Network Lead:

Evaluability Assessment: Identification of CTE Programs Ready for Rigorous Evaluation

About the Research Study

In 2019 and 2020, the Network Lead conducted an evaluability assessment (also known as a feasibility study) to identify a small number of career and technical education (CTE) programs, models, or pathways that were ready to be rigorously evaluated. This process began with a broad outreach effort to the CTE community to give a variety of CTE stakeholders the opportunity to nominate programs or models to be studied. The Network Lead research team then worked with representatives of nominated programs to understand key components—for example, students’ experiences in the program, the enrollment process, and how many students participate—and gather data to assess the possibility for rigorous research.

After identifying programs that showed potential for evaluation, the research team vetted additional details to verify a theory of change and confirm stakeholder desire to participate in research. The team then recommended a final set of programs based on the strength of the possible research model and the contribution the research would make in addressing gaps in the field.

A preliminary report and a final report present the best candidates for research as well as information on the process used and the programs investigated. A companion infographic highlights the final report's key findings. In addition, a follow-up report presents findings from interviews conducted as part of the evaluability assessment to explore how CTE programs dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as considerations for researchers when studying programs during that period.

Study period: 2019–2020

This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305N180005 to the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

About the Research Team

The research team includes representatives from the four Network Lead partners: American Institutes for Research, Association for Career and Technical Education, JFF, and Vanderbilt University.