MDRC published an RCT of NY City P-TECH 9-14 schools, aimed at preparing students for college & careers within six years. Quick take: Small or no impacts on high school graduation or college attainment at 4-7 yr follow-up (study claims notwithstanding) *but* future earnings impacts are plausible.

Program:

  • NYC P-TECH 9-14 schools are "a partnership among a high school, a community college, and ... employer partners that focuses on preparing students for both college and careers within six years." The model has proliferated nationally and internationally since the first school opened in Brooklyn in 2010.

Study Design:

  • The study sample comprised 3,161 rising 9th graders (86% Black or Hispanic), randomly assigned via lottery to a P-TECH 9-14 school vs control. Based on careful review, this was a high quality RCT (e.g., baseline balance, negligible attrition).

Findings:

  • At the 4-7 year follow-up, the study found no statistically significant impact on the high school graduation rate (71% treatment vs 69% control at five years; 76% T vs 77% C at six years) or percent enrolled in college or having completed a degree (60% T vs 60% C at six years; 68% T vs 65% C at seven years).

  • The study report highlights a positive impact on college degree completion at the 7y mark (13% T vs 8% C), but this finding is based on only 16% of the sample (the early cohorts) & didn't quite reach statistical significance (p=0.08), so I think is best viewed as preliminary.

Comment:

  • Importantly, however, study found the program to be well implemented - e.g., providing students with significant workplace experience during high school - so I think could it could plausibly generate long-term earnings impacts.

  • To elaborate: An MDRC RCT of a related model - Career Academies - found initially disappointing results (no impact on high school or college completion), but longer-term follow-up found sizable earnings gains. The same could occur for P-TECH 9-14, so it would be great to see longer-term follow-up of this study.

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