The program being evaluated is InsideTrack Coaching aimed at a personalized approach to college enrollment through academic and non-academic means. The evaluation is meant to determine the feasibility of InsiderTrack Coaching across campuses, The program was aimed at prospective students, already enrolled students and recent graduates. The purpose of the evaluation is to review data on the only study fitting standards available by InsiderTrack to justify its claims and program for improving college persistence and completion. The evaluation was conducted by What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), a well-known federal source of research and evaluation on programs, under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Education (What Works Clearinghouse et al., 2019). No connection to InsideTrack has been established and this indicates that the evaluation is conducted by an objective, reputable, non-biased party. The evaluation was highly comprehensive and detailed, offering a critical but fair perspective on study data which ultimately supports claims offered by InsiderTrack.
Description of Evaluation
The evaluation process used could be best attributed to the Concept Model, a graphic and textual representation that identifies key elements, stakeholders, and terms, and allows a clear lay of the concept of ideas to both the author and the audience (Giancola, 2021). For evaluation, WWC first determines whether studies meet the high-level research standards to undergo evaluation. This is done in a double-blind review by at least two reviewers which established the validity and reliability of the research. The review team can send author queries at any time to request additional information and clarify misconceptions. In this case, InsiderTrack had only 1 study meet the criteria. WWC seeks to report the effectiveness of an intervention based on various factors such as magnitude and statistical significance. The evaluation research design used is known as Outcome evaluation, a target-audience-oriented approach that measures the effects of the project on the users, and measures changes in aspects such as knowledge improvement, skill acquisition, and efficiency (Formplus, 2020).
Operational definitions are used throughout the report. Virtually every research, statistic, or evaluation term is defined and explained. As mentioned only 1 study was reported as meeting WWC standards with no deviations; the other 9 did not meet standards or were unqualified for review, therefore do not contribute to the effectiveness rating. The study consisted of a sample of 3,527 students spread out through three four-year colleges. Data was collected directly from the study and taking into account the study analysis as well as a separate analysis by WWC which presented findings from the study by outcome domain. The results demonstrated that the study confirmed that InsideTrack Coaching has potentially positive effects on credit accumulation and persistence but does not have a conclusive effect on degree attainment by students. (What Works Clearinghouse et al., 2019). The authors draw that the program has some effect on student performance but only in specific criteria. No limitations were discussed. The implications are that educators can better understand the context of InsideTrack Coaching and determine if the program is suitable for their setting (What Works Clearinghouse et al., 2019).
Assessment of Evaluation
The evaluation design and approach were an appropriate fit for the evaluation of this research. Everything was laid out, direct, and simple. It was clear how WWC approached the evaluation and the methods they used to determine eligible studies and then their effectiveness. The Concept Model allows for a clear presentation of study results and their evaluation in terms of effectiveness based on evident data from the study, sample, and basic statistics. The evaluation design supports the conclusions, as Outcome evaluation signified that effectiveness was found in one area, and indiscernible results in the other. There is little leeway from data that supports these conclusions.
The conclusions are warranted based on the study, as the evidence points between the intervention group and the control group for both degree attainment and credit accumulation/persistence. The evaluation justifies the outcomes with effect size and statistical significance which then leads to the improvement index. The strength of the evaluation is its systematic approach and use of key data to back its findings. However, it can be argued that the weakness lies in the fact that the sample size was too small, one study focused on postsecondary education, and it does not provide a comprehensive assessment of what the program can offer. By all indications, the evaluation was done ethically and responsibly, because of the transparency of the process that WWC used, making publicly available its protocols and procedures.
The evaluation of InsiderTrack Coaching by WWC was an effective, clear, and straightforward program evaluation. Using the concept model, the evaluation laid out the evaluation process from start to finish, providing relevant background and information that WWC evaluators took in their approach. The research design using outcome evaluation determined the effectiveness of InsiderTrack in two categories based on several thousand-person studies in four-year colleges. Using data and statistics to back up conclusions, it was clear that the outcomes were justified and relevant. Future evaluations of this program should potentially examine lower-quality studies that encompass secondary education where InsiderTrack is more specialized. This may provide a more comprehensive image of the company, albeit with some limitations in the methodology or validity of studies.
Formplus. (2020). Evaluation research design: Examples, methods & types.
Giancola, S. P. (2021). Program evaluation: Embedding evaluation into program de.
What Works Clearinghouse, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. (2019). Supporting Postsecondary Success intervention report: InsideTrack© Coaching.