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Findings from RCT Grants

Two Randomized Controlled Trials of Year Up’s Professional Training Corps (PTC) – a College-Based Version of Year Up’s Proven-Effective Workforce Training Program for Economically-Disadvantaged Young Adults

These two well-conducted RCTs found, in the second and third years after study entry, that: (i) PTC produced no statistically significant effects on workforce earnings or months enrolled in college for young adults in the PTC group, compared with a non-PTC control group; and (ii) within PTC, enhanced academic coaching produced no significant effect on months enrolled in college for young adults in the enhanced PTC group, compared with a group that received standard PTC coaching.

Grantee: Abt Associates. The full study report is posted here.

Description of the Intervention: Year Up’s original training program — a standalone model that Year Up calls its core” program — generated large, sustained earnings gains for economically-disadvantaged young adults in a multi-site RCT. Results for the core program are summarized here. Year Up’s Professional Training Corps (PTC) is a lower-cost adaptation of Year Up’s core program that operates on college campuses (as opposed to separate offices in the core program) and leverages college instructors and facilities to reduce the program’s cost. For example, in PTC, community college faculty teach English and occupational courses whereas, in the core program, Year Up instructors teach these subjects. PTC also provides smaller financial stipends and puts more emphasis on helping participants secure student financial aid (e.g., Pell grants) than the core program. 

Study Design: In the first of two RCTs, researchers estimated PTC’s impacts on workforce earnings and months of college enrollment for a sample of 552 PTC applicants at three program sites. These individuals were randomly assigned either to a treatment group that was offered PTC or a control group that was not. The primary hypotheses were that PTC would increase average total earnings and months of college enrollment in the second and third follow-up years.

In the second RCT, researchers assessed impacts of providing enhanced academic coaching within PTC, with the primary hypothesis being that the enhancement would increase months of college enrollment during the second and third follow-up years compared to program participants who received only the standard PTC coaching. This study measured outcomes for 319 new PTC participants at three program sites who were randomly assigned to a treatment group that received enhanced coaching or a control group that received standard coaching. 

Impact on the Primary Outcomes: The first RCT found no significant impacts on average earnings or months enrolled in college in the second and third years after program entry. For example, in Year 3, average earnings were $20,908 in the PTC group versus $20,970 in the control group, and average months enrolled in college were 2.0 in the PTC group versus 1.7 in the control group — differences that were not statistically significant. 

The second RCT found no significant impact on months enrolled in college. For example, in Year 3, average months enrolled were 2.3 in the PTC-enhanced group versus 1.9 in the regular PTC group, a difference that was not statistically significant. 

The study also examined a range of policy-important secondary outcomes as described in the study report.

Study Quality: Based on careful review, we believe both RCTs were well-conducted and produced valid findings.1

  1. 1

    For example, the studies had successful random assignment (as evidenced by generally similar baseline characteristics of the treatment versus control groups), negligible sample attrition, and valid analyses that were publicly pre-registered.