This document compares two approaches to improving community college outcomes — CUNY ASAP, a specific program model, and guided pathways, a framework for institutional reform — and discusses how they might be integrated to improve structure, coherence, and support for students.
Promising Approaches and Next Steps
A significant gap in the rates of college degree attainment persists between men of color and their white counterparts. This brief catalogues strategies commonly used in interventions at postsecondary educational institutions aimed at improving outcomes for male students of color and charts the way forward for future evaluative work.
As the first major effort to use a behavioral economics lens to examine human services programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States, the BIAS project demonstrated the value of applying behavioral insights to improve the efficacy of human services programs.
The Work of MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science
This issue focus describes how MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science has completed several large-scale field studies, incorporated behavioral science into other MDRC projects, and educated policymakers and practitioners about how to use behavioral science to improve their programs.
A Randomized Controlled Trial
A randomized controlled trial conducted by REL West and MDRC finds that counseling and text-messaging “nudges” boosted the proportion of community college students who completed academic plans by 20 percentage points.
Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Incarcerated Parents’ Requests for Child Support Modifications
A behavioral intervention provided incarcerated noncustodial parents in Washington with materials about their eligibility for a child support order modification and how to request one. It increased the number of parents requesting a modification by 32 percentage points and the number of parents receiving a modification by 16 percentage points.
Early Findings from a Demonstration in Three Community Colleges
CUNY ASAP has proved exceptionally effective at increasing community college graduation rates. This demonstration tests the viability and effects of programs modeled on ASAP in different types of colleges, including those serving many nontraditional students. Early findings show increases in full-time enrollment, credits earned, and persistence into the second semester.
Using Behavioral Science to Improve Indiana’s Child Care Subsidy Program
Three behavioral interventions targeting low-income parents receiving child care subsidies were tested in Indiana. One combining mailed materials and a phone call increased the percentage of parents who chose a highly rated child care provider, and two others increased the percentage of parents who attended their first scheduled subsidy redetermination appointment.
Building a Body of Evidence
Over the past several years, MDRC has worked with the federal Administration for Children and Families to test low-cost behavioral interventions to improve child support services in a number of states. This issue focus describes what’s been learned so far — and what’s planned for the future.
A Preview of a CUNY Start Evaluation
This innovative developmental education program at the City University of New York offers intensive academic instruction and advising to CUNY’s least prepared community college students before they matriculate. The evaluation will examine the program’s effect on academic outcomes among students with very low levels of basic skills.