Junior Achievement Program EvaluationS
Junior Achievement prepares students to develop successful financial management habits, empowers them to explore the potential of becoming an aspiring entrepreneur, and provides them with the skills necessary to succeed in a global workforce.
In addition, external evaluations found that overall, elementary students who participated in JA began thinking about how the things learned in JA will be important later in life.
A significant amount of middle school students developed or improved their entrepreneurial, leadership, and decision-making skills. Furthermore, middle school students gained knowledge of financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship.
High school students who participated in JA agreed that what they learned the classroom is important to the success of their futures.
Research to date indicates that students engaged in JA are able to connect classroom lessons with real life experiences.
In general, students at all grade levels reported that JA fostered the attitude and provided knowledge that will help them set goals, seek out important information, and be successful.
Junior Achievement (JA)'s Approach to Evaluation
Causal research is the most definitive form of research when it comes to assessing impact. This is accomplished using longitudinal data, which involves following a cohort of students over multiple years to see how they progress as a result of their exposure to Junior Achievement. Because of Federal restrictions, JA approaches causal research by entering into data sharing agreements with local school districts that allow JA to look back onto prior student performance based on tracking of student IDs.
Next to causal research, predictive is one of the best ways to assess anticipated behavioral outcomes. JA is using a model based on the Theory of Planned Behavior, which has been effectively used for more than 40 years in the public health arena to influence behavior toward a variety of public health issues, such as managing the spread of HIV, smoking, healthy eating, etc.
JA is using the model to increase students' self-efficacy to improve their circumstances. This intention to improve their lives by changing certain behaviors related to financial responsibility, educational attainment and career readiness, and entrepreneurship, is represented by a simple formula of taking a student from a mindset of "I Can't" and, by influencing their attitudes and knowledge, helping them achieve an understanding of "I Can," or, in scientific terms, increasing their self-efficacy so that they make needed changes to their behavior (e.g. making a concerted effort to complete high school and pursue higher education, acquire the skills necessary to be consistently employable). Because JA is able to measure changes in attitude, knowledge, and other key characteristics, we are able to assess how well our programs are doing at increasing a student's self-efficacy, which leads to positive behavioral outcomes.
Comparative research is one of the most common and commonly known forms of assessment. It can take the form of meta-studies, where JA looks at existing research and pulls similar data points to compare to the data JA collects on its students, volunteers, etc. This approach has been used to determine how effective the JA volunteer model is and how JA alumni compare to the general population in terms of educational attainment, median income, and business ownership.