Idaho’s College and Career Advising and Mentoring Program is a five-year intervention intended to enable Idaho’s Local Educational Agencies’ (both school districts and charter schools) efforts to support Idaho students’ preparation for college and career readiness. Such efforts include opportunities for students to identify strengths, areas for improvement and areas of interest in regard to career and postsecondary education goals. In 2018, the Idaho Legislature requested an independent evaluation of the Program. This report, by the Idaho Policy Institute, serves as that evaluation.
Student-level data from the Idaho Department of Education, school-level data from the National Center for Education Statistics, and Local Educational Agency plans from the Idaho State Board of Education were used to examine program participation and outcomes. The evaluation considers the Program’s design, use of funds, effectiveness and several other relevant metrics.
Analysis reveals a number of issues preventing an accurate evaluation at this stage of the Program. First, although Local Educational Agencies (LEA) are required to submit plans, the plans submitted have been incomplete. Second, LEAs are not required to submit budgets with their plans nor provide expense reports, limiting the ability to track use of funds and determine funding impact on program effectiveness. Third, the funding allocation formula limits small LEAs’ ability to implement programs. Fourth, metrics necessary to measure the intended outcomes of the program are both inconsistent among Local Educational Agencies and insufficient. For instance, the current use of go-on rates to measure program success does not account for career readiness. Fifth, the Program was created alongside other statewide programs intended to support similar outcomes, thereby making it difficult to separate effects of individual programs. Finally, and perhaps most significant, the Program is designed as a five-year intervention for eighth grade though twelfth grade students. However, the current data available for analysis only represents two years of the intervention. Therefore analysis at this stage is premature and could lead to inaccurate conclusions.
Idaho has recognized the importance of preparing its students for their postsecondary future. The state’s College and Career Advising and Mentoring Program is one intervention in place intended to aid in this preparation. Ongoing evaluation and data collection is essential to better understand the effects this Program is having on Idaho students. Clearer reporting standards and improvement of data collection methods will help to pave the way for more conclusive evaluation in the future. Finally, the Program’s ability to affect change will be better represented in 2021 when the first set of students who started the Program in eighth grade graduate from high school.
McGinnis-Brown, Lantz; Larsen, Benjamin; Hall, McAllister; May, Matthew; and Crossgrove Fry, Vanessa, "College & Career Advising & Mentoring Program Evaluation 2019" (2019). Idaho Policy Institute Reports. 16.