WWC review of this study

When "low touch" is not enough: Evidence from a random assignment college access field experiment (PWP-CCPR-2018-008).

Phillips, M., & Reber, S. (2018). California Center for Population Research, University of California - Los Angeles.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    6,642
     Students
    , grades
    11-PS

Reviewed: September 2019

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Access and enrollment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

Any College_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
4,088 students

71.30

70.70

No

--
More Outcomes

Any College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
5,090 students

71.20

70.70

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Enrolled in a Selective College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
5,090 students

13.40

11.80

Yes

 
 
4

Enrollment at a University of California College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
5,090 students

14.50

12.80

Yes

 
 
3

Enrolled in a College in the University of California System_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
4,088 students

13.30

12.80

No

--

Four-Year College Enrollment_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
4,088 students

44.10

43.50

No

--

Four-Year College Enrollment_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
5,090 students

44.60

43.50

No

--

Enrolled in a Selective College_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
4,088 students

11.90

11.80

No

--

Enrollment in a California State University_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
4,088 students

25.10

25.00

No

--

Enrollment in a California State University_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
5,090 students

23.40

25.00

Yes

--
Credit accumulation outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

Persistence_Any College_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
4,088 students

65.20

63.40

No

--
More Outcomes

Persistence_Any College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
5,090 students

64.30

63.40

No

--
Show Supplemental Findings

Persistence at a Selective College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
5,090 students

12.20

10.90

Yes

 
 
3

Persistence in a Four-Year-College_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
4,088 students

38.50

36.90

No

--

Persistence in a University of California College_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
4,106 students

12.70

11.60

No

--

Persistence at a Selective College_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
4,106 students

11.30

10.90

No

--

Persistence in a California State University College_Complete

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
4,088 students

21.00

20.50

No

--

Persistence in a Four-Year-College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
5,090 students

37.20

36.90

No

--

Persistence in a California State University College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
5,090 students

19.30

20.50

No

--

Persistence at a University of California College_Milestones

V-SOURCE vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
5,090 students

13.30

11.60

Yes

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 54% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 68%
    Male: 32%
  • Race
    Asian
    11%
    Black
    6%
    White
    42%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    76%
    Not Hispanic
    24%
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
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    California

Setting

This study recruited junior-level students from 84 high schools located in six California counties during the fall of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. Five of these counties are located in Southern California, and one is in Central California. Targeted high schools had a majority of Hispanic/Latinx or African American students, and a majority of students were eligible for free or reduced price meals.

Study sample

The intervention was designed for students who are college ready but have parents who might not be able to provide needed support during the application process because of a lack of familiarity with higher education and do not have the economic resources needed to access paid college counselors. About 75 percent of the students in the sample reported maintaining a B average or above, and the majority (68 percent) reported having high educational aspirations, such as earning a graduate degree. About 68 percent of the sample were girls and about 75 percent reported they were Hispanic. Approximately half of the sample reported “using lunch tickets,” which is a proxy for subsidized meal eligibility. Finally, approximately 60 percent of the sample was made of up first generation college students.

Intervention Group

The Virtual Student Outreach for College Enrollment (V-SOURCE) is a 15-month college advising program designed to provide low-income students with the information, reminders, and support that higher-income students typically receive more of. The intervention spans March of students’ junior year through summer after students’ senior year. Two V-SOURCE variants were tested in the study. One version of V-Source provided access to a personal advisor (the Complete program) who met with students on-line and via text; the second version provided access to a fully automated advisor (the Milestones program). Both versions provided students with access to the V-SOURCE website, an on-line SAT study program, close to weekly reminders to complete application activities provided via email and texts, and $20 gift cards provides after students completed the following milestones: (1) registered for the SAT, (2) took the SAT, (3) submitted two college applications, and (4) submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on time.

Comparison Group

Comparison services are described as “business as usual” services.

Support for implementation

The study authors collaborated with the EdBoost Education Corporation to generate the V-SOURCE program to reduce its cost and simplify scaling.

 

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