MDRC’s Applying the Evidence project is a partnership with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (Minnesota State) to expand the implementation of evidence-based student success strategies across the Minnesota State system, which currently includes 30 community colleges and seven universities.
In partnership with system-level leaders from Minnesota State, MDRC provided an overview of findings from research on various postsecondary education programs and policies and provided technical assistance through in-person and virtual workshops for campus leaders, faculty, and staff.
The project, which ran from May 2019 through June 2021, focused on three strategies:
- Using multiple measures assessment for accurate course placement;
- Supporting student belonging with improved policies and communications about Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP); and
- Addressing equity gaps in completion through comprehensive student support programs.
All three strategies are critical to the postsecondary student journey and were selected based on the priorities and interests of Minnesota State.
Applying the Evidence is a timely effort. Higher education research has identified several strategies that can improve outcomes for underserved populations, including students from low-income families and historically underrepresented students of color. However, to meaningfully improve student success, postsecondary institutions must implement successful programs with fidelity to the proven models and at scale. In partnering on Applying the Evidence, MDRC provided Minnesota State with not only research information, but also guidance and technical assistance for implementation of evidence-based strategies. Lessons from this project can help other postsecondary systems and individual colleges to implement or scale proven strategies to improve student success.