Transfer and Completion

Persistence by semester over three years: ASAP

Among students with developmental need, percentage who were enrolled in each semester over three years

What Is Measured?

The percentage of students who were enrolled at any City University of New York (CUNY) college during each semester of the tracking period

Who Is Counted?

Students enrolled during spring 2010 or fall 2010 at three CUNY community colleges who were in need of developmental education, among other eligibility requirements. Students were randomly assigned to either the ASAP group or the control group.

What It Tells Us

Students participating in ASAP had higher percentages of enrollment in each semester than did students in the control group, indicating that students participating in ASAP have higher rates of persistence over terms than students who do not participate. After six semesters, for example, 46 percent of ASAP participants were enrolled, compared with 41 percent of students in the control group.

Why It's Important

Persistence generally refers to the duration of enrollment maintained by students as they pursue a degree or transfer, whether from term-to-term or year-to-year. Some indicators of persistence, such as the one-year persistence rate reported by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, only count students who remain enrolled at the community college where they first enrolled, while sources such as the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study also measure persistence for students who transfer institutions. Persistence to the second year appears to be the most pivotal indicator of success, since community college students are more likely to drop out in their first year than during any of the next five years. Since most associate degree and transfer programs require the equivalent of two years of full-time enrollment, and longer for part-time enrollment, persistence to the second year and beyond is essential for many students to achieve their goals.

About the Data

The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is a program operated by CUNY that is designed to help more students graduate and graduate more quickly, by providing them with student services, financial supports, and other services for up to three years. These data come from an evaluation study of the program conducted by MDRC. Students were randomly assigned to the program group or the control group in two cohorts: one just before the spring 2010 semester and one before the fall 2010 semester. Their outcomes were tracked for three years afterward.

The three CUNY community colleges included in the study were Borough of Manhattan Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and LaGuardia Community College.

Eligibility requirements for the study: students who had family income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level or were eligible for a Pell Grant (or both), needed one or two developmental courses (for math, reading, or writing), had previously earned 12 credits or fewer, were New York City residents, were willing to attend college full time, and were in an ASAP-eligible major.

ASAP requires treatment group students to attend college full time and encourages them to take developmental courses early and to graduate within three years. It also provides many other resources including advisement, career services, tutoring, linked courses, goal-setting and study skills, tuition waivers, MetroCards and use of textbooks.

Data Source

Scrivener, S., Weiss, M.J., Ratledge, A., Rudd, T., Sommo, C., and Fresques, H. (2015, February). Doubling Graduation Rates: Three-Year Effects of CUNY's Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students. New York: MDRC.