Research and Reports
- Greater Equity in College Access Through High School/College Dual Enrollment Programs – Community College Research Center, October 2023
This brief summarizes the research on dual enrollment programs and offers policymakers a strategy to increase college enrollment and attainment for underrepresented learners.
- Postsecondary CBE: A Primer for Policymakers – American Institute, July 2023
This report outlines what competency-based education (CBE) is, how it works, the potential benefits to learners, and how institutional practice is driven by federal postsecondary education policy to provide policymakers with valuable information about CBE as they consider how postsecondary institutions can meet the needs of learners across the country.
- Creating An Equitable, Resilient Workforce System: New Ideas for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – DeRenzis, Laprad, Ricks-Pettyjohn & Taylor, National Skills Coalition, May 2023
This report analyzes the current state of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, explains the challenges it has faced in securing funding since its inception, and dives into what can be done to take full advantage of its reach.
- Some College, No Credential Student Outcomes: Annual Progress Report Academic Year 2021/22 – National Student Clearinghouse, April 2023
The Some College, No Credential (SCNC) report series seeks to understand the educational trajectories of millions of U.S. adults who left postsecondary education without receiving a credential. This report identifies the levels of opportunity within each state for re-engaging SCNC students in the postsecondary attainment pipeline.
- Lessons Learned from Communities Accelerating Pathways to Credentials – Education Strategy Group & Accelerate ED, March 2023
This report details the lessons from a regional accelerator on strategies for successfully scaling accelerated pathway programs. This includes developing equity-driven programs with intentionally sequenced coursework, work-based learning opportunities and targeted advising and student supports; identifying a set of key enabling conditions around policy, funding and data that are necessary for scaling these programs; and building the capacity of intermediary organizations and partner organizations to foster alignment across systems.
- How Attaining Industry-Recognized Credentials in High School Shapes Education and Employment Outcomes – Giani, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, August 2022
This study examines the impact of industry-recognized credentials on Texas high school students’ employment and postsecondary outcomes. The findings share differences in outcomes by industry-recognized credential field of study as well as attainment trends over time.
- Research Priorities for Advancing Equitable Dual Enrollment Policy and Practice – Taylor et. al, Collaborative for Higher Education Research and Policy at the University of Utah, July 2022
This report provides a review of existing research on dual enrollment and outlines a research agenda for dual enrollment-related topics that need further examination. It includes a brief in the appendix specifically on CTE dual enrollment models.
- 50-State Comparison: Dual/Concurrent Enrollment Policies – Jamieson et. al, Education Commission of the States, June 2022
This resource catalogs dual/concurrent enrollment policies in all states with information on student access, course offerings, funding and quality. Additionally, users can see if their state allows CTE dual enrollment coursework.
- On Ramp to College: Dual Enrollment Impacts from the Evaluation of New York City’s P-TECH 9-14 Schools – Dixon & Rosen, MDRC, April 2022
This brief looks at how dual enrollment impacted students from New York City’s P-TECH grades 9-14 high schools and found positive outcomes related to earning college credentials.
- College in High School Programs & COVID-19: Two Years of Challenge and Change – College in High School Alliance, January 2022
Based on surveys and interviews with over 300 postsecondary and secondary practitioners and policymakers, this report describes how the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted college in high school programs.
- The Role of State Governance in Supporting Learner Pathways and Education-to-Workforce Learner Pathways: How Intermediary Organizations Can Support and Help Sustain Effective Partnerships – Chiefs for Change, October 2021
These reports examine how the development of high-quality pathways from education to the workforce can be supported by state governance structures as well as by state and local intermediaries. Each report provides examples of states engaging in this work as well as recommendations for policymakers and education leaders to consider.
- 50-State Comparisons: Education and Workforce Development Connections – Erwin, Kelley, Brixey & Perez, Education Commission of the States, September 2021
This resource provides an overview of education’s role within state workforce development systems, processes for identifying high-demand occupations and workforce development appropriations.
- Pathways Matter to Families: What Parents and Young Adults Believe and Want to Know About Education to Workforce Pathways – ExcelinEd, June 2021
This publication describes findings from a national survey of middle school and high school parents, parents of young adults and young adults themselves to measure opinions and knowledge of education to workforce pathways.
- Intentional Acts of Dual Enrollment: Strategies for Scaling Early Postsecondary Opportunities in Pathways – Advance CTE & Education Strategy Group, May 2021
This brief explores common attributes of high-quality early postsecondary opportunities in Texas and Utah.
- Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials – Credential Engine, February 2021
This third annual report from Credential Engine attempts to count credentials, identifying 967,734 unique credentials in the U.S. in 16 detailed credential categories across four types of credential providers.
- Badge Count 2020 – IMS Global & Credential Engine, December 2020
This report details the remarkable growth in the use of Open Badges, a leading format for digital badges.
- Stratified Trajectories: Charting Equity Gaps in Program Pathways Among Community College Students – Lin, Fay & Fink, Community College Research Center, December 2020
This longitudinal research study examines equity gaps in the trajectories of community college students as they progress through different programs leading to higher- and lower-paying jobs. The findings reveal significant gaps in completion and other academic milestones between racial/ethnic groups.
- The PLA Boost: Results from a 72-Institution Targeted Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Adult Student Outcomes – Klein-Collins et. al, Council on Adult and Experiential Learning & Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, December 2020
This study examined data provided by 72 postsecondary institutions about the enrollment, credit-earning and degree-earning of students. Data on more than 230,000 adult students showed that those with PLA credits were far more likely to complete a postsecondary credential.
- The Dropout Effects of Career Pathways: Evidence from California – Bonilla, University of Massachusetts Amherst, February 2020
This study focuses on the impact of implementing career pathways on the dropout rates of high school students in California. The researcher found that dropout rates declined significantly in districts that received funding to implement pathways.
- Building Momentum: Using Guided Pathways to Redesign the Student Experience – Center for Community College Student Engagement, 2020
Drawing on three surveys, this study examines whether guided pathways are being implemented effectively. Offering a window into student and faculty perspectives, the report outlines widespread areas of improvement for institutions to consider when implementing guided pathways.
- Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity & Quality in College in High School Programs – College in High School Alliance & Level Up, October 2019
This report provides recommendations for college in high school programs in six different categories: equity goals and public reporting, program integrity and credit transfer, finance, course access and availability, instructor capacity and navigational supports.
- Measuring Secondary CTE Program Quality series – Advance CTE, July 2019
This series explores the pros and cons of each of the three options for the Perkins V secondary program quality indicator, including postsecondary credit attainment and credential attainment, and examines different ways states are measuring and validating these measures.
- Developing Credit for Prior Learning to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner – Advance CTE, April 2019
This brief features data on the benefits of credit for prior learning, as well as best practices in Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee and Virginia across topics such as CPL for military service members, portability of credits and how to communicate about CPL opportunities.
- Increasing the Supply of Qualified Teachers for Dual Enrollment Programs: An Overview of State and Regional Accreditor Policies – Midwestern Higher Education Compact & Education Commission of the States, June 2018
This report presents results from a content analysis of state policies for dual enrollment instructor qualifications, compares the faculty qualification policies of regional accreditation organizations, and describes strategies to bolster graduate education programs and encourage teachers to complete relevant graduate coursework.
- Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment: A 50-State Scan – Leventoff, National Skills Coalition, May 2018
The Workforce Data Quality Campaign surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia to learn the extent to which states are collecting individual-level data about non-degree credentials, incorporating that data into their longitudinal data systems, evaluating attainment by subpopulation and identifying credentials of value.
- Linking Public Workforce Systems and Community Colleges through Prior Learning Assessment: Learnings from a National Pilot Project – Council on Adult and Experiential Learning, 2018
This paper describes the results of a pilot project and explains why partnerships related to prior learning assessment, specifically partnerships between the workforce system of a region and its community colleges, are important for increasing credential attainment.
- What Happens to Students Who Take Community College “Dual Enrollment” Courses in High School? – Fink, Jenkins & Yanaguira, Community College Research Center, September 2017
Researchers tracked the trajectories of over 200,000 high school students who completed a community college dual enrollment course. Their research concluded that most dual enrollment students in the study pursued postsecondary education and earned a credential within five years of graduating.
- Optimizing Technical Education Pathways: Does Dual-Credit Course Completion Predict Students’ College and Labor Market Success? – Phelps & Chan, Journal of CTE, March 2017
This study examined the relationship between college and career success and the completion of dual credit courses in high school. Findings indicate that dual credit learners had significantly better outcomes than non-dual credit learners in college course completion rates, second-year retention rates, three-year graduation rate and earnings.
- MDRC Research on Career Pathways – Kazis, MDRC, March 2016
This issue brief describes the career pathways approach, highlighting core design elements, and profiles MDRC projects that shed light on the effectiveness of this approach and its potential to improve education and career outcomes.
- Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment – Hughes, Rodríguez, Edwards & Belfield, Community College Research Center, July 2012
The findings from this three-year study underscore the benefits of career-focused dual enrollment participation. After examining over 3,000 high school students in California, researchers found positive impacts of career-focused dual enrollment pathways on graduation, postsecondary and college persistence rates.
Toolkits, Guides and Frameworks
- Stackability Guide: Building Credential Connections Within Institutions – Education Strategy Group, February 2023
This guide can help higher education institutions increase the likelihood that learners earn credentials that stack upon each other, enabling them to build skills, advance their careers and attain economic mobility.
- Embedding Credit for Prior Learning in Career Pathways – Advance CTE & Education Strategy Group, July 2022
This policy benchmark tool enables state, system and institutional leaders to measure current credit for prior learning policies and practices and how they are contributing to learners’ completion of career pathways that lead to high-quality credentials. The tool contains three components: a review of effective credit for prior learning policy elements, a self-assessment rubric and a guide to create an action plan.
- Building State Career Pathways Systems – DeRenzis, Kinder & Duke-Benfield, National Skills Coalition, January 2022
This toolkit assists states in building career pathways that foster partnerships between state human service agencies and community and technical colleges. It includes models from Arkansas and Oregon.
- All Learning Counts: State Policy Toolkit – Lumina Foundation & Research for Action, December 2020
This policy toolkit seeks to support states in ensuring all college-level learning is applied to college credentials. It includes state policy priorities; state policy exemplars; barriers and solutions; and No Time to Waste: Standards for Statewide Crosswalks That Ensure All Learning Counts, a report that clarifies how states can create clear and comprehensive crosswalks.
- The Dual Enrollment Playbook: A Guide to Equitable Acceleration for Students – Mehl, Wyner, Barnett, Fink & Davis, Community College Research Center, October 2020
This playbook features nine dual enrollment programs that have decreased or closed equity gaps in dual enrollment for students of color and provides key principles, strategies, practices and assessment tools that community colleges and K-12 leaders can use to increase equity in dual enrollment programs.
- High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year – ACTE, June 2020
This guide was designed to help CTE leaders make difficult decisions as they offer remote, blended and socially distanced learning during COVID-19. It is organized around the elements of ACTE’s Quality CTE Program of Study Framework, including guidance related to sequencing and articulation.
- Expanding Opportunities: Defining Quality Non-Degree Credentials for States – Duke-Benfield, Wilson, Kaleba & Leventoff, National Skills Coalition, September 2019
This framework proposes a consensus definition of quality non-degree credentials and criteria developed in consultation with 12 leading states and national organizations that states can adopt for their own quality assurance systems.
- The Playbook: 30 Solutions to Promote Faster Credentials – Berkowitz, Third Way, July 2019
This publication reflects upon six challenges that individuals face in pursuing postsecondary credentials, such as few stacking and articulation opportunities, and offers approximately 30 state and federal policy solutions to address these hurdles.
- Launching & Managing Concurrent Enrollment: A District/High School Guide – National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partners, 2019
This guide outlines the general process a district/high school partner can expect to undertake when establishing a concurrent/dual enrollment program aligned with NACEP standards. Sample agreements, forms, helpful links and references are available at the end of the guide.
- Stackable Credentials Tool Kit – U.S. Department of Education, April 2018
This Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education toolkit is organized by topics of importance to colleges considering a stackable credentials approach. Each section provides information, links to online tools and suggestions on how to use them.
- What We Are Learning About Guided Pathways – Jenkins, Lahr, Fink & Ganga, Community College Research Center, April 2018
This practitioner packet looks at what implementing guided pathways entails. Part 1 provides an overview of the changes in practice involved in the four areas of the guided pathways model. Part 2 contains case studies and data on promising trends in student progress and completion. Part 3 describes the process and timeline for implementing pathways and discusses how colleges can measure the effectiveness of their efforts.
- How to Scale College in High School: A State Policy Guide for Implementing Dual Enrollment and Early College Designs Under the Every Student Succeeds Act – College in High School Alliance, February 2017
Designed with state and local policymakers in mind, this three-part guide provides a path for leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to implement early college and dual enrollment programs. The guide walks through design components of early college and dual enrollment programs, incorporating these programs into ESSA state plans and funding opportunities, and best practices for state policymakers engaging in this work.
- Career Pathways Toolkit: An Enhanced Guide and Workbook for System Development – U.S. Department of Labor, 2016
This enhanced toolkit for the Department of Labor’s Six Key Elements for Success for Career Pathways includes embedded and writeable worksheets to help state and local teams with implementation.
- Shared Vision, Strong Systems: The Alliance for Quality Career Pathways Framework Version 1.0 – Center for Law and Social Policy, 2014
The Alliance framework provides a set of criteria and indicators for what constitutes a quality state and local/regional career pathway system, as well as metrics to assess participant progress and success.
- National Concurrent Enrollment Partnership Standards – National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships
NACEP offers program quality standards that define characteristics of a quality early postsecondary program in the areas of partnership, faculty, assessment, curriculum, students and evaluation.
- Designing Competency-Based Articulation Agreements: A Framework for State Educational Agencies and Postsecondary Education Institutes – College & Career Readiness & Success Center
This implementation guide for developing competency-based articulation agreements between secondary and postsecondary institutions outlines how to identify and convene a team of stakeholders who will set the vision and assess the readiness of the state to develop a competency-based articulation agreement.
- Pathways Playbook – Education Strategy Group
Invest Forward provides strategies on investing in postsecondary pathways using American Rescue Plan funds. This site provides principles for equitable and effective investment; guides for more than 20 potential pathways investment strategies; and an overview of state and district spending plans.
- Designing a Career Pathways System: A Framework for State Education Agencies – College & Career Readiness & Success Center
This four-chapter module is intended to help state education agency staff design, implement and evaluate a career pathways system. Each chapter includes a facilitator’s guide, slide presentation and activity handouts.
- Pathways Matter – ExcelinEd
This website provides a framework for successful education-to-work pathways by examining learner journeys, providing examples of continuum policies and offering case studies on state progress in supporting education-to-work pathways.
- Programs of Study Design Framework and Program of Study Local Implementation and Self-Assessment Tools – Department of Education
This Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education framework describes program elements that are viewed by CTE practitioners as instrumental for creating and implementing high-quality, comprehensive programs of study. The accompanying self-assessment tool identifies the criteria for evaluating whether a CTE provider has sufficient capacity to implement a comprehensive program of study.
- Credentials: Understand the problems. Identify the opportunities. Create the solutions. ($) – Gaston & Van Noy, 2022
This book defines different credential types, describes the proliferation in credentials and unpacks the implications of this abundance. It concludes with 12 propositions for action.
- The Power and Promise of Pathways ($) – Meeder, 2016
This book offers educators and community leaders a comprehensive look at pathways from the early planning stage to full implementation. Current research and best practice examples are used throughout to address defining career and life readiness, building a career development model, creating dynamic pathway programs, and collaborating meaningfully with employer and community organizations and across education and workforce partners.
- The Pathway Program Design Guide ($) – Meeder
This guidebook provides readers with steps to designing a pathways program or upgrading an existing CTE program into a pathway program. The guide is centered around 10 elements of high-quality careers each linked to guidance from Perkins V.
- The Pathways System Decision Guide ($) – Meeder
This guidebook helps education leaders and their team strengthen their career pathways system by providing step-by-step guidance on awareness and interest building, convening partners and strategic planning.
- The Pathways System Resource Kit ($) – Meeder
This toolkit provides an extensive collection of forms, templates, talking points and fact sheets that education leaders and their teams can utilize when designing a career pathways system. This toolkit is intended to complement The Pathway Program Design Guide and The Pathways System Decision Guide. There is also a free online sample pack of eight documents featured in the toolkit.
- A General Discussion of the Benefits and Challenges of Dual-Credit CTE Programs in the Current K12 Environment – National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, July 2022
This webinar discusses the state of current CTE dual enrollment, including successful programs, personal experiences and challenges facing students and educators across the country.
- Supporting Career Pathways Systems Through Braiding Funding – Advance CTE, January 2022
Based on Advance CTE’s publication Braiding Funding to Support Equitable Career Pathways, this webinar includes recommendations for braiding federal, state and local funding to support statewide career pathways systems along with advice from state CTE leaders.
- Designing a College and Career Pathways System – ACTE, August 2021
This virtual workshop led by Hans Meeder invites viewers to understand the essential tools and processes to initiate or re-boot a pathways program. This webinar introduces the six components of a pathways systems and guides viewers through the 12-step process utilized in the National Center for College and Career Transition’s Pathways System Decision Guide.
- Dual Enrollment Using IPEDS and CRDC Data – Community College Research Center, June 2021
This webinar reviews tools for estimating trends in dual enrollment and shares national, state and district insights on dual enrollment participation and equity gaps.
- Dual Enrollment in Perkins V State Plans – National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, February 2021
This webinar examines how Perkins V offers states new flexibility to increase their investment in dual/concurrent enrollment and what strategies states are taking to advance dual/concurrent enrollment in CTE.
- Connecting Secondary to Postsecondary Education to Create High-Quality Career Pathways for Students – ACTE, June 2020
Led by Carrie Scheiderer, this webinar provides an overview of the initiatives Ohio’s CTE system has implemented to develop and implement sustainable pathways between secondary and postsecondary institutions.
- Institutional Transformation Through Guided Pathways at Rural Community Colleges – Community College Research Center, March 2020
This webinar discusses guided pathways implementation at rural community colleges as well as lessons learned, strategies and considerations from practitioners in Oregon and Tennessee.
- High-Quality CTE Programs of Study – Sequencing and Articulation – ACTE, October 2019
Focusing on the Lockesburg Industrial Maintenance Institute in Southwest Arkansas, this webinar highlights ways in which a community of industrial and educational professionals aligned their knowledge and skill with academic standards and existing resources to create a seamless progression of learning that leads to high-paying jobs right out of high school.
- Discussion of the Implications of Career Pathways Findings for Practice and Research – Community College Research Center, May 2019
This webinar brought together researchers, government, practitioners and the policy community to examine how career pathways can increase equitable outcomes, characteristics of effective pathways programs, and the implications of research on pathways for policy and practice.
- Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner – Advance CTE, April 2019
This webinar provides an overview of credit for prior learning and current state policies surrounding CPL, with lessons learned from Virginia and Louisiana.
- Exploring Recent Research on Dual Enrollment – National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, February 2019
This webinar reviews research in dual enrollment, including matriculation to postsecondary education, student success, advisor perspectives and more, with the goal of improving instructional practices.
- Plenary Session: Are Colleges Guiding Students to Choose Valuable Programs and Pathways? – Community College Research Center, April 2017
This webinar reviews evidence on the outcomes of particular college pathways for students and how career pathways options can be simplified for students.
- Creating an Accelerated Learning Environment ($) – CTE Learn
This course teaches tips and techniques for an accelerated learning environment, including the role of the instructor, interactive activities, support materials and the sequence of instruction.