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Summaries of RCT Grants

RCT of tnAchieves, an intensive coaching program for low-income community college students

This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an intensive coaching program for low income community college students, with the goal of increasing college retention and completion.

Grant Recipient: Research for Action

Term: 2019 –2023

Principal Investigators: Dae Y. Kim, Ph.D., Research for Action

Jaime Thomas, Ph.D., Mathematica Policy Research

Kasey Meehan, M.P.A., Research for Action

Funding: $499,000

Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an intensive coaching program for low income community college students, with the goal of increasing college retention and completion. The tnAchieves program provides low-income students receiving a Tennessee Promise scholarship at Tennessee’s 12 community colleges with one-on-one “completion” coaching sessions with a bachelor’s level coach at least every three weeks over five semesters. This program is backed by promising prior evidence. Similar coaching programs (e.g., InsideTrack and Detroit Promise Path) have been evaluated previously in well-conducted RCTs and have been found to produce promising effects on postsecondary enrollment, credit accumulation, and four-year degree completion.

This RCT will have a sample of approximately 4,000 Tennessee Promise scholarship recipients at the state’s 12 community colleges. Students will be randomly assigned to either (i) a treatment group that receives tnAchieves’ intensive coaching or (ii) a control group that will receive such coaching only upon their request. The study will measure the impact of coaching on college retention and certificate/degree completion over a follow-up period of three years. These outcomes will be measured using data from tnAchieves and the Tennessee public education state longitudinal data system.

In addition, the researchers will conduct a streamlined implementation study, primarily using tnAchieves program data (e.g., to measure the amount of coaching received), and a descriptive cost analysis study.

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

Grants

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