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Hack Reactor, along with nine other top coding schools, is launching the New Economy Skills Training Association, or NESTA. Established in support of the White House’s TechHire initiative, NESTA is a trade organization to establish best practices, standards, and increased accountability for outcome-based New Economy Skills Training (NEST) organizations. The first major program of NESTA will be to establish standards for reporting student outcomes.
While establishing standards and reporting will be new to many NESTA schools, Hack Reactor has had an unwavering focus on student outcomes since our founding, and we have held ourselves to strictly defined standards. With the growing prominence of Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) such as ours, it is important for applicants and others evaluating the various offerings to be able to compare outcomes data across programs. This first initiative will provide transparency and accountability on the success of our students and those of other leading schools.
"Outcomes data has been the biggest missing piece in education since forever, and a key part of Hack Reactor's mission since our founding,” says Shawn Drost, Hack Reactor Co-founder, CCO, and now NESTA Legislation Chair. “NESTA creates an industry-wide consensus on what we care about and how we measure that. It's a thrill to gather the leaders of our field to create an organization that boosts all of us, while simultaneously pressuring other educational sectors to move in this direction."
Among NESTA’s founding members are Drost and MakerSquare CEO Harsh Patel, NESTA Secretary. The founders announced the organization’s establishment in a letter to the President:
“To achieve the ambitious goal you're setting of 50,000 people trained in the next two years,” they write. “[O]ur industry will need to expand dramatically and responsibly - ensuring we provide a quality education that satisfies the stringent demands of top companies across the country.”
The letter goes on to spell out the specific standards NESTA will use to evaluate each member organization. Each school will collect data on total number of enrollees, graduates, and job-seeking students who accept paying work within 90 days of finishing their program, as well as their starting salaries, among a slew of other metrics. All of these statistics will be verified annually by a third-party Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
The establishment of NESTA marks a significant milestone for the field of ALPs. By creating these standards, we are providing transparency to a rapidly growing pool of applicants and potential applicants regarding the promises we make and the outcomes we report.
The educational model we have pioneered is quickly emerging as a complement or alternative pathway to traditional education. NESTA will codify and support the standards and practices of this new model, while verifying the power of our program, which hundreds of students have personally experienced. This is the next step in the data-driven education movement, and an exciting day for the founding members of NESTA.