Absence of conflict of interest
This study was conducted by staff from Abt Associates, which administers CLEAR. The review of this study was conducted by ICF Incorporated, which also administers CLEAR and is trained in applying the CLEAR causal evidence guidelines.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of Year Up on education and earnings outcomes. The authors investigated similar research questions for other programs, the profiles of which can be found here.
- The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of the Year Up program on education outcomes. Using participant surveys, administrative records, and the National Directory of New Hires data, the authors conducted a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment and control group members.
- The study found that Year Up participants were significantly more likely than control participants to have earned one or more credential(s), earned more credits, and had higher average quarterly earnings.
- This study receives a high evidence rating for the earnings outcomes. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Year Up program and not to other factors. However, this study receives a low evidence rating for the education outcomes. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Year Up program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
Features of the Intervention
Year Up targeted and served low-income young adults aged 18 to 24 who had completed high school or an equivalent credential but who had low occupational skills. The program focused on growing employment sectors (e.g., information technology) and provided a 21-week occupational skills course followed by a six-month internship. Instruction incorporated active learning strategies, and was offered alongside advising, mentoring, employment assistance, and a weekly stipend.
Features of the Study
This study was part of the multi-program Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation. The PACE evaluation was intended to address the gap in research on the effectiveness of career pathways programs, or programs providing postsecondary training or education in growing employment sectors. This profile focuses on Year Up.
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of Year Up across eight sites. Of the 2,544 participants who enrolled in the study during 2013 and 2014, 1,669 were randomly assigned to Year Up (treatment group) and 875 were assigned to the control group. Control group members could not receive Year Up services but could choose to participate in other employment services within the community. The majority of the study sample was male (59 percent) and identified as Black/African American (54 percent), with 31 percent of participants identifying as Hispanic/Latino. Just over half of the sample (52 percent) had a high school degree or equivalency credential but no further training or education. The data for the credits earned and credential receipt outcomes were drawn from the PACE 18-month survey and administrative records, while quarterly earnings were drawn from the National Directory of New Hires. The authors used a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment group with those of the control group.
Participating Study Sites
- Atlanta, GA
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Washington, DC metro area
- New York, NY
- Providence, RI
- San Francisco, CA metro area
- Seattle, WA
Education and skills gains
- The study found that 37 percent of treatment participants earned one or more credential(s), compared to 16 percent of control participants. This difference was statistically significant.
- The study also found that treatment participants earned an average of 12.2 credits by follow-up, compared to an average of 8.2 credits for control participants. This difference was statistically significant.
Earnings and wages
- The study found that over the sixth and seventh quarter following randomization, treatment participants’ average earnings were $5,454, compared to the average earnings of $3,559 for control participants. This difference was statistically significant.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Although the study design was a randomized controlled trial, the study had high attrition for the education outcomes and was treated as a nonexperimental design for this review. The authors did not control for the required differences between the groups at baseline as outlined in the protocol. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not Year Up—could explain any observed differences in education outcomes.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high for the earnings outcomes, because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Year Up, and not to other factors. However, the quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low for the education outcomes, because it was a randomized controlled trial with high attrition and the authors did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before program participation. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Year Up; other factors are likely to have contributed.