Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? Join Therese Leung as she talks with MDRC researchers about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve low-income peop
Rural Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities — Part II
A special series from the Rural Matters podcast
This episode is the second of a special four-part series about issues facing rural higher education from our colleagues at the Rural Matters podcast. It is coproduced by MDRC and supported by Ascendium Education Group.
In this episode, Rural Matters host Michelle Rathman chats with four individuals committed to improving education in West Virginia: Danielle Vetter, Senior Program Officer at Ascendium Education Group; Stephanie Hyre, Senior Program Officer of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation; Corley Dennison, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education; and Paul Daugherty, President & CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia.
Vetter discusses Ascendium’s priorities in the rural space, including research, building capacity for postsecondary providers, and catalyzing investment and partnerships to create opportunities and open doors that may have been previously closed. Dennison notes how rural West Virginia really is and how important it is to initiate innovative programs, such as one designed to improve developmental education. Dennison also describes the main goal of West Virginia Climbs, supported by Ascendium, that 60 percent of workers in the state will have some kind postsecondary credentials by 2020.
Daugherty explains how Philanthropy West Virginia promotes collaboration among government, businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropy to bolster communities, an effort that has taken on added significance during the pandemic, especially on the issues of food security and business and survival. Hyre describes the work of the Education Affinity Group, a subset of Philanthropy West Virginia whose priorities include early childhood literacy and postsecondary degree attainment.
Rural Higher Education: Challenges & Opportunities — Part I
This episode is the first of a special four-part series about issues facing rural higher education from our colleagues at the Rural Matters podcast. It is coproduced by MDRC and supported by Ascendium Education Group.
COVID-19 has caused seismic shifts for postsecondary education. For rural colleges, the pandemic exacerbated issues that have affected students and communities for decades. While 41 percent of urban adults have a college degree, only 28 percent of rural adults do. The college access gap between rural and urban areas is sizable: In most states, rural high school students achieve graduation rates similar to urban and suburban counterparts, but their college enrollment rates are much lower.
Rural communities have long been confronted with unique education challenges. Chief among them is the digital divide: Many rural areas lack adequate broadband internet infrastructure, which has become even more critical during the pandemic. Only 63 percent of rural adults say they have access to the internet at home, compared with 75 percent of urban adults. In areas where internet is available, it can be costly. And students may lack the technology they need to be successful in online learning.
In this episode, Rural Matters host Michelle Rathman chats with MDRC’s Alyssa Ratledge; Dr. Jan Miller, Dean of the College of Education and the Director of Online Programs at the University of West Alabama; and Joe Thiel, Director of Academic Policy and Research for the Montana University System. They discuss some innovative programs that rural higher ed institutions are adopting to address the challenges faced by rural communities.
How Does the Dana Center Math Pathways Improve Students’ Success in Math?
Too many community college students get stuck in multi-semester developmental math sequences and never progress to or complete college-level courses. To meet this challenge, the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin developed the Dana Center Math Pathways (DCMP), which diversifies the math course content that students take so it better aligns with their career interests. The curriculum also encourages student-centered learning in small group formats.
Researchers from the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness — a partnership between MDRC and the Community College Research Center — recently published an evaluation of DCMP in Texas. After three semesters, the study found that the DCMP had a positive impact on students’ completion of the developmental math sequence, increasing their likelihood of taking and passing college-level math and the number of math credits earned. Researchers also saw a small impact on early cohorts’ attainment of a certificate.
To learn more about these encouraging results and what they mean for the field, Katie Beal spoke with Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, a senior associate at MDRC and lead author of the study.
How Can Subsidized Jobs Help the Most Disadvantaged Workers Recover from the COVID-19 Recession?
Subsidized employment uses public funds to create jobs for the unemployed and are especially useful during economic downturns. Many have argued that subsidized employment programs should be part of policymakers’ response to pandemic-induced mass joblessness.
MDRC has been studying subsidized employment for more than 40 years and recently completed two large-scale federal projects that rigorously tested 13 subsidized employment programs in eight states. The programs served very disadvantaged workers, such as people receiving cash assistance or people returning to the community from prison.
To learn more about subsidized employment programs and how they can be designed to reach the most disadvantaged, Leigh Parise spoke with MDRC Senior Vice President Dan Bloom.
Can Schools Outside of New York City Replicate the CUNY ASAP Program?
The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) provides comprehensive support services to community college students to help them stay enrolled and graduate. MDRC’s evaluation of ASAP at CUNY community colleges found that it nearly doubled graduation rates within three years — which are some of the largest impacts found among programs for community college students.
To see if the program could work beyond New York City, CUNY, MDRC, and the Ohio Department of Higher Education worked with three Ohio community colleges to implement the ASAP model. Recent findings from MDRC’s evaluation show that the Ohio programs had similarly large impacts on student outcomes, illustrating that the program can be successfully replicated and serve as a model for community colleges across the country.
To learn more about the Ohio results and what it takes to replicate and scale the successful ASAP model, Katie Beal spoke with Christine Brongniart, the University Executive Director of CUNY ASAP, and Camielle Headlam, a research associate at MDRC.
What Happens When You Combine an Accelerated Academic Program with Workplace Exposure and Career Skills?
New types of career and technical education programs are trying to prepare workers for an increasingly complex labor market. For high school students, this preparation can mean combining academic study with a strong career focus and hands-on work experience with an industry partner. MDRC is testing the effectiveness of this approach in an evaluation of the New York City P-TECH 9-14 school model. P-TECH 9-14 schools collaborate with local community colleges to allow students to earn high school diplomas and cost-free, industry-recognized associate’s degrees at the same time. During the six-year program, employer partners support P-TECH 9-14 schools by providing students with work-based learning experiences such as internships, mentoring, and job shadowing.
Interim results show that after three years, students in P-TECH 9-14 schools earn about two more credits than students at other schools. Students in P-TECH 9-14 schools also pass state-level proficiency exams earlier and pass at higher rates.
In this episode, Leigh Parise talks about the NYC P-TECH grades 9-14 high school model and MDRC’s study with Rachel Rosen, codirector of MDRC's Center for Effective Career and Technical Education and co-principal investigator on the study.
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A short and sweet shot of evidence!
Really informative and engaging.