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Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training II Grant Program (TAACCCT II): Summative Evaluation of the University of District of Columbia, Community College’s Transportation Academy (Yoder & Ryland 2016)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Yoder, B., & Ryland, A. (2016). Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training II Grant Program (TAACCCT II): Summative Evaluation of the University of District of Columbia, Community College’s Transportation Academy. Retrieved from https://www.skillscommons.org/bitstream/handle/taaccct/15654/University%20of%20the%20District%20of%20Columbia%20-%20Final%20Evaluation%20-%202017.01.05.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the TAACCCT funded Transportation Academy program on education, earnings, and employment outcomes.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare education, earnings, and employment outcomes of Transportation Academy participants to a matched comparison group from three different institutional data sources.
  • The study did not find a significant association between participation in the Transportation Academy program and education, earnings, or employment outcomes.
  • 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 intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Transportation Academy program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Transportation Academy 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 University of the District of Columbia, Community College (UDC-CC) was awarded a TAACCCT grant to create and implement the Transportation Academy, a three-year program designed to train unemployed and underemployed Washington DC residents to work in transportation related fields. The Transportation Academy focused on building programs in three key areas of transportation needs: automotive technology, electrical, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). There were five core elements implemented with the Transportation Academy: evidence-based design, industry engagement to identify credentials, plans to stack and lattice credentials, online and technology-enabled learning, and strategic alignment.

Features of the Study

The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the Transportation Academy program to a comparison group of non TAACCCT participants in a similarly structured credentialing program, the Construction Academy. Propensity score matching was used to form a comparison group similar to the students that received the program using demographic information. Study participants included 38 students in the treatment group and 38 in the comparison group. Three different data sources were used in the analyses: AspirePath data system and the National Student Clearinghouse for educational outcomes and Jacob France Institute data for employment and earnings outcomes. The authors conducted a series of chi-square tests to evaluate differences between the groups on the outcomes of continued enrollment, employment post-program completion, retained employment, and wage increase.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study did not find significant relationships between Transportation Academy program participation and further enrollment in educational courses and completion rates.

Earnings and wages

  • The study did not find a significant relationship between Transportation Academy program participation and wage increases.

Employment

  • The study did not find significant relationships between Transportation Academy program participation and employment or retained employment.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before program participation or include sufficient control variables, including a pre-intervention measure of financial disadvantage or a pre-intervention measure on education and employment. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the Transportation Academy program—could explain the observed outcomes. The authors also used cohorts from different programs of study as the comparison group. The study’s estimated effects could be attributed to program varying factors and not the Transportation Academy. 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 Transportation Academy; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2020

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