Evaluation & Results
Higher Achievement’s program is grounded in research and driven by data – the organization has embarked on rigorous internal and external evaluations that measure academic and non-academic outcomes.
In 2006, Higher Achievement began a landmark, gold-standard study of its impact. This random-controlled trial (RCT) study is the most difficult, expensive, and risky study that any organization can do – the Social Impact Exchange recently found that only 2% of nonprofits in the country undertake this sort of evaluation.
Our researchers – first under the auspices of Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) and now the University of Texas at Austin – compared Higher Achievement scholars with their identical counterparts: students just like them who applied to Higher Achievement, met the admissions criteria, but were eliminated in a randomized lottery. Students in the control group – those ultimately not admitted to the program – received a list of other afterschool and summer academic programs to join, but were not allowed to re-apply to Higher Achievement. Higher Achievement’s scholars made up the treatment group and received year-round academic enrichment for up to four years until their 8th grade graduation. The random-controlled trial study adds to an extensive body of research conducted by P/PV on out-of-school-time (OST) programs over several decades. When P/PV ceased operations in July 2012, this report was still in development. MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, agreed to partner with the researchers and publish the report. The findings and conclusions are solely those of the authors. Funding was provided by Bank of America, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Smith Richardson Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, The William T. Grant Foundation, and The Wallace Foundation.
The study finds that Higher Achievement stands apart from other large scale, rigorous OST programs and significantly improves academic performance and increases the odds that students will attend high-quality, competitive high schools.
Higher Achievement facilitates measurable, significant academic gains in math and improvements in reading. Gains were equivalent to an extra 48 days of learning in math and an extra 30 days of learning in reading.
Higher Achievement floods our scholars with opportunities throughout their middle school years, and the program dramatically improves their achievement. On average, scholars who complete the program:
Increase their GPAs at least one letter grade.
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