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.
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.
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.
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.
Interim Impact Findings from the YouthBuild Evaluation
YouthBuild provides construction-related or other vocational training, educational services, counseling, and leadership-development opportunities to low-income young people ages 16 to 24 who did not complete high school. This interim report presents the program’s effects through two and a half years.
A Primer for Researchers Working with Education Data
Predictive modeling estimates individuals’ probabilities of future outcomes by building and testing a model using data on similar individuals whose outcomes are already known. The method offers benefits for continuous improvement efforts and efficient allocation of resources. This paper explains MDRC’s framework for using predictive modeling in education.
Comments to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking
In public comments submitted to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, MDRC President Gordon Berlin makes the case for putting rigorous evidence at the center of policymaking, improving access to administrative data, protecting confidentiality, bolstering the federal research agencies, addressing process and procurement issues, and maintaining the independence of third-party evaluators.
Results from a Partnership Between New Visions for Public Schools and MDRC
A custom-designed intervention aimed to improve New York City high school students’ attendance by using text messaging to send parents daily absence updates and weekly attendance summaries. The rapid-turnaround randomized evaluation found that the short-term intervention did not improve attendance rates during the second semester of the 2015-2016 school year.
Two-Year Impact Findings from the Youth Villages Transitional Living Evaluation
This study tested a program that offers individualized services to young people who are making the transition from foster care or juvenile justice custody to independent living. The program had modest, positive effects on earnings, housing stability, and economic well-being and improved some health and safety outcomes.