The Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy Pilot Evaluation


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps program provides education and training to disadvantaged young people. It offers high school education services combined with career and technical training in a residential setting. The Cascades College and Career Academy (CCCA) pilot is an ambitious and evidence-based attempt to improve upon the Job Corps model for its younger participants, those 16 to 21 years old.

Similar to all other Job Corps centers, the CCCA, based in Washington State, provides room and board, as well as recreational and health services, to its participants. It differs from standard Job Corps programs in that it further integrates academic and technical training, workforce preparation skills, and support services into clear career pathways. In particular, CCCA offers career pathways in information technology and health care. Each pathway includes high school and college academic services, career and technical training, work-based learning, and life skills training. CCCA also uses a “student-centered design” model that is intended to improve student engagement and ownership in the program. The length of service at CCCA can be up to three years.

An evaluation team, led by researchers from Abt Associates in partnership with MDRC, is conducting a rigorous study to assess the extent to which the CCCA model helps students increase educational attainment and training receipt, obtain industry-recognized credentials, and advance to higher levels of education and employment.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

The Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy (CCCA) pilot aims to prepare younger Job Corps students (16- to 21-year-olds) for in-demand careers in the information technology and health care sectors by providing students with a high school and college education integrated with technical training services. Using a sectoral approach and a career pathways framework, CCCA will also help students build life skills and workplace skills. To assist in formulating a peer support system and a college-like atmosphere, CCCA students enter and complete the initial components of the program in groups, or cohorts. Students have the opportunity to stay in Job Corps longer than participants in the regular program (up to three years). After students have completed the program, CCCA will seek to connect them with employers and/or workplace training opportunities.  

The evaluation will focus on how the services are delivered, especially those unique components of the CCCA; how students experience those services; and how the experiences and outcomes of CCCA students differ from those of applicants who were not offered the opportunity to apply to CCCA. The evaluation will also document program operations, successes, and challenges.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

The Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy (CCCA) pilot evaluation employs a randomized controlled trial to identify the impacts of the CCCA model. Applicants who are deemed eligible for CCCA are randomly assigned either to a program group whose members are offered a position at CCCA or to a control group whose members are referred to traditional Job Corps centers. By comparing the employment, earnings, training receipt, and other outcomes of the two groups over time, the evaluation team will measure the extent to which the services offered at CCCA help participants above and beyond what is available currently in Job Corps and elsewhere in the community.

  • Implementation and student flow analysis will describe the services CCCA offers and how it delivers these services, as well as how the students flow through and experience the CCCA model.

  • Service contrast and impact analysis will estimate the impact of being offered a position at CCCA, including how service receipt differs and how short-term outcomes related to education and credentials differ.

The data sources for the evaluation include National Job Corps administrative data, CCCA administrative data, National Directory of New Hires data, and National Student Clearinghouse data. The research team will also conduct a follow-up student survey as well as interview program staff.