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Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology TAACCCT final evaluation report (Lawrence 2017)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Lawrence, M. (2017). Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology TAACCCT final evaluation report. Denton, MD: Community Workforce Advancements, LLC.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of TAACCCT-funded programs at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (TSCT) on earnings outcomes.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the earnings outcomes of students enrolled in TAACCCT-funded programs at TSCT to two comparison groups: TSCT students who were not enrolled in TAACCCT-funded programs and a group of dislocated workers from surrounding counties.
  • When compared to students who were not enrolled in TAACCCT-funded programs at TSCT, the study found a significant relationship between participating in a TAACCCT-funded program and wages with the treatment group having higher or lower wages than the comparison group depending on the TAACCCT-funded program. When compared to dislocated workers, the study found a significant relationship between program participation and higher wages.
  • 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 TAACCCT-funded programs implemented at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The TAACCCT-funded Programs at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

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.

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (TSCT) in Lancaster, PA received a TAACCCT grant and used the funds to expand three Associate Degree programs: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning/Refrigeration (HVAC/R), Machine Tool and Computer-Aided Manufacturing, and Metals Fabrication and Welding. TSCT also used the funds to establish a new Associate Degree program (Electro-Mechanical Technology) and two short-term programs (Production Welding and Metalcasting). The program expansion included new and updated curriculum and equipment, as well as career services.

Features of the Study

The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the TAACCCT-funded programs to those who did not. The author compared the earnings outcomes of 84 students in the TAACCCT-funded programs to two different comparison groups. The first comparison group consisted of 134 TSCT students enrolled in programs that were not part of the TAACCCT-funded initiative (plumbing, electrical technology, carpentry, and electronics technology). The study included data from the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 cohorts of students. The second comparison group included 114 individuals not enrolled at TSCT who recently began working after a period of time of unemployment and residing in Chester, Lancaster, and York counties in Pennsylvania. The author matched the treatment students to the dislocated workers to balance the age of the groups. Using data from TSCT records and the Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS), the author used statistical models to compare differences in wages between the treatment and comparison groups.

Findings

Earnings and wages

  • When compared to students who were not enrolled in TAACCCT-funded programs at TSCT, the study found a significant relationship between participating in a TAACCCT-funded program and wages; however, the direction of the relationship differed based on program.
  • Treatment students who were enrolled in HVAC/R or Metals Fabrication and Welding earned a higher average hourly wage ($21.59) than comparison students in plumbing or carpentry ($17.63), whereas treatment students who were enrolled in Machine Tool and Computer-Aided Manufacturing or Electro-Mechanical Technology earned a lower average hourly wage ($20.43) than comparison students in electrical technology or electronics technology ($23.21).
  • When compared to dislocated workers, the study also found a significant relationship between program participation and wages. Students who were enrolled in any TAACCCT-funded program earned a higher average hourly wage ($17.22) than the dislocated worker group ($14.47).

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The author did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before program participation or include sufficient control variables (only controlling for age and time away from the workforce when compared to the dislocated worker group). These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the TAACCCT-funded programs—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 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 TAACCCT-funded programs at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (TSCT); other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2020

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