February 25, 2016 Izidor Bjelopoljak

Upward Bound US – University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston, UMB)

The objectives of UMass Boston programme are: Improved academic performance measured by Grade Point Average (GPA) and standardised test scores; Secondary school retention, completion of rigorous programme of study and graduation; Post-secondary education enrolment and completion.

The intervention aims to serve annually 126 low-income, first generation high school students who are at high risk for academic failure. Initially, the programme targeted three of the poorest neighbourhoods in Boston as well as students attending high poverty high schools, the focus at the current funding has shifted to individual schools rather than whole neighbourhoods. The numbers of students  annually has been increased post 2012 from 105 to 126.

The objectives of UMass Boston programme are: Improved academic performance measured by Grade Point Average (GPA) and standardised test scores; Secondary school retention, completion of rigorous programme of study and graduation; Post-secondary education enrolment and completion.

The intervention aims to serve annually 126 low-income, first generation high school students who are at high risk for academic failure. Initially, the programme targeted three of the poorest neighbourhoods in Boston as well as students attending high poverty high schools, the focus at the current funding has shifted to individual schools rather than whole neighbourhoods. The numbers of students annually has been increased post 2012 from 105 to 126.

Objectives of the Intervention

The objectives of UMass Boston programme are:

  • Improved academic performance measured by Grade Point Average (GPA) and standardised test scores;
  • Secondary school retention, completion of rigorous programme of study and graduation;
  • Post-secondary education enrolment and completion.

The intervention aims to serve annually 126 low-income, first generation high school students who are at high risk for academic failure. Initially, the programme targeted three of the poorest neighbourhoods in Boston as well as students attending high poverty high schools, the focus at the current funding has shifted to individual schools rather than whole neighbourhoods. The numbers of students  annually has been increased post 2012 from 105 to 126.

The stated targets for the students’ outcomes consistently stay the same since 2007 and are being met. The targeted outcomes are stated as follows:

  • 55% of participants served during the project year will have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better on a four-point scale at the end of the school year (which is higher than the participating schools’ official targets);
  • 45% of Upward Bound seniors served during the project year will have achieved at the proficient level on state assessments in reading/language arts and math;
  • 85% of project participants served during the project year will continue in school for the next academic year, at the next grade level, or will have graduated from secondary school with a regular secondary school diploma;
  • 65% of all current and prior year UB participants, who at the time of entrance into the project had an expected high school graduation date in the school year, will complete a rigorous secondary school program of study and graduate in that school year with a regular secondary school diploma;
  • 75% of all current and prior Upward Bound participants, who at the time of entrance into the project had an expected high school graduation date in the school year, will enrol in a program of postsecondary education by the fall term immediately following high school graduation or will have received notification, by the fall terms immediately following high school, from an institution of higher education, of acceptance but deferred enrollment until the next academic semester (e.g. spring semester);
  • 40% of participants who enrolled in a program of postsecondary education, by the fall terms immediately following high school graduation or by the next academic term (e.g. spring term) as a result of acceptance but deferred enrollment, will attain either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree within six years following graduation from high school.

Links to wider context

At federal policy level, the Upward Bound programme is a part of a wider approach to bridging holistically the gaps between ‘ those who have’ and the ‘have not-s, which is known as the Federal TRiO Programs (TRiO). TRiO are federal outreach and student services programmes in the United States designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRiO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. TRiO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRiO projects. Their existence is owed to the passing of the Higher Education Act of 1965. TRiO was given its name because it started as a group of just three programs. Upward Bound was one of the first of these TRiO college-access programs comprising Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and Talent Search. Today there are eight TRiO programs.

At the mezzo-level, within UMB, the programme sits in the department of Pre-Collegiate Programmes which is a part of the Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies Department. Thus, Upward Bound is housed together with the university’s four other TRIO projects:

  • Talent Search;
  • Student Support Services;
  • Upward Bound Math-Science;
  • Veterans Upward Bound.

In addition, the Upward Bound is synchronised also with two non-TRIO educational opportunity programs: Urban Scholars and Admission Guaranteed.

UMB collaborates also with the university’s McNair Program, which is housed in the College of Science and Mathematics. This location, coupled with an extensive network of community agencies allows the core staff to meet the needs of students who require service referrals that include or extend beyond the project’s scope of services. Belonging to this vibrant Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies Department therefore facilitates interaction with other projects that serve disadvantaged students. Thus, despite of focusing on socio-economic circumstances that put at risk academic achievement, the participants who face inter-sectional barriers, e.g. those with identities or ability that differ from the mainstream, can also receive tailored support.

Origins and rationale of this initiative

Upward Bound began as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty in 1964. The Office of Economic Opportunity that year developed Upward Bound as an experimental program to help low-income, first-generation students get a college education. In 1965, 17 Upward Bound programs enrolled 2,061 participants. It has thus become one of the first Federal TRiO Programmes - federal outreach and student services programmes in the United States designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

TRiO today, as mentioned above, includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. TRiO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRiO projects. According to the Wikipedia article, the TRiO’s existence is owed to the passing of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 was one of the key arrangements in the context of the President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda. According to the HEA Wikipedia article, the law was intended “to strengthen the educational resources of [the US] colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education”; it increased federal money given to universities, created scholarships, gave low-interest loans for students, and established a National Teachers Corps. The Higher Education Act of 1965 is reauthorized roughly every five years. Current authorization for the HEA programmes has expired at the end of 2013. Congress has extended the current authorization while they work on the reauthorization. The student aid programs — at both the federal and state level — are subject to nearly constant change. They are shaped by amendments in law and regulations, market forces, and the changing tides of public and political opinion, but Upward Bound has had consistent support.

Although there is no structured disciplinary theory behind the programme, the programme Lead explains that ‘postsecondary degrees are essential for more and more jobs; low income students must have access to postsecondary education/interventions [which] are needed to ensure that they have access. To do this, it is important to carefully asses the students’ needs and to then tailor the services provided to address these needs’. Itseems that the programme relies largely on robust empirical observations and on listening to the students’ experience and needs for adjustments and adaptations. The Lead uses a holistic theoretical framework, but it is not necessarily consistently applied throughout. It can be said that the programme allows for flexibility so concrete approaches and techniques depend on both the students and the staff as much as on strategic and common sense considerations. For example, the 2007-2012 cycle covered a) areas where the income level of families is low and the academic attainment levels of adults is low; and b) schools with high dropout rates, low college-going rates and high student-counsellor ratios (lack of college, career, and financial aid advising services). In 2012-2017 the focus is on the schools only as purposefully they have chosen to work with under-performing schools rather than disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Another example of how this rather empirical approach works is the shift to more individual tutorials and participatory learning rather than the requirement for students to join regular classes. This adjustment resulted in an increase of staff time, but was ultimately more fruitful both in terms of motivation and with a view of better outcomes because of taking into account individual circumstances and what would work best for individual students.

Each programme works independently at the point of use, this is just one case of how the programme works in the US. Upward Bound in the UK is presented as a separate case vignette but does originate in the experience presented here. It is an exception of the independent use because in the previous UK cycle the UMass Boston programme was a site for international exchange through field trips of the UK participants. Due to financial cuts linked to austerity, the sites for field visits of the UK programme are Brighton and Sussex universities. It was therefore interesting to study precisely these two instances of the programme as they allow learning about adaptations and transferability.

Target groups intended as beneficiaries of this initiative

Formally, to be included in the programme students must be:

  •  At least 13 years old but not older than 19.
  • A current student at Dorchester Academy, Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Madison Park High School, or Excel High School.  Recruitment efforts are generally directed at ninth and tenth graders.
  • Low-income by federal guidelines and/or a potential first-generation college student or a student who has a high risk for academic failure according to federal guidelines.
  • Considering college in the future.

The focus is on first generation post-secondary education experience and on low socio-economic status. However, staff also keeps an eye on including high-risk pupils: those who are not performing well based on the state test scores; those who are not passing end of year thresholds or are not doing very well. Often, some of the underachieving pupils are Newly Arrived Migrants (NAM). As mentioned earlier, as in any other area, there are also participating pupils with identities and abilities that differ from the mainstream – this is not a criteria for inclusion or exclusion but an aspect that the staff works with, including using other UMB programmes.

The UMB programme serves about 10% of the population in need at the national level. In some schools, at least 75% of the students qualify as low-income students (based on free lunch eligibility, and of those ‘we get 30 students not even 30% …’, said one of our informants. The low coverage is linked to the limited available funding and the conditions of the grant.

Previously, the UMass Boston programme operated in three of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Boston. Overall, the programme has proven to cover a need in areas where unaddressed academic, social and economic conditions pose serious problems for low-income, potentially first-generation college students. The programme shifted towards delivery in support to underperforming schools rather than whole neighbourhoods for practical reasons—in part because in the  last funding competition the Department of Education required applicants to concentrate their efforts on low performing schools and in part because it was inefficient to try to recruit and work with students attending a lot of different schools.

The grant proposal describes these challenges as follows:

  • Unaddressed academic problems include students’ failure to graduate proficient on the state-mandated test; low SAT Scores; high non-promotion and absenteeism rates; lack of access to college preparatory courses and low high school graduation rates. In addition, a number of recently targeted schools lack alignment between their curricula and college-level coursework, their graduates are placed into remedial courses in college at higher rates and research shows that generally such population lacks college knowledge and skills.
  • The targeted students face also a number of social and economic barriers linked to youth violence, unemployment, and homelessness. There are specific challenges for youth in foster care and those aging out of foster care that the programme takes into account. Next order challenges include lack of role models and understanding of post- secondary education, college degree is often not valued and the prospects for better employment is not well understood. Lack of crucial life skills such as knowledge of financial aid and financial literacy as well the lack of experience with cultural diversity are also among the rationales for the programme.

The main beneficiaries of the programme are the students themselves. This works in longer terms as well – former participants often come back as tutors and supervisors. There is a progression system  in which, once they graduate as senior  graduates, pupils can do an internship as a counsellor in training during the summer term. There is a good number of alumni from either the UMB or other Upper Bound programmes who follow this road.

The programme works at two other levels to ensure success:

Building a supportive environment by

  • informing faculty and staff at the university as the implementing institution or agency and the interested individuals and organisations throughout the Target Area of the goals and objectives of the project;
  • - locating the project within the UMass Boston organisational structure;
  • - coordination with other programmes for disadvantaged students;
  • - working cooperatively with parents and key administrative, teaching, and counseling personnel at the target schools to achieve project objectives;
  • - securing resources internally as well as through external community partnerships

Ensuring internal capacity by:

  • appointing suitably qualified and experienced management and expert personnel as well as
  • employing personnel who have succeeded in overcoming barriers similar to those confronting the project’s target population.

Other disadvantaged UMB programme participants: Particularly important is that Upward Bound is housed with the university’s other specialised programmes, thus facilitating interaction with other projects that serve disadvantaged students hence increasing the capacity of the university to deliver a holistic response to the needs of all users of the Academic Support Services.

UMB current students constitute another layer of beneficiaries (some are alumni, but this is not a requirement). They are accepted as interns and encouraged to understand better techniques, approaches and the programme as a whole.

Schools are also benefiting as staff speaks regularly to recruiters about approaches to engagement that may work better, to the instructors of pupils who are not doing very well and generally schools do share data so that Upward Bound staff can support change in the participating schools as a whole.

Parents and teachers: To ensure better outcomes for the participants, staff also works with the environment because the programme is residential and in this environment the students do well but they often relapse when they go back to their local communities. This is why, the programme team has arrangements for parents and schools. These include orientation for parents at the beginning, follow-ups with parents of students with behavioural issues and help to modify their behaviour and so on.

NB! considerations about presenting the programme. The case study is based on materials and observations for an audience of policy makers. The description of the objectives and target groups may make participants feel marginalised, and this is normal and accounted for. Once participants get into the programme and have the direct experience of the treatment and atmosphere, this is no longer so important but it can be a ‘hard piece’ - even though socio-economic status is not that stigmatising. In addition, the communities are known for being low income anyway – for example, there are so many students that qualify for free meals that local schools do not go through a process anymore and provide for all.

Political and socio-economic factors that you believe have been important enablers for your initiative

Looking at the history of the programme, it has always had a strong political support. The original purpose of trying to address the educational gaps between ‘those who have and the have nots’ has ensured consistent support from all sides.

In addition, throughout the years, the programme has fostered a strong community across the country that cares about the programme. These include a number of alumni, often on high positions, and other stakeholders. They make sure that a lot of success stories are shared with politicians and policy makers, staff and friends get politicians to see in person how the programme works and there are regular policy seminars or presentations in the parliament. Understandably, it has more affinity for the Democrats, but Republicans also see its value.

The Council for Opportunity in Education has endorsed the programme and has always been a key driver and endorser.  Community organisations and user schools regularly provide references and letters of support. Crucial role is played by alumni, including at UMB – for example both the programme Director and the Vice Provost for Academic Support Services are alumni.

There are no major shifts in the context to require adjustments of the programme – consistently the area is faced with the same demographics, the same percentage of those using English as Second Language and so on. What changes periodically is perhaps in terms of waves of NAM families coming to the area, for example this year it is Vietnamese families, in previous years there were other groups. The team has developed mechanisms to study the specific needs of previously unknown groups if there are any.

The UMB proudly sees itself as a student-centred university, with a special commitment to urban and global engagement. The programme links well with key UMB values such as diversity and inclusion, engagement and economic and cultural development. It plays a key role in realising the UMB particular commitment to urban places, people, culture, and issues. The programme therefore sits well in the overall context of acknowledging the complex urban local, national, and global connections aiming to sustain Boston as a ‘great city’. It is thus in the UMB ethos to partner with urban institutions and residents, in order to create sustainable and healthy social fabrics, economies, service organisations, and civic and cultural institutions. Unsurprisingly, about 50% of the UMB students are first generation into post-secondary education.

Consequently, the Upward Bound Programme has a great support from parents and teachers and no feel of negativity has ever been detected. The positive reputation is largely due to the following factors:

• The programme has a reputation of working successfully for 50 years in the community and for 50 years nationally;

• The classes and the pedagogy differ from conventional and prevailing settings and techniques – e.g. no lectures, they purposefully have smaller class size, the summer classes ensure good timing, etc;

• Tailored approach - lot of one to one tutorials, knowing well the students, follow up sessions about flows and how to improve further, etc;

• Teachers really love their subjects and want to teach young people, the staff genuinely care for the kids success – these affects the way they run the classes and overall do the job.

 

Overall Programme design and the methods and tools used to reach the goals

The programme’s success largely depends on the steps taken to ensure fidelity of implementation, which are detailed in:

  1. The plan to inform faculty and staff at the Institution and the interested individuals and organizations throughout the target area of the goals and objectives of the project;
  2. The plan for identifying, recruiting, and selecting participants to be served by the project;
  3. The plan for assessing individual participant needs and for monitoring the academic progress of participants while they are in Upward Bound;
  4.  The plan for locating the project within the host/implementing institution;
  5. The plan to ensure effective and efficient administration of the project;
  6. The plan to use resources and personnel to achieve project objectives and coordinate Upward Bound with other projects for disadvantaged students;
  7. The plan to work cooperatively with parents and key administrative, teaching and counseling personnel at the target schools;
  8. Evaluation: follow-up plan for tracking graduates of Upward Bound as they enter and continue in and complete Post-secondary Education.

These elements are formulated as such on request of the Department of Education which expects such plans for all applying for funding programmes. The applicant has the freedom to tailor each plan to their own contexts and needs.

For the sake of brevity and clarity, this section includes detailed presentation of the student use components of the programme, described as the Curriculum, Services and Activities that are planned for participants (Academic Year and Summer Components).

1.  Curriculum and Instruction:

Focus

Aligned with the Massachusetts Core Standards and the Common Core State Standards, the Upward Bound curriculum is focused on intellectually engaging students as this is critical to motivating them to develop the skills and attitudes they need to be successful in postsecondary education.

Total contact hours

Participants receive 114 hours of classroom instruction in the summer. In the academic year, all students receive 24 hours of instruction, and program juniors get an additional 60 hours in a College Writing Course. Over four years, each participant receives over 600 hours of classroom instruction.

Summer curriculum

In the summer, students take challenging college-prep courses that are designed to prepare them for rigorous postsecondary programs of study. In some cases, these courses are used for high school credit.

Academic year curriculum

During the academic year, all students participate in a monthly Saturday program, which includes a Seminar Series in the morning and college and career workshops in the afternoon. The curriculum for the Saturday Seminar Series focuses on hands-on, project-based, interdisciplinary instruction. Available upon request is a sample eight-month Saturday Seminar Series, including student activities and corresponding Massachusetts Core Standards learning outcomes with which the activities align. Other Saturday Seminar Series topics include in-depth explorations of Urban Modes of Transportation, Cultures of Boston, and Water Resources in Urban Communities.

2.  Summer Services and Activities (all schedules are available upon request)

a) Summer Residential Programme: the six-week summer residential component provides intensive instruction, a full complement of project services, and a college-like experience. Having a summer program that is residential is critical because it takes students away from the negative pressures and temptations of their neighborhoods, and allows them to learn in a safe environment that promotes college access. Because UMass Boston is a commuter school, UB contracts with another institution, currently Regis College, for summer residential facilities. In July and August, students live at Regis from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. In addition to classroom instruction, a total of 276 hours of other college-ready activities – advising, tutoring, independent and small group studying, enrichment, and personal development-- are provided each summer. The summer component culminates on Family Day, held on the last day, when students present projects that reflect their learning in their courses;

b) Summer Bridge Component: the Summer Bridge Component focuses on the transition to college for graduated seniors and begins with a three-day/two-night retreat at Regis College. The retreat is organized as a series of college-survival workshops. In addition, the Bridge Component offers various options for rising college freshmen.

c) Non-Residential Summer Component:  The Non-Residential Summer Component, which ranges in duration from six to ten weeks, offers three options to rising 11th and 12th grade students: participating in a career internship, taking a course(s) at UMass Boston or another postsecondary institution, or completing an independent project related to the student’s academic or career interests. Students needing course(s) not offered at their school in order to graduate having completed a rigorous secondary program of study or for enrichment/acceleration may take the course at UMass Boston or another postsecondary institution during the summer. A part-time Non-Residential Counselor oversees the Non-Residential Summer Component, checking in with students at least weekly to assess progress and to arrange for tutoring and other supports, as needed.

3.  Academic-Year Saturday Seminars

Seminar sections are run by the core staff and hired instructors. Students are divided into groups by grade level, and the workshop curriculum is tailored to students’ developmental levels. Instructors develop grade-level learning goals and rubrics against which to measure students’ progress. Afternoon workshops focus on career decision-making, financial/economic literacy, and self-advocacy. Other workshops are conducted to promote leadership, self-esteem, and motivation. Parents are invited to attend pertinent workshops.

4.  Summer and Academic-Year Services

a) Structured Study and Tutoring: To ensure students are developing the skills and performing at the levels needed for access to and success in college, structured study sessions and tutorial support are provided (a total of 14 hours/week). Tutorials are arranged pursuant to the recommendations of high school teachers, Upward Bound instructors and tutors, needs indicated by grade reports, and student or parent request. Most tutoring happens at UMass Boston (or Regis in the summer). Students with below a 2.5 GPA must participate in at least two hours of tutoring weekly.

b) Other services: Academic, college, and career advising; financial literacy workshops; leadership, service, and cultural activities; services for secondary school dropouts and prior participants (detailed description available upon request).

5.  Working with culture and belonging

• Key to the success of the programme in achieving improved equity are the arrangements to create an accepting and open culture for everyone that is inclusive and respects diversity.

• As discussed earlier, many of the students have access issues linked to inter-sectionality in addition to already disadvantaged backgrounds. There are also NAM students whose main difficulties are in not-knowing the system and how to navigate in it. Some of the students have identity different from the mainstream, for example they had a trans-gender student that no one knows about. The task is therefore to ensure that the community is as open as possible.

• Openness applies to students as well as to staff – for example, tutors approached critically some of the categories based on their observations and have challenged their validity. A key example comes from the work with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) for students who have some learning disability. They observed that there may be a flow in Massachusets programmes because some students with intellectual disability who were provided with a lot of one-on-one time did what the interviewee called ‘amazing work – with so much attention to the detail’. Such cases made them to question whether IEPs are having a disability or actually need different arrangements.

c) At yet another level, even if it is an academic programme, it is more about shifting the students’ own  views about themselves, their situations, and about being away from their home and their community.

d) Students from disadvantaged backgrounds find themselves often isolated (on their own culturally and otherwise), so a lot of community building, developing cultural capital and equipping them with skills to advocate for themselves, e.g. to say I don’t want to do any more this or that’.

e) This aspect therefore goes beyond ensuring culturally diverse staff, designing workshops appropriately and organising purposeful activities such as trips and the whole residential component through which usually they are for the fist time away from their families and communities.

Describe if the project ensured its sustainability

The project relies on significant in-kind investment from the university and a number of community partners. Overall, however, the programme depends entirely on federal funds and in the ast they have had to cut the number of beneficiaries because of diminished funds. There was a college implementing the programme which continued funding entirely in-kind the implementation after the governmental funding was not renewed. However, this was a private college. See the UK case study for ideas for alternative funding.

Another level of sustainability that the programme team consider is the sustainability of participants’ outcomes. Key is the availability of follow-up plan for tracking graduates of Upward Bound as they enter and continue in and complete Post-secondary Education. Future plans include covering higher numbers of graduates and identifying needs for maintain their skills. An important support available at present is making sure that graduates know they can go back to the programme team if they need help. Current resources however do not allow for post-graduation support beyond welcoming alumni on staff.

Resources used in the initiative

All costs are allowable in accordance with the US Department of Education regulations regarding Upward Bound projects and adhere to EDGAR and OMB cost principles. The budget was developed considering the cost of living and doing business in Boston, the number of participants the project can effectively serve, and UMass Boston’s commitment of resources to the project. The funding is currently shrinking but the cost per person has to stay the same, therefore less students are being supported. In 2007-08, the total budget was $565,178, and the program was funded to serve 105 students.  The per-participant cost was $5,383.

In the current grant cycle, the total budget is $565,178 per year, and the program is funded to serve 126 students annually.  The current per-participant cost is $4,486.

Did the intervention reach its objectives?

Below is the quantitative evidence to support the success of the initiative in 2014-2015

Upward Bound Program served 126 students.  82 students are continuing students, 43 were new students and one re-entry student, with the following evidence for success:

Academic Performance

Standard Objective: 55% of participants served during the project year will have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better on four-point scale at the end of the school year.

Batch Year

Outcome

Difference

BY 13 (2013-2014)

59%

 +4%

Academic Performance

Standard Objective: 45% of UB seniors served during the project year will have achieved at the proficient level on state assessments in reading/language arts and math.

Batch Year

Outcome

Difference

BY 13 (2013-2014)

 52%

+7%

Secondary School Retention and Graduation

Standard Objective: 85% of the project participants served during the project year will continue in school for the next academic year, at the next grade level, or will have graduated from secondary school with a regular secondary school diploma.

Batch Year

Outcome

Difference

BY 13 (2013-2014)

 96%

+11%

Secondary School Graduation 

Standard Objective: 65% of all current and prior-year UB participants who graduated from high school during the school year with regular secondary school diploma will complete a rigorous secondary school program of study.

Batch Year

Outcome

Difference

BY 13 (2013-2014)

 94%

+29%


 

Postsecondary Enrollment

Standard Objective: 75% of all current and prior-year UB participants who graduated from high school during the school year with a regular secondary school diploma will enroll in a program of postsecondary education by the fall term immediately following high school graduation, or will have received notification by the fall term immediately following high school from an institution of higher education of acceptance but deferred enrollment.

Batch Year

Outcome

Difference

BY 13 (2013-2014)

 80%

+5%

Postsecondary Completion

Standard Objective: 40% of participants who enrolled in a program of postsecondary education, by the fall term immediately following high school graduation or by the next academic term as a result of acceptance but deferred enrollment, will attain either an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years following graduation from high school.

Batch Year

Outcome

Difference

BY 13 (2013-2014)

49%

+9%

 

Other evidence include plans to enroll in UMB and elsewhere as well as brief case vignettes of successful students, process/fidelity measures related to programme implementation (including at micro-level) and staffing/staff training, evidence of target group involvement/participation, evidence of collaboration and partnerships as well as some element of formative evaluation by self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses to assist in building plans for the following year.

Monitoring and evaluation methodology

The team uses mostly qualitative data to evaluate: staff speaks to participants and participating schools. An important source of hard data is access to students’ transcripts and other similar data available from a) the school documentation; and b) from a national database of how the students have graduated. Sometimes they also call the students, if they are not in the database.

The monitoring processes are mostly ad hoc and based on staff and management observations. Here is an example of introducing adjustments:

In the 2012-2017 cycle, the focus shifted more towards increasing students’ grades; consequently, they found that participants do not have to take both classes and tutoring. Staff observed that some participants are enrolled in other activities and were struggling to attend all and do the homework. Provisions were therefore made so that they would come for at least 4 hours a week for tutoring rather than for classes. They were also encouraged to attend a volunteering or another programme whilst at the same time one-on-one contact was increased. In the other example, some students were doing very well so they were supported to take higher level/college classes rather than attending tutorials. Overall, next order adjustments included:

·         Support network for those who have practical difficulties

·         Emphasis on soft skills as well as life skills, including developing college applications.

Some important unintended outcomes include:

·         Developing new tools such as launching a pilot in school tutoring at Excel;

·         More dramatic impact on situational life circumstances such as finding a refuge from violence – many live in neighbourhoods that have high levels of violence and are at risk, especially boys. With the programme, they know they can go somewhere safe in the summer when it is known that there is some increase of violence;

·         Longer-term impact such as developing bounding and lifelong friendships that in effect constitute a life-long support network.