How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. High School Nongraduates

12/01/2001

In all three HCD programs a majority of high school nongraduate sample members participated in basic education, including GED preparation classes, and the degree to which these programs increased receipt of a high school diploma or GED certificate relative to control group levels is a key indicator of the relative success of the basic education component of these programs. As shown in Table 3.5, across all sites from 3 to 17 percent of all control group members in this subgroup received a high school diploma or GED during the follow-up period. All three HCD programs increased program group members' receipt of this credential. The largest impact  11 percentage points  occurred in the Riverside HCD program, where nearly 20 percent of nongraduate program group members received this credential over the follow-up period. The Atlanta and Grand Rapids HCD programs had slightly smaller impacts, 7 and 9 percentage points, respectively. While the Atlanta HCD program had a moderate impact on this measure, absolute levels of degree receipt were quite low in this program for both program and control group members.

Table 3.5
Five-Year Impacts on Education and Training Credentials for Sample Members Without a High School Diploma or GED at Random Assignment
Site and Program Sample Size Program Group (%) Control Group (%) Difference (Impact) Percentage Change (%)
Received a high school diploma or GED
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 407 4.1 3.0 1.2 39.0
Atlanta Human Capital Development 437 10.0 3.0 7.1*** 237.6
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 434 15.4 13.1 2.3 17.5
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 468 22.5 13.1 9.4*** 71.4
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 657 5.9 5.9 0.1 0.9
Riverside Human Capital Development 778 17.0 5.9 11.1*** 188.5
Portland 163 25.9 16.8 9.1 54.2
Received a trade license or certificate
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 407 5.3 5.1 0.2 4.0
Atlanta Human Capital Development 437 6.0 5.1 0.9 17.1
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 434 7.3 9.7 -2.4 -24.6
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 468 9.7 9.7 0.0 0.4
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 657 11.7 10.7 1.0 9.4
Riverside Human Capital Development 778 11.6 10.7 0.9 8.5
Portland 163 16.6 4.4 12.2** 277.5
Received a high school diploma or GED and a second education or training credential
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 407 1.3 1.1 0.2 20.3
Atlanta Human Capital Development 437 3.1 1.1 2.0 184.9
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 434 2.6 3.6 -1.0 -28.0
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 468 4.2 3.6 0.6 16.5
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 657 1.8 2.5 -0.6 -26.2
Riverside Human Capital Development 778 3.4 2.5 1.0 38.5
Portland 163 8.4 0.3 8.1** 3171.6
SOURCE:  MDRC calculations from the Five-Year Client Survey.
NOTES:  See Appendix A.2.

Absolute levels of high school diploma and GED receipt were substantially lower for program group members in the three LFA programs than in the HCD programs, and none of the LFA programs significantly increased any measure of degree receipt for high school nongraduates.

The Portland program had the most noteworthy effects on degree attainment for nongraduates 25 percent of nongraduate program group members received a high school diploma or GED over the follow-up period, and the program produced an increase, though one above the standard cutoff used in this report for statistical significance, of 9 percentage points on the measure.(14) The program also had a large impact on the receipt of a trade license or certificate, and for this subgroup it was the only program to have such an effect. This finding is somewhat surprising given that the program did not have a statistically significant five-year impact on vocational training for nongraduates (see Section V). There are several possible explanations: The program may have increased the likelihood that program group members enrolled in training programs offering trade licenses or certificates rather than nondegree programs, while not necessarily increasing participation in training programs overall. The program also may have increased the likelihood that individuals completed credential-offering programs. Finally, it is possible that impacts on participation in training found at the two-year follow-up point drove this impact on trade license receipt.(15) The most notable finding on degree receipt in this program, however, is that it had a substantial impact on the percentage of high school nongraduate sample members who attained both a GED certificate or a high school diploma and a second education or training credential (such as a trade license or college degree) over the follow-up period. Nonexperimental research conducted as part of the NEWWS Evaluation has found that high school nongraduate participants in adult education have substantially stronger improvements in longer-term earnings and self-sufficiency if they also participate in skills training or college, making the Portland impact on this measure a particularly promising finding.(16)