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Metis Associates & City University of New York (CUNY) reported final RCT results for Accelerate, Complete, Engage (ACE) at John Jay College - a program that provides comprehensive support to help students complete a bachelor's degree. Quick take: High-quality RCT finds remarkable 12 percentage point gain in bachelor's completion at the 5y mark.

Program:

  • ACE is modeled on ASAP – a community college program found in prior RCTs to substantially increase graduation rates. ACE provides the same academic, personal & financial supports adapted to a four-year college – CUNY's John Jay. Both programs require students to enroll full time.


Study Design:

  • The ACE RCT had a sample of 570 incoming freshmen, randomly assigned to ACE (treatment group) vs services as usual (control group). The sample was 70% female, 58% Black or Hispanic, & average parent income was $48K/year. >50% were first generation in their family to attend college.


  • Based on careful review, this was a high-quality RCT (e.g., baseline balance, no attrition, valid analyses).


Findings:

  • 5 years after program entry, the study found that ACE increased the rate of graduation with a bachelor’s degree by 12 percentage points (69% treatment vs 57% control, statistically significant, p<0.01).


Comment:

  • These graduation effects are among the largest in the history of higher education RCTs, & I believe are of great policy importance. The ACE & ASAP RCTs together provide strong, replicated, actionable evidence that many colleges (two-year and four-year) can now use to substantially raise graduation rates of low-income students.


  • ACE's cost is not yet reported (it's likely to be modestly higher than ASAP's $10K/student total cost).


  • Disclosure: my former employer, Arnold Ventures, funded this RCT.



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