Retrospective Evaluations and Prospective Evaluation Planning of Oakland Promise “Cradle to Career” Programs

​NORC is collaborating with the Oakland Promise to better understand impacts of programs the Promise is implementing to promote access into and completion of college for Oakland students. Oakland Promise is taking a “cradle-to-career” approach to providing Oakland’s children with the skills, resources, and aspirations to graduate from high school, complete college and be successful in a career of their choice. Oakland Promise programs include Brilliant Baby, the Kindergarten to College initiative (K2C), the Future Centers program (for middle school [FC-MS] and high school [FC-HS]) and the College Scholarship & College Completion (CSC) program.

In 2017, NORC conducted retrospective evaluations of the K2C and FC programs. These retrospective evaluations explored impacts on short-term outcomes and helped Oakland Promise identify what they could learn from existing data and what would strengthen future evaluations of the programs. Findings from the retrospective evaluations have enabled Oakland Promise to identify and articulate potential benefits of their programs for future funding. This work also contributed to final designs of prospective evaluations of all three programs, which NORC will be conducting from 2017-2021. These include evaluations that will assess these programs’ impacts independent of one another. Over time, the Promise aims to study the compounding effects of these programs on students’ development and outcomes through a longitudinal follow-up of the Brilliant Baby RCT.

Kindergarten to College (K2C): Oakland Promise’s Kindergarten to College (K2C) initiative aims to lay the foundations for a college-going identity early, by instilling a college-bound mindset in all kindergarten students and their families. K2C activities are designed, in the short-term, to create a college-going culture in every participating elementary school, and particularly, in students and their parents. In the mid-term, the initiative aims to grow parents’ confidence in their ability to financially contribute to their child’s post-secondary education, and to help families to financially prepare for college. Additionally, students’ academic achievement is expected to be on track and attendance improved.

Future Centers (FC): The FC component of Oakland Promise seeks to develop students’ college-going identity and ensure that all students develop a college and career plan. The program includes a range of in-school and out-of- school supports and activities for students at each FC school, including career and college advising centers, push-in and pullout implementation of the FC Curriculum (i.e., college-going lessons and activities), family engagement events, field trips to local colleges and businesses, and other persistence related supports. Additionally, FC advisors will support all seniors to apply for college, financial aid, scholarships, and high leverage internships.

College Scholarship & College Completion (CSC): This component of Oakland Promise seeks to support Oakland Unified School District students who matriculate to a post-secondary institution to be successful through the use of advising, scholarships, mentoring, and a support network. These activities are designed to lead to higher college GPA, persistence, being on track to graduate, confidence in career skills, and a feeling of support on campus. The hypothesis is that participation in the program activities will support college graduation.