About the Study
In 2014, the Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) partnered with the Office on Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to fund contractor Westat to conduct an evaluation of the Pathways to Careers project. The outcome evaluation aims to examine the implementation and impact of innovative models for providing integrated education and career development services to youth and young adults with disabilities.
Two grantees, Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York and Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, enrolled a total of 457 students and provided several services, including outreach and recruitment activities and academic and career counseling and support services (including opportunities for work-based learning). Grantees used the Guidepost for Success framework to develop services and support for participants and the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principle for the training of faculty and staff to ensure greater student access to the curriculum.
This Department of Labor-funded study includes a final report and an issue brief. It was a result of collaboration between CEO and ODEP during the annual process to determine the Department’s research priorities for the upcoming year and contributes to the growing labor evidence-base to inform community college and employment and training programs and policies.
- Demonstration and Evaluation of Community College Interventions for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities (Final Report, December 2020)
- Building Accessible and Inclusive Community College Environments for Students with Disabilities (Issue Brief, December 2020)
- Interim Report (December 2018)
- What was the intended project model of each grantee (i.e., its essential components, activities, and processes) and how does the intended model compare to the actual operational model?
- How did the grantees and their partners develop, modify, and implement their Pathways project models?
- What role did technical assistance and capacity building play in maintaining fidelity and/or project model enhancement?
- To what extent did the grantee project models incorporate the Guideposts for Success framework? (i.e., school-based prep; career prep and work-based learning; youth development; connecting activities; family involvement)
- To what extent did the grantees follow Universal Design for Learning guidelines and/or implement the practices? (i.e., Multiple means of engagement; representation; action and expression)
- To what extent did the grantees engage employers and other workforce development partners in designing and operating their projects?
- What were the major implementation challenges and how did grantees address them?
- To what extent did the grantees accomplish programmatic change, policy change (e.g., accessibility) and systemic institutional change?
- Are the grantee projects scalable and replicable? What are the lessons learned for other community colleges?
Outputs and Outcomes Study
- How satisfied are project participants (i.e., students, faculty, and staff) with the project?
- Which project components do participants perceive as most satisfactory and beneficial?
- Did the grantees meet their academic target goals for student outcomes? (e.g., persistence, certifications, degrees, transfers to 4-year programs)
- To what extent did the projects offer services to increase student engagement, self-advocacy, self-determination, and self-disclosure?
- Did the grantees meet their employment target goals for student outcomes? (e.g., employment and relationship to training, wages, advancement)
- How did outcomes differ for Pathways participants by interventions received?
- How did outcomes differ for Pathways participants than for students with disabilities enrolled in prior years at the same college?
- More than half (57.1 percent) of participants surveyed said the project was “very closely aligned” with personal career goals and 39.0 percent said it was “somewhat aligned.” Only 3.9 percent said that the project did not align with their career goals.
- Among participants who started Pathways in fall 2016, 67.2 percent were still enrolled through fall 2017 and 45.2 percent through fall 2018.
- Onondaga Community College devoted substantial effort to building college-level capacity and experienced significant institutional change as a result of the grant. Administration officials speak positively of their desire to sustain several elements of their project, including the Onondaga Pathway to Careers Scholars program and the UDL Academy.
- Pellissippi State Community College emphasized increasing capacity to provide comprehensive student services. With its larger staff, all student participants receive extensive one-on-one support, with individualized counseling tailored to their own needs and aspirations.
- The role of administration support was important but not the only key to building capacity to serve students with disabilities. The study found improving capacity also requires accurate identification of student needs and this may require intensive, individualized services.
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Chief Evaluation Office (CEO) sponsors independent evaluations and research, primarily conducted by external, third-party contractors in accordance with the Department of Labor Evaluation Policy. CEO’s research development process includes extensive technical review at the design, data collection and analysis stage, including: external contractor review and OMB review and approval of data collection methods and instruments per the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), Institutional Review Board (IRB) review to ensure studies adhere to the highest ethical standards, review by academic peers (e.g., Technical Working Groups), and inputs from relevant DOL agency and program officials and CEO technical staff. Final reports undergo an additional independent expert technical review and a review for Section 508 compliance prior to publication. The resulting reports represent findings from this independent research and do not represent DOL positions or policies.