Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? MDRC’s Evidence First podcast features experts—program administrators, policymakers, and researchers—talking about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve people with low incomes.
Adapting a Wraparound Student Support Program for College Students in Rural Areas: A Conversation with Crystine Miller and Alyssa Ratledge
Montana 10 is a scholarship program offered by the Montana University System that offers wraparound academic, social, and financial supports to students from rural areas, first-generation college students, and Native American students. MDRC is partnering with the Montana University System on an evaluation of Montana 10..
In this episode, Leigh Parise speaks with Crystine Miller, Director of Student Affairs and Student Engagement in the Montana University System, and Alyssa Ratledge, a Research Associate in Postsecondary Education at MDRC, about the Montana 10 evaluation and its potential value to the field of higher education research. The pair describes the unique challenges of conducting an evaluation in a mostly rural higher education system. They also highlight what questions the evaluation is hoping to answer about rural students. For example, does the choice between returning to one’s hometown after graduating and moving away to pursue employment carry a special weight for students from rural backgrounds?
To learn more about the Montana 10 project and some of the barriers facing rural students in postsecondary education, check out this recent commentary by Ratledge in The Hechinger Report.
From Doubling Graduation Rates to Increasing Earnings: Replicating the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (CUNY ASAP) in Ohio
In 2014, three Ohio colleges set out to adapt a student support model pioneered by the City University of New York called Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP. The program requires students to attend college full time and provides them with support services for three years, including enhanced advising, financial aid, and career counseling. MDRC'S evaluation of the ASAP Ohio program has found that it doubled graduation rates for community college students after three years. With support from Arnold Ventures, MDRC recently released exciting long-term findings, showing that ASAP Ohio not only boosted attainment of associate’s and bachelor’s degrees after six years but also increased the earnings of students.
In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with Christine Brongniart, the University Executive Director of CUNY ASAP, and Colleen Sommo, a senior research fellow in MDRC's Postsecondary Education policy area, to learn more about the CUNY ASAP model, its replication across the country, and the latest findings from MDRC’s study of the program in Ohio.
Nondegree Credential Programs in Higher Ed: A Conversation with Paul Fain and Betsy Tessler
Nondegree credentials are typically certificates or licenses earned in a short period of time that confer some kind of professional or industry-recognized skill. They’re not new to the world of higher education, but they have received a lot of attention in the last few years as a “faster ” way to connect students to employment in comparison to earning a traditional college degree.
Leigh Parise sits down with Paul Fain, a higher education journalist who writes an education and workforce newsletter called “The Job,” and Betsy Tessler, a senior research associate at MDRC, to answer some of the big questions surrounding nondegree credentials.
Reflections on the Evidence-Building Movement
In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with MDRC President Virginia (Ginger) Knox and Naomi Goldstein, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) at the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Goldstein is also a member of the MDRC Board of Directors. They reflect on their experiences in evaluating programs and policies, the growth of the evidence-building movement, and future considerations for the field.
How Can Data Science Tools Better Represent Participant Experiences? A Conversation with Ahmed Whitt and Alissa Stover
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides wrap-around support and employment services to people returning home from incarceration. While participant feedback was always important to their work, CEO was looking to better understand the range of their participants’ experiences and use it to improve the services they provide. MDRC’s Center for Data Insights (CDI) partnered with CEO and used data science tools and qualitative research to better utilize the feedback CEO was receiving from their participants.
In this episode, Leigh Parise first talks with Alissa Stover, a former research analyst at MDRC and CDI. Alissa describes CDI’s partnership with CEO, the importance of big-picture thinking in data science, and their implications. Ahmed Whitt, the director of learning and impact at CEO, then explains the critical lessons that were learned.
Can Market Value Assets Better Prepare Students for College and Career?
Through its Real World Learning initiative in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is working to ensure that all students in participating districts graduate from high school with a diploma and at least one market value asset (or MVA).
MVAs are designed to prepare students for further education and employment. They can include such activities as completing an internship or employer-sponsored project, earning an industry-recognized credential, engaging in an entrepreneurial experience, or earning college credits. MDRC is the learning and evaluation partner on this project.
In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with Dan Tesfay, senior program officer at the Kauffman Foundation, and Osvaldo Avila, research associate in MDRC's K-12 education policy area. They discuss what it takes to create partnerships between school districts and industries to develop MVAs and what they hope to learn from MDRC’s evaluation work.