Title

Workforce Development and Dropout Prevention: Community- and Project-Based Interventions For At-Risk Youth

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

As a dropout prevention initiative in itself, the Liberty Partnerships Program operates under the mission of alleviating obstacles to high school graduation for at-risk youth. Its interventions, including summer programming examined in this presentation, fall under the strand of Academic Achievement and School Leadership because of their relevance to the themes of creating student equity, closing achievement gaps, turning around low-performing schools, effectively using student data for high-quality services, contributing to dropout prevention, facilitating career and postsecondary readiness, and offering supplemental summer programming. All are related to some extent in the interventions explored, and the presentation will examine each of these areas within the program's model of service. Services, including summer courses, programming, career interventions, and post-secondary preparative interventions are data-driven services based on the American School Counselor's Association (ASCA) model. This research-based model for service delivery is the basis for the interventions discussed in the presentation, which have been proven to be effective. Courses, career shadowing experiences, workforce interventions, and college exploration/preparation are directly related to the aforementioned areas within Academic Achievement and School Leadership, and resulting data derived from the interventions demonstrates effectiveness and movement toward the goal of alleviating barriers to access faced by a population of students at risk for dropping out of school.

Brief Program Description

Educators, administrators and youth program professionals are undoubtedly familiar with the challenges around providing high-quality dropout prevention services to at-risk youth. This presentation examines a model of programming shown to increase student workforce readiness, and participants will gain strategies for developing effective, research-based and replicable models of community-based programming to reduce students' barriers to college and career access.

Summary

The persistently high dropout rates in the lowest performing schools throughout New York State, a factor related with limited college access and decreased work/career readiness, served as the impetus for the implementation of the Summer Workforce Development program explored in this presentation. This intervention has been in place for three years, and serves as a structured environment for workforce and college readiness for students at risk for dropping out of school due to academic, individual and familial factors. The intervention is designed specifically around the American School Counselor's Association (ASCA) model for service delivery, whereby interventions are delivered for the purposes of closing achievement and opportunity gaps, based on data and pertinent research, evaluated based on process, perception and outcome data, and associated with ASCA standards. Program curriculum includes coursework designed by education professionals and school counselors, and interventions (including career shadowing and college research) are based on research literature, historically effective program practices, and the ASCA model. The interventions have been proven to be effective based on data collected by various quantitative and qualitative means before, throughout and after the program, and this year has shown to be the most effective year yet in terms of content mastery and skill acquisition in various workforce domains. The interventions are community-based and experiential, and are both replicable and generalizable from community to community. The presentation will examine the program’s effectiveness, including its curricular development, its basis in the ASCA model, its interventions as supported by research and data collection, its means of data collection/types of data collected and analyzed, its program structure, and the nature of community-based interactions and interventions that have been proven to facilitate student success. Data related to dropout prevention, college and career access, and workforce readiness will be shared, and strategies for replicating the program model in urban communities will be shared. Participants will gain a better understanding of effective dropout prevention strategies and practices utilized by the program, as well as the means to apply program practices to their own community initiatives and services for at-risk youth.

Evidence

The summer interventions explored in this presentation were derived from the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) model of service delivery. Courses were designed around ASCA standards, program curriculum was structured around its foundations, and data was collected and utilized in accordance with its protocol. The ASCA model is a research-based model that has been proven effective in its implementation in a wide variety of school districts across the nation, and its model was the basis for the interventions provided by the program. Data collected from program interventions, including formative and summative assessments of courses, programmatic pre/post surveys, individual workforce site assessments, as well as various individual and group qualitative and quantitative data collected throughout the program, showed an overall increase in competency, knowledge and confidence in multiple workforce development domains that, according to multiple studies and sources in education research literature, are both necessary for workforce success and lacking in the target population. As this is the third iteration of the program's summer workforce development series, based off of practices found to be effective according to the literature, and growth continues to be seen in each program year, the interventions have been demonstrated to be effective in terms of the workforce domains targeted (i.e. computer skills, professional comportment, resume writing, etc.).

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Lisa Kulka is the Operations Coordinator/Data Manager for the University at Buffalo Liberty Partnerships Program and has been in this role for nearly two years. Lisa has worked with high-risk student populations in a variety of educational research and programmatic capacities for five years, including English Language Learners, refugee students, and students at risk for dropping out of school. She currently provides programmatic, curricular development, and data support services to the program. Lisa earned her Master's of Science in Education Policy from the University of Rochester and plans to continue on to her doctorate in Quantitative Methods.

Dr. Alexander has served as Project Director for the University at Buffalo Liberty Partnerships Program since 2010. Prior to taking on the role as Director, he worked with the program in a variety of capacities including Academic Coordinator, Assistant Director, Counselor and Tutor. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University and his Doctorate of Medicine from the University at Buffalo School of Medicine. Prior to joining the Liberty Partnerships Program, Dr. Alexander served as an intern and officer in UB’s Department of Family Medicine as well as a Residential Habilitation Coordinator for Heritage Centers of Buffalo. Currently, he serves on several boards and advisory committees aimed at reducing the environmental and institutional barriers that impede student success.

Keyword Descriptors

Liberty Partnerships Program, dropout prevention, work readiness, community-based interventions

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Workforce Development and Dropout Prevention: Community- and Project-Based Interventions For At-Risk Youth

Harborside Center East and West

Educators, administrators and youth program professionals are undoubtedly familiar with the challenges around providing high-quality dropout prevention services to at-risk youth. This presentation examines a model of programming shown to increase student workforce readiness, and participants will gain strategies for developing effective, research-based and replicable models of community-based programming to reduce students' barriers to college and career access.