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Summaries of RCT Grants

A randomized replication trial of Career Academies in California public high schools

This project is a large, multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Career Academies in California that are receiving technical assistance under a separate grant from our foundation to ensure faithful implementation of the Career Academy model.

Grant Recipient: MDRC

Principal Investigators: Susan Sepanik, MDRC

Rachel Rosen, Ph. D., MDRC

Term: 2017 –2032

Funding: $2,943,916

Summary: This project is a large, multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Career Academies in California that are receiving technical assistance under a separate grant from our foundation to ensure faithful implementation of the Career Academy model. In winter 2018, MDRC will randomly assign approximately 1,500 ninth graders within 25 high schools across the state, to either a treatment group that is offered a position in the school’s Career Academy, or to a control group that receives the school’s usual services. The study will measure high school graduation rates, college persistence and completion, and employment and earnings outcomes over a 12-year follow-up period, using California state data and the National Student Clearinghouse. The study team will also measure service contrast (i.e., the difference in services received by the treatment and control students) through a survey of sample members at the end of high school.

The ultimate purpose of this RCT is to determine whether the large, sustained impacts on participants’ economic well-being found in the prior RCT of Career Academies can be successfully reproduced in a new sample of schools and time period (i.e., 20 years later). If so, the strength and robustness of the findings will provide policy officials with a potent tool for improving life outcomes of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The study’s pre-specified pre-analysis plan is linked here. This project is also associated with an expansion and replication grant to Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation & the University of California, Berkeley to support program implementation.

Grants

Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

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