The Premilitary Program: A case study evaluation of an adult education program

Linda L. Harper

Abstract

The Premilitary Program was an adult education program with a specific mission: to prepare students with academic deficiencies to make a qualifying score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The program was in existence from April 1990 till July 1992, serving 295 participants with a 70% successful completion rate as defined by Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) definitions. This study undertook to locate those successful completers who entered military service $(N=57)$ and to personally interview those students to identify which components of the program they found helpful and which components the participants would change. Because of the nature of the population, these students were difficult, and in some cases impossible, to locate, so only 14 participants were interviewed. Statistical analysis of the participants and nonparticipants on relevant variables (dependent variable, group; independent variables, age, race, gender, reading pretest scores, math pretest scores) revealed no significant difference in the completers who participated in the study and those who did not. A case history of each participant in the study was written, focusing on interview data regarding the program, pretest and, when available, posttest scores on the TABE, counselor notes, teacher evaluations, and other relevant data from the student's permanent record. Analysis of the interview data revealed that 13 of the 14 participants in the study agreed that the Premilitary Program met or exceeded their expectations and provided them a valuable and much needed way to enter a career field which they previously had been unable to enter. This study indicates that the Premilitary Program as a method of alternative education was highly successful, although it was lacking in some respects, such as failure to involve military and community mentors, use of military personnel as instructors, much more highly structured discipline, the addition of financial incentives for the participants, and the acquisition of permanent funding for the program from either the federal or state level. The followup to the Premilitary Program, the Youth Challenge Program, is discussed in some detail. The Youth Challenge Program was a direct offshoot of the Premilitary Program taken on by the Mississippi National Guard. In the areas that the Premilitary Program failed, the Youth Challenge Program has succeeded. A discussion of this age-group with respects to traditional definitions of adults is held. Recommendations for further study of this transitional group which is having reverberating effects on the Adult Basic Education structure nationally are included.