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A Lottery-Based Experimental Study: Examining the Impact of Early Colleges

By: Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Over the past 9 years, I have been leading a longitudinal, experimental study examining the impact of early college high schools. Small schools that blur the line between high school and college, early colleges are schools that students choose to attend. Assessing the impact of such a model requires some way of accounting for the fact that students who are interested enough to apply are likely different in some way than students who choose not to apply. One way to control for this motivation is to use a lottery to select the students who attend. This case begins with a quick overview of lotteries and the situations in which a lottery-based experimental design is appropriate. It then moves to a discussion of the advantages and limitations of such a design. I walk through the steps used to conduct the study, sharing my experiences in recruiting sites and conducting the lotteries and the pushback and challenges I encountered when interacting with schools around the lottery process. The implications of a lottery-based design for analyses are considered. The case concludes with lessons learned about implementation of lotteries and makes the case that lottery-based experimental studies can be implemented in studies of all sizes and budgets.

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