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Media Release: Innovative research will help WSAC understand student pathways statewide

WSAC launches new collaborative research partnership to investigate Washington students’ school-to-work pathways and labor market outcomes

January 11, 2024

Olympia—The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) will partner with MDRC, a nonprofit research organization, to undertake a new research project looking at the array of options young adults may pursue as they transition out of K-12 education, as well as the labor market benefits of each. The research will be supported by data from the Washington Education Research & Data Center (ERDC) and funded by an award of $750,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to MDRC.

The project will explore how Washington students transition from school to the workforce, including traditional college degree pathways, non-degree pathways and workforce pathways. These analyses will help the state identify common pathways that lead to better academic and labor market outcomes. 

Alongside the broad investigation of common school-to-work pathways, the project will also highlight the trajectories of students who utilize specific programs of interest in the state, including dual enrollment and non-degree programs.

“This is an exciting opportunity for research to shed light on specific practices or interventions that could increase success for all students” said Michael Meotti, executive director at WSAC.

Notably, the research will look at the extent to which students’ school-to-work trajectories are influenced by factors beyond their control, such as where they live and their sociodemographic background. Findings from this research can help the state pinpoint areas for policy intervention that can build a more equitable education system with accessible pathways for all students. 

The work will be a collaborative effort between WSAC, MDRC, and ERDC. To ensure timely insights and guidance, the team will produce several short briefs with data-informed policy recommendations throughout the project period. 

The project team seeks to provide crucial data to state policymakers and school administrators to bridge opportunity gaps, decrease inequities, and enhance labor market outcomes for all learners across Washington. The project team will also seek to make the data insights accessible to the general public so that students and families can benefit from the findings as they make decisions about their educational pathways.