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OPEPD: Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development
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Policy and Program Studies Service—Postsecondary

Postsecondary Education

Outcomes and Institutional Practices

New Developmental Education: Challenges and Strategies for Reform (2017). Many of entering postsecondary students are deemed unprepared or underprepared for college-level coursework and placed into developmental or remedial education. For these students, developmental education may offer both an opportunity for academic enrichment and a barrier to college completion. This brief illustrates the prevalence and substantial costs of developmental education in our higher education system and outlines evidence-based reform strategies that policymakers, states, and institutions may consider to improve strategies for remedial students' completion. Strategies with preliminary supporting evidence for improving the outcomes of students in developmental education and reducing their costs include 1) using multiple measures to assess postsecondary readiness and place students; 2) compressing or mainstreaming developmental education with course redesign, such as offering co-requisite college-level courses; and 3) implementing comprehensive, integrated, and long-lasting support programs.

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education: Key Data Highlights Focusing on Race and Ethnicity and Promising Practices (2016). While highlighting efforts to promote diversity in institutions of higher education, this report shows continuing educational inequities and opportunity gaps in accessing and completing a quality postsecondary education. To provide equitable, valuable experiences to students of color and low-income students colleges and universities have implemented practices designed to meet the needs of their campuses. The following areas of focus encompass practices that research suggests can help advance diversity and inclusion on college campuses: 1) institutional commitment to promoting student body diversity and inclusion on campus, 2) diversity across all levels of an institution, 3) outreach and recruitment of prospective students, 4) support services for students, and 5) inclusive campus climate. Finally, this report recommends areas for further study that can help shape a path forward toward enrolling, retaining, and graduating more students from underrepresented groups in higher education, and the promise of equal educational opportunity for all students.

The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce (2016) examines the teacher pipeline from enrollment in postsecondary education to entrance into the teaching workforce and beyond. The report highlights a lack of racial diversity among teachers at public elementary and secondary schools across the nation. The findings reveal decreasing diversity at multiple points across the teacher pipeline through which teachers progress through postsecondary education, teacher preparation programs, hiring, and retention.

Factors Related to College Enrollment (1998) examines factors related to postsecondary education enrollment. The emphasis is on how early indicators, such as expectations and course-taking behavior in the eighth grade, are related to college attendance six years later. The report examines attendance at all types of postsecondary education: 4-year public, 4-year private, less than 4-year public, and less than 4-year private institutions.

Student Aid

Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grant Programs: Lessons Learned: 2006-07 Through 2009-10 (2012). This report highlights implementation issues, and describes program participations and grant renewal rates. The research undertaken for this report found that both the ACG and the National SMART Grant were relatively small programs that operated differently than most Title IV programs, and required longer lead times to establish processes for clarifying new requirements and disseminating information than typically required for those programs that represent variations on existing processes. In addition, many students who enrolled in both programs lost their awards the following year because of their inability to meet the academic requirements for renewal. While all recipients were from low-income families, both ACG and National SMART Grants were most likely to benefit recipients at the higher end of the Pell Grant-eligible group.

Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grant Programs: 2006-07 through 2008-09 (2011). This is the third report from a five-year study that examined program participation in the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART) Grant programs. Among the major purposes of the study were to determine whether or not the financial incentives provided by the ACG program induced more economically disadvantaged high school students to complete a rigorous high school program and enroll and succeed in postsecondary education and whether the National SMART Grants motivate more students to major and receive degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STE MB) fields or languages critical to national interest. This third report summarizes participation data from the first three years of the ACG and National SMART Grant programs (2006-07 through 2008-09).

Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grant Programs: 2006-07 and 2007-08 (2010) examines participation in the Pell Grant, ACG, and National SMART Grant programs in 2007-08 and examines renewal rates—that is, how many students who received a grant in 2006-07 received another one in 2007-08. Key questions of this report are: 1) whether the financial incentives provided by the ACG program induce more economically disadvantaged high school students to complete a rigorous high school program and enroll and succeed in postsecondary education, and 2) whether the availability of National SMART Grants motivate more students to major and receive degrees in mathematics, science, engineering, technology, and critical languages. Definitive answers to these questions will require time. Analysis to date, therefore, has focused on documenting implementation and early participation.

Academic Competitiveness and SMART Grant Programs: First-Year Lessons Learned (2009). Two new grant programs, Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG) and National SMART Grants (NSG) were created in Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (HERA). ACGs are intended to encourage students to take more challenging courses in high school-making success in college more likely. NSGs are intended to encourage post-secondary students to take college majors in high demand in the global economy, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STE MB) and critical foreign languages. Students eligible for Pell Grants who completed a 'rigorous program of study' in high school received an ACG of up to $750 in their first year and, if they earned a 3.0 or better grade point average (GPA), up to $1,300 in their second year. Pell-eligible students who majored in a STEM field or critical foreign language and maintained a 3.0 GPA received an NSG for up to $4,000 for their third and fourth years.

Borrower Debt Burden (2004) is one of the major issues in student financial assistance. PPSS has undertaken several analyses combining data on federal borrowing from a sample of borrowers from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) maintained by the Department of Education, with income data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These data allow us to calculate the percentage of a borrowers' income, and their spouse if married filing jointly, that is needed to meet their scheduled federal student loan payments.

  • Data from our analysis has been made available on the NCES website.

National Study of the Operation of the Federal Work-Study Program (2000) analyzes student and institutional experiences with the FWS program and describes how the program is operated, based on a nationally representative survey of Federal Work-Study (FWS) administrators and recipients conducted in 1998.

Student Support Grant Evaluations

National Evaluation of Student Support Services: Examination of Student Outcomes After Six Years (2010) compares the educational outcomes of Student Support Services (SSS) program participants and non-SSS program participants six years after enrolling in college as first-year students. SSS programs can offer a mix of academic and support services such as professional or peer tutoring, study labs, and instructional courses at institutions of higher education. This study was designed to estimate the impact of supplemental services on college retention, transfer, and completion using quasi-experimental methods.

The Impacts of Upward Bound Math-Science on Postsecondary Outcomes 7-9 Years After Scheduled High School Graduation (2010) updates the report Upward Bound Math-Science: Program Description and Interim Impact Estimates published in 2007 (Olsen et al. 2007). The 2007 interim report contained descriptive findings from a survey of Upward Bound Math-Science (UBMS) grantees from the late 1990s at the time of the study's initiation and impact estimates through the period four to six years after expected high school graduation of the study sample. The current report presents impact estimates for the period seven to nine years after scheduled high school graduation. For context purposes this report includes descriptive information from the initial reports that gives a picture of the UBMS program as it was operating shortly after the time when the study sample members were participating in UBMS (1993-1995). It should be noted that the study sample and results represent the UBMS program as it was operating in the early years of its initiation.

The Impacts of Regular Upward Bound on Postsecondary Outcomes 7-9 Years After Scheduled High School Graduation: Final Report (2009). The study findings are based on a random assignment design implemented in a nationally representative sample of 67 Upward Bound projects hosted by two-and four-year colleges and universities. About 1,500 eligible applicants were randomly assigned to the evaluation's treatment group, and allowed to participate in Upward Bound, and about 1,300 students were randomly assigned to the control group. Data were collected periodically on high school and postsecondary outcomes for both groups from an initial baseline in 1992-1994 through a final survey in 2003-2004. Impact estimates are based on a comparison of outcomes for students in the treatment and control groups.

A Study of Four Federal Graduate Fellowship Programs: Education and Employment Outcomes (2008) describes the academic and employment outcomes as of 2006 for graduate students who received financial support between 1997 and 1999 through one of four federal fellowship programs: The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) fellowship program, the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship program, the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellowship program, and the Jacob K. Javits fellowship program. The programs vary significantly with respect to their goals, the number of fellowships supported, and the amount of funding dispersed. Despite their differences, however, all of these programs are intended to encourage academically talented students to become experts in fields important to the national interest.

Early Outcomes of GEAR UP Program: Summary of Evaluation Findings (2008) discusses findings from an analysis of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program. GEAR UP provides services to improve parents' and students' knowledge and preparation for postsecondary attendance. The GEAR UP model is to provide services to the entire grade cohort starting no later than the 7th grade and stresses partnership with schools, districts, community organizations and postsecondary institutions. The report presents middle school outcomes for a small sample of schools participating in the program and a matched comparison group of non-GEAR UP schools.

The Educational and Employment Outcomes of The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program Alumni (2008). This study examines the extent to which former McNair Program participants enrolled in the program between 1989-1998, completed doctoral studies, and obtained faculty or research positions at institutions of higher education. A telephone survey was conducted with the census of 813 doctoral and professional degree recipients, and a sample 580 McNair participants who had earned master's degrees, 615 who had earned bachelor's degrees, 604 who had not earned any degree between the fall of 1989 and the spring of 2000. Estimates presented throughout this report use weighted data to account for probability of selection, non-response, and post-stratification.

A Study of the Effect of Talent Search on Secondary and Postsecondary Outcomes in Florida, Indiana, and Texas (2006). This report presents an analysis of the effectiveness of the Talent Search in Florida, Indiana, and Texas, drawing upon project, state, and federal administrative records to examine short-term program outcomes for program participants, and a quasi-experimental design to create matched comparison groups.

Partnerships for Reform: Changing Teacher Preparation Through the Title II HEA Partnership Program: Final Report (2006) provides information on the implementation of the Title II Partnership grant program from the 2000-01 school year through the 2003-04 school year. The study collected information on the 1999 grantees through surveys of representatives from institutions of higher education, participating school districts, and participating school principals. The study also included secondary data analyses on school characteristics, achievement data, and pass rates on teacher assessments.

Upward Bound Math-Science Program Description and Interim Impact Estimates (2006). This report presents descriptive findings from an Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) project survey conducted in 1999 and impact estimates from post high school follow up to 2002 of early cohorts of project participants between 1993 and 1995. The Upward Bound Math Science initiative was established in 1990 within the Upward Bound program to foster increased math and science participation among disadvantaged students in high school as a preparation for success in college in math and science and to increase in the number of students participating in math and science fields. The UBMS sample of about 1,500 UBMS participants was added to the existing National Evaluation of Upward Bound, and utilized a propensity analysis matched comparison group selected from the existing UB sample. Descriptively the project survey found that the average program provided a total of 240 hours of academic instruction per participant, most of it in a 6-week summer program in which much of the instruction focused on math and science subjects. The impact study found there was an association between UBMS participation and improved high school grades in math and science and overall, an increase in the likelihood of taking chemistry and physics in high school, and an increase in enrolling in more selective four-year institutions. The study also increased the likelihood of math and science major field choice and completing a four-year degree in math and science.

Implementation of the Talent Search Program, Past and Present - Final Report from Phase I of the National Evaluation (2004). This report presents a comprehensive, in-depth description of the implementation of Talent Search throughout the country. Study relied on information obtained from multiple sources: a survey of Talent Search project directors, student-centered case studies conducted in 14 Talent Search projects, performance reports, and other education data sets.

Partnerships for Reform: Changing Teacher Preparation Through the Title II HEA Partnership Program Interim Report (2004) is an interim report providing descriptive data from the evaluation of the Title II HEA Partnership Grant Program. It examines how 1999 Partnership grantees are implementing reforms to improve preservice teacher preparation and meet the teacher quality needs of school districts. The evaluation focuses on several key topics: 1) changes to the content and structure of grantees' teacher preparation programs over the grant period; 2) connections between the Partnership grants and changes to the teaching force; 3) connections between collaborative activities among institutions of higher education and schools and school-level student achievement; 4) organizational changes and relationships among Partnership members; and 5) efforts to institutionalize Partnerships.

The Impact of Regular Upward Bound: Results from the Third Follow-up Data Collection (2004) assesses the impact of program participation on students' preparation for college, college enrollment, persistence, and completion. Findings are based on a nationally representative sample of 67 Upward Bound projects hosted by two-and four-year colleges, from which 2,800 eligible applicants were randomly assigned to Upward Bound or to a control group. At the time of the most recent follow-up data collection, all sampled students had sufficient time to complete high school and about two years in which to enter college. This report, therefore, focuses on high school preparation for college, enrollment, and early college persistence.

The Review of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Comprehensive Program (2004) assesses the extent to which the FIPSE Comprehensive Program meets its key objectives and is the first outside review of the program in over two decades. The report is based on a sample of 60 randomly selected projects funded from 1996 through 1998, 16 of which were selected for a more intensive review by individuals with expertise specific to the individual project. Information for the study was obtained mainly from project reports and documentation maintained by the FIPSE office, supplemented by discussions with project staff members, staff members at institutions replicating FIPSE projects, and FIPSE staff.

National Evaluation of GEAR UP (2003) evaluates the early effects and implementation of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), which seeks to increase postsecondary access and completion through partnership grants that require recipients to begin providing services to students by seventh grade and to continue services to these students in participating high schools until graduation, and through grants to state agencies.

The Performance Measurement Study Of The Title III Institutional Aid Program (2000) presents the results of a survey of all 1995-96 Part A and Part B Title III grantees as well as in-depth case studies conducted at 19 institutions. The Aid for Institutional Development programs (commonly referred to as the Title III programs) support improvements in educational quality, management, and financial stability at qualifying postsecondary institutions that enroll large proportions of minority and financially disadvantaged students. The study indicates that institutions used Title III grants primarily to strengthen academic programs rather than on institutional management. The study also found that most Title III schools were not in severe financial difficulty.

Workforce and Occupational Education

National Assessment of Career and Technical Education: Final Report (2014) summarizes data on the implementation of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV), as well as student participation and outcomes for CTE more generally. The report uses information from studies commissioned for the NACTE, reviews of existing research, and analyses of extant data from state performance reports and from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Topics include student participation in CTE programs at the secondary and postsecondary levels, changes in Perkins funding levels and targeting, implementation of Perkins IV provisions regarding programs of study (POS) and accountability, and educational and employment outcomes for CTE students.

Putting "career" in "college and career ready": The report of the Independent Advisory Panel of the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (2014) provides the conclusions and recommendations of the independent panel that was congressionally mandated to provide advice on the design and implementation of the NACTE.

Supplemental Reports of the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (2013) are studies commissioned from independent researchers and evaluators that examine different aspects of career and technical education in the United States, such as student outcomes and the implementation of career and technical education programs. The supplemental reports are source materials for the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education. Links to these reports are available on the NACTE reports page.

National Assessment of Vocational Education: Final Report to Congress (2004) presents a synthesis of evidence on the implementation and outcomes of vocational education and of the 1998 Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (Perkins III). It examines questions about the effectiveness of vocational education in improving student outcomes, the consequences of new funding and accountability provisions for programs and participants, the implementation and quality of vocational education, and the extent of its alignment with other reform efforts. The report also discusses options for the future direction of vocational education legislation.

Higher Education Finance

State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education (2016). This policy brief examines state-by-state trends to compare the extent to which state and local governments are investing in education and in corrections. More specifically, this brief uses extant data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, and other sources to present a snapshot of the changes in state and local expenditures for corrections and education from 1979-80 to 2012-13, both nationally and by state.

Last Modified: 07/24/2017