WWC review of this study

Helping high-risk youths: Results from the alternative schools demonstration program [Cincinnati study].

Dynarski, M., & Wood, R. (1997). Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    902
     Students
    , grades
    9-12
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: December 2016

Completing school outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Earned a high school diploma or GED

Alternative Schools Demonstration Program (ASDP) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
902 students

7

6

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Graduated from high school

Alternative Schools Demonstration Program (ASDP) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
902 students

4

1

Yes

 
 
30

Earned a GED

Alternative Schools Demonstration Program (ASDP) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
902 students

3

5

No

-13
 
 
Staying in school outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Dropped out (%)

Alternative Schools Demonstration Program (ASDP) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
902 students

80

83

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Race
    Black
    82%
    White
    16%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    1%
    Not Hispanic
    99%

  • Urban
    • B
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    Ohio

Setting

This study took place in Cincinnati, Ohio. One school implemented the intervention. Students in the comparison group had the option to attend one of multiple schools.

Study sample

In the intervention group, 46% of students identified as male, 16% identified as White, non-Hispanic, 82% identified as Black, non-Hispanic, and 1% identified as Hispanic. A majority of students said that their mother had a high school education or more (62%). No (0%) students said that the primary language spoken at was not English. In the comparison group, 43% of students identified as male, 15% identified as White, non-Hispanic, 82% identified as Black, non-Hispanic, and 1% identified as Hispanic. A majority of students said that their mother had a high school education or more (60%). No (0%) students said that the primary language spoken at was not English.

Intervention Group

The Alternative Schools Demonstration Program (ASDP) was created to address dropout rates among certain segments of the youth population. ASDP funded establishment and evaluation of alternative schools in seven economically disadvantaged areas around the country. The schools were designed to improve the basic skills and employability of highly at-risk youth. The program was modeled after High School Redirection, an alternative high school in Brooklyn. The schools served youth who had persistent problems in the regular public school system, such as repeated incidents of academic failure or frequent truancy. The schools in the program emphasize basic skill development while promoting other aspects of personal development. ASDP schools were to have seven key features: 1) issuance of standard high school diplomas, 2) operate in low-income locations separate from other high schools, 3) maintain a degree of autonomy from the district's central office in their daily operations, policy-making, and hiring decisions, 4) on site childcare, 5) intensive remedial reading programs for students with serious literacy problems, 6) serve about 500 students, with admission based on referral rather than accessibility or proximity to students (students could not be denied based on past issues), and 7) operated by local boards of education, and staffed by supervisors and teachers who meet the normal district standards. Extracurricular activities were limited. The evaluation focused on academic, economic, and social impacts of the program. This study review in particular examine findings from a limited evaluation of Peter H. Clark Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. The study examines the effectiveness of the program on dropout and graduation rates, and GED receipt.

Comparison Group

Comparison group students received business-as-usual because they attended a non-program school.

Support for implementation

The authors did not discuss or provide support for implementation.

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: April 2007

Completing school outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Earned a high school diploma or GED at end of year 2 (%)

High School Redirection vs. business as usual

By End of 2nd Follow-up Year

Cohorts 1 and 2;
902 students

7

6

No

--
Staying in school outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Dropped out at end of year 2 (%)

High School Redirection vs. business as usual

By End of 2nd Follow-up Year

Cohorts 1 and 2;
902 students

80

83

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 54%
    Male: 46%
  • Race
    Black
    82%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
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    • q
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    • y

    Ohio

Setting

The study was conducted at the Peter H. Clark Academy, an alternative high school in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Study sample

The Cincinnati High School Redirection study used a randomized controlled trial research design. Students were assigned to the two research groups using a 2:1 random assignment ratio under which two students were assigned to the intervention group for every one student assigned to the control group. The study sample of 902 students included two cohorts. Cohort 1 consisted of students who applied to Clark Academy (the replication of High School Redirection in Cincinnati) prior to or during the 1993–94 school year and included 390 students in the intervention group and 185 students in the control group. Cohort 2 consisted of students who applied prior to or during the 1994–95 school year and included 222 students in the intervention group and 105 students in the control group. Results summarized here are based on school records, which are available for all 612 intervention students and all 290 control group students in the two cohorts. Researchers compared the baseline characteristics of the two research groups on 12 demographic, socio-economic, and school-related measures. A statistical test of the overall difference between the research groups on the full set of 12 baseline characteristics found that the groups were not significantly different. Cincinnati study participants were, on average, 17.6 years old at the time they applied to the High School Redirection program. Most (82%) were African-American. Just over half of participants (54%) were female. Over a third were teenage parents. About 6 in 10 had dropped out of school before applying to the alternative high school.

Intervention Group

The Peter H. Clark Academy was a replication of High School Redirection and was part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Alternative Schools Demonstration Program (ASDP) evaluation. The Cincinnati school included most of the key features of the High School Redirection model specified by the ASDP evaluation: granting regular high school diplomas, taking students from throughout the district, offering the STAR remedial reading program to those with serious literacy problems, offering no extra-curricular activities, and operating with considerable autonomy from the local district. The program had capacity for 250 students and operated out of a converted elementary school in a poor neighborhood of Cincinnati. Unlike the other High School Redirection replication sites summarized in this report, the program did not offer on-site child care. Instead, it offered off-site child care and van service between the school and the daycare facility. The school developed a special curriculum for ninth grade in which educational themes were integrated across the curriculum. The school also offered a modified English curriculum that allowed some students to earn graduation credits at an accelerated pace. Beyond these two modifications, the school offered the standard district curriculum (Rubenstein, 1995).

Comparison Group

Control group students could attend other district high schools that did not implement the High School Redirection model. At the time of the ASDP evaluation, the Cincinnati Public Schools offered few other alternative education programs for at-risk students besides the Peter H. Clark Academy.

Outcome descriptions

Two relevant outcomes from the Cincinnati High School Redirection study were used for rating purposes: dropped out at the end of the second follow-up year and graduated or earned a GED certificate by the end of the second follow-up year. (See Appendices A2.1, A2.2, and A2.3 for a more detailed description of outcome measures.)

Support for implementation

Clark Academy teachers were regular high school teachers employed by the Cincinnati Public Schools. No additional information about specific training they received was available.

 

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