Study of Chicago Scholars Program Will Measure Impact and Outline Cost to Replicate

Second cohort representing the class of 2028 enters five-year study this spring

In September 2021, Chapin Hall was awarded a $2 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Research (NCER) to conduct a five-year randomized controlled study of Chicago Scholars, the largest college access and success program in Chicago. The program has worked with more than 5,000 first-generation and low-income students, providing academic support and leadership skills as they apply to and attend leading colleges and universities.

Working with Chicago Scholars leadership, Chapin Hall experts designed the study to measure two primary outcomes: 1) college enrollment and student persistence during college and 2) the quality of colleges that students enroll in and each college’s track record for graduating similar students. Participating students, who all hail from Chicago Public Schools, were divided into two cohorts based on their high school graduation year.

The first cohort of study participants (the class of 2027) launched in the spring of 2022 and the second cohort (the class of 2028) joins the study in spring 2023. All Chicago Scholars students are provided with guidance and resources throughout the college application process, and then given support during the transition and throughout their college experience.

Chicago Scholars attend a college transition retreat and are paired with peer and professional adult mentors. Each Chicago Scholar has a dedicated College Success team member who maintains regular contact and completes check-ins, and the students are offered workshops on financial planning, navigating independent schedules and other challenges. To ensure continuity of education, Chicago Scholars have access to gap funding, vouchers, and grants to cover costs related to both emergencies as well as research and internship opportunities.

A major component of the program is career and leadership development to ensure successful transitions into the workforce. Scholars get one-on-one coaching sessions, assistance with writing resumes and preparing for interviews and opportunities for job shadowing.

The Chapin Hall team, including Dr. Robert Goerge, Dr. Leah GjertsonDr. Nick Mader and Reiko Kakuyama-Villaber, is also designing a cost-effectiveness analysis to assess the feasibility of launching the same model in other cities, taking into account how costs may differ in districts of varying sizes and public versus private program structures.

Chapin Hall experts have significant experience linking individual-level data across human service systems and are national experts in the use of administrative data. For this study, they will use information from four major sources: the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) database that tracks student performance from the beginning of their enrollment in CPS; the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), that contains national information about college enrollment, persistence and completion; and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), that includes information about college and university graduation rates and accompanying demographic information; and a survey gathering information about student receipt of college access and support services Additional information on study design is available here.

For more information on this project, please contact Dr. Leah Gjertson.