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Abt Associates published an RCT of Professional Training Corps (PTC) — a lower-cost version of Year Up’s proven-effective job training program for low-income adults. Quick take: High-quality RCT finds PTC has no effect on earnings … yet (the PTC program is still being developed/refined).


  • Year Up's core program was shown in a prior large, multisite RCT to produce major gains in long-term earnings.


  • PTC is an adaptation of Year Up's core program that operates on college campuses & leverages college instructors & facilities to reduce cost.

Study Design & Findings:

  • The RCT tested PTC in a sample of 552 low-income young adults & found no gain in earnings or months enrolled in college, 2-3 years after program entry.

  • A key reason may be that the Year Up organization had less control over program delivery at colleges &, perhaps as a result, PTC's program completion rate (66%) was lower than core Year Up's (75%). It's a good example of how program details can really matter in determining impact.


  • The Year Up organization deserves great credit for rigorously testing PTC rather than simply assuming it would be as effective as the core program. Importantly, PTC is still being developed/refined (e.g., with enhanced coaching of participants), so could still evolve to effectiveness.

  • Disclosure: my former employer, Arnold Ventures, was a funder of this study alongside the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

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