Career & Technical Education

August, 2017

Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.

The Case of Career and Technical Education

July, 2017

In the complex high school choice process, families may face an additional layer of decisions if they are considering career and technical education programs, which vary widely in their structure, content, and quality. This issue focus emphasizes the importance of providing families with clear information about how to compare them.

March, 2017

Even in good economic times, workers with limited education may need help getting or regaining a foothold in the job market. Effective career training programs exist. Approaches that target in-demand industries and closely involve employers can get results, benefiting high school students, adults without diplomas, and long-term unemployed workers.

Interim Impact Findings from the YouthBuild Evaluation

November, 2016

YouthBuild provides construction-related or other vocational training, educational services, counseling, and leadership-development opportunities to low-income young people ages 16 to 24 who did not complete high school. This interim report presents the program’s effects through two and a half years.

Lessons for Practitioners

October, 2016

The demonstration of WorkAdvance confirmed that sectoral employment programs can increase employment and earnings among low-income individuals. This brief offers insights from providers on selecting sectors, tailoring training to employer needs, reducing attrition, securing placements that offer better wages and benefits, and helping workers plan for advancement.

The GED Bridge to College and Career Program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

October, 2016

Nearly 30 million adults today lack a high school credential and face significant barriers to higher education and employment. This Issue Focus describes an evaluation of a career-focused GED program that aims to help these adults obtain a high school credential and transition seamlessly into postsecondary education or training.

Two-Year Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration

August, 2016

WorkAdvance provides demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs with career pathways. As detailed in this full report, all four programs studied greatly increased training completion and credential acquisition. Employment outcomes varied by site, with large, consistent impacts at the most experienced provider and promising results at two others.

A Preview Summary of Two-Year Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration

June, 2016

WorkAdvance provides demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs with career pathways. This preview summary finds that all four programs studied greatly increased training completion and credential acquisition. Employment outcomes varied by site, with large, consistent impacts at the most experienced provider and promising results at two others.

March, 2016

A growing number of education and workforce programs are implementing “career pathways” strategies to help youth and adults prepare for postsecondary education and quality jobs. This Issue Brief describes the career pathways approach and profiles MDRC projects that shed light on its effectiveness and potential to improve education and career outcomes.

Findings from the Project Rise Implementation Evaluation

October, 2015

Project Rise offers education, a paid internship, and case management to young adults who lack a high school credential and have been out of work and school for at least six months. Participants, who were attracted more by the educational instruction than by the internship, substantially engaged with the program.

Lessons from Two Decades of YouthBuild Programs

May, 2015

Youth development is a cornerstone of the YouthBuild program, which provides job skills training, academic support, counseling, and leadership opportunities to low-income, out-of-school young adults. Participants attested to the transformation that can occur in an early 1990s study; a 2014 survey of program directors largely reaffirms this.

Examples, Evidence, and Prospects

April, 2015

High school reform is increasingly focused on the role of career-technical education (CTE) in preparing all students for success in both college and career. Instead of stand-alone vocational courses, programs that merge CTE, rigorous academics, and career exploration are gaining momentum, but schools need resources and training to implement them.

April, 2015

This two-page issue focus describes two projects — one completed and the other just started — testing a career-focused GED curriculum model that aims to improve high school credentialing and college entry rates. It offers a contextualized, career-focused GED curriculum, while supporting students in their transition to college or training.

Findings from the YouthBuild Evaluation Implementation Study

February, 2015

YouthBuild is a federally and privately funded program providing construction and other training, educational services, counseling, and leadership development opportunities to low-income, out-of-school young adults ages 16 to 24. This first report from a Department of Labor-supported evaluation focuses on the implementation of YouthBuild in 75 sites across the nation.

February, 2015

Improving the employment outlook of disadvantaged young people on a large scale will require a stronger focus on engaging private employers on potential solutions. On June 4, 2014, MDRC and The Rockefeller Foundation convened a group of experts to discuss such demand-driven approaches.

Evidence on Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Youth in the United States

February, 2015

The Great Recession took a toll on the already dim economic prospects of low-income 16- to 24-year-olds who face structural barriers to employment. Evidence indicates that involvement of employers in devising education, training, and work experiences that meet labor market demands should be a key component of any policy response.

October, 2014

Since 2010, MDRC has published a series of reports from its ongoing evaluation of small, nonselective public high schools in New York City. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the study.

Implementation of a Sector-Focused Career Advancement Model for Low-Skilled Adults

October, 2014

The WorkAdvance program model aims to prepare individuals for good jobs in high-demand industries and to increase their prospects for staying employed and moving up. Participants receive career readiness and occupational skills training, job placement, and advancement coaching. This report looks at how four providers translated the model into workable programs.

October, 2014

The city’s small, academically nonselective high schools have substantially improved graduation rates for disadvantaged students. This report demonstrates that, because more of their students graduate and do so within four years, the schools have lower costs per graduate than the schools their study counterparts attended.

The Effects of New York City’s Small High Schools of Choice on Postsecondary Enrollment

October, 2014

New data from a rigorous study confirm that New York City’s small public high schools, which have nonselective admissions and serve many disadvantaged students, increase rates of graduation and college attendance for a wide range of groups, including students of color.

Evidence from Promising Programs

June, 2014

A review of high-quality studies, this paper highlights interventions — in education, employment and training, and second-chance programs — that have demonstrated positive results for young men of color. It comes as policymakers and philanthropies focus new attention on investing more to build opportunities for these young men. 

Educational Challenges and MDRC’s Research

May, 2014

MDRC hosted a recent colloquium to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the contributions of former Board Chair Robert Solow. This issue focus summarizes a panel presentation, featuring Frank Levy, Richard J. Murnane, Cecilia E. Rouse, and Ronald F. Ferguson, about current challenges in education and how MDRC’s research can help address them.

Labor Market Challenges for Low-Income Adults

April, 2014

MDRC hosted a recent colloquium to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the contributions of former Board Chair Robert Solow. This issue focus summarizes a panel presentation, featuring David Autor, Mary Jo Bane, David Card, and Lawrence Katz, on the current economic climate and how MDRC’s research can address today’s problems.

 

Promising Models for Moving High School Dropouts to College

January, 2014

This report examines interventions that make adult education and GED standards more rigorous, that combine academic preparation with supports for transitioning to college, or that allow students to enroll in college while earning their GED. The most promising reforms integrate basic skills and GED instruction within specific career fields and support students’ entry into college.

The Early Experience of Project Rise

October, 2013

Project Rise seeks to reconnect “disconnected” young people — those out of work and lacking a high school degree — with education, work, and social support. This policy brief provides an overview of Project Rise and its evaluation, descriptions of its participants, and lessons drawn from its early operating experiences.

New Findings About the Effectiveness and Operation of Small Public High Schools of Choice in New York City

August, 2013

New data from a rigorous study confirm that New York City’s small public high schools, which have nonselective admissions and serve many disadvantaged students, have substantially improved rates of graduation with Regents diplomas. This report also describes what principals and teachers at these schools believe accounts for their success.

Testing a New Approach to Increase Employment Advancement for Low-Skilled Adults

June, 2013

This policy brief discusses a new skills-building model designed to help low-income adults prepare for, enter, and succeed in quality jobs, in high-demand fields with opportunities for career growth. WorkAdvance uses strategies found in sector-based employment programs, combined with career coaching after participants are placed into jobs.

Early Success in LaGuardia Community College’s Bridge to Health and Business Program

May, 2013

One year after enrolling, students in LaGuardia’s GED Bridge program were more than twice as likely to have passed the GED exam and three times as likely to have enrolled in college as students in a more traditional GED preparation class.

March, 2013

As the demand for high-skilled workers rises and the availability of well-paying jobs for young people declines, making a successful transition to adulthood has become increasingly challenging for disadvantaged youth. MDRC develops and studies programs to help young people who face major barriers in finding a path to stable adult life.

March, 2013

Too many students enter college underprepared, drop out, and never earn a credential that would give them access to stable, well-paid jobs. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes some promising college readiness programs that can provide students with the skills they need to successfully complete college, but cautions that more evidence is needed.

March, 2013

Urban high schools are in trouble — high dropout rates, low student achievement, and graduates who are unprepared for the world of work are just some of the disappointing indicators. However, this policy memo, part of our “Looking Forward” series, explains how recent research has uncovered a number of approaches to improving student outcomes and reforming underperforming schools.

February, 2013

Almost 7 million 16- to 24-year-olds are neither working nor in school. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo argues that, while the research evidence on youth programs is mixed, there are some promising findings — and a resurgence in political interest — on which to build.

 

How Career Academies Can Build College and Career Exploration Programs

January, 2013

MDRC and Bloom Associates developed and piloted a program to help Career Academies, a popular high school reform, build college and career exploration programs for their students. This report presents lessons learned from its implementation in 18 academies in California, Florida, and Georgia.

January, 2012

A rigorous study that takes advantage of lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process demonstrates that new small public high schools that are open to students of all academic backgrounds have substantial impacts on rates of graduation with Regents diplomas for every disadvantaged subgroup of students that was examined.

How New York City’s New Small Schools Are Boosting Student Achievement and Graduation Rates

June, 2010

Taking advantage of lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process, this study provides rigorous evidence that new small public high schools are narrowing the educational attainment gap and markedly improve graduation prospects, particularly for disadvantaged students.

High Schools and Their Characteristics, 2002-2008

February, 2010

This report examines the sweeping transformation of New York City’s public high school system — the nation’s largest — during the first decade of the twenty-first century, when nearly 200 new small high schools were created. Two companion reports focus on the role of intermediaries in this reform effort and provide case studies of six schools.

Career Academies Combine Academic Rigor and Workplace Relevance

August, 2008

This “snapshot,” published by the National High School Center, takes a close look at implementation of the Career Academy model in one high school in Oakland, California.

August, 2008

This issue brief, published by the National High School Center, highlights lessons from selected policies and programs designed to improve students’ preparation for life after high school.

August, 2008

This research brief, published by the National High School Center, examines the challenges and opportunities presented in evaluating whether an intervention achieves defined goals of increasing students’ educational attainment, employment, and earnings after high school.

June, 2008

Eight-year findings on Career Academies — a popular high school reform that combines academics with career development opportunities — show that the programs produced sustained employment and earnings gains, particularly among young men. Career Academy participants were also more likely to be living independently with children and a spouse or a partner.

May, 2007

This policy brief, published by the National High School Center, focuses on five key challenges that states, districts, and schools should address to support a successful transition into high school.

January, 2007

MDRC’s research on Career Academies, First Things First, Project GRAD, and Talent Development suggests that the twin pillars of high school reform are structural changes to improve personalization and instructional improvement.

The Effects of Four Popular Improvement Programs

November, 2006

This research brief, published by the National High School Center, draws on findings from four studies by MDRC that shed light on both the nature of the problems found in low-performing high schools and on the effectiveness of promising interventions that attempt to address those problems.

Evidence from the Talent Development High School Model

May, 2005

Talent Development, a high school reform initiative, produced substantial positive effects on attendance, academic course credits earned, tenth-grade promotion, and algebra pass rates for students in very low-performing schools in Philadelphia.

Context, Components, and Initial Impacts on Students’ Performance and Attendance

December, 2004

During the first three years of implementation in six urban schools, The Talent Development Middle School model—an ongoing, whole-school reform initiative—had a positive impact on math achievement for eighth-graders but appeared to produce no systematic improvement in outcomes for seventh-graders.

Context, Components, and Initial Impacts on Ninth-Grade Students’ Engagement and Performance

June, 2004

An examination of the implementation and early impacts of Talent Development, a whole-school reform initiative, found that the model produced substantial gains in ninth-grade students’ course completion and promotion rates.

March, 2004

Career Academies produced substantial and sustained improvements in earnings of young men after high school, without limiting opportunities to attend college.

A Resource Directory for Career Academies

January, 2002

One of the most widely adopted school reform approaches in the nation, the Career Academies movement has spread to more than 3,000 schools and school districts — and, in the process, has spawned a rich network of information outlets and resources aimed at the communities of Career Academy adherents.

The Evolution of Innovative School-to-Work Programs

January, 1997

Innovative Programs Linking School and Work

January, 1994
Project Overview

Even as employers need skilled workers in order to grow and compete in the global economy, too many young Americans are shut out.

Project Overview

Twenty-first-century skills (also known as noncognitive or soft skills) are increasingly viewed as critical for both education and employment outcomes.

Project Overview

The idea for this unique high school model began in 2010 in New York City when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a public-private partnership of the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE), The City University of New York (CUNY), New York City College

Project Overview

The transition from high school into postsecondary education and a career has become particularly challenging given today’s complex, fast-moving, and highly technological economy.

Project Overview

Young people with juvenile justice involvement face many challenges, which may include a lack of education and employment skills, antisocial attitudes and values, unstable housing, and much more. These challenges make it difficult for them to pursue educational pursuits or enter the workforce and become productive citizens.

Project Overview

While a college degree offers the opportunity for increased income, it alone does not guarantee students’ entry into the workforce.

Project Overview

Apprenticeship programs have been more limited in the United States than they have been in many European countries, both in the numbers of individuals and the number and type of employers who participate in them.

Project Overview

Career-pathways models designed to prepare high school students for success in college and careers are proliferating in school districts around the country. Each typically includes a sequence of career/technical education courses in a broad career theme such as health or computer science.

Project Overview

Chicago has seen a staggering increase in violent crime over the past three years, with violent crime rates that are over double the national average.

Project Overview

More than one-third of all children under 18 years of age — about 24 million children — live in single-parent families, a vast majority headed by single mothers.

Project Overview

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly the food stamp program —is a critical work support for low-income people and families.

Project Overview

Some 25 million working-age adults in the United States lack a high school diploma or equivalent, barring them from most colleges and many training programs.

Project Overview

Past evaluations have provided solid evidence regarding what works to help low-income individuals become employed. However, these studies have also found that many people who found jobs were not better off financially, in part because these jobs were unstable, low paying, and provided few advancement opportunities.

Project Overview

In the United States, over six million young people are “disconnected” — neither in school nor working. Over a million of these disconnected young adults are between the ages of 18 and 24 years but lack either a high school diploma or equivalency certificate.

Project Overview

Making the successful transition to adulthood had become increasingly challenging for disadvantaged young people. Two changes in the labor market have contributed to this trend. First, the rise in demand for higher skilled workers, while increasing the payoff to college, has resulted in declining real wages for less-educated workers.

Project Overview

The New York City public school system is the largest in the United States, with over 1,200 schools and more than 1.1 million students enrolled each year. For more than a decade, it has also been the site of an unprecedented investment in high school reform.

Project Overview

About two-thirds of high school dropouts continue their education and obtain a high school credential within eight years of their scheduled graduation date. The majority obtain a General Educational Development (GED) certificate rather than a high school diploma.

Project Overview

To prepare young people for productive and satisfying adult lives in the competitive global marketplace, local high schools and employers are being asked to develop effective school-to-work programs.

Project Overview

The problems of urban middle and high schools are rooted in the inadequate preparation that too many students receive in elementary schools, and these problems become most visible in the ninth grade, when students encounter more demanding coursework and tougher requirements for grade-level promotion.

Project Overview

Career Academies were first developed some 35 years ago with the aim of restructuring large high schools into small learning communities and creating better pathways from high school to further education and the workplace. Since then, the Career Academy approach has taken root in an estimated 8,000 high schools across the country.