As the demand for nonprofits to provide more accountability in service delivery outcomes is increasing, students entering the human service field have to embrace performance models that demonstrate clear results. Many new employees coming into operational-level positions in human services from higher education are unfamiliar with how to develop and use performance measurement to guide practices (Benjamin, Voida, & Bopp, 2018; Carnochan, Samples, Myers, & Austin, 2014). While both social work students and early career professionals lack sufficient learning and experience in performance management practices, people of color have been very much underrepresented in professional roles associated with performance measurement (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2004). Thus, equitable opportunities for performance measurement learning and skill-building are necessary. Developmental cross-training programs have been shown to modify these disadvantages (Kalev, 2009).
The purpose of this proposal is to highlight results of an educational partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation “Expanding the Bench” in performance management program at two professional publicly funded schools of social work; the University of Maryland and Morgan State University. Both schools of social work focus on training and coaching students of color in performance measurement, utilizing a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) approach.
First, RBA performance measurement content was imbedded into the curriculum in macro research, program development, and policy courses. Second, each of the courses provided faculty-facilitated hands-on RBA projects with multiple participating human service partner organizations through collaborative agreements. Lastly, student performance was evaluated through pre and post-testing, performance measurement assignments, and assessment of learning implementation through RBA projects with partner organizations.
Initial findings from evaluating students’ learning and application of performance measurement shows that: 385 graduate students of color completed performance measurement coursework; 87% of students significantly improved scores from pre to post-test; 85% of students sufficiently completed performance measurement assignments; and 89% of students successfully applied performance measurement/RBA learning to “real-time” projects that positively benefited human service organizations and communities. All partner agencies were 100% satisfied and appreciative of the performance measurement work on multiple projects within their organizations. An especially successful model of performance measurement application was student-faculty-community partner learning, which included performance-based training, project design, implementation and evaluation. Examples of implemented projects and results will be included in the presentation and discussion.
Conclusion and Implications:
Macro-oriented students of color, as emerging professionals, have been historically disadvantaged in performance measurement learning opportunities, which when applied through a culturally proficient lens, can improve outcomes for urban children and families (McLane-Davison, Allen-Milton, Archibald & Holmes, 2019). The educational initiative between schools of social work and foundations, with an intentional focus on expanding the pool of trained professionals in performance measurement represents a starting place. The promotion of these types of initiatives focused on collective learning and applied experience in performance measurement can also contribute to the advancement of “professional capital” (Campbell, Lieberman, & Yashkina, 2016), and better results for human service organizations and populations served.