Areas of Focus
Our team has a wide range of experience and capabilities, but much of our work can be captured in eight focus areas:
Career and Technical Education
As the demand for employees with more sophisticated technical, academic, and employability skills has risen, so has the importance of strong career and technical education (CTE) programs for improving college and career readiness. CNA Education provides the rigorous research and technical assistance needed to strengthen the research base on CTE and support current and developing CTE programs, particularly those focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Workforce Development and Career Pathways
CNA has supported federal, state, and local education agencies in strengthening workforce development through rigorous, relevant, and timely training and evaluation. Support has included designing and executing evaluation plans of training programs, examining the alignment of academic and technical programs with labor market needs, and defining measures of academic progress and success.
College and Career Readiness
Ensuring students are well prepared for success in college and careers, managing transition, and reducing risk of dropout have become a focus of education reform initiatives. CNA Education has expertise in investigating pathways to success and barriers to individual accomplishment. Our work has also focused on examining policies designed to reduce gaps in educational attainment and performance among students from various socio-demographic backgrounds, analyzing career and technical education programs, and understanding dropout trends.
CNA has over 40 years of experience analyzing issues related to the recruitment, retention, assignment, and evaluation of teachers and other public employees. Our analysis of the teacher workforce includes studies on pay and retention, qualities of good teachers, and the pipeline for new teachers. We have also examined the effects of teacher characteristics, teacher assessments, and national certification programs on student outcomes.
Assessment and Accountability
Examining the characteristics and effectiveness of federal and state accountability systems is a major focus of CNA analysis. We assisted a district with the design of a local accountability system, examined the alignment between a state assessment and nationally recognized standards, and studied the implications of a state-level NCLB accountability system.
School safety is linked to improved student and school outcomes. Emotional and physical safety in school strongly affect academic performance. CNA Education continues to build its expertise in examining the causes and consequences of school violence, developing and evaluating a comprehensive school safety framework, testing innovative and promising school programs using scientifically rigorous methods, and enhancing school safety data collection.
Using Data to Support Decisions
Over the last 10 years, researchers and policymakers increasingly have emphasized the importance of using data to support decision-making in education. Our analysts have been at the forefront of mining data systems and using longitudinal data to analyze policy proposals, monitor operations, and investigate program effectiveness.
Effective Use of Technology
Recent advances in technology offer opportunities to improve access to and quality of education at all levels. However, developers of curricula and other products have encountered challenges integrating technology into their services. Investments and experiments in technology have led to questions about whether it actually improves teaching, learning, and student outcomes. CNA has considerable experience evaluating the effectiveness of technology-based programs and analyzing issues related to the organization of virtual schools.
- Applied research
- Policy analysis
- Program evaluation
- Technical assistance
- Quantitative and qualitative analysis
- Randomized controlled trials
- Quasi-experimental design studies
- Summative and formative evaluation
- Statistical and econometric analysis
- Fidelity of implementation analysis
- Cost-benefit analyses
- Interviews, surveys, and focus groups
- Document analysis
- Literature reviews
- Case studies and site visits
- Working with large-scale databases
- Webinars, meetings, and events
- What Works Clearinghouse-certified research reviews