Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Education Reform

Advisor

Gary Ritter

Committee Member

Patrick Wolf

Second Committee Member

Kristin Higgins

Keywords

Education; Arkansas; Career coaching; College preparation

Abstract

Razor C.O.A.C.H. (Creating Opportunities for Arkansan’s Career Hopes) is a college and career coaching program for at-risk students in 15 Northwest Arkansas high schools. To perform a random assignment evaluation, at-risk students were targeted to apply to the program, and applicant students were randomly assigned to the program. Academic coaches from the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions utilized a needs-based intervention focusing on pro-academic behaviors, college or technical school preparation, and post-secondary and career exploration. The evaluation included two cohorts of students. Cohort One treatment students received the full intervention throughout the 2012-13 school year, and a follow-up intervention with lower dosage in the 2013-14 school year. Cohort Two treatment students received the full intervention in the 2013-14 school year, meeting with a coach at least once a week in individual or group meetings.

To determine the impact of participation in Razor C.O.A.C.H., I examine the impact of the program on students’ academic, short-term non-cognitive, and post-secondary preparation outcomes. The main research questions are:

1. What is the impact of being assigned a coach on high school academic outcomes (high school GPA, core-subject GPA, credits earned, and ACT performance)?

2. What is the impact of being assigned a coach on short-term non-cognitive outcomes (academic self-efficacy, academic responsibility, grit, and future-mindedness) as measured during high school?

3. What is the impact of being assigned a coach on post-secondary preparation outcomes (college and career readiness outcomes, FAFSA and scholarship completion, and future plans)?

The results from the evaluation suggest that the program is impacting students’ non-cognitive outcomes, as treatment students display higher levels of self-efficacy and responsibility in school and are preparing for post-secondary life more than the control students. In addition, students feel more accountable to adults at school; however, there is no evidence to suggest that the program is impacting students’ academic outcomes overall. These null results on academic measures are consistent with other evaluations of college and career coaching programs. In the future, it will be important to continue to examine the impact of the program by examining longer-term outcomes, including college attendance and graduation.

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