TITLE: Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act in California

AUTHOR: David Neumark

PAGES: 36      DATE: February 2004

ABSTRACT: Extensive interviews with school-to-career (STC) practitioners in California are used to study the effectiveness of the STC system created in California by the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994. The interviews also aimed to obtain a clearer understanding of how STC practitioners gauge the success of their programs and more generally to examine the potential for evaluation of program effectiveness. The interviews lead to three main findings. First, although most providers believe that their efforts have been successful, relatively few define success in terms of post-secondary experiences of the students they serve. Second, only a minority of STC Local Partnerships even collect data on non-participants and only a handful collect data on post-secondary outcomes. Finally, local evaluations provide little if any convincing evidence of the effectiveness of STC programs, especially as regards post-secondary outcomes; this does not reflect a good deal of careful evaluation that fails to establish effects of STC, but rather a dearth of adequate evaluation. The findings strongly suggest that STC funding needs to be linked to mandates and support for effective evaluation of STC activities.

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