The Effectiveness, Benefits and Costs of High School Interventions to Promote Postsecondary Outcomes
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The increased prevalence of jobs requiring a postsecondary credential has highlighted the need for evidence of programs that prepare high school students for college efficiently and effectively. As gaps in postsecondary attainment have persisted over time, schools have adopted interventions that focus particularly on struggling students and students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education, seeking to both increase rates and decrease disparities in college enrollment and degree attainment. What is often lacking, however, is clear evidence of program effectiveness, information about the costs (and monetary benefits) of these programs, and a clear connection between the research on these programs and the practitioners who see the programs in action.
This panel brings together four papers studying two types of high school interventions targeting two distinct high school student populations: traditionally underrepresented students who seek accelerated path through college, and students who need supplemental support to become college ready.
The first pair of papers study the longer-term impact and the cost-benefit of Early College (EC) high schools on college enrollment and degree attainment. The impact study follows participants in a randomized admissions lottery for 10 years after Grade 9 entry, estimating impacts of ECs on college enrollment and degree attainment by comparing outcomes between students who won and lost the admissions lottery. Using detailed financial data from schools, districts, universities, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, the second paper examines the costs of ECs and compares these costs to the personal and societal monetary benefits of ECs.
The second pair of papers study the impact and the cost-effectiveness of the Kentucky Targeted Interventions (TI) program, an important component of that state’s comprehensive system of education reform and commitment to college- and career-readiness for all students. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, the program required students in Kentucky’s public education system who were deemed to need additional support in reading, writing and/or mathematics to be referred to targeted instructional interventions. To estimate the causal effect of the TI program on a variety of post-secondary outcomes, the study employs a regression discontinuity design that uses scores on diagnostic tests to determine which students were required to take one or more targeted interventions. The second paper is dedicated to calculating the costs involved in delivering targeted intervention services and measuring the cost-effectiveness of the TI program.
Highlighting the research-practice connection, this panel includes discussants who are practitioners who have observed these interventions on the ground. Denver Public Schools has worked with Jobs for the Future to provide EC opportunities for their students. Tara Schneider, the Early College Expansion manager for Denver Public Schools, will discuss implications of the first pair of papers for practitioners as well as for the feasibility of scaling up the EC model in other geographic settings. Aaron Butler from the Office of the Commissioner of Education, Kentucky Department of Education, is a Harvard Strategic Data Project Fellow and has been monitoring the implementation and evaluation of various Kentucky education initiatives, including the TI program.