ABOVE-CORE PROJECT PROPOSAL
Center for Naval Analyses
Evaluation of Home-Schooled and ChalleNGe Program Recruits
The growth of alternatives to public school education is one of the important trends in American education. For example, an estimated 1.2 million children in grades K-12 are participating in home-school education today. This equates to approximately 40,000 to 50,000 male “high school” graduates per year. Another example is so-called boot camp programs, which are designed to teach discipline to high school dropouts and other troubled youth. Among these programs is one sponsored by the National Guard called the ChalleNGe program. It combines GED academics with a boot-camp-like program to teach discipline and basic life skills.
Within the Department of Defense recruiting, potential recruits are classified into a tier system based on historical experience with first-term attrition. Graduates from these two types of programs are classified as Tier II. Because of policy constraints on Tier II recruiting, this classification limits the opportunities for participants in these programs to enter the military. Legislation now before Congress is revisiting these classifications. An amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill would create a five-year pilot program to allow graduates from home-schooled programs and the National Guard ChallenNGe program to be recruited as Tier I, thereby greatly increasing opportunities for home-schooled students. As the end of the program, the success of the graduates of these programs will be evaluated and a final decision on their tier status will be reached.
The Director, OSD Accession Policy, asked CNA to evaluate the pilot program for recruiting home-schooled and ChalleNGe recruits. Among the factors to be considered are the attrition behavior, factors that differentiate successful from unsuccessful home-schooled and ChalleNGe recruits and the impact that opening opportunities to these recruits would have on the service’s recruiting commands. He has asked if CNA can assist in developing procedures to inform the home-school education community about the pilot program and to provide recruiting commands with straightforward means of verifying home-school credentials.
We will investigate the following issues:
How are home-school credentials defined in each state?
What type of documentation would be appropriate to verify home-school education credentials?
What differences exist from state to state in the National Guard ChalleNGe program?
What measures of effectiveness are useful in assessing the effectiveness of the pilot program?
What factors seem to differentiate successful from unsuccessful home-schooled and ChalleNGe recruits?
What is the recruiting market potential for home-schoolers and ChalleNGe graduates?
How can recruiters effectively communicate to home-educators about the pilot program?
Because the pilot program is scheduled for five years, we will break the evaluation into two parts. This project will cover the first part, which will last the first three years of the pilot pro-gram. In this initial part, we will establish a baseline, collect the initial phases of data, monitor performance, and derive some preliminary policy options. To accomplish this, we will:
Define validation criteria for home-school and ChalleNGe credentials.
Create a data set to monitor the performance of home-schooled and ChalleNGe recruits vs. recruits with more conventional credentials.
Measure the success of home-schooled and ChalleNGe recruits within the first year or two of service and look for factors that affect their chances of success.
Provide reports on the performance of the home-schooled and ChalleNGe recruits on a regular basis.
Part two of this project will follow the data through the end of the five-year pilot program. With two more years of data, we will be able to develop other measures of effectiveness, such as promotion probability and reenlistment rates. In addition, the extra data will strengthen the final conclusions and policy recommendations. This project will be funded separately.
Table 1 lists the deliverables and completion dates for the following tasks.
Task 1: Define validation criteria for home-school education and ChalleNGe credentials
Based on consultation with state officials, school boards, and home-school education experts, we will identify sufficient legal documentation required by each state for homeschool education and ChalleNGe certification.
We will work with recruiting commands to reduce the validation criteria for home-schooled and ChalleNGe recruits to a simple checklist or tool that can easily be used by recruiters in the field.
As needed, we will visit selected recruiting stations and assess how well the process of recruiting home-schooled candidates and ChalleNGe students is working.
We will complete this task in six months.
Task 2: Collect data
The main source of performance data will come from the personnel files of the Armed Services held by DMDC. We will supplement these data with a survey.
With the assistance of DMDC, we will collect data on recruit characteristics and sources and construct longitudinal files to track attrition and other measures of performance. Because the ChalleNGe program does not have a specific sources code, we will work with DMDC to develop a means to track these recruits.
We will prepare and conduct a survey at the boot camps to determine additional information about incoming recruits. We want to collect data on additional characteristics of incoming recruits that are normally not included in administrative data. For example, some recruits with high school diplomas may have received some of their education in a
home-schooling environment. We also want information on the extracurricular activities and other supplementary activities the recruit participated in during his schooling. We will match the surveys to administrative data to identify key success factors.
Task 3: Monitor recruit performance
We will utilize the DMDC database to report relevant measures of performance of these recruits. The measures may include the following:
Completion of initial school training
We will give annual interim reports on the results one year after starting.
Task 4: Identify factors that affect success of these recruits
We will analyze the impact of various factors that the emerging data seem to indicate are predictive of a home-schooled recruit’s success. Such factors may include:
Differences in state National Guard ChalleNGe programs
Differences in degree of state regulation of home-school education
Mix of home-school education and conventional education
Other factors developed in the survey data.
We will give annual interim reports on the results one year after starting.
Task 5: Document results, incorporate sponsor comments, and disseminate.
In accordance with CNA contract number N00014-96-D-0001, CNA certifies that this work does not pose a conflict of interest with CNA’s efforts for DON. The project is fully funded by the sponsor to ensure that resources are not diverted from CNA’s efforts for DON. Funding for this effort is expected to be $200,005 in FY 1999, $150,054 in FY 2000, and $152,343 in FY 2001, and will not exceed the congressionally mandated STE or funding ceiling for CNA. CNA and the sponsor certify that this work meets the criteria for a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC). Further, the study is appropriate for an FFRDC because it entails collecting OSD administrative data. Because CNA has much experience in doing this for the Navy, it is ideally suited for carrying out the tasks listed above.