At I Know I Can, Relationships Key to Scaling Successful Services

April 20, 2017

By Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation

I Know I Can (IKIC) is the latest NCAN member program featured in a series of case studies stemming from the Benchmarking Project. IKIC, located in Columbus, Ohio, is a well-established college access and success program that provides college awareness activities, advising, and application assistance to more than 25,000 middle and high school students in each of Columbus City Schools’ middle and high schools. Additionally, more than 1,000 postsecondary students receive success services annually.

Ann Coles, senior fellow at uAspire and the author of the case studies, noted that IKIC is exemplary not just for the outcomes its students achieve but also for its longstanding relationship with the Columbus City Schools. More than 80 percent of graduating seniors who receive IKIC’s services three or more times enroll in college directly from high school, compared with 42 percent of all CCS graduating seniors. The IKIC-CCS partnership has brought college access services at scale to tens of thousands of students.

The Benchmarking Project is an important collaboration between NCAN, our members, and the National Student Clearinghouse that examines college access and success programs’ collective success in helping students to enroll in and complete at postsecondary institutions. Three rounds of the project are complete, and a fourth is in progress. To date, the project has found evidence that students served by NCAN members enroll at rates exceeding those of students from low-income high schools and more closely resembling those from higher-income high schools. The Benchmarking Reports have also found that member-served students complete at rates exceeding their low-income peers and approaching the national average.

In addition to these important quantitative findings, the Benchmarking Report series also assists with identifying high-performing programs from which other NCAN members may be able to learn important lessons and strategies. Today, NCAN releases the second in a series of four case studies that profile programs participating in the Benchmarking Project. Each case study is a product of Coles’ extensive interviews with program staff, leadership, partners, and students. She also reviewed key program processes and documents, some of which are included as attachments to the case study. These studies provide an organization overview and then consider staffing, organizational culture, policies and practices contributing to student success, and prospects for replication in whole or part. Members are encouraged to see if there are resonant aspects of each of the profiled programs that may be adaptable to their own practice.

The series' first case study considered Philadelphia Futures, an NCAN member serving 600 high school and college students directly on an annual basis and 40,000 through outreach efforts. “Over 98 percent of the students enroll in college right after high school," Coles explained. "While only 10 percent of Philadelphia high school graduates earn college degrees, Philadelphia Futures’ overall college graduation rate is 60 percent. The graduation rate has risen dramatically over the past decade, resulting in a projected graduation rate of 70 percent for the high school classes of 2005-2012.”

These two case studies, and two more to come, were made possible through the Common Measures Learning Community project, which concluded last year.

NCAN will release these case studies monthly through June, when the results from the fourth round of the Benchmarking Project will be released.

NCAN is grateful for the participation of the case studies’ subjects and for the guidance and expertise from Coles.

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