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Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students
Last registered on October 04, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001637
Initial registration date
October 04, 2016
Last updated
October 04, 2016 11:23 AM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
MDRC
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2009-11-02
End date
2014-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
National attention is focused on increasing graduation rates at community colleges. Graduation rates are particularly low for students who come to campus underprepared for college-level work. Across the nation, between 60 and 70 percent of entering freshmen in community colleges enroll in developmental (or remedial) math, reading, or writing courses. Data show that only 28 percent of developmental students in two-year colleges attain a degree or certificate within eight and a half years of entry, compared with 43 percent of nondevelopmental students. Finding ways to help developmental students persist in school and receive a degree is critical to substantially increasing graduation rates.

MDRC conducted an evaluation of an unusually comprehensive program designed to help students to stay in school and graduate with an associate’s degree quickly. Originally funded by the Center for Economic Opportunity in New York City, the City University of New York’s (CUNY’s) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) began operating in fall 2007. CUNY’s internal evaluation of the effects of ASAP has been promising, with participants graduating at a higher rate than a comparison group of similarly skilled students. CUNY reached out to MDRC to conduct a random assignment study of ASAP beginning in spring 2010. For the MDRC evaluation, ASAP exclusively targeted students who needed one or two developmental courses based on their scores on the CUNY Assessment Tests in reading, writing, and math. (Outside of the study, ASAP also targets students who do not need any developmental courses.) The evaluation found that ASAP almost doubled three-year graduation rates for developmental education students. ASAP’s effects for students, described in a February 2015 report, are by far the largest effects MDRC has found for a community college intervention. In addition, because ASAP produced so many more graduates than standard college services, the cost per graduate was actually lower in ASAP, despite the substantial investment required to operate the program.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Scrivener, Susan. 2016. "Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students." AEA RCT Registry. October 04. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1637-1.0.
Former Citation
Scrivener, Susan. 2016. "Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students." AEA RCT Registry. October 04. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1637/history/11039.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
ASAP requires students to attend college full time and during the evaluation period provided the following components for three years:

--Tuition waiver: Any gap between tuition or fees and financial aid was waived for students who were eligible for financial aid.
--Free monthly MetroCards for use on public transportation in the New York City area.
--Free use of textbooks for all classes.
--Comprehensive advising and counseling services: Students were assigned to an ASAP adviser with a small caseload (about 60 to 80 students) who was expected to provide comprehensive support.
--Enhanced tutoring: ASAP tutors provided general support and conducted regular review sessions for especially challenging courses. Students who were struggling were required to receive tutoring.
--Career development services: Students met with ASAP career and employment specialists for assistance with career planning and, if needed, job placement.
--Cohorts of students in blocked or linked courses: During the first year of the program, students take at least two of their classes with other ASAP students.

For the MDRC evaluation, ASAP targeted students who:

--Were required to take one or two developmental courses
--Were incoming freshmen or have 12 or fewer credits with a GPA of at least 2.0
--Had family income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level or had been determined to be eligible for a Pell grant

The MDRC evaluation provided an opportunity to rigorously test a rich package of services that is rarely available to community college students and that has the potential to yield dramatic improvements in their education outcomes. The key goal of the evaluation was to see if ASAP helps students progress through developmental education, remain in college, and graduate with associate’s degrees.
Intervention Start Date
2010-01-22
Intervention End Date
2013-06-14
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Key outcomes progress through developmental education, credit accumulation, semester-to-semester retention, transfer to four-year institutions, and graduation.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Three of CUNY’s seven community colleges participated in the evaluation: Borough of Manhattan Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and LaGuardia Community College.

For the study, eligible students at the three colleges were randomly assigned either to a program group, whose members were eligible for ASAP, or to a control group, whose members were eligible for standard college courses and services. MDRC compared the average outcomes of the two research groups to determine the effects of ASAP. The evaluation tracked students’ outcomes for three years after random assignment. The evaluation also included a study of the implementation of ASAP and its costs.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer at MDRC
Randomization Unit
individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
896
Sample size: planned number of observations
896
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
445 students control, 451 students treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
MDRC
IRB Approval Date
2009-10-01
IRB Approval Number
Details not available
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Abstract
Community colleges offer a pathway to the middle class for low-income individuals. Although access to college has expanded, graduation rates at community colleges remain low, especially for students who need developmental (remedial) courses to build their math, reading, or writing skills. Many reforms have been found to help students in the short term, but few have substantially boosted college completion. The City University of New York’s (CUNY’s) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), launched in 2007 with funding from the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity, is an uncommonly comprehensive and long-term program designed to help more students graduate and help them graduate more quickly.

ASAP represents both an opportunity and an obligation for students. It was designed to address multiple potential barriers to student success and to address them for up to three years. ASAP requires students to attend college full time and encourages them to take developmental courses early and to graduate within three years. The program provides comprehensive advisement from an adviser with a small caseload and enhanced career services and tutoring. ASAP offers blocked or linked courses for the first year and offers a seminar for the first few semesters, covering topics such as goal-setting and study skills. The program provides a tuition waiver that fills any gap between financial aid and college tuition and fees. It also provides free MetroCards for use on public transportation, contingent on participation in key program services, and free use of textbooks.

This report presents results from a random assignment study of ASAP at three CUNY community colleges: Borough of Manhattan, Kingsborough, and LaGuardia. Low-income students who needed one or two developmental courses were randomly assigned either to a program group, who could participate in ASAP, or to a control group, who could receive the usual college services. Comparing the two groups’ outcomes provides an estimate of ASAP’s effects. Key findings from the report include the following:
•ASAP was well implemented. The program provided students with a wide array of services over a three-year period, and effectively communicated requirements and other messages.
•ASAP substantially improved students’ academic outcomes over three years, almost doubling graduation rates. ASAP increased enrollment in college and had especially large effects during the winter and summer intersessions. On average, program group students earned 48 credits in three years, 9 credits more than did control group students. By the end of the study period, 40 percent of the program group had received a degree, compared with 22 percent of the control group. At that point, 25 percent of the program group was enrolled in a four-year school, compared with 17 percent of the control group.
•At the three-year point, the cost per degree was lower in ASAP than in the control condition. Because the program generated so many more graduates than the usual college services, the cost per degree was lower despite the substantial investment required to operate the program.

ASAP’s effects are the largest MDRC has found in any of its evaluations of community college reforms. The model offers a highly promising strategy to markedly accelerate credit accumulation and increase graduation rates among educationally and economically disadvantaged populations.
Citation
Scrivener, Susan, Michael J. Weiss, Alyssa Ratledge, Timothy Rudd, Colleen Sommo, and Hannah Fresques. 2015. Doubling Graduation Rates: Three-Year Effects of CUNY's Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students. New York: MDRC.
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