Absence of conflict of interest.
Rayyes, N., Abe, Y., Sanchez, R., Lai, F., Akiya, K., Chan, V., & Jennings, E. D. (2016). Contra Costa Community College District Design it–Build it–Ship it (DBS) final evaluation report. Oakland, CA: Impaq International.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Design it–Build it–Ship it (DBS) program on education, employment, and earnings outcomes.
- The authors used a nonexperimental design to compare education, earnings, and employment outcomes of DBS participants to a comparison group.
- The study found that DBS participation was significantly associated with lower rates of enrollment, fewer credentials/degrees earned, lower transfer rates to four-year colleges, and lower wages.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the DBS program, but other factors might also have contributed.
The Design it–Build it–Ship it (DBS) Program
Features of the Intervention
The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program provided $1.9 billion in grants to community colleges to improve skills and support employment in high-demand industries, notably manufacturing, health care, information technology, energy, and transportation. Through four rounds of funding, DOL awarded 256 TAACCCT grants to approximately 800 educational institutions across the United States and its territories.
The Design it–Build it–Ship it (DBS) program was a regional workforce development consortium implemented in the San Francisco East Bay Area. The goals of the program were to improve college training programs and establish a partnership in which stakeholders across the region were represented. The consortium promoted collaboration among a variety of partners, including 11 community colleges, local workforce investment boards, two four-year universities, and local employers and industry professionals. The program was geared toward dislocated or unemployed individuals and targeted three high-growth industries in the region: advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and the biosciences. Another goal of the DBS program was to align training with industry requirements. The program used cohort-based designs and emphasized contextualized basic and digital literacy skills with progression to transfer-level courses. Counseling, tutors, case management services, and job placement support were also provided to DBS participants.
Features of the Study
The nonexperimental study was conducted at 11 of the colleges in the consortium, comparing the outcomes of students who were in the DBS program to those who were not. The comparison group included students who were in courses that were similar in skills and content, and also tended to have students similar demographically to those in the treatment group. The study included 2,516 DBS students and 1,321 comparison students. Outcomes included attainment of degrees or certificates, continued enrollment in community colleges, transfer to four-year colleges, changes in employment rates, and changes in earnings. Outcomes were measured using student surveys (baseline, 3-month, and 12-month), student records from the participating colleges and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and unemployment insurance data from the California Employment Development Department. The authors used statistical models with controls for demographic and other characteristics to examine differences in outcomes.
- Berkeley City College in Berkeley, California
- Chabot College in Hayward, California
- College of Alameda in Alameda, California
- Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California
- Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California
- Laney College in Oakland, California
- Las Positas College in Livermore, California
- Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, California
- Merritt College in Oakland, California
- Ohlone College in Fremont, California
- Solano Community College in Fairfield, California
Education and skills gain
- The study found that DBS students enrolled in community colleges at significantly lower rates than comparison group students one and two semesters after baseline.
- The study also found that DBS students earned a certificate or degree at significantly lower rates than comparison group students three and four semesters after baseline.
- Relative to the comparison group, a significantly lower proportion of DBS students transferred to a four-year college by the fourth semester after baseline.
Earnings and wages
- The study found that a significantly higher proportion of students in the comparison group had increased wages at 3 months relative to the treatment group. However, there was no longer a significant difference at 12 months.
- The study found no significant differences in employment outcomes at 3 and 12 months between the two groups.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
At the beginning of the study, a higher percentage of DBS students reported finding a job or getting a better job as a future goal than comparison students. These differences in motivation could have accounted for differences in outcomes.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the DBS program, but other factors might also have contributed.