Program

Sep 17, 2009
OVERVIEW

Project ACCEL is a
dropout prevention program designed for middle school students. Serving students
in grades 6 and 7 who are behind in their academic grade level, Project ACCEL is
an intensive program providing a school-within-a-school setting, which includes
an accelerated curriculum, attendance monitoring, family outreach, team
teaching, counseling, as well as regular school activities. A program evaluation
found no impacts on the dropout rate, math grades, reading test scores, and math
test scores. There were also no impacts on self-esteem, feelings of control, and
certainty of completing high school.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population:
Middle school students behind in their
academic grade level.

Project ACCEL was
evaluated as part of the Accelerated Middle Schools, a dropout prevention
program for middle school students. Serving students in grades 6 and 7 who are
behind in their academic grade level, Project ACCEL is an intensive program
providing a school-within-a-school setting, which includes an accelerated
curriculum, team teaching and counseling, attendance monitoring, family
outreach, and regular school activities. Participants attend regular middle
schools and are able to interact with other students during the school day.
Costs associated with implementing this program were $382 per student per month.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Dynarski M,
Gleason P, Rangarajan A, Wood R. (1998). Impacts of Dropout Prevention Programs,
Final Report. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Evaluated population:
The study sample included 620 students in
grades 6 and 7 who were behind in their academic grade level. Among the
treatment group, 54% were female and 77% were black. Additionally, 15% had a
mother who did not complete high school while 30% had a mother with at least
some college education, and 31% did not know; more than three-quarters of the
treatment group (80%) were below their grade level. These schools are located in
Newark, NJ.

Approach:
Students were randomly assigned to the Project ACCEL program (n=392) or control
group (n=228). Students assigned the control group were permitted to participate
in other academic programs or services. Students were assessed at baseline as
well as approximately 18 and 30 months later. (The first cohort was followed for
three years while the second cohort was followed for two years; assessments were
usually conducted at the end of a school year.) Outcomes assessed, through
self-reports and school records, included: school attendance, academic grades,
self-esteem, educational aspirations, disciplinary problems, parental
involvement in school activities, reading and TV watching, employment history,
substance use, and pregnancy. Students also completed survey questions about
student and parent characteristics, including age, race, parent’s educational
attainment and employment status, and receipt of public assistance. The
incremental cost for treatment group services was $382 per student per month in
the first year after random assignment.

Results:
There were no impacts on the dropout rate,
math grades, reading test scores, math test scores, self-esteem, feelings of
control, and certainty of completing high school. Additionally, there were no
impacts on percentage of students attending school, school absences,
self-reported grades, TV watching, employment, marijuana consumption, pregnancy,
and aspirations to attend graduate school. However, there was a marginal
positive impact on grade promotion, while there were marginal negative impacts
on the number of days absent and English grades.

While there were no overall impacts on
disciplinary problems, there was a marginal positive impact among treatment
group students, compared with control group students, on being sent to the
office for doing something wrong within the Year 3 cohort; there were no impacts
on the Year 2 cohort. There was a marginal negative impact, however, among
treatment group students, compared with control group students, on being sent to
the office because of school work within the Year 3 cohort; there were no
impacts within the Year 2 cohort. There was a marginal negative impact among the
treatment group, compared with the control group, on having aspirations of
graduating from college within the Year 2 cohort; there were no impacts within
the Year 3 cohort.

Regarding parental involvement in school
activities, there was a marginal negative impact on the treatment group’s
parents less likely to attend a school event within the Year 2 cohort; there was
no impact within the Year 3 cohort. Additionally, there was a marginal negative
impact on parents visiting classes within the Year 3 cohort, while there was no
impact within the Year 2 cohort. There was a marginal negative impact of reading
for fun among the Year 2 cohort, but no impact among the Year 3 cohort. There
was also a marginal negative impact on recent alcohol consumption among the Year
2 cohort, while a marginal positive impact on recent alcohol consumption among
the Year 3 cohort.

The authors suggest
the findings do not indicate the program had no effects, only that program
services had no impacts relative to whatever services were received by members
of the control group.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Dynarski M, Gleason
P, Rangarajan A, Wood R. (1998). Impacts of Dropout Prevention Programs, Final
Report. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

For more
information about the Accelerated Middle Schools program, please visit: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/WWC_AccelMiddleSch_070808.pdf

KEYWORDS:
Adolescents (12-17), Middle School, School-based, Black/African American, Teen
Pregnancy, Self-Esteem, Academic Achievement, High School Completion, Cost

Program
information last updated 9/17/09

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