Madison Area Technical College's Patient Care Pathway Program: Three-Year Impact Report

Publication Date: January 28, 2021
Cover image for Madison 3-year Impact Report

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  • Pages: 142
  • Published: 2021


Research Questions

  1. Three years after random assignment, what were the effects of Health Careers for All on educational attainment, including school-issued healthcare credentials and exam-based certifications received?
  2. Three years after random assignment, what were the effects of Health Careers for All on entry into employment and higher earnings?
  3. Three years after random assignment, what were the effects of Health Careers for All on individual and family well-being, including income and other life outcomes?

This report documents the impacts of the Patient Care Pathway Program (PCPP) three years after random assignment. Operated between 2011 and 2014 by Madison Area Technical College (hereafter referred to as “Madison College”) in Madison, Wisconsin, PCPP aimed to help low-skilled adults access and complete occupational training in the growing healthcare sector. It is one of nine programs being evaluated under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) project sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

PCPP consists of three key elements:

  1. A structured healthcare training pathway for prospective students who were denied admission to Madison College’s healthcare programs due to low scores on tests assessing basic skills;
  2. Contextualized and accelerated basic skills instruction packaged with credit-bearing courses; and
  3. Proactive advising to help students navigate the program admissions process, develop an academic plan, and identify and address academic and non-academic barriers to program completion.

The evaluation of PCPP used an experimental design to assess impacts on postsecondary training, earnings and employment, and other life outcomes. Analyses in this report indicate that after three years, the program increased enrollment in occupational training, but it did not increase receipt of college credentials, employment, earnings, or family economic well-being.

This evaluation, the Career Pathways Intermediate Outcomes Study, extends the follow-up period to three years for programs in the PACE project. Future reports produced by the Career Pathways Long-term Outcomes Study will extend the follow-up period further.


This research was undertaken to evaluate whether PCPP was successful in providing training to low-skilled adults and whether the program’s efforts led to impacts on credentials, earnings, employment, and other life outcomes.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • PCPP did not increase receipt of a college credential requiring a year or more of training, the confirmatory educational outcome in this report.
    Three years after random assignment, there was no impact on receipt of college credentials requiring a year or more of training: 4 percent of the treatment group received such a credential, compared to 8 percent of the control group, a difference that is not statistically significant.
  • PCPP increased enrollment in college occupational training but did not have impacts on other measures of educational progress.
    PCPP increased enrollment in college occupational training by 8 percentage points, and increased the length of training by one month. There was no detectable impact on other measures of educational progress, including credits earned or receipt of exam-based licenses.
  • Impacts of PCPP on admission to two-year healthcare degree programs were initially small, but grew larger over time.
    After two years, PCPP had a 6 percentage point impact on admission to a two-year healthcare program; by four years, the impact had grown to 18 percentage points. Several factors likely contributed to these delays, including short application windows, long lags between admission and the start of the programs, and skills tests for admission. This growth in admission impacts could foreshadow impacts on credential receipt in the future.
  • PCPP had no detectable impact on average quarterly earnings in the 12th and 13th quarters, the confirmatory earnings outcome in this report.
    Treatment and control group members both earned about $4,500 per quarter in the 12th and 13th quarters after random assignment. There was no evidence of positive impacts on earnings in any of the first 16 quarters after random assignment.
  • PCPP had few detectable impacts on other life outcomes.
    PCPP increased health insurance coverage by 8 percentage points and reduced food insecurity by 9 percentage points. The program did not have detectable impacts on other measures of family economic well-being or self-assessed career progress.


The PCPP evaluation used an experimental research design in which program applicants were assigned at random to a treatment group that could access the program or to a control group that could not, and then compared their outcomes. The sample for this report consists of 499 program applicants who were randomly assigned between December 2011 and January 2014. The impact study used data from a follow-up survey conducted three years after random assignment, administrative records from Madison College, earnings records from the federal National Directory of New Hires, and college enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The study measured impacts on training, employment, and earnings outcomes approximately three years after random assignment for all measures and up to four years after random assignment for selected earnings and education outcomes.


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PDFMadison 3-Year Impact Report Appendices1,899.57 KB