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SOURCE Higher Achievement
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Higher Achievement, a leading education program for middle school youth, announced today the findings of a randomized-control trial (RCT) study that evaluated the long-term impact of the organization's program on its participants. According to the Growth Philanthropy Network, only two percent of nonprofits in the U.S. have conducted this type of gold-standard research. Researchers – first from Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) and ultimately from the University of Texas at Austin – compared Higher Achievement scholars with a control group, students who applied to the program, met the admissions criteria, but were eliminated in a randomized lottery. The study found that Higher Achievement had a statistically significant effect in three areas: standardized test scores, family engagement in education, and placement in top high schools and avoidance of struggling high schools.
"What sets the evaluation of the Higher Achievement program apart from others is that it employed a randomized control trial-the gold standard in evaluation research-to assess program impacts. What's more, evaluation found that the program had a significant, positive impact on its students. When feasible, evaluations of out-of-school time programs should consider similar methods to more accurately assess the extent to which and how its programs impact student outcomes. Doing so can lead to overall program improvements and more positive outcomes for youth," said Tiffany Miller, Associate Director for School Improvement of the Center for American Progress.
The RCT study began in 2006 under the auspices of P/PV, was completed this year by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, and was recently published by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. This $4 million, seven-year study found that students enrolled in Higher Achievement experienced statistically significant gains in test scores, high school placement, and family engagement over an equivalently motivated control group, who accessed other after-school and summer programs. The study was funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies, The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, The Smith Richardson Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation.
"The significant findings from this gold-standard study demonstrate that expanded learning programs have an important place in the school reform movement," said Lynsey Wood Jeffries, Chief Executive Officer of Higher Achievement. "When expanded learning programs are rigorous and intentional, they can make an impact on academics. We plan to use the lessons learned from the study to implement a strategic plan for ambitious growth in close partnerships with schools. And, we also hope to broaden our influence on education by sharing key findings with partners in our four cities and nationally."
"With so many competing priorities and with often limited resources, school districts like DCPS place great value on programming and interventions with a strong research base and a proven track record. Randomized controlled trials such as MRDC's evaluation of Higher Achievement go a long way to proving and quantifying Higher Achievement's positive impact on our students' lives," said Dan Gordon, Director of Office of Academic Programming and Support, District of Columbia Public Schools.
A copy the full study and supporting documents can be found at Higher Achievement's website.
About Higher Achievement
Higher Achievement turns middle school into a springboard to college. As an expanded learning partner for schools and families, the organization's rigorous year-round program helps middle school "scholars" fulfill their potential and ultimately improves whole schools and cities. Higher Achievement delivers a proven after-school and summer program totaling 650 hours/year, on top of the 900 hours of school, with a positive culture that celebrates learning. On average, 96% of alumni graduate from high school and 76% graduate from college – four times the rate of their peers.
Higher Achievement was founded in Washington, DC, in 1975 and currently operates achievement centers in Washington, DC; Alexandria, VA; Baltimore, MD; Richmond, VA; and Pittsburgh, PA. Higher Achievement is funded by support from foundations, schools, businesses, government, and individuals and relies on thousands of volunteers. The organization has been honored with numerous national and local awards. Higher Achievement is a champion of three principles: talent is everywhere, intellect is built through effort, and opportunities matter. For more information, please visit: www.higherachievement.org.
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