Research From The Field

pnet-logo-200wSession 4A:
Research from the Field: Four Studies of Promise

1:20 pm on Thursday, November 20, 2014

Omni New Haven Hotel – Temple

Dr. Gabriella C. Gonzalez, Sociologist, RAND Corporation

The Evolution of the Promise Movement

Michelle Miller-Adams, Research Associate, W.E. Upjohn Institute

This presentation will frame a conversation about the impact of Promise programs to date drawing on Dr. Miller-Adams’s forthcoming e-book on the evolution of the Promise movement. Among the topics to be addressed are how Promise programs should be defined, how they fit into the broader context of college access and community transformation strategies, and the key criteria that should be considered when categorizing Promise programs. Dr. Miller-Adams will also provide an update on the activities of the Promise Research Consortium funded by the Lumina Foundation.

The Effects of Say Yes to Education on High School and Post-Secondary Outcomes

Dr. Robert Bifulco, Associate Professor of Public Administration, Syracuse University
Hosung Sohn, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Syracuse University

This paper estimates the impact of a college scholarship offered by the Say Yes to Education (SYTE) program in Buffalo on high school completion, college going, and the type of college attended. Initiated in Buffalo beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, the main goal of the SYTE program is to increase college enrollment by removing real and perceived financial barriers to higher education. The program is similar to place-based college scholarship programs that have been adopted in several states across the country. To address the fact that students self-select into program eligibility, we employ a regression discontinuity design (RDD) and estimate whether the SYTE scholarship offer is effective in improving graduation and post-secondary outcomes. For the analysis, we use administrative data obtained from the Buffalo City School District. The data contains rich information on students’ outcomes including the date of graduation as well as the starting date of 9th grade. Student information is also matched with the information possessed by the National Student Clearinghouse, and as a consequence, the data includes information on students’ post-secondary outcomes such as post-secondary enrollment and degree records.

Estimating the Impact of the El Dorado Promise on High School Graduation

Jennifer W. Ash, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Arkansas
Dr. Gary W. Ritter, Director & Founder, Office for Education Policy, University of Arkansas

This study uses two methods to estimate the impact of the El Dorado Promise on high school graduation during two time periods. To estimate the short-run impacts on graduation, we use a difference-in-difference approach to compare Promise-eligible and ineligible students in “pre-Promise” years (2005 and 2006) with eligible and ineligible students in “post-Promise” years (2008 and 2009). To estimate the impact of the Promise on the 2011 and 2012 graduating classes, we employ a matched comparison group design, comparing the high school graduation of Promise-eligible El Dorado students to those of a matched comparison group of similar students in similar districts.

Longer-term Effects of the Kalamazoo Promise: College Enrollment, Persistence, and Completion

Brad Hershbein, Timothy Bartik & Marta Lachowska, W.E. Upjohn Institute
Dr. Randall Eberts, President, W.E. Upjohn Institute

We examine the effects of the Kalamazoo Promise, one of the earliest and most generous place-based college scholarships, on college enrollment, persistence, and completion. Because the value of the scholarship varies based on past enrollment decisions, which are plausibly exogenous because of the surprise announcement of the program, we use an inverse-probability-weighted differences-in-differences approach that compares (similar) eligible and non-eligible students before and after the program. While we explore standard heterogeneous treatments by gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, our administrative data allow us to further look at outcomes by past attendance, high school grades, and standardized test scores. In so doing, we offer a complete look into how the Kalamazoo Promise affected both the distribution of high school students going to (and persisting in) college as well as the conditional and unconditional distributions of colleges attended. We discuss the implications of our results on the possibility for place-based programs to promote educational opportunity and alleviate social inequality.

Leveraging the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship by Right-matching Students’ Postsecondary Selections

Dr. Jennifer Iriti, Lindsay Page, William Bickel & Rip Correnti, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Jennifer Iriti, Research Associate and Co-Director of the Evaluation for Learning Group, University of Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Public Schools, The Pittsburgh Promise and the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh are partnering in an effort to improve college access and success for the city’s students. The project seeks to develop evidence-based tools, processes, and frameworks to support counselors in matching their students with postsecondary institutions that are likely to serve them well. The project’s foundation includes quantitative and qualitative analyses of Pittsburgh student data and current school practices to deeply understand the existing successes and areas of need around college going. These analyses, in conjunction with effective practices identified in the broader literature, will be used to develop customized tools, frameworks, and processes that aim to systematically improve the supports counselors are able to provide students for postsecondary exploration and selection.

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