Programs in the public and nonprofit sectors are increasingly aware of the need to pay attention to measurable results as well as the overall number of people engaged in program activities. For Connecting Activities, this has been a long-term practice. Our work has built-in metrics that provide feedback on results. Some of the metrics we look at include the following:
- Student participation: How many students are engaged in work-based learning experiences and career development experiences
- Employer engagement: How many employers are engaged with students in work-based learning and career development
- Quality of employer engagement: Do employers stay involved with the program year after year? Do we also bring in new employers who are interested in getting involved? Do we see a variety of involvement, with both new and long-term employer participants, from a variety of industries and career areas?
- Employer-paid wages: Youth work experiences include a mixture of paid, unpaid and subsidized experiences. A priority for the Connecting Activities initiative is brokering employer involvement, and one of our measures is the estimated total of "qualifying wages" -- wages paid by employers to students in Connecting Activities placements.
- School involvement: How many schools are partners in the Connecting Activities initiative? And in our broader network of partner and member schools, how many are sponsoring career development activities for their students?
- Skill development: What are the skills that students develop through their work-based learning experiences? Using the Workplace and Career Specific skills built into the Work-Based Learning Plan we can look at the array of skills that students use in their work experiences. We analyze both the "Top 15" to look at the most common skills that students focus on, as well as some of the less common skills to see the diversity of work experiences and career areas that students explore.
- Skill gain: Do students show skill gain during their work-based learning experiences? We look at aggregate data from the Work-Based Learning Plan to analyze skill gain between the initial baseline review and the final review at the end of the work experience.
Basic Measures - Student Participation, Employer Engagement, School Involvement
Date Range: July 2017 to June 2018
Connecting Activities has managed a database of the detailed information generated by the MA WBLP for many years. It is accessed at the http://massconnecting.org site, where practitioners across the state log on to store the detailed information that underpins this initiative. Through this mechanism, ESE is able to document the practices for which CA is responsible, including the pre- and post-assessments of work experience that enables students’ skill gain to be measured, as well as the amount of wages generated through the brokering work of the initiative. Key performance outcomes for FY2018 include:
- 10,673 students were placed in internships at 4,273 employer sites.
- 7,610 (71% of these students) utilized the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan (WBLP) on the job. The WBLP structures learning and productivity at the worksite and formally connects classroom lessons (MA Curriculum Frameworks aligned with Common Core Standards) to work-based learning experiences.
- Employers invested $ 14,597,085 in wages to support student internships, almost a 5:1 match (the legislation requires 2:1, but the initiative consistently exceeds that).
- 7,753 students participated in classes/workshops including career exploration, work-readiness and internship workshops related to their internship experiences.
- 2,648 employers sponsored career awareness and exploration activities for students including career days, job shadowing and guest speaker programs.
- 185 high schools were partners in the CA initiative, and another 91 were members.
The following chart illustrates the diversity of industry sectors in which students have been placed. Placements reflect our work to connect students with internships in career areas of personal interest, in emerging career areas and in local businesses that provide a valuable introduction to workplace skills and resume building opportunities. A particular area of focus is STEM-focused placements, with a focus on placements in health care, manufacturing, science, engineering and technology, information technology, environment, natural resources and agriculture; finance and other STEM-related settings.
The following charts show skill used and our measure of skill gain for students who particpated in work-based learning experiences. The first charts shows skill gain for the employability skills that are hlighlighted in all Work-Based Learning Plans, and the second chart shows the skill gain for the most-common career and workplace-specific skills highlighted in Work-Based Learning Plans during the past year.