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Metis Evaluates Oregon GEAR UP

Metis Staff

Oregon GEAR UP middle and high school students from Umatilla are taking a tour of Oregon State University during a student leadership event.

Metis is excited to build on its portfolio of GEAR UP evaluation work by partnering with Oregon GEAR UP, a college readiness initiative implemented in rural communities across Oregon. In 2014, Oregon GEAR UP, hosted at Oregon State University, was awarded its third Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) federal grant, which seeks to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education programs.

In addition, Oregon GEAR UP receives funding from The Ford Family Foundation to replicate GEAR UP in ten additional communities beyond the 21 rural communities served by the federal grant. Grounded in a strong theoretical framework based on the latest research on college access and success, Oregon GEAR UP supports all participating middle and high schools in their efforts to set high academic expectations, increase the rigor in current and new course offerings, promote early awareness of college opportunities, and engage students in college and career planning.

Using a mixed-methods design, Metis Associates will conduct a rigorous, systematic and participatory evaluation to help Oregon GEAR UP assess its progress towards meeting implementation and outcome objectives; better understand how the program model is being implemented in each school community; and document effective strategies, challenges and lessons learned. In future years, the evaluation will also assess program impact on key outcome areas, such as high school graduation and college enrollment, through a rigorous quasi-experimental design. Thus, through our new partnership with Oregon GEAR UP, we hope to build on the current knowledge base by collecting data and evidence of best practices and effective strategies for engaging low-income students and supporting the development of a strong college-going culture in rural schools and communities.