View definitions of terms used throughout the Pathways Clearinghouse.



Services to support educational attainment, such as GED support, adult basic education, or post-secondary education.

Effect Size

A standardized measure of the magnitude of the impact of the intervention, or the difference in outcomes between the intervention group and the comparison group. The effect size is calculated by dividing the impact shown in the study by the standard deviation for that measure, which measures the diversity of the study sample. Here is an example of this calculation from the review of the Project QUEST intervention. The study of Project QUEST found an increase in long-term earnings of $3980 for the intervention group, as compared to the comparison group, and the standard deviation of earnings was $19,414, making the effect size .21 standard deviations ($3980/$19,414). The effect size serves as a standardized unit we can compare to other, similarly standardized units. By standardizing the magnitude of Project QUEST’s impact on long-term earnings as an effect size, we can compare the .21 effect size on long-term earnings to Project QUEST’s effect size on employment or to another intervention’s effect size on long-term earnings, even if that intervention was conducted in a different setting. Effect sizes facilitate comparisons across different outcomes, settings, and interventions. This helps us make direct and meaningful comparisons so users can compare, for example, an impact of 10 percent on employment with an impact of $1200 on earnings, as well as to the average of these two effects.

Effectiveness rating

The assessment of the Pathways Clearinghouse, based on the existing evidence from impact studies, of the extent to which a given intervention improves a specific type of outcome. The effectiveness rating indicates whether the intervention is likely to produce favorable results if faithfully replicated with a similar population. After we review research on an intervention, we assign an effectiveness ratings to indicate how effective the intervention is at improving each of four types of outcomes: employment, earnings, public benefit receipt, and education and training. The ratings depend on (1) the quality of the impact study or studies conducted of the intervention and (2) the favorability (or lack thereof), statistical significance, and consistency of the study findings for that type of labor market outcome.

  • Well-supported  Well-supported. We have strong and consistent evidence that the intervention produces favorable results for a specific outcome domain, such as short-term earnings. These interventions have at least two impact studies of moderate or high quality that show evidence of favorable findings within the domain. However, because implementation challenges and successes often vary, and because no two implementations of an intervention are identical, Pathways Clearinghouse users should not view this rating as a guarantee of future success.
  • Supported  Supported. We have some evidence that the intervention improves outcomes. These ratings are domain specific, meaning that the intervention is considered supported only for the particular domains for which we have given this rating. These interventions have at least one study of moderate or high quality and show evidence of favorable findings in the domain, but the evidence is less conclusive than that for evidence-based interventions.
  • Not supported  Not supported. We have the strongest evidence that the intervention is unlikely to produce substantial favorable results in a given outcome domain. Studies of these interventions have found only a pattern of null and/or unfavorable findings. We only consider impact studies of at least moderate quality in determining this rating.
  • Mixed support  Mixed support. We have some evidence, from impact studies of moderate or high quality, that indicates the intervention improves outcomes in a given outcome domain, and some evidence that indicates it worsens outcomes in that domain. For instance, in the educational attainment domain, an intervention might have unfavorable effects on attainment of a high school diploma, but favorable effects on GED attainment.
  • Insufficient evidence  Insufficient evidence to assess support. We have some research, from impact studies of moderate or high quality, on the intervention’s effect in a given outcome domain. But we do not have a sufficient body of evidence to assign one of the other ratings.
  • No evidence  No evidence to assess support. We did not find any studies that rated moderate or high that studied the intervention’s effect on outcomes in a given outcome domain. These interventions need further study to support conclusions about their effectiveness.
Employment coaching

Intensive assistance with identifying barriers and goals and helping clients address them. Also known as life coaching.

Employment retention services

Supplementary services provided when a client already has a job. These could include ongoing case management to address barriers or to assess progress toward career goals.