An analysis of the effects of race and gender in scoring extension agent performance standards

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Service is considering a set of procedures to evaluate agent performance. In an attempt to help this consideration process, this study was undertaken to investigate the standards of the Performance Review, Analysis and Planning (PRAP) system. Adaptations of the FRAP system have been utilized by Extension organizations in other states. However, validation procedures have not been conducted by those states.

Because of the history and concerns of the Cooperative Extension Service in Virginia, this research effort focused on the effects of race and gender in assessing the level of performance described in the PRAP standards and the relevancy of the standards to the job of an Extension agent. Also studied were the effects of program area, position, and employment location of the rater.

Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used in the study. The sample for the quantitative portion of the study consisted of the Virginia Extension field staff population. An eighty-three percent (83%) instrument return rate was experienced. The qualitative portion involved twelve field interviews with agents in two of the six Extension administrative districts.

The PRAP standards were found to be relevant to the job duties and responsibilities of Extension agents in Virginia. Furthermore, no significant differences were found by program area, position, or geographic location of employment. Significant statistical differences were found by gender and race. Qualitative evidence was found to support the race differences, however, differences by gender were not found in the qualitative data.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Service -- Officials and employees -- Rating of