Absence of conflict of interest.
TAACCCT enhanced training. (2017). Southwest Arkansas Community College Consortium: Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Training grant final report. Retrieved from https://www.skillscommons.org/bitstream/handle/taaccct/15686/SWACCC_Final_Report_9_27_2017.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
- The study’s objective was to evaluate the impact of the South West Arkansas Community College Consortium’s (SWACCC) grant-enhanced programs on education outcomes. This summary contains the findings from Rich Mountain Community College.
- The author used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students enrolled in the grant-enhanced General Technology program to those enrolled in the Machine Tool Technology program at the same community college.
- The study found that participation in the grant-enhanced General Technology treatment group was significantly associated with a lower likelihood of program completion relative to the Machine Tool Technology comparison group.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this study 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 SWACCC’s grant-enhanced program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The South West Arkansas Community College Consortium (SWACCC)
Features of the Intervention
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges 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.
Upon receipt of a TAACCCT grant, seven colleges within the South West Arkansas Community College Consortium (SWACCC) implemented several strategies to upskill advanced manufacturing workers while engaging new employer relationships across the community colleges. Strategies included enhancing stacked and latticed credentials and certifications at each college, creating on-site work-based learning opportunities for students, and enhancing career counseling and advising opportunities while partnering with employers.
Features of the Study
The study took place at Rich Mountain Community College (RMCC) in Mena, Arkansas. The author used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students enrolled in the grant-enhanced program to those enrolled in a comparable program at RMCC. The grant-enhanced program was matched to a comparable program at RMCC that was similar in terms of being in the same department, having the same credit/non-credit status, having a similar program duration, and its students having a similar demographic composition. The treatment group included 69 students enrolled in the General Technology program between 2014 and 2017. The comparison group included 138 students enrolled in the Machine Tool Technology program during the same time period. Data sources included institutional data from RMCC, data from the Arkansas Research Center, and intake and survey forms given to students in cases of missing data. The author used a statistical model with controls for demographic and employment information to examine differences in the odds of program completion between the treatment and comparison groups.
Education and skills gain
- The study found that SWACCC grant-enhanced program participation was significantly related to lower odds of program completion, where 9% of treatment participants completed the program compared to 19% of participants in the comparison group.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Although the author accounted for baseline demographic characteristics, the author did not account for a pre-intervention measure of education which is required by the review protocol. The preexisting differences between the groups on this variable—and not the SWACCC grant-enhanced program—could explain the observed differences in outcomes. 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 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 SWACCC grant-enhanced program; other factors are likely to have contributed.