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Building Stackable Credential Pipelines that Support Equity and Provide Pathways to the Middle Class for Low-Income Students


Oct 01, 2021


Dec 31, 2023
Funding Agency
RAND Corporation and Ascendium Education Group, Inc.

Dr. Peter Bahr (U-M) and Dr. Lindsay Daugherty (RAND) are collaborating on a new study of postsecondary students in Ohio and Colorado. This study examines how stackable credentials—an increasingly common approach to structuring education and training in applied career and technical fields like health care, business, engineering technology, and information technology—are strengthening the educational attainment and employment opportunities for low-income individuals.


The project has four main objectives.

  1. Develop a framework for promoting equal access to stackable credential pipelines.
  2. Measure the differences between low-income students and their higher-income peers in the likelihood of credential-stacking and the labor market outcomes after stacking credentials.
  3. Determine the extent to which low-income students encounter barriers to accessing stackable credential pipelines, with a focus on three particular barriers: noncredit-to-credit transfer, accessibility of institutions offering credential stacking options, and sorting of students into fields with few credential stacking options.
  4. Identify steps that states and institutions can take to strengthen equal access to stackable credential pipelines, and engage stakeholders with this actionable evidence.

Primary Investigator(s)

Associate Professor, Marsal Family School of Education

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