MPES Talk with James Sullivan

Increasing Community College Completion Rates among Low-Income Students

James Sullivan
Gilbert F. Schaefer College Professor of Economics
University of Notre Dame

Wednesday, January 22nd
Annenberg G02

Community colleges are an important part of the higher education landscape in the United States, but completion rates are extremely low, especially among low-income students. Much of the existing policy and research attention to this issue has focused on addressing academic and financial challenges. However, there is ample reason to think that non-academic obstacles might be key drivers of dropout rates for students living with the burden of poverty. This study focuses on the role of “life barriers” and demonstrates that wrap-around case management services can be an effective way to increase completion rates among low-income students. We evaluate the impact of the Stay the Course case management program through a multi-armed randomized controlled trial evaluation (RCT) conducted between 2013 and 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Data from school administrative records indicate that the comprehensive case management program significantly increased persistence and degree completion, especially for women. Estimates for the full sample are imprecise, but the estimates for women imply that the case management intervention tripled associate degree receipt (31 percentage point increase). We find no difference in outcomes between students in an emergency financial assistance only treatment arm and the control group. This study complements existing evidence on financial and information programs designed to increase enrollment rates and is most closely related to the small set of studies examining coaching and mentoring interventions to help students.

James Sullivan is the Gilbert F. Schaefer College Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame. He has been a visiting scholar at the National Poverty Center and a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, and he currently serves as a national Phi Betta Kappa Visiting Scholar. He was recently appointed to the U.S. Commission on Social Impact Partnerships and he serves on the National Poverty Center Advisory Board. His research examines the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs at the national, state, and local level. He also studies the consumption, saving, and borrowing behavior of poor households, as well as poverty and inequality measurement. In 2012, with fellow Notre Dame Professor William Evans, Professor Sullivan founded the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO). LEO is a research center that works with service providers and policymakers to identify effective and scalable solutions to reduce poverty in America. Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

MPES Colloquium Talk with Stephanie Curenton

Excellence for ALL Students via Professional Development and Instructional Change

Stephanie Curenton
Associate Professor, Curriculum and Teaching
Boston University

Wednesday, January 8th
Annenberg G02

This presentation will focus on racially minoritized learners’ (RMLs) experiences and achievement in school settings with a particular focus on discussing how the field measures instructional quality as it relates to RMLs’ experiences in the classroom. The presentation will provide suggestions about (1) how to measure culturally responsive anti-bias instruction, (2) changes for instructional approaches to engage RMLs, and (3) larger systemic changes to the way in which RMLs are educated.

Stephanie Curenton is a tenured associate professor in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. She studies the social, cognitive, and language development of low-income and minority children within various ecological contexts, such as parent-child interactions, early childhood education programs, early childhood workforce programs, and related state and federal policies. Curenton served as past associate editor for Early Childhood Research Quarterly and is currently an associate editor for Early Education and Development. She has received multiple national research policy fellowships, the Society for Research on Child Development/American Association for the Advancement of Science and worked in the Office of Child Care and the National Black Child Development Institute Policy Fellowship. She has served on education non-profit boards for the National Association for the Education of Young Children and local Head Start programs.