A new policy brief from MDRC synthesizes findings from its Opening Doors Demonstration — the first large-scale random assignment study in a community college setting, launched in 2003. The demonstration pursued promising strategies that emerged from focus groups with low-income students, discussions with college administrators, and an extensive literature review. Partnering with six community colleges across the country, MDRC helped develop and evaluated four distinct programs based on financial incentives, reforms in instructional practices, and enhancements in student services. Colleges were encouraged to focus on one strategy but think creatively about combining elements of the other strategies to design programs that helped students perform better academically and persist toward degree completion. The program provides evidence that a range of interventions can improve educational outcomes for community college students. The findings spurred some colleges to scale up their programs, and led to additional large-scale demonstrations to test the most promising strategies. The brief describes the different strategies tested, discusses what MDRC has learned from Opening Doors, and offers some suggestions to policymakers and practitioners for moving forward.
See the report: http://www.mdrc.org/publications/585/overview.html