Panel Paper: Understanding the Effect of an Intervention Program on College Participation and Retention Racial Gaps in Rural Areas: A Longitudinal Analysis

Friday, November 9, 2018
8216 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Monica Garcia Perez, Diego Guerrero and Robert Johnson, St. Cloud State University

Minnesota has one of the highest educational gap between White and minority students in the US. While 61% of white students met college readiness standards, only 16% of black students did the same in the state. High school graduation rates for black students are the second lowest in the country. High school is crucial in successful attending college for all groups.

Facing these trends, a program partnered with the school district was created with the goal of improvement of the secondary performance of underrepresented students aiming at higher graduation rates and college preparedness in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Parallel to this statewide demographic trend, St. Cloud has become home of one of the largest population of Somali Refugees in the country, after the Twin Cities. Merging individual level datasets form the school district administrative student level data from 2008 to 2014, administrative information from Access to Opportunity Program’s participants from 2008 to 2013, and the National Student Clearinghouse data on college registration from 2009 to 2017, we evaluate the effect of the program on college participation across the years. The longitudinal aspect of the data allows us to follow students from high school to colleges across the nation. We use statistical techniques to address the usual selectivity issues when program selection is not random. Therefore, a control group is created utilizing program participation (participants compared to non-participants and comparable group) as the primary independent variable condition. Students most similar to students served, in terms of pre-project indices, have been assigned as control. Further, students who have been identified as eligible participants, but who elected not to participate, serve as another form of control.

We further analyze the characteristics of the higher education institutions where students are registered to identify patterns among those who further their education after high school graduation. In an environment with widening educational gaps, our analysis emphasizes the relevance of tracing students’ achievement and progress across higher education. It also highlights the important role of high school ‘invasive’ mentoring programs that have clear goals toward influencing students’ intentions to reach higher educational levels.

Full Paper: