Explores the outcomes and lessons learned of a consortium of 17 Oregon community colleges efforts to create and improve career pathways, supportive services, and include past learning credits through a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from 2011 to 2014.

“Credentials, Acceleration and Support for Employment (CASE)—a collaborative effort of all 17 Oregon community colleges, the state’s workforce investment boards, the Oregon Employment Department Central Trade Act Unit, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission/Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, employers, and community partners—aimed to improve educational and employment outcomes for Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) eligible, unemployed, and underemployed workers.

To achieve this goal, CASE advanced three strategies:
• Career pathways – Creating new and expanding existing career pathway certificate programs that target emerging and demand occupations and are based on industry driven competencies, and developing adult basic skills/developmental education bridge and career/technical education curricula. One element of this work was engaging employers in education and training programs and work-based learning” (p.1).
• “Career coaching – Providing coaching, services, supports, connections to other community college, public and community resources, and job related assistance in order to increase retention, completion, credential attainment, and employment. One element of this work was partnering with the public workforce system.
• Credit for prior learning – Increasing use of credit for prior learning (CPL) as a way to accelerate time to completion and, as a result, employment.

CASE was funded through an $18.68 million, three year Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the US Department of Labor. TAACCCT grants were provided to community colleges and other institutions of higher education to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less...and prepare participants for employment in high wage, high skill occupations, while also meeting the needs of employers for skilled workers. The grant was awarded in October 2011 and, with a no cost extension, ran through September 2015.

This evaluation report—which covers CASE’s first three years of 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14—documents and evaluates CASE’s results and identifies key issues that surfaced during the evaluation and their implications for policy, practice, and systems” (p.1).

Full title: Oregon Credentials, Acceleration and Support for Employment (CASE) Evaluation Report: Results, Key Issues and Implications for Policy, Practice and Systems
(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“In three years, CASE served 4,639 participants, well over its target of 3,525. In terms of CASE’s target population, 71 percent of CASE participants were unemployed at enrollment and 18 percent underemployed. 6 percent were TAA, making CASE a national leader among TAACCCT grants in the percent of TAA participants served. Educational outcomes. 67 percent of CASE participants completed training. Completion rates vary by participant demographics” (p.1-2). “Completion rates also vary by type of training program. 89 percent of CASE participants in…cohort training programs completed training” (p.2). “3,054 CASE participants earned credentials…and 1,036 earned degrees. Hundreds of CASE participants earned more than one certificate or credential and are, therefore, counted more than once” (p.2). “Employment outcomes. 1,153 CASE participants who were unemployed at enrollment and completed training got jobs and 803 retained them…[t]hese numbers fell short of CASE’s goals. Comparing CASE’s percentage goals to actuals shows that CASE also fell somewhat short of its entered employment goal (59 versus 65 percent) and retained employment goal (75 versus 80 percent)” (p.4). The report includes issues and implications for policy, practice and systems on the CASE model, career pathways, retention strategies, financial assistance, adult basic skills transition and completion, career coaching, credit for prior learning, partnerships and collaboration, employer engagement, data, equity, and targeted sectors and occupations. The following are just some of the findings included in the report: • “Continue to provide community colleges the opportunity to come together around career pathways to share promising practices, analyze outcome data, and promote peer learning and continuous improvement” (p.5). • “Continue to strengthen partnerships and collaboration between community colleges, CTAU, WorkSource, WIA (now WIOA) service providers, community based organizations, and others, as a way to increase TAA eligible, unemployed, and underemployed workers’ access to education, employment, training and support services; their success in education and training programs; and their employment and earnings. For community colleges, sponsored students such as TAA eligible workers can be a source of enrollments and funding. For example, TAA enrollments during the life of the CASE grant totaled over 1,200 participants and generated about $17 million” (p.7-8). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)