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

Research shows that corequisite remediation—which enrolls students who have been designated as underprepared into college-level courses and provides simultaneous remedial support—leads to improved student outcomes. This brief describes the implementation of corequisite course models at four colleges in Minnesota and Texas.


U.S. community colleges—which disproportionately serve students from low-income backgrounds—have very low graduation rates. In response, three Ohio community colleges implemented programs based on the City University of New York’s successful Accelerated Study in Associate Programs. After six years, the programs had a positive impact on graduation and earnings.

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.