Students Experiencing Academic Struggles

MDRC examines programs that help students experiencing struggles through “catch-up” classes, tutoring and mentoring, supplementary literacy classes, classes designed to respond to educational gaps that result from historical and systemic under-resourcing, and case management and “high-intensity” supports for children with the greatest challenges.

The Latest

This issue focus shares early implementation lessons from an evaluation of MDRC’s Scaling Up College Completion Efforts for Student Success (SUCCESS) and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the program model. It offers lessons that could be relevant to similar programs operating in online, in-person, and hybrid environments.


This brief prepared for the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness presents interim findings from a random assignment evaluation of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) program at four Texas community colleges. It also includes an exploratory analysis of the effectiveness of the program for various subgroups.

Key Documents

Three-Year Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Evaluation

After three years, participants in National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, an intensive, “quasi-military” residential program for high school dropouts, are more likely than their control group counterparts to have obtained a GED or high school diploma, to have earned college credits, and to be working. Their earnings are also 20 percent higher.


Evidence from the Talent Development High School Model

Talent Development, a high school reform initiative, produced substantial positive effects on attendance, academic course credits earned, tenth-grade promotion, and algebra pass rates for students in very low-performing schools in Philadelphia.


Examples, Evidence, and Prospects

High school reform is increasingly focused on the role of career-technical education (CTE) in preparing all students for success in both college and career. Instead of stand-alone vocational courses, programs that merge CTE, rigorous academics, and career exploration are gaining momentum, but schools need resources and training to implement them.