Many states are investing heavily in initiatives to grow college enrollment and graduation among adult-age individuals and strengthen economic resilience and vitality by increasing the share of the population who hold credentials of labor market value. Many of these initiatives draw on short-term credentials, stackable credential sequences, and/or noncredit occupational programs. However, we have little understanding of how students are utilizing these educational opportunities, and how use is related to workforce opportunities, which hinders the ability of states to use resources efficiently, maximize the achievement of goals, and ensure that socioeconomically disadvantaged and marginalized students benefit educationally and economically from emerging educational policies.
To address this sizable blind spot in policy-relevant research, Dr. Peter Bahr will lead the project team to conduct six studies focused on (1) transitions between noncredit and for-credit occupational coursework and (2) for-credit stackable credential pathways in career technical education fields. The research will draw primarily on state administrative data, supplemented by data collected through student interviews or student focus groups to unpack findings from the analyses of administrative data.