Understanding the Effect of State Investments in Postsecondary Vocational Education
Adela Soliz

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Vanderbilt University

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
Community and technical colleges play an important role in providing access to postsecondary education, including the type of vocational training that could increase opportunities for disenfranchised workers. Recognizing the potential for community colleges to improve labor market access for those who enroll, as well as to fuel local economies, both the federal and state governments have recently made large investments in improving the quality and capacity of postsecondary vocational education. One such program in Tennessee, the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP), sought to improve vocational training by incentivizing public two-year colleges to build collaborations with local employers and other stakeholders. I will conduct a mixed methods study that will combine a rigorous exploration of classroom-level changes resulting from LEAP with a quantitative examination of the effect of this policy change on student outcomes. This study has two goals: first, to systematically document how this funding changed programs at two-year colleges across Tennessee, and, second, to estimate the effect of program enhancements on students’ academic and labor market outcomes. My study will inform future state and federal stimulus plans by demonstrating how funding can best be used to enhance postsecondary vocational training programs in order to improve outcomes for workers and bolster local economies.
About Adela Soliz
Adela Soliz is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy, in the department of Leadership, Policy & Organizations at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Dr. Soliz’s research focuses on improving student success at community colleges. Most of her research uses large state administrative or national datasets and econometric methods to estimate causal effects of policies and program participation on community college students’ outcomes. She is interested in issues related to college affordability, the development of vocational education at community colleges, and transfer and articulation between two and four-year institutions. Her research has been published in journals such as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Education Finance and Policy and has been funded by organizations including the Institute of Education Sciences and the American Educational Research Association. She is WT Grant Foundation Scholar, class of 2024. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Professor Soliz was a Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy. Soliz holds a doctorate in Quantitative Policy Analysis in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before getting her doctorate, Soliz taught developmental English at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, as well as ESL, GED and citizenship classes in non-profits supporting immigrant populations around New York City. She received her B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College.

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