provide a coherent course sequence without the cohort structure and integrated curriculum
  • Elective CTE courses that are not taken as part of a coherent sequence or cohort.

(From left: Katherine Shields, Ilene Kantrov, Lynn Goldsmith, Sarah Ryan, Tracy McMahon, David Bamat.)

In addition, the study team is collecting data on work-based learning to investigate whether higher-intensity experiences, such as internships and student-led enterprises, are associated with different outcomes than less intensive experiences such as job shadowing or career fairs. Given concerns about possible differences in access to CTE opportunities based on students’ gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and prior academic performance, the EDC researchers are also looking for variations in CTE experiences across different populations of students.  

The study grows in part from EDC’s over 15 years of work with career academies through the Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) network. In the Ford NGL network, 30 districts and communities are taking a community-driven approach to transforming secondary education, including collaboration with employers to develop integrated, career-focused curricula and examining equity issues in career and technical education opportunities.

As reported in a recent EDC press release, the grant is one of four Institute for Education Sciences research grants awarded to EDC this year.

Last updated: August 2017