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Making Progress: Longitudinal Outcomes Evaluation of the Say Yes to Education Program Kindergarten – 5th Grade

Say Yes to Education (SYTE) is a scholarship guarantee program that pledges to young children from disadvantaged backgrounds a fully paid, post-secondary education along with academic and social supports that follow children and their families throughout their elementary and high school careers. Since its inception in 1987, the SYTE program has ‘adopted’ cohorts of students in Philadelphia, Hartford, CT, Cambridge, MA, and New York City. Research for Action (RFA) has conducted two evaluations of the Philadelphia SYTE chapter. This report shares the results of the second evaluation conducted in partnership with ANALYTICA, Inc. The evaluation used propensity score matching to equate SYTE students with a comparison group in kindergarten and looked at academic and behavioral outcomes in first, second, third fourth and fifth grades. The evaluation defined impact according to educationally meaningful program effect sizes (d =.25). Results showed that most SYTE students were on track to graduate-few showed early warning signs of dropping out although their academic performance on standardized tests in fifth grade was worriesome. The group performed better than a comparison group, however, in some subjects each year although there were no differences in attendance or behavioral indicators in most years. Girls performed outperformed the comparison group each year in multiple subject areas on standardized tests, most notably science, while boys only outperformed the comparison group twice; 2nd grade spelling and 5th grade math. SYTE students were also more likely to stay in the school district of Philadelphia, have been identified for receiving special education services and services for giftedness and had fewer unexcused absences (though more excused absences) suggesting that parents were communicating with the school when the child was absent. There were several limitations to the study most notably, the small sample size, attrition of the comparison group from the SDP and missing data in the files obtained from the SDP. The report discusses ways in which these limitations were handled and implications for future research.