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PACE cross-program implementation and impact study findings (Gardiner & Juras 2019)

Absence of conflict of interest

This study was conducted by staff from Abt Associates, which administers CLEAR. The review of this study was conducted by ICF Incorporated, which also administers CLEAR and is trained in applying the CLEAR causal evidence guidelines.

Citation

Gardiner, K., & Juras, R. (2019). PACE Cross-Program Implementation and Impact Study Findings (Report No. 2019-32). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [PTH]

Highlights

  • The study's objective was to examine the impact of Pathways to Healthcare (PTH) on education outcomes. The authors investigated similar research questions for other programs, the profiles of which can be found here.
  • The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of PTH on education outcomes. Using participant surveys, the authors conducted a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment and control group members.
  • The study found that PTH participants were significantly more likely than control participants to have earned one or more credential(s).
  • This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Pathways to Healthcare (PTH), and not to other factors.

Intervention Examined

Pathways to Healthcare (PTH)

Features of the Intervention

In 2010, Pima Community College (PCC) and Pima County One Stop in Tucson, Arizona were awarded a 5-year Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) to launch and implement the Pathways to Healthcare (PTH) program. The program is designed to help low-income, low-skilled adults access and complete training specific to gaining employment in the healthcare sector. The program maps PCC’s 16 existing occupational training programs into five pathways allowing students to obtain stackable credentials. Accelerated basic skills training was available for participants who did not test at the college level, and additional supports included academic and non-academic advising, scholarships, and workshops and professional development activities to help students gain employment post-program completion.

Features of the Study

This study was part of the multi-program Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation. The PACE evaluation was intended to address the gap in research on the effectiveness of career pathways programs, or programs providing postsecondary training or education in growing employment sectors. This profile focuses on PTH.

The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of PTH. Of the 1,217 participants who enrolled in the study between February 2012 and January 2014, 609 were randomly assigned to PTH (treatment group) and 608 were assigned to the control group. Control group members could not receive PTH services but could choose to participate in other employment services within the community. The majority of the study sample was female (83 percent) and just over half (56 percent) of participants identified as Hispanic/Latino, with 12 percent identifying as Black/African American and 27 percent identifying as White. Thirty-four percent of the sample had a high school degree or equivalency credential without further education/training. The data for the credential receipt outcome were drawn from the PACE 18-month survey. The authors used a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment group with those of the control group.

Findings

Education and skills gains

  • The study found that 35 percent of treatment participants earned one or more credential(s) compared to 29 percent of control participants. This difference was statistically significant.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high, because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the PTH program, and not to other factors.

Additional Sources

Gardiner, K., Rolston, H., Fein, D., & Cho, S. (2017). Pima Community College Pathways to Healthcare Program: Implementation and Early Impact Report (Report No. 2017-10). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Reviewed by CLEAR

June 2022

Topic Area

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