August 3, 2018
This study contributes to the knowledge base about strategies for helping disconnected youth re-engage with schooling. The study presents findings of a rigorous impact evaluation of the Good Shepherd Services (GSS) Transfer School Model that is grounded in developmental theory positing that social and emotional factors are essential to academic learning and achievement. The full-day, year-round model includes intensive support services and youth development practices with personalized, standards-based instruction. The outcome evaluation assessed the extent to which the GSS model as implemented was meeting its objectives, and estimated the intervention impacts on intended student outcomes based on treatment-comparison contrasts. Outcome study hypotheses: students in the GSS transfer schools will demonstrate better academic outcomes, better school-day attendance, and better behavioral outcomes than students in the comparison group. The outcome evaluation was conducted in New York City public schools and used a rigorous quasi-experimental design to compare outcomes for students enrolled at two GSS transfer schools to outcomes for equivalent comparison groups matched based on important baseline characteristics. The study participants were over-aged and under-credited urban high school students. GSS students in the study were primarily Hispanic and from low-income families, and with a history of truancy. Comparison students were drawn from students enrolled in 11 other Brooklyn transfer schools not affiliated with GSS. These schools have a similar core educational program but may vary in practices such as admissions criteria and partnership roles and responsibilities. The outcome evaluation was conducted from 2011 through 2015 and used archival school records. In addition, to gain insight into how social and emotional factors might influence outcomes, the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP), a validated survey developed by the Search Institute, was administered to incoming GSS students before the start and at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Results from the impact evaluation indicate that, compared to well-matched groups of over-age, under-credited students attending other transfer schools, the GSS transfer school model has a significant positive impact on graduation as well as the intermediate outcomes of credit attainment and school attendance. In addition, exploratory subgroup analyses indicate that female GSS students and students who entered the transfer schools with less than 11 credits have a significantly higher probability of graduating than the comparison students. Analysis of DAP data indicate that GSS students significantly increased their constructive use of time. Regression analyses further showed a significant association between constructive use of time and academic progress as measured by credit accumulation. Study results indicate the effectiveness of the GSS Transfer School Model in supporting students who are over-age and under-credited. Although the absence of a comparison group for the DAP analysis limited an assessment of the impact of the GSS model on social and emotional changes, the results confirmed the relationship between assets and academic performance, as well as participation in extracurricular activities and civic engagement. Data from the study are displayed in 22 figures and one table. The evaluation design and methods, comparison group and regression analyses, and DAP data are presented in technical appendices.