What works for career-tech programs

Proactive support for students improve success rates for career-tech programs at Washington community and technical colleges, concludes a Community College Research Center study. The study looked at high-performing and low-performing programs in allied health, business and marketing, computer and information studies, and mechanics and repair.

A common college-level mechanism in high-performing colleges was an early alert system, which provides a proactive and potentially consistent way to identify students who are having trouble with a course or a program of study and intervene before they fall too far behind.

One high-performing college used dedicated, knowledgeable allied health counselors to advise students, instead of counselors who handled all fields of study.

Higher performing programs were less likely to emphasize the associate degree and more likely to promote long-term vocational certificates that require fewer general education courses and let students enter the workforce quickly.

. . . an emphasis on earning a long-term certificate and then immediately seeking paid employment could provide students with more motivation to complete than a bigger picture focus on an associate degree to improve long-term career options.

Low-performing programs offered more short-term certificates, which tend to be less valuable in the workplace. It’s possible programs with low graduation rates begin offering short-term certificates so “students would have at least some credential even if they dropped out,” the study concludes.