Diamond is MDRC’s lead for Data Management and Integrity and a senior research associate for the Postsecondary Education policy area. He chairs MDRC’s Data Integrity Board, Data Management Initiative, and Data Security Team, and coordinates MDRC’s data sharing and transparency work with ICPSR at the University of Michigan. Through these roles, Diamond is responsible for MDRC’s best practices and protocols for secure, efficient, and accurate data work, including data acquisition, analysis, and sharing. He also serves as the project director for The Higher Education RCT (THE-RCT) Restricted Access File, a project that is creating a secure meta-analytic database with deidentified data from 30 RCTs, 50 colleges, and more than 65,000 students. His other higher education work includes evaluations of developmental math education reforms such as the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways, and a national survey of higher education institutions’ developmental education policies fielded through the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness. Diamond received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and economics from Swarthmore College. After graduating, he worked as a consultant for securities class-action litigation before joining MDRC in 2012.
MDRC PublicationsIssue FocusMay, 2021
In 2020, MDRC launched the world’s first comprehensive cloud platform for social policy research: SPROUT (Social Policy Research and Operations Unified Technology). MDRC is making SPROUT available at near cost to social and educational policy researchers, agencies, and nonprofit organizations, regardless of their affiliation with MDRC.Report
A Study of a Transition Program Serving Students with Low Math Skills at a Community CollegeMarch, 2020
A four-week course to prepare students for developmental-level math did not attract many students who were referred to it. While some participants gained needed skills, most did not complete the course or move on to developmental math, and communication about the course among staff, faculty, advisors, and students was inconsistent.Brief
New Approaches to Serving the Lowest-Skilled Students at Community Colleges in Texas and BeyondOctober, 2017
Faced with many applicants with very low math skills, community colleges are responding with a variety of reforms, including restricting developmental courses to students with high-school-level skills. This brief provides context for the policy changes and describes the alternatives two colleges offer to those who don’t make the cut.Brief
Early Findings from a Study of the Dana Center Mathematics PathwaysMay, 2017
A promising new community college intervention involves a revised developmental math course that emphasizes statistical and quantitative reasoning skills to align with students’ fields of study. In a random assignment evaluation at four schools in Texas, students report a qualitatively different experience with math instruction.Report
Interim Findings from an Evaluation of a Computer-Assisted, Modular Approach to Developmental MathJune, 2016
ModMath is a set of computer-assisted, modular courses that allow developmental (remedial) math students in community college to earn credits incrementally and move through the curriculum at their own pace. It was well implemented, and after one semester its students were closer to completing developmental math than a control group.Brief
Early Lessons from Completion by DesignSeptember, 2015
Only about 20 percent of full-time degree-seeking students entering public two-year schools earn a degree within three years. In seeking solutions, community colleges typically focus on one institutional problem at a time. This brief looks at the experiences of five community colleges attempting a systemwide reform to substantially increase completion rates.Testimony
Testimony Submitted to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial AssistanceSeptember, 2015
This testimony presented by MDRC’s Alex Mayer to the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance identifies several areas as being worthy of innovation paired with rigorous evaluation, including year-round financial aid, Federal Work-Study, and “satisfactory academic progress” in the Pell Grant program.Report
Early Findings from the New Mathways ProjectApril, 2015
Developmental math is too often an obstacle to community college students’ success. By shifting the emphasis from “algebra for all” to math skills with broader career relevance — such as quantitative literacy and statistics — and revising course structure and sequence, this Texas-wide education reform is off to a promising start.Report
Performance-Based Scholarships, Student Services, and Developmental Math at Hillsborough Community CollegeOctober, 2014
This program provides an incentive for developmental math students to take their math courses early and consecutively, get help in an on-campus Math Lab, and strive for passing grades or better, in exchange for a modest performance-based scholarship. Compared with standard services, the program’s effects are modest but positive.Working Paper
Seven Years LaterMarch, 2014
This paper presents the long-term effects of a learning communities program. The program’s positive effect on credit accumulation was maintained for seven years, and there is some evidence that graduation rates increased. Economic outcomes are examined, and sobering reflections on detecting effects on economic outcomes in higher education interventions are presented.Report
Student Characteristics and Patterns of (Un)AffordabilityFebruary, 2014
This paper reviews the literature on financial aid and college achievement, examines data from MDRC’s Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration to identify relationships between students’ financial aid and their persistence and academic achievement, and concludes with recommendations for how these collective findings should affect financial aid policy.
ProjectsAlexander Mayer, Michelle Ware, Frieda Molina, Hannah Dalporto, Andrea Vasquez, Susan Scrivener, John Diamond, Dorota Biedzio Rizik, Rashida Welbeck, Sophia Sutcliffe, Clinton Key, Melissa Boynton, Austin Slaughter, Erick Alonzo, Kalito Luna, Xavier Alemañy, Melissa West, Sumner Perera
Income share agreements ( ISA s) are designed to help students pay for and attend postsecondary education and career training programs. With an ISA , students receive financial support to help cover the cost of their education and, in return, agree to pay a fixed percentage of their future income over a predetermined time period. ISA s are gaining popularity as an...Michael J. Weiss, John Diamond, Austin Slaughter, Tiffany Morton, Colin Hill, Makoto Toyoda, Stanley Dai
For The Higher Education Randomized Controlled Trial project ( THE - RCT ), MDRC has created the largest individual-participant database from higher education randomized controlled trials to date. THE - RCT makes standardized, deidentified data from more than 25 studies covering 50 institutions of higher education and 65,000 students securely available to...
While a college degree offers the opportunity for increased income, it alone does not guarantee students’ entry into the workforce. To facilitate this important transition, the Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Grant program, supported by the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates (“Great Lakes”), is funding career-focused, paid internships for...Alexander Mayer, Melissa Boynton, Michelle Ware, John Diamond, Rebekah O'Donoghue, Edith Yang, Dorota Biedzio Rizik, Erika B. Lewy
Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) is an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently made its second large investment in 26 colleges and universities engaged in technology-mediated advising reform.
The iPASS initiative provides technology tools and data about students’ academic performance to both...Alexander Mayer, Dan Cullinan, Evan Weissman, Michael J. Weiss, John Diamond, Rashida Welbeck, Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow
The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness ( CAPR ) conducts research to document current practices in developmental English and math education across the United States and to rigorously evaluate innovative assessment and instructional practices. CAPR , led by MDRC and the Community College Research Center, is funded by the federal Institute of Education Sciences.Evan Weissman, Alexander Mayer, Amanda Grossman, John Diamond, Susan Sepanik, Dorota Biedzio Rizik, Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, Elena Serna-Wallender
As community colleges try to increase graduation rates, one of the greatest challenges they face is improving the success of students in their developmental, or remedial, education programs. The Dana Center Mathematics Pathways ( DCMP ), formerly known as the New Mathways Project, was developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, in...Colleen Sommo, Melissa Boynton, Michelle Ware, Cynthia Miller, Amanda Grossman, Alexander Mayer, John Diamond, Alyssa Ratledge, Jedediah J. Teres
For many low-income college students, one of the biggest barriers to attendance is cost. While federal and state financial aid is available to help with tuition, fees, books, and some living expenses, students still often have unmet need, particularly if they are from the poorest families or are independent from their parents. Working while going to school is one...
Despite the increasing importance of a postsecondary credential in today’s labor market, degree completion rates for community college students have stagnated. Two out of every three students who enroll in community college fail to earn a degree or certificate within six years, an outcome with serious consequences for their individual economic well-being as well as the...Michael J. Weiss, Susan Scrivener, Colleen Sommo, Dan Cullinan, John Diamond, Alyssa Ratledge, Jedediah J. Teres
Community colleges, which tend to be accessible and affordable, serve as a critical resource for low-income individuals striving to improve their prospects in the labor market and life. However, a variety of factors, ranging from a lack of financial aid to inadequate student services and poor developmental classes, can impede students’ progress. Many students stop...