MDRC Awarded Grant from Institute of Education Sciences to Evaluate Technology-Based Career Advising Tools for High Schoolers

With support from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, MDRC is launching a new project: Choice and Information: The Impact of Technology-Based Career Advising Tools on High School Students’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) Choices and Academic Performance.

The study will rigorously test two popular and widely used technology-based career advising tools for secondary school students: Naviance and YouScience. These tools provide attractive options for schools that often lack capacity to increase depth or breath of current CTE and career counseling services, even as the current Perkins V policy environment seeks to strengthen and increase CTE choices for students. However, despite the popularity and widespread use of these kinds of tools across many schools and districts, there is limited evidence of their efficacy for helping students identify careers of interest, make CTE choices, or pursue CTE opportunities in high school. This project aims to understand whether and how these tools influence student thinking about career options, choice of relevant CTE coursework and work-based learning options, and decisions about CTE concentration in available pathways and programs of study.

This study will use a school-level random assignment design to evaluate the effects of career advising tools on high school students’ awareness of career choices, their career course taking patterns, and their academic performance. The evaluation will also include an implementation study to learn more about how schools use tools with individual students, as well as a cost-effectiveness study of the practice