Evaluating the Effects of Say Yes to Education on Students' Post-Secondary Outcomes
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
In this paper, we estimate the first year impacts of Say Yes on high school graduation, college matriculation, and college matriculation among high school graduates. We use student-level data from the BPS and from the National Student Clearinghouse to compare students in different cohorts passing through the same school. We include a range of control variables and school fixed effects to ensure that estimates of the effect of Say Yes are based on comparison of cohorts exposed to Say Yes to earlier cohorts in the same school prior to Say Yes. Because the difference in treatment between cohorts is the entire Say Yes program, the effect estimates from this model reflect not only the impact of the Say Yes scholarship offer but also any effect of the additional services provided by the Say Yes program. The key assumption required to interpret the effect estimates as the causal impact of the Say Yes program is that differences between nearby cohorts in the same grades and schools are essentially random.
More specifically, we examine whether a 12th grader in a given year graduated from high school that year, whether a 12th grader graduated and matriculated in college in the fall following high school graduation, and whether a high school graduate matriculated in college the following fall. Results suggest that while the Say Yes program appears, in its early stages, to have had no effect on high school graduation, we find a significant and relatively large increase in college matriculation among students who did graduate from high school after the start of the program and that these effects are concentrated almost exclusively in two-year institutions. We find no evidence that students are shifting from two-year to four-year institutions in the wake of the scholarship offer.