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Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (HOPE) careers consortium: Final evaluation report (Good & Yeh-Ho 2017)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Good, K., & Yeh-Ho, H. (2017). Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (HOPE) careers consortium: Final evaluation report. Denver, CO: McREL International.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (HOPE) careers consortium program on education outcomes.
  • The authors used a nonexperimental design to compare education outcomes of HOPE participants to a matched comparison group with institutional research data.
  • The study found no significant associations between HOPE participation and program completion rates, completion of more than one certificate or degree, or furthering education status.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors 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 HOPE program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (HOPE) Careers Consortium 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.

In 2013, five colleges in different states received a TAACCCT grant to form the Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (HOPE) Careers Consortium Program. The goal of the HOPE program was to expand and improve training programs for workers who serve individuals with limb loss or disabilities due to chronic disease, congenital defects, trauma, or war-related injury. The training was designed to prepare veterans as well as TAA-eligible, underemployed, long-term unemployed, and incumbent workers for high-wage, high-skilled employment in orthotics, prosthetics, and pedorthics occupations. Features of the HOPE program included innovative technology-based and online learning opportunities, accelerated training pathways, supported job placement, and stackable credentials. The colleges collaborated with industry leaders and accreditation partners throughout the development and implementation of HOPE.

Features of the Study

The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who were in the HOPE program to those who were not. The authors matched HOPE participants to similar nonparticipants using propensity scores developed from baseline demographic information. Across the five colleges, study participants included 316 students. The treatment group included 95 students who were enrolled in HOPE programs between Fall 2014 and Spring 2016. The comparison group was a historical cohort composed of 221 students that were enrolled in similar academic programs at the same colleges between Spring 2005 and Fall 2011. Using institutional research data, the authors conducted statistical models to examine differences in outcomes. The outcomes included program completion, completion of more than one certificate or degree, and furthering education status.

Study Sites

  • Baker College in Flint, Michigan
  • Century College in Mahtomedi, Minnesota
  • Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Oklahoma
  • Spokane Falls Community College in Spokane, Washington
  • St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study did not find a significant relationship between HOPE program participation and program completion rates, rates of certificate or degree completion, or rates of furthering education.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Although the authors controlled for age, gender, minority status, educational attainment, and program type between the treatment and comparison groups, they did not control for a pre-intervention degree of financial disadvantage or the state in which the college was located. The authors also imputed some of the control variable data because the information was collected inconsistently across the five colleges. Lastly, the authors compared the outcomes of HOPE students to those of a historical comparison group, and it is possible that the outcomes were influenced by differing contextual conditions. 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 authors 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 HOPE program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2020

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