Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) Cross-Program Implementation and Impact Study Findings

Publication Date: March 7, 2019
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  • Published: 2019


Research Questions

  1. What interventions were implemented and did implementation go as planned?
  2. What were the differences in services, including training, received by treatment and control group members in each program?
  3. What were the effects of the programs on educational attainment? Entry into career-track employment?

This report summarizes implementation and early impact findings for nine programs employing “career pathways” strategies for low-income and low-skilled adults. These programs were evaluated as part of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) Evaluation. The paper describes program implementation, as well as effects of the programs on initial training and career steps, approximately 18 months after the random assignment of each program’s participants into treatment and control groups.


This cross-program summary distills findings from program-specific evaluations of education and training and services implemented and describes where programs had impacts.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Recruitment presented challenges for almost all programs. Programs that succeeded in meeting their targets had proactive and ongoing discussions with key referral partners, tested new recruitment methods, and tracked referral sources to better target methods.
  • Programs had the most flexibility to design and implement basic skills bridge programs using innovative instructional approaches. These include contextualization, active learning techniques, flexible class times, and compressed schedules.
  • Programs provided advising but rarely mandated it. All programs offered academic and non-academic advising. Most had a recommended number of advising sessions but only two programs mandated them.
  • Financial support, when provided, largely focused on support for training. Three programs provided training at no cost to participants; others provided Individual Training Account vouchers or scholarships, or funding to fill the gap between existing financial aid and the cost of the program, or assistance with financial aid applications.
  • Services to connect program participants to employment generally consisted of workshops. Few programs provided employment counseling or in-program employment opportunities.
  • Programs had high levels of enrollment in education and training. Eight of the nine programs had positive and statistically significant impacts on enrollment in education and training.
  • Seven programs had a significant impact on their confirmatory outcome and thus seem to be on track to achieving their longer-term goals. For eight programs the confirmatory outcome was education related, and for one it was earnings related.


Each program in PACE was evaluated separately. The PACE evaluation’s implementation studies examined the design and operation of each PACE program, and each impact study used an experimental design to measure effects on educational and early employment outcomes. Implementation study findings are based on two rounds of site visits and a follow-up participant survey conducted approximately 18 months after random assignment. Impact study findings are based on the 18-month follow-up survey, college records, and quarterly wage data.


Gardiner, K. and R. Juras. (2019). PACE Cross-Program Implementation and Impact Study Findings, OPRE Report #2019-32, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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