The Heldrich Center is evaluating Raritan Valley Community College’s (RVCC) implementation of workforce development programs under a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The Center is tracking the progress of students who participate in these programs, conducting an analysis of the program processes, and calculating employment outcomes for students. Researchers are also working with RVCC to develop an “early alert” system to help identify students who are at risk of dropping out so that services can be targeted to meet their needs and help them remain in college.
To document student outcomes, the Heldrich Center is calculating graduation rates and is using administrative data and Unemployment Insurance wage records to calculate key labor market outcomes, including the entered employment rate, average earnings, and the retention rate. Heldrich Center researchers are using a comparison group and a difference-in-differences design, benchmarking these outcomes by comparing the higher education and employment outcomes of participants in RVCC’s workforce development programs to those of similar students who participated in different programs.
The Heldrich Center’s approach to process evaluation involves understanding the college’s goals for meeting the needs of students and employers and evaluating the degree to which program activities align with these goals in areas from program selection to intake to teaching and assessment. The evaluation is examining several key implementation issues, including how the program is aligning its programs with the needs of employers in the local labor market, the program level and organizational level approaches the program is using to implement its competency-based reforms, and the ongoing experiences of students throughout the program as they prepare for specific occupations. Throughout this process, the Heldrich Center and RVCC are collaborating, and the Center is relaying findings from the evaluation to RVCC to support its efforts to continuously improve its workforce development programs.
This project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.