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Summaries of RCT Grants

Randomized controlled trial of Part-Time Students Accelerating in Learning (PT SAIL), an adaptation of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for part-time, currently enrolled students at an Ohio community college

This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an adaptation of ASAP for part-time students who have completed approximately one years’ worth of coursework at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in Ohio.

Grant Recipient: MDRC

Principal Investigator: Colleen Sommo, MDRC

Term: 2021 - 2028

Funding: $569,718

Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an adaptation of ASAP for part-time students who have completed approximately one years’ worth of coursework at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in Ohio. ASAP is a comprehensive community college program that provides academic, personal, and financial supports to low-income students to help them earn an associate’s degree within three years. Referred to as Part-Time Students Accelerating in Learning (PT SAIL) at LCCC, the program will provide the same components of the traditional ASAP program but would be targeted towards part-time students who have completed some credits, with the goal of graduating within two years of joining the program. Two prior well-conducted RCTs of ASAP for full-time students have found that the traditional program produces sizable, significant increases in college graduation rates that are sustained over three to eight years after random assignment. However, to date, ASAP has focused only on full-time students and it is not yet known whether these effects on graduation can be replicated among part-time students who, nationally, make up 75% of community college students, are largely non-traditional (e.g., older, parents) and tend to have substantially lower degree completion rates than full-time students.

MDRC will recruit a sample of 800 students and randomly assign them to either a treatment group offered PT SAIL, or to a control group that receives usual services. The study’s primary outcome will be college graduation three years after random assignment, measured with administrative records from the National Student Clearinghouse.

If this RCT replicates the earlier impacts on college graduation, it would provide colleges and policy officials with a credible path forward to improving educational outcomes for low-income, part-time students who have taken the initial steps towards a degree.

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan will be posted shortly.



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