Absence of conflict of interest
Patnaik, A. (2018). Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce: TAACCCT round 4 grant, impact evaluation final report. Austin, TX: Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, The University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program on credential attainment.
- Using a nonexperimental design, the study author compared students in the program to a matched historical comparison group.
- The study found that students in the GMACW TAACCCT program were significantly more likely to achieve a credential than students in the comparison group.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the GMACW TAACCCT; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant 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 TAACCCT program funded the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) to create or improve programs in advanced manufacturing as well as transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) industries in Memphis and its surrounding areas. The grant period of performance was October 1, 2014 through March 31, 2018. The program included partnerships with employers to effectively train students. The Alliance included a consortium of four colleges: Arkansas State University Mid-South (ASU Mid-South) as the lead college, Southwest Tennessee Community College (Southwest), William R. Moore College of Technology (Moore Tech), and Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT-Memphis).
Features of the Study
The nonexperimental study was conducted at ASU Mid-South, Moore Tech, and TCAT Memphis. The author compared students in the GMACW TAACCCT program to a matched historical comparison group. The treatment group included 1,409 students who enrolled in manufacturing/TDL programs between Fall 2015 and Fall 2017. The comparison group included 508 students who enrolled in the same programs in Fall 2014 (one year before program implementation). The author matched GMACW TAACCCT participants to similar nonparticipants using propensity scores developed from demographic and education information. Data sources included a common Salesforce database, institutional research data systems, Unemployment Insurance records, and National Student Clearinghouse data. The author used statistical models to examine differences in credential achievement between the groups.
Education and skills gain
- The study found that GMACW TAACCCT program participation was significantly associated with increased credential achievement, with 60% of the treatment group achieving a credential versus 46% of the comparison group.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The author created a matched group of non-participating students to compare to GMACW TAACCCT students. However, the author did not account for other factors that could have affected the difference between the treatment and comparison groups, such as pre-intervention degree of financial disadvantage. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not GMACW TAACCT —could explain the observed differences in outcomes. Additionally, the author used a historical cohort from previous years as the comparison group. Because the outcome data on the two groups were collected from participants at different times, differences in outcomes could be due to time-varying factors (such as overall changes in the economy) and not the intervention. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the GMACW TAACCCT; other factors are likely to have contributed.