Early High School Interventions to Increase Students' Access to Post-secondary Education: Experimental Impacts from the Future to Discover Project Reuben Ford, PhD. “From Research to Practice” Symposium, Ottawa 13-14 March 2013 The problem Increasing the number of youth who participate in postsecondary education is an economic imperative (supporting economic growth as population ages) Post-secondary education (PSE) is also an effective means to promote social inclusion and to reduce social and health inequalities PSE access rates could be higher, particularly for young people in key subgroups Lower rates of access could be due to • Lack of information about careers and relative benefits and costs of PSE or inadequate preparation/ability to use information • Anticipated unaffordability of PSE It is rare to be able to identify a program that will achieve a policy objective with certainty Future to Discover tests two interventions separately and in parallel • EYH: Explore Your Horizons Enhanced early career education in Grades 10, 11, and 12 • LA: Learning Accounts Early guarantee of $8,000 grant to pursue PSE for lower-income students EYH (enhanced career education programs) delivers workshops, magazines, Web site EYH has six career education components: 20 workshops – 2 hours after school/evening sessions 1. Career Focusing (G10) – explores career and education options matched to passions and interests 2. Lasting Gifts (G11) – helps parents to understand career development and become “career allies” 3. Future in Focus (G12) – promotes strategies to support students through transitions 4. Post-secondary Ambassadors (G10-G12) – connect with PSE students to better understand career and education planning 5. F2D Magazine (G10-G12) – 6 issues sent to home 6. Web site for EYH students only (G10-G12) LA provides an early guarantee of student aid to lower-income families New Brunswick families with below median income (taken from both parents’ tax returns) Account grows over Grades 10-12 Total $8,000 grant available Account closes at end of 3rd post-secondary year Early promise of aid: enter Grade 10 knowing grant available No obligation to apply for loans Random samples of Grade 9 students randomly assigned: 4,400 in NB and 1,000 in MB Grade 9 students in 51 schools New Brunswick Learning Accounts ineligible, and Manitoba participants New Brunswick Learning Accounts eligible Random Assignment Comparison Group Learning Accounts Random Assignment Explore Your Horizons + Learning Accounts Explore Your Horizons Explore Your Horizons Comparison group The interventions were implemented as intended: some non-take up Three key findings: Strong delivery fidelity to both program models. EYH participation declined from Grade 10 through Grade 12. Survey in Grade 12 found low awareness among LA holders of their status. Higher among Francophone students. Manitoba EYH FGF Manitoba EYH LILE Manitoba EYH ALL New Brunswick Anglophone EYH only FGF New Brunswick Anglophone EYH only LILE New Brunswick Anglophone EYH only ALL New Brunswick Francophone EYH only FGF New Brunswick Francophone EYH only LILE New Brunswick Francophone EYH only ALL New Brunswick Anglophone EYH&LA FGF New Brunswick Anglophone EYH&LA LILE New Brunswick Anglophone EYH&LA ALL New Brunswick Francophone EYH&LA FGF New Brunswick Francophone EYH&LA LILE New Brunswick Francophone EYH&LA ALL 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% % attended 16-20 sessions (76-100%) Average number of sessions attended as % of all sessions % attended any session NB Anglophone students in lower-income families: interventions increased demand for education NB Francophone students in lower-income families: interventions increased demand for education Manitoba students: EYH had few impacts on increasing demand for education Take aways Interventions can make a difference on behaviour • Youth can be sensitive to quite modest interventions to make potentially major changes in their lives Interventions could have larger impacts if: • Steps taken to increase awareness of Learning Accounts • EYH sessions make better use of resources in the current system Variations in impact should be expected from one population to another Matching program to target groups as closely as possible would increase cost efficiency of the program. Cannot ignore supply Take aways Career Education (EYH) should remain an important element of future interventions. Relying solely on fiscal incentives (LA) to promote PSE access may lead to sub-optimal results.