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Summaries of RCT Grants

Longer-term follow-up of an ongoing RCT of the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at three Ohio community colleges

This project will support the continuation of an RCT at three Ohio community colleges that are implementing programs based on the ASAP model.

Grant Recipient: MDRC

Term: 20162020

Principal Investigators:Colleen Sommo, MDRC

Michael Weiss, Ph. D., MDRC

Funding: $275,000

Summary: This project will support the continuation of an RCT at three Ohio community colleges that are implementing programs based on the ASAP model. ASAP is a comprehensive community college program that provides academic, personal, and financial supports to low-income students. An earlier RCT of ASAP at the City University of New York (CUNY) found that the program nearly doubled three-year graduation rates in a population of primarily low-income students with modest basic skills deficits (22 percent of the control group graduated versus 40 percent of the treatment group). These effects on college completion are far larger than identified in any previous well-conducted RCT in postsecondary education.

The Ohio ASAP evaluation will provide a second proof point for the ASAP model. The Ohio research sample of 1,505 eligible students was randomly assigned in three cohorts: the spring and fall of 2015 and the spring of 2016. Early findings, which MDRC recently published, show that the short-term estimated impacts for the first two cohorts of the Ohio programs are generally consistent with those found in MDRC’s evaluation of CUNY ASAP.

This LJAF grant will support continued data collection, analysis, and reporting on the impacts and cost-effectiveness of the Ohio programs. Data collection will include detailed school records and program participation data from the participating colleges, enrollment and degree data from the National Student Clearinghouse, and cost data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the colleges. A brief deliverable in summer 2018 will update the early Ohio impact findings. The final report in fall 2019 will include impact and cost-effectiveness findings on the Ohio programs, with follow-up of three years for all sample members. The ultimate purpose of this RCT is to determine whether the large impacts on college completion found in the prior RCT can be successfully reproduced in the Ohio programs. The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

This study has been completed. A plain-language summary of the findings is available here.


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