Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Stay the Course: A Randomized Evaluation of a Community College Intervention Designed to Increase Persistence and Completion

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 10:15 AM
Zamora (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Melissa Kearney, University of Maryland
This paper examines the impact of Stay the Course, an intervention designed to promote persistence and degree completion among low-income community college students by directly addressing the personal, non-academic, social, and institutional barriers that prevent students from succeeding. The intervention consists of two primary services: comprehensive case management and emergency financial assistance. We examine the early impacts of Stay the Course three semesters after initial enrollment through a randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluation of more than 1,000 students at a Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, TX. Our analysis shows that by two semesters after random assignment, students in the treatment group are significantly more likely than those in the control group to be enrolled in community college; they have also accumulated more credit hours. By the end of three semesters, females in the treatment group are significantly more likely to have earned a degree or transferred to a four-year college (significant at 10 percent level), and they have a greater number of accumulated credit hours (significant at 10 percent level); there is no discernible difference in rates of current school enrollment. Among students who started the program with few credit hours, there is a statistically significant difference in total credit hours earned by the end of the third semester. There is no observed effect for students who began the program with many credit hours.