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Effectiveness of Wraparound Support to Promote Degree Attainment of Low-Income Community College Students: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Experiment
Initial registration date
May 20, 2016
May 10, 2018 5:18 PM EDT
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Booth School of Business University of Chicago
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Given that the nationwide three-year graduation rate for community college students is about 30 percent (National Center for Education Statistics), it is extremely important to understand what types of services have the biggest impact on outcomes like credit attainment, graduation rates, and employment. To meet this need, we propose an evaluation of One Million Degrees (OMD), a Chicago non-profit that provides professional, personal, financial, and academic supports to community college students in Chicago. The University of Chicago Urban Labs, in partnership with OMD, will work to generate gold-standard evidence through a randomized controlled trial about the overall impact of the OMD program on educational and labor market outcomes. The proposed study will provide crucial data to policymakers and school officials as they seek to most efficiently target resources to increase graduation rates and support students.
Bertrand, Marianne. 2018. "Effectiveness of Wraparound Support to Promote Degree Attainment of Low-Income Community College Students: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. May 10.
One Million Degrees supports students financially, academically, personally, and professionally through performance-based stipends, skill-building workshops, intrusive advising, and coaching and mentoring with volunteer professionals. The success of OMD scholars is encouraging: the graduation rate of students they serve is twice the average among community college students in Illinois. OMD currently serves students attending all seven City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) and four suburban colleges. OMD scholars meet monthly with dedicated Program Coordinators, who support the scholars’ academic and personal progress. Scholars also attend monthly workshops that include meeting with a volunteer coach and other activities designed to build professional skills, confidence, and community.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Educational outcomes: persistence in community college, graduation from community college, degrees earned, transfer to a four-year university
Labor market outcomes: employer, length of employment, quarterly wages
Non-cognitive skills: self-efficacy, self-esteem, belonging
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Non-cognitive skills will be measured by comparing pre-treatment and post-treatment surveys of OMD applicants (which comprise the treatment and control groups). The survey is adapted from previously published surveys and metrics of non-cognitive skills.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
One Million Degrees reports a consistently large and growing applicant pool over time, with each year’s pool exceeding the number of slots available. The resulting increased sample size and oversubscription provides a perfect opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of the program through a randomized controlled trial. The Urban Labs research team will randomly allocate eligible applicants to a treatment or control group. A lottery to determine which eligible applicants are admitted to OMD is the most fair and equitable way of allocating program slots to interested students, and it will allow us to rigorously assess the effectiveness of the program. We will use pre-existing administrative data to compare educational and long-term employment outcomes of applicants who are randomly accepted to the OMD program to applicants who are not accepted.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization done in an office by a computer
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
8 community colleges
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,100 OMD applicants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
560 treatment, 560 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
The University of Chicago Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number