In some experimental evaluations of classroom- or school-level interventions, random assignment is conducted at the student level and the program is delivered at the higher level. This paper clarifies the correct causal interpretation of “program impacts” when this study design is used and discusses the implications and limitations of this research design. A real example is used to demonstrate the paper’s key points.
The Policy and Practice of Assessing and Placing Students in Developmental Education Courses
This paper reports on case studies conducted at three community colleges to learn about how the colleges assess students for placement in developmental education courses. The case studies identify several problems and challenges, including lack of consensus about the standard for college-level work, the high-stakes nature of the assessments, and the minimal relationship between assessment for placement and diagnosis for instruction.
An Introduction to the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration
This policy brief describes a demonstration launched by MDRC in four states in 2008 to evaluate whether performance-based scholarships — paid contingent on attaining academic benchmarks — are an effective way to improve persistence and academic success among low-income college students. The demonstration builds on positive results from an earlier MDRC study in Louisiana.