In 2016, the Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office awarded a contract to Abt Global and MDRC to evaluate Job Corps’ Cascades College and Career Academy (CCCA), a pilot focused on enrolling students in college to prepare for a career in healthcare or information technology. This implementation analysis is part of the final report of the evaluation.
The main differences between the conventional Job Corps program and the Cascades pilot were the following:
- The approach to rule-making and enforcement. The pilot focused on coaching students when they broke the rules, which enabled the students to take responsibility and learn from mistakes. Additionally, the pilot incorporated student input to create a less structured culture with fewer restrictions compared with a conventional Job Corps center, but more than a college environment.
- Integration with college-level learning. The pilot offered education and training services and gave students the chance to earn college credits and advanced credentials. Few conventional Job Corps students have this opportunity.
- Access to occupational credentials. The pilot career and technical training (CTT) had career pathways that enabled students to earn stackable credentials and ensured they would leave with some credentialing. That is not necessarily the case at conventional Job Corps centers.
- Additional student supports. The pilot provided substantial academic and non-academic preparation and support before and during college enrollment. Conventional Job Corps centers typically do not.