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Summaries of RCT Grants

RCT of the ASAP model in two West Virginia community colleges, aimed at increasing occupationally-focused degree completion and earnings

Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is a comprehensive community college program that provides academic, personal, and financial supports to low-income students.

Grant Recipient: Economic Mobility Corporation

Term: 2020 –2028

Principal Investigators: Anne Roder, Ph.D., Economic Mobility Corporation

Mark Elliott, Economic Mobility Corporation

Funding: $589,300

Summary: Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is a comprehensive community college program that provides academic, personal, and financial supports to low-income students. In prior well-conducted RCTs, ASAP has been found to produce sizable impacts on (largely two-year) degree completion – a 10 percentage point gain at the six-year follow-up in the City University of New York RCT, and a 16 percentage point gain in the Ohio replication RCT at the three-year follow-up.

In partnership with the West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS), Economic Mobility Corporation (Mobility) will be conducting an RCT of ASAP with a focus on students in occupationally-focused programs (e.g., advanced manufacturing, IT, nursing) that are aligned with higher-wage jobs in the local economy. Two West Virginia community colleges will recruit a sample of 1,200 students over a period of three years, and Mobility will randomly assign the students to either a treatment group offered the ASAP program or to a control group. The study’s primary outcome will be degree or credential completion three years after random assignment, measured with data from the participating colleges and the National Student Clearinghouse.

In addition, the study will measure initial workforce earnings three years after random assignment, using state unemployment insurance (UI) records from West Virginia and neighboring jurisdictions (Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and Washington, DC). The study will also include a cost-effectiveness analysis, comparing the costs associated with college attendance for both treatment and control students and examining differences between the groups in cost per outcome achieved. If this RCT finds sizable impacts on degree completion (as in the prior ASAP RCTs) as well as workforce earnings (given the project’s occupational focus), the findings would provide community colleges and policy officials across the country with a credible path forward to improve life outcomes for low-income individuals in their communities.

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

Grants

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