Difference between pages "The Peace Corps' Early Quit Rates Country-by-Country" and "The Peace Corps' Shortage of Applicants"

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One excellent indication of the health of a Peace Corps country program is its early quit rate, the percentage of Volunteers who do not complete their 26-27 month term of service. The Peace Corps refers to this as '''the Early Termination (ET) rate'''.  
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The Peace Corps touts how many initial “applications” it receives, but this is a cover for the fact that there is currently no surplus of applicants '''who are medically qualified to become Peace Corps Volunteers.''' Only medically fit applicants can become Volunteers, so emphasizing the number of initial “applicant” pool is irrelevant and misleading.
  
With the ET rate, we see Volunteers talking with their feet about their experience in that program. If they quit early, an applicant should wonder about the quality of that program.  
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Indeed, for the Peace Corps to tout the number of initial “applicants” – the number before the medical screening process – is intentionally misleading. '''The Peace Corps knows that applicants might not be interested in joining the Peace Corps if they knew that the agency is having trouble filling its slots.'''
  
The Peace Corps invites applicants to choose the country in which they prefer to serve. Peace Corps Wiki presents the ET rate data here on a country by country basis to enable applicants to make an informed choice.
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'''The truth is that there is no selectivity at the Peace Corps''' – other than to determine if the applicant is ambulatory. 100% of the applicants who are medically fit are invited to training and service as a Volunteer.
  
===How Can the ET Rate Help Volunteer Applicants Choose Where They Should Serve?===
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'''This means that applicants who are medically fit have virtually unlimited leverage with the Peace Corps to control the placement process.''' They can insist on being sent to a country with a low early quit rates (posted in Wiki) and one with the best survey responses from the Volunteers (posted in Wiki). The Peace Corps cannot say – as if so often does – “if you don’t accept this offer, there might not be another.” When there is no surplus, that ruse is a hollow bluff. The Peace Corps has no surplus of applicants it can turn to if one applicant become selective and refuses to adhere to the script of the bureaucrats. 
  
'''Peace Corps Wiki recommends that applicants request to be sent to a country with a low ET rate.'''
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Applicants should have no fear insisting that they be placed in a country with a low early quit rate and strongly positive ratings from the Volunteers in the annual survey. With the Peace Corps all the power rests with the applicants. This is a case where the buyer is king. In the commercial market place, if there are many more sellers than buyers, the buyers are king. That’s the situation with the Peace Corps application process.
  
'''Peace Corps Wiki recommends that applicants avoid any country with an ET rate of 30% or greater. They should be cautious about any country with an ET rate of more than 20%.  They should request to be sent to a country with an ET rate of less than 20%.'''
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The Peace Corps has tacitly acknowledged this situation with its recent statement that it will now – as it never has before – seek to honor the country and program requests of the applicants, seek to expedite the onerous medical screening process, and otherwise cater to the applicants. It would never do this if it weren’t forced to do so by a shortage of applicants. See [http://www.peacecorps.gov/media/forpress/press/2418/ http://www.peacecorps.gov/media/forpress/press/2418/] for more information.
  
Why would an applicant want to serve in a country with a high ET rate? Would an individual apply to a college with a poor ranking and poor graduation rates? Would he or she eat at a restaurant with poor rankings and poor health department inspections?
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'''It appears that there is no only a shortage of applications but that the number of Peace Corps Volunteers in the field is declining in real terms.''' In 2009 there were 4188 Volunteers who entered service, in 2010 it was 4338, in 2011 it was only 3431, and in 2012 it was 2871. '''This implies that the problem is worse than the absence of a surplus; the Peace Corps is contracting. It’s in decline.'''
  
'''If the Peace Corps will not agree to send an applicant to a country with a low ET rate, the applicant should put his or her applications on hold until the Peace Corps is transparent about this crucial data.'''
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Would an individual want to attend a college that could barely fill its Freshman class and accepted 100% of the applicants? Or is not able to fill its Freshman class? What would this lack of selectivity mean in terms of the quality of their classmates and the value of the degree?
  
'''Applicants can easily correlate the ET rate rankings with the rankings of the survey responses of the Volunteers – also posted on Wiki. When the two sets of rankings correlate, the data speaks very powerfully as to which countries to request and which to avoid.'''
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Six years ago Wiki received data from the Peace Corps – via a FOIA request – that in FY 2007 the Peace Corps received 11,108 applications, but only 4,588 survived the medical and legal clearance process to become “qualified.” Of this pool, 4,408 were invited to training. This means that of this pool of “qualified” applicants, all but 180 or 96% were invited to training. The ratio of those who were medically and legally cleared to those who were invited to training was 1.04 to 1. Pursuant to the same FOIF request, Wiki found that in FY 2008 the Peace Corps reports that it received 13,041 applications, but only 4,265 survived the medical and legal clearance process to become “qualified.” Of this pool, 4,123 were invited to training. This means that from this pool of “qualified” applicant, all but 142 or 96.7% were invited to training. The ratio of those who were medically cleared to those who were invited to training was 1.03 to 1.
  
===The Ramifications of Quitting Early===
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When Wiki filed a FOIA request to update this data, it was absolutely clear what Wiki wanted. Indeed, Wiki cited the data it had previously received from the Peace Corps as the template for what it requested in the new request. Nonetheless, the Peace Corps dissembled for six months – repeatedly misconstruing the date that Wiki sought and forwarding the wrong data to Wiki – in an obvious attempt to hide the embarrassing facts about the applicant pool shortage.
  
Quitting early takes a heavy toll on Volunteers and on the communities in which they serve. To be blunt, quitting early is often considered to be a failure that Volunteers must explain to themselves and to family and friends. Were they not tough enough or committed enough? Do they blame the Peace Corps, an iconic agency?
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The Peace Corps finally complied with FOIA and provided current data that show that of the applicants who are medically fit in 2009 89% were invited to training and service, for 2010 it was 87%, for 2011 it was 90%, and for 2012 it was 99%. Indeed, in 2012, only 16 of the applicants who were found to be medically fit were not invited to training and service. Printed below is the table from which these percentages are derived.
  
Volunteers who quit early also have to explain why they are quitting to the community in which they serve. The community may well see the departure as yet another case where development programs for their benefit have failed. When a country has a high ET rate, the morale of the Volunteers who don’t quit is eroded. More and more Volunteers may hang out with one another and spend less time at their sites. This means they learn less of the language, establish weaker relationships in their community, and see fewer successes in their projects. It is best for an applicant to go to a country that is not plagued by high ET rates where they are more likely to thrive.
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The lack of selectivity at the Peace Corps compares unfavorably with the acceptance rate for Teach for America, which also involves a two-year service commitment. In 2011 it received a record number of 48,000 applications. The organization selected 5,200 applicants to be teachers — 77 percent graduated this spring, 6 percent of them graduate students and 17 percent professionals. In 2010 the organization received 46,000 applications and had an acceptance rate of 12 percent. In 2008, it had just over 24,700 applications with an acceptance rate of nearly 15 percent.
  
===What the ET Rates Can Tell Us About a Country's Program===
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The fact that the Peace Corps is not selective – other than for medical fitness – means that it is not able to select the applicants who have the greatest commitment to grassroots development assistance, those with the deepest experience in immersion in a foreign culture, or those with particularly useful skills. The absence of selectivity means that the Peace Corps is taking in many who will quit early – one explanation for the high, costly and embarrassing early quit rates.
  
The Peace Corps does not take the initiative to provide this ET rate data to applicants. Indeed, the Peace Corps does not want applicants to have access to data that enables them to be selective. Peace Corps Wiki had to file a lawsuit in Federal District Court to secure access to the country-by-country breakouts of the Volunteer survey responses, which enable us to see the Volunteer rankings of the Peace Corps country programs. The agency forced Peace Corps Wiki to go to an appeal to secure access to the country-by-country breakouts of the Volunteer ET rates, which also enables us to see the Volunteer rankings of the Peace Corps country programs.  
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'''The bottom line for applicants is clear. Applicants have power. They can insist that they be sent to a country with a low early quit rate and superior ratings form the Volunteers in the annual surveys. Wiki recommends that applicants insist on their requests and if they are not honored to put their applications on hold until they are honored.'''
  
'''Why would the agency give applicants a choice of where to serve and then deprive them of the information that enables them to make an informed choice?'''
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The Peace Corps may complain that these are not the most current statistics, but rather than complain, it has the power to publish the most current statistics. It could admit that there is an application shortage. It could admit that it is not able to be selective, other than for medical fitness. As for Wiki, we have found securing data from the Peace Corps under the Freedom of Information Act to be so difficult and painful that we will not be filing additional FOIA requests to secure updates of the selectivity/application data. Wiki urges applicants to request the most current data from their recruitment officer. (Applicants must always seek the percentage of applicants who have survived the medical screening process who are invited to training.) If the placement officer won’t provide the current statistics, applicants should put their applications on hold until the Peace Corps becomes transparent with applicants.
  
Peace Corps Wiki believes that the ET rates and survey rankings are '''mostly based on the Peace Cops management of a country program, but occasionally on some characteristic of the country'''. In a tough country, the enthusiasm and durability of the Volunteers is often high because Volunteers know that they have a tough assignment. They really do have the “toughest job you’ll ever love,” nothing less. One major determinant of the ET rate – and survey responses – for a country program is the leadership qualities of the Country Director, whose values and management style dominate the Volunteer experience in that country.
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To be clear, the reason why Wiki is publishing this data is to encourage the Peace Corps to intervene to reform the poorly managed programs. If applicants use the data Wiki is providing, to become selective, and use their power arising from the shortage of applicants, the Peace Corps may be forced to reform the poorly managed programs. Wiki is attempting to use market forces – consumer demand – to drive reform. Applicants have power, both to secure an invitation to serve in a well managed country and also to encourage the Peace Corps to overhaul the poorly managed countries.
 
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With these rankings – ET rates and survey responses – applicants can see which countries are well managed and which are not, which corps of Volunteers have high morale and which do not. This is evident in the actions and viewpoints of those with the most information, the current Volunteers.
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The Peace Corps has been embarrassed that so many Volunteers quit early. '''This high early quit rate implies that the Peace Corps is recruiting poorly qualified and motivated Volunteers, wasting vast sums on training and placing Volunteers who then quit, and failing the communities in which these quitters were placed.'''
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===Overview of the Early Termination (Early Quit) Rates===
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Faced with these embarrassments, the Peace Corps has taken to systematically publishing misleading measures of the percentage of Volunteers who do not complete their 26-27 month term of service. It hypes and publishes an “annual” ET rate which provides no useful information about how many Volunteers fail to complete their service. The advantage to the Peace Corps of the “annual” rate is that it’s 1/4th of the “cohort” rate, which is the measure which accurately reveals how many Volunteers fail to complete their service.
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We have here the Iron Law of Bureaucracy; when facts about the performance of the agency are embarrassing, hide them. The only reason why the Peace Corps has released the “cohort” rates is that the Wiki figured out how the Peace Corps was gaming the ET rates. Peace Corps Wiki’s analysis of the Peace Corps’ game regarding ET rate statistics is attached. '''Peace Corps Wiki is the only entity to secure accurate ET rates from the Peace Corps and to publish them. But for Wiki’s vigilance, the public – and applicants – would not know the accurate extent of the early quit rate scandal at the Peace Corps and to see how the ET rates vary country-by-country.'''
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In FY 2011 the ET rates vary in FY 2011 from single digits (4.4% in Honduras, 7.8% in Panama,8.3% in Niger, 9.1% in Madagascar and 9.3% in Georgia) to rates exceeding 40% (57.5% in Jordan, 47.4% in Belize, 42.6% in Moldova, and 41% in Swaziland).
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In FY 2012 the rates vary from single digits (3.4% in Vanuatu, 4.4% in Benin, 5.4% in Macedonia, 6.8% in Albania, and 8.8% in Mongolia) to high rates in South Africa (40%), Kenya (35.1%), Guyana (32.3%) and Guinea (31.1%).
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The ET rates for FY 2013 are quite incomplete but already high in Guinea (22.7%) and Belize (21.1%).
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The Peace Corps has been forced to terminate some of its programs, so not all of the countries ranked here are active. The Peace Corps programs in Kenya, Mali, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are closed.
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ET data reveals the percent of Volunteers who complete their term of service (26-27 months). This is the '''cohort rate''' – which follows the Volunteers one by one to see if they finish their service. Starting about 2005, the Peace Corps has been publishing only an “annual rate” which tells us how many Volunteers quit in a given year – out of all the Volunteers who served even a single day in that year. It calls this an ET rate. This annual rate is only one-quarter of the rate of the Volunteers who complete their service. The Peace Corps prefers to talk about the annual rate rather than the cohort rate.
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Using the true rate, the cohort rate, does delay the point at which the final percentage of Volunteers who complete their service is known. You have to wait at least 26-27 months before you have a final figure. But after one year, you’ll clearly see where the rate is headed. We have complete data for ET rates for FY 2011, mostly complete data for FY 2012, and quite incomplete data for ET rates for FY 2013.
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The FY 2012 data includes ETs between October 1, 2011 and December 3, 2013, so the data is close to final.
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For the FY 2013 data, we have only data from October 1, 2012 to December 3, 2013 – slightly more than a year. If the data for this period shows a high ET rate, then it’s easy to see that it may be much higher when all the data become known.
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==The Most Recent ET Rates==
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Below we’ve presented the ET rates for 2011, 2012 and 2013 (fiscal years). The Peace Corps may complain that these are not the most current ET rates, but it has the power to publish the most current cohort rates – in rank order. Peace Corps Wiki has found securing data from the Peace Corps under the Freedom of Information Act so difficult and painful that it will not be filing additional FOIA requests to secure updates of the ET rate data.
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Peace Corps Wiki urges applicants to '''request the most current data from their recruitment officer. (Applicants must always ask for the cohort rate data!)''' If the placement officer won’t provide the data, applicants should put their applications on hold until the Peace Corps becomes transparent with applicants and enables them to make an informed choice.
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Finally, Peace Corps Wiki is awaiting a response from the Peace Corps about the ET rates for each of the Peace Corps job assignments within a country, say Small Enterprise Development or AgroForestry. The ET rates for these different job assignments may vary considerably. The Wiki is aware of assignments within one country where the ET rates varied threefold from one assignment to another.
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We suspect that the Peace Corps will refuse to release this data. If we get the data, we will post it here. If the Peace Corps finds a pretext for denying us this data, applicants should put their application on hold until the Peace Corps becomes transparent with applicants – and fair – and enables them to make an informed choice.
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To be clear, '''the reason why Wiki is publishing this data is to encourage the Peace Corps to intervene to reform the poorly managed programs.''' If applicants use the data Wiki is providing, to become selective, the Peace Corps may reform the poorly managed programs. As Wiki explains elsewhere on the home page, the Peace Corps has no surplus of applicants among those who survive the medical screening process. This means that the Peace Corps cannot turn to other applicants to fill their quotas for the poorly ranked country programs with the highest ET rates. Peace Corps Wiki is attempting to use market forces – consumer demand – to drive reform.  
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Applicants have power, both to secure an invitation to serve in a well managed country and also to encourage the Peace Corps to overhaul the poorly managed countries.
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Revision as of 09:51, 29 September 2014

The Peace Corps touts how many initial “applications” it receives, but this is a cover for the fact that there is currently no surplus of applicants who are medically qualified to become Peace Corps Volunteers. Only medically fit applicants can become Volunteers, so emphasizing the number of initial “applicant” pool is irrelevant and misleading.

Indeed, for the Peace Corps to tout the number of initial “applicants” – the number before the medical screening process – is intentionally misleading. The Peace Corps knows that applicants might not be interested in joining the Peace Corps if they knew that the agency is having trouble filling its slots.

The truth is that there is no selectivity at the Peace Corps – other than to determine if the applicant is ambulatory. 100% of the applicants who are medically fit are invited to training and service as a Volunteer.

This means that applicants who are medically fit have virtually unlimited leverage with the Peace Corps to control the placement process. They can insist on being sent to a country with a low early quit rates (posted in Wiki) and one with the best survey responses from the Volunteers (posted in Wiki). The Peace Corps cannot say – as if so often does – “if you don’t accept this offer, there might not be another.” When there is no surplus, that ruse is a hollow bluff. The Peace Corps has no surplus of applicants it can turn to if one applicant become selective and refuses to adhere to the script of the bureaucrats.

Applicants should have no fear insisting that they be placed in a country with a low early quit rate and strongly positive ratings from the Volunteers in the annual survey. With the Peace Corps all the power rests with the applicants. This is a case where the buyer is king. In the commercial market place, if there are many more sellers than buyers, the buyers are king. That’s the situation with the Peace Corps application process.

The Peace Corps has tacitly acknowledged this situation with its recent statement that it will now – as it never has before – seek to honor the country and program requests of the applicants, seek to expedite the onerous medical screening process, and otherwise cater to the applicants. It would never do this if it weren’t forced to do so by a shortage of applicants. See http://www.peacecorps.gov/media/forpress/press/2418/ for more information.

It appears that there is no only a shortage of applications but that the number of Peace Corps Volunteers in the field is declining in real terms. In 2009 there were 4188 Volunteers who entered service, in 2010 it was 4338, in 2011 it was only 3431, and in 2012 it was 2871. This implies that the problem is worse than the absence of a surplus; the Peace Corps is contracting. It’s in decline.

Would an individual want to attend a college that could barely fill its Freshman class and accepted 100% of the applicants? Or is not able to fill its Freshman class? What would this lack of selectivity mean in terms of the quality of their classmates and the value of the degree?

Six years ago Wiki received data from the Peace Corps – via a FOIA request – that in FY 2007 the Peace Corps received 11,108 applications, but only 4,588 survived the medical and legal clearance process to become “qualified.” Of this pool, 4,408 were invited to training. This means that of this pool of “qualified” applicants, all but 180 or 96% were invited to training. The ratio of those who were medically and legally cleared to those who were invited to training was 1.04 to 1. Pursuant to the same FOIF request, Wiki found that in FY 2008 the Peace Corps reports that it received 13,041 applications, but only 4,265 survived the medical and legal clearance process to become “qualified.” Of this pool, 4,123 were invited to training. This means that from this pool of “qualified” applicant, all but 142 or 96.7% were invited to training. The ratio of those who were medically cleared to those who were invited to training was 1.03 to 1.

When Wiki filed a FOIA request to update this data, it was absolutely clear what Wiki wanted. Indeed, Wiki cited the data it had previously received from the Peace Corps as the template for what it requested in the new request. Nonetheless, the Peace Corps dissembled for six months – repeatedly misconstruing the date that Wiki sought and forwarding the wrong data to Wiki – in an obvious attempt to hide the embarrassing facts about the applicant pool shortage.

The Peace Corps finally complied with FOIA and provided current data that show that of the applicants who are medically fit in 2009 89% were invited to training and service, for 2010 it was 87%, for 2011 it was 90%, and for 2012 it was 99%. Indeed, in 2012, only 16 of the applicants who were found to be medically fit were not invited to training and service. Printed below is the table from which these percentages are derived.

The lack of selectivity at the Peace Corps compares unfavorably with the acceptance rate for Teach for America, which also involves a two-year service commitment. In 2011 it received a record number of 48,000 applications. The organization selected 5,200 applicants to be teachers — 77 percent graduated this spring, 6 percent of them graduate students and 17 percent professionals. In 2010 the organization received 46,000 applications and had an acceptance rate of 12 percent. In 2008, it had just over 24,700 applications with an acceptance rate of nearly 15 percent.

The fact that the Peace Corps is not selective – other than for medical fitness – means that it is not able to select the applicants who have the greatest commitment to grassroots development assistance, those with the deepest experience in immersion in a foreign culture, or those with particularly useful skills. The absence of selectivity means that the Peace Corps is taking in many who will quit early – one explanation for the high, costly and embarrassing early quit rates.

The bottom line for applicants is clear. Applicants have power. They can insist that they be sent to a country with a low early quit rate and superior ratings form the Volunteers in the annual surveys. Wiki recommends that applicants insist on their requests and if they are not honored to put their applications on hold until they are honored.

The Peace Corps may complain that these are not the most current statistics, but rather than complain, it has the power to publish the most current statistics. It could admit that there is an application shortage. It could admit that it is not able to be selective, other than for medical fitness. As for Wiki, we have found securing data from the Peace Corps under the Freedom of Information Act to be so difficult and painful that we will not be filing additional FOIA requests to secure updates of the selectivity/application data. Wiki urges applicants to request the most current data from their recruitment officer. (Applicants must always seek the percentage of applicants who have survived the medical screening process who are invited to training.) If the placement officer won’t provide the current statistics, applicants should put their applications on hold until the Peace Corps becomes transparent with applicants.

To be clear, the reason why Wiki is publishing this data is to encourage the Peace Corps to intervene to reform the poorly managed programs. If applicants use the data Wiki is providing, to become selective, and use their power arising from the shortage of applicants, the Peace Corps may be forced to reform the poorly managed programs. Wiki is attempting to use market forces – consumer demand – to drive reform. Applicants have power, both to secure an invitation to serve in a well managed country and also to encourage the Peace Corps to overhaul the poorly managed countries.