WES launched its refugee pilot project in July 2016 with the target of accepting 200 applications by the end of that year. This goal was achieved and, in fact, surpassed without publicizing the program. WES accepted additional applicants until the project was paused in May 2017 to undertake program evaluation. This report analyzes the sample of the first 205 individuals who applied before December 31, 2016, 95 percent of whom received a WES Alternative Credential Assessment of their academic qualifications (as it was known in the pilot phase).As stated previously, because many refugees are unable to obtain verifiable documents, the assessment of their qualifications calls for a different approach than is normally used by WES. The pilot project was designed to test many assumptions, as well as new methods, policies, and a new model of service delivery. To validate its approach, WES issued credential evaluation reports to a select number of Syrian refugees and conducted a thorough evaluation of the pilot program itself. WES recruited applicants by working through trusted referral partners who could screen participants for program eligibility, explain the purpose of an assessment, and guide them through the process. Beyond testing assumptions and methods, WES also hoped to learn more about its refugee applicants, including their aspirations, intentions, and needs related to using the assessment to achieve their goals.
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