News: Data, Research & Evaluation

Findings in 5 Sentences: 4-Year Enrollment Matters, Promotion Power, and More

Monday, June 8, 2020  
Posted by: Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation
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The five findings in five sentences was so popular the first time that it’s back for another round! Condensing these reports into a sentence each obviously doesn’t do them justice, so please take a deeper dive into those that pique your interest. As a teaser, this article commits to giving you what you need to know in just five sentences. Yes, really.

  • The newly released Indicators of Higher Education Equity report’s useful and voluminous collection of metrics is good for grant proposal background sections and benchmarking progress, and it shows a few equity gaps making progress toward closing, although a number of the disheartening trends I highlighted last year still persist.
  • Mathematica controls for student and school characteristics to examine the “promotion power” of Louisiana high schools (a similar study is underway in D.C.) to improve students’ postsecondary and income outcomes and finds that moving a student from an average school to one in the 95th percentile yields massive returns.
  • A text message re-enrollment campaign across five Florida community colleges improved re-enrollment by 1.5 percentage points, but only when accompanied by a three-credit course waiver; “information-only” nudges did not have a statistically significant effect in this RCT.
  • Using multiple measures (rather than one test score) helped identify community college applicants who might be prepared for regular coursework instead of remedial classes, and those students randomly selected to take regular English coursework were more likely to enroll than those assigned to remedial classes.
  • New causal evidence in a quasi-experimental design from Georgia using minimum SAT thresholds for admission to four-year universities shows substantial benefits to students and taxpayers.

Have a question or want to talk through some of the above? Need to flag a report or study for a future edition of this series? Drop me a line at I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading!