In this commentary, which originally appeared in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, MDRC’s Alex Mayer and Alyssa Ratledge describe evidence-backed strategies that colleges can employ this fall to help students stay engaged.
Adapting the Evidence for 2020 and Beyond
MDRC has studied a number of strategies for helping students stay in college and succeed there. Lessons from some of these models may be readily adapted to support students and close equity gaps now and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This Issue Focus offers three lessons taken from MDRC’s evaluations.
Home Visiting and Coordinated and Integrated Early Childhood Systems
Funders at all levels are investing in programs to support expectant parents and families with young children. MDRC is conducting research in that field in three areas: integrating systems of services that work together, getting families and children the right services, and building evidence about promising models.
Past Successes, Enduring Challenges, and Future Considerations
Focusing on NYC’s small high schools of choice, this reflection on MDRC’s recent high school reform research considers responses to five challenges: creating personalized, orderly learning environments; assisting students with poor academic skills; improving instructional content and practice; preparing students for the future; and stimulating change in overstressed high schools.
The Male Student Success Initiative is a program at the Community College of Baltimore County designed to support male students of color throughout their academic journey, leading ultimately to graduation or transfers to four-year institutions. This brief describes the program and introduces MDRC’s evaluation of it.
Career pathways programs, which equip high school students with the academic, technical, and “soft” skills they need to succeed, can also help meet local employer demand for skilled workers. This issue focus introduces one such initiative that uses paid internships to help students gain a foothold in a high-wage industry.
The Effects of the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs After Six Years
The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is an uncommonly comprehensive and long-term program shown to raise graduation rates among community college students. Following up after six years, MDRC finds that ASAP increases graduation rates and enables some students to earn their degrees sooner.
The Case of Career and Technical Education
In the complex high school choice process, families may face an additional layer of decisions if they are considering career and technical education programs, which vary widely in their structure, content, and quality. This issue focus emphasizes the importance of providing families with clear information about how to compare them.
Forty percent of all entering college students and over half of entering community college students must take at least one remedial course. Fewer than half make it through developmental education. This two-page Looking Forward memo provides an overview of research evidence in four areas of developmental education reform.
Although most college students receive financial aid, many are left with unmet financial needs and may take on loans or drop out as a result. But promising innovations in financial aid could help students pay for college and accelerate their studies.