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Using Propensity Score Matching to Assess the Intermediate Effects of a Community-Based College Preparation Program

By: Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study examines the research process used to assess the intermediate effects of a community-based college preparation program in a fast growth, high needs exurban school district in Texas. Because it was not possible to randomly assign participants to treatment or control conditions, a nonexperimental design using propensity score matching was applied to compare participating and nonparticipating students on a variety of academic and noncognitive measures both before and after 2 years of programmatic intervention. The findings indicated program participation was associated with higher scores on the state reading assessment and self-reported expectations of college graduation, but did not fully explain the previously documented long-term impact of the program. The case describes the context, purpose, and theoretical framework of the research, along with the research design and method. Particular emphasis is placed on why propensity score matching was applied in this particular study, including some of the advantages, obstacles, and limitations of using this method for research and program evaluation. The case concludes with reflections and lessons learned, including the rewards and challenges of working with schools, districts, and community-based organizations to conduct research for assessing program impact.

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Propensity score matching

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