Methodology

We don’t just say we get results, we count them.

We’ve established rigorous methodology for tracking, measuring, and evaluating outcomes for children and youth in Greater Washington.

That commitment to excellence means our investments are carefully considered, closely monitored, and confidently executed. It’s the VPP way.

Here you’ll find the nuts-and-bolts of how we measure what we measure.

Outputs

Venture Philanthropy Partners defines an output as a measureable data point that offers evidence that a program or intervention was delivered to a population. The most common outputs are the number of individuals served (along with associated demographic characteristics) and attendance (either at a program or at a school).

When discussing the number of individuals served, VPP uses an unduplicated count of youth and young adults. In simple terms, this is a count of unique human beings receiving services. VPP also collects information on duplicated counts (a count of program slots) for internal purposes. Unless otherwise stated, all information provided on this website that refers to counts of individuals is for unduplicated counts.

Outcomes

VPP defines an outcome as a change in knowledge, attitude, behavior, skill, or condition that occurs due to a programmatic intervention. Outcomes are often layered or sequential, meaning that an outcome may be a precursor or predictor for later outcomes.

High School Completion Rates

High school completion for youthCONNECT was defined as the number of 12th-grade students that obtained a high school diploma at the end of the academic year. This measure is different than the adjusted cohort graduation rate and provides information only on students that are in their senior year of high school. VPP and the youthCONNECT partners decided on this measure because some of the youthCONNECT programs worked only with high school seniors, and because of the difficulty in calculating adjusted cohort graduation rates for individual students receiving partner services across the Greater Washington Area’s public and charter high schools. While the high school completion rate is not as rigorous as the adjusted cohort graduation rate, it offers the most feasible measure of diploma attainment, given the data complications and the programmatic focus on students (rather than on schools).

Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Rates

This indicator was initially tracked using student self-reports. Partner organizations asked students if they had completed the FAFSA. However, in an effort to improve data quality, partners asked students to provide verification of FAFSA completion (either through an email confirmation from the U.S. Department of Education or a screenshot of an online submission).

College Application

This indicator was initially tracked using student self-reports. Partner organizations asked students how many colleges they had applied to, but there was no verification process. However, in an effort to improve data quality, partners then asked for copies of completed college applications to be provided by students. There was no further verification done to confirm that the applications were actually submitted and received by the post-secondary institutions.

College Enrollment

This indicator was initially tracked using student self-reports. Partner organizations asked students immediately after high school graduation if they planned to attend college. However, in an effort to improve data quality, partners then moved to using data from the National Student Clearinghouse to verify that a student had enrolled with a post-secondary institution within 18 months of his or her high school graduation (or GED passage).

As an example, see how our investment partner, Urban Alliance created a process for verifying college enrollment.