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Reflections on Accelerating CTE: Final evaluation report (Smith 2019)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Smith, T. (2019). Reflections on Accelerating CTE: Final evaluation report. Washington, DC: JFF.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Accelerating Career & Technical Education (CTE) program on community college students’ credential completion.
  • The author compared outcomes before the implementation of the Accelerating CTE program and during the program using an interrupted time-series (ITS) design based on aggregate college data. The study participants were enrolled in Accelerating CTE programs, including health career and applied technologies pathways.
  • The study found that participating in the Accelerated CTE program was associated with an increase in credential completion. However, the study did not include tests of statistical significance.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not account for trends in outcomes before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the effects are attributable to the Accelerating CTE program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Accelerating Career & Technical Education (CTE) Program

Features of the Intervention

The purpose of the Accelerating CTE program is to prepare CTE students with low academic skills and lack of college preparation for college success. The Accelerating CTE program includes four evidence-based practices to support student success. These practices include co-teaching by a CTE teacher and a basic skills teacher; supplemental instructions that includes basic academic and job readiness skills; student support services; and career pathways. Importantly, in this program, the CTE instruction is integrated with the academic instruction. Students are also taught college readiness skills and career coaching.

Features of the Study

The study was an interrupted time series (ITS) design. The author compared the number of credentials completed before and during the implementation of the Accelerating CTE program. The study was conducted at two community colleges in Kansas (Hutchinson Community College; Neosha County Community College) and two community colleges in Kentucky (West Kentucky Community and Technical College; Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College); all of the community colleges were located in rural areas. Eleven pathways across the four colleges were included in the examination. Study participants included 1,228 students who participated in Accelerating CTE from Summer 2015 through Fall 2018. Using aggregate data provided by the colleges, the author tested for differences in credential completion between the two time periods.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • During the baseline period, 69% of students completed one credential and less than 2% completed two or more credentials. During the intervention period, 72% of students completed one credential and 14% completed two or more credentials. However, the study author did not include statistical tests to assess differences in credential completion.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The author compared the credential completion rate before and during the implementation of the Accelerating CTE program. For these types of designs, the author must observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention to rule out the possibility that the colleges had increasing or decreasing trends in credential completion rate before program implementation. That is, if colleges had increasing credential completion before the implementation of the program, we would anticipate further increases over time, even if they didn’t implement the program. Without knowing the trends before program enrollment, we cannot rule this out. Therefore, the study receives a low causal evidence rating.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not account for trends in outcomes before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the effects are attributable to the Accelerating CTE program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

January 2020

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