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Summaries of RCT Grants

RCT of English for Advancement, a workforce advancement intervention for adult English language learners

This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of English for Advancement (EfA), an employment-focused program for adult English language learners that includes language instruction, career coaching, and job training and placement services.

Grant Recipient: Economic Mobility Corporation

Term: 2017 –2022

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

Funding: $185,000

Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of English for Advancement (EfA), an employment-focused program for adult English language learners that includes language instruction, career coaching, and job training and placement services. The program is delivered by Jewish Vocational Service (JVS-Boston), an established adult-education and workforce development nonprofit service provider. The training and placement services are provided through a network of partner organizations located throughout the Greater Boston area.

There have not been any prior rigorous studies of workforce interventions serving this population. However, a prior pre-post pilot study of the EfA program found unusually large effects on employment and earnings. These gains weren’t measured with respect to a control or comparison group, and so could at least partly reflect improvements that participants would have experienced in the natural course of events (i.e., without receiving program services). Nonetheless, the magnitude of the pre-post gains is sizable for a workforce development program, suggesting that the intervention may indeed be producing true impacts.

This study is part of a Pay For Success initiative, with Social Finance, Inc., serving as the intermediary. The study will randomly assign approximately 2,200 participants to EfA or usual community services, and will measure impacts on employment and earnings two years after random assignment for all study participants using state-level administrative data. Longer-term follow-up is not possible because participant consent was only obtained for a two-year period, so this RCT’s primary contribution will be to determine whether there are sizable two-year impacts that warrant further study in a replication trial with longer-term follow-up.

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here. A plain-language summary of the study’s interim findings is available here.

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