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NCWE Board Member Blog #2 - Paula Nissen
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Education and Employment Outcomes Research: Calculating Impact

    Paula Nissen
    Workforce Preparation/Education Consultant
    Iowa Department of Education



Iowa’s Community College Program Outcomes is an organization that studies employment outcomes gained through community college training for both credit and non-credit programming. The Iowa Department of Education’s Community College and Workforce Preparation Division—through a partnership with Iowa Workforce Development—analyzes the data to answer questions about student success in education, employment rates, earning levels and industries of employment.

"Program outcome research is critical to Iowa’s community colleges. Particularly to have outcome data available on noncredit short-term certificate and credentialing programs which supports strong lifelong learning and pathway systems aligned to high-demand jobs, completion, and wage progression in Iowa."
Kim Becicka, Ph.D., Vice President of Continuing Education and Training Services, Kirkwood Community College

The reports produced document the educational and employment outcomes of community college students enrolled in credit and non-credit programs, as well as students who left Iowa community colleges without completing a program. They include the number of awards, time-to-degree, retention, migration (both in- and out-of-state), continuation in the two-year college or transfer to four-year institutions, employment timing, wages, career clusters, career pathways, and earned credit hours, both on state-wide, specific college, and specific program of completion levels. We also track graduates longitudinally, which allows the analysis of trends in education and career pathways of Iowa community college credit and non-credit program completers and program leavers. Additionally, the Comparative Analysis of Completers and Leavers report illustrates the impact on students if they complete their programs or leave the community college prior to completion.

“Community colleges across Iowa are using the education and employment outcomes research to support programming, ensure current and future funding, and assist businesses in meeting the demand for key occupations. Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) established a need for expanding their "Success Model" based on training outcomes and demographics, wage data and placement in high-demand careers. They used the state and college-specific program outcomes to determine if they are meeting local business needs by charting progress based on projections for key careers in addition to utilizing the data produced to illustrate the return on investment in funding credit and noncredit programming.”

"We (NICC) were further able to expand our Opportunity Dubuque Career Pathway program to include a Dubuque childcare pilot based on students who are training for in-demand high quality jobs. Using the program outcomes for CTE noncredit education and the interactive dashboard to discern the greatest openings assisted us in making the case. Illustrating the impact that our training programs have on high demand careers and associated wages proved the need to expand our program. The data supported our program outcomes to ensure/increase funding from our partners for certificate tuition programs. The data was used to support our outcomes with the state Legislation to showcase the success of short-term certificate training."
Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., Vice President of Business and Community Solutions, Northeast Iowa Community College

To access the reports produced by Iowa and more information about the research, please click here. For a more interactive experience visit the Interactive Dashboard which contains data visualization and allows for customized data selection for multiple years and downloads.

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