Explores and identifies center-level practices that are associated with Job Corps Center performance outcomes; and identifies and assesses best practices and how such practices are related to center performance through a process study.

Implemented in 2010, this process study examined practices following three domains: “(1) general center management; (2) academic training practices; (3) Career Technical Training (CIT) practices; (4) student life and development; (5) staff dynamics and culture; (6) center corporate operator oversight; (7) community and partner relations; and (8) center and student characteristics.” (p.vi)

“The study consisted of the following four main phases: Phase 1 – conduct background research to inform the overall evaluation design; Phase 2 – develop factor analytic model and conduct site visits; Phase 3 – update factor analytic model and administer Center Director survey; and Phase 4 – [conduct] analysis. (p.6)

The researchers developed an analytic model to rank centers in order of their performance on categories such as educational attainment, literacy and numeracy gains, and the wages and job placement rates of graduates. “These new measures were used to categorize centers as high-performing, improving, or low-performing on each of the four factors identified by the model. Based on center factor scores, [the authors] selected centers for site visits” (p.vii). The authors conducted a total of nine visits: five to high-performing centers, two to improving centers, and two to low-performing centers. “The purpose of these visits was to gather information about center practices and policies and identify any differences between high- and low-performing centers on particular measures. This information was also used to revise the survey instrument” (p.vii).

[The authors] “developed a mail-based survey to collect detail data from all Job Corp Center Directors on their policies, procedures, and practices related to the key domains of interest,” and the analyses is presented in the findings (p. viii).

The authors note that the study was guided by one “overarching research question: What center practices appear to be associated with high or low center performance?” (p.3).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The study summarizes how center practices differ between high- and low-performing centers. [The authors] state, “While some of the practices at high-performing centers may not be easily implemented in all centers, others may be appropriate for broad adoption... • “High-Performing Centers Use a Broader Set of Measures to Evaluate Center and Student Performance... • High-Performing Centers Use More Student-focused Approaches in Addressing Student Academic Performance Issues. High-performing centers use a variety of practices to identify and work with students struggling to meet their…academic requirements” (p.xi). • “High-Performing Centers Use More Proactive Approaches to Address Student Disciplinary Issues….To manage retention, high-performing centers use staff–student mentorship programs and a progressive behavior management system more often than low-performing centers... • High-Performing Centers More Actively Engage Students Throughout Their Job Corps Experience. Staff members at high-performing centers have more frequent and higher quality interactions with students than staff at low-performing centers, beginning with outreach to prospective students and continuing through their stay on center... • Staff Members at High-Performing Centers Are Held Accountable for Center Success and Are More Frequently Provided Incentives for Successful Performance. Staff members…are provided with opportunities for bonuses and incentive payments based on the center’s OMS [Outcome Measurement System] performance more frequently than at low-performing centers... • High-Performing Centers Have Stronger Relationships with Their OA and CTS Partners. Center success appears to be linked with strong, regular interactions between the Job Corps center and their OA and CTS partners... • Students at High-Performing Centers Stay on Center Longer. On average, students at high-performing centers take an additional 19 days to complete their CTT program” (p.xii). • “There are Few Differences in Student Characteristics at Entry Between High-Performing and Low-Performing Centers…high- and low-performing centers have similar percentages of students at each age group at enrollment and have similar percentages of students of each race. One demographic where high- and low-performing centers differ is that high-performing centers tend to have larger percentages of female students” (p.xiii). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)