When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.
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.
Past Successes, Enduring Challenges, and Future Considerations
Focusing on NYC’s small high schools of choice, this reflection on MDRC’s recent high school reform research considers responses to five challenges: creating personalized, orderly learning environments; assisting students with poor academic skills; improving instructional content and practice; preparing students for the future; and stimulating change in overstressed high schools.
A First Look at Effects on Postsecondary Persistence and Labor Market Outcomes
Four years after scheduled graduation, students from small high schools of choice, which have nonselective admissions and serve many disadvantaged students, were more likely to be enrolled in postsecondary education and to be participating in “productive activity” (being in college, being employed, or both) than their control group counterparts.
Current Policy, Prominent Programs, and Evidence
This paper reviews the available evidence supporting various types of career and technical education programs, touching on both the amount of evidence available in each area and its level of rigor.
The Case of Career and Technical Education
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.
Forty percent of all entering college students and over half of entering community college students must take at least one remedial course. Fewer than half make it through developmental education. This two-page Looking Forward memo provides an overview of research evidence in four areas of developmental education reform.
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.
The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states greater responsibility for choosing strategies to improve underperforming schools. For over a decade, MDRC has rigorously evaluated school improvement strategies, collecting evidence that can help states determine which strategies are likely to work. This Issue Focus describes four of MDRC’s most recent studies.
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.