City Year and its Diplomas Now partners have collaborated with our nation’s most challenged middle and high schools through a multi-year, whole school improvement model designed to support student and school success, increase graduation rates and promote college readiness.
Diplomas Now was founded in 2008 by three organizations: Talent Development Secondary at Johns Hopkins University, which provides curriculum and instruction support to teachers; City Year, which provides holistic academic, social and emotional supports at the student, classroom and school-wide levels; and Communities In Schools, which provides case management support to students with the highest needs.
Diplomas Now partners each bring specialized, research-based resources that are informed by whole school improvement practices and an “early warning system” that identifies students who are off track in attendance, behavior and course performance, and who research has found are most at risk for dropping out of school. The model builds additional capacity in schools to help students get back on track to academic success and graduation.
City Year is using what we are learning from the Diplomas Now work to inform and improve our Whole School Whole Child services and to share these insights more broadly.
Investing in Innovation (i3) Study
In 2010, Diplomas Now received a $30 million Investing in Innovation (i3) validation grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand the program’s reach across the country. The multi-year grant also supports one of the largest randomized control studies ever conducted of a secondary school model, led by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization. The PepsiCo Foundation, Diplomas Now’s founding private sector investor, provided $11 million to support the study.
Since the Diplomas Now study launched, MDRC has released three reports. The first two reports analyzed implementation while the third offered early impact results. The final report on impact results will be released in 2019.
Diplomas Now i3 Reports and Media Coverage
Reflections on a Decade-Long Quest to Make Education Evidence-Based
Bob Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center and co-founder of Diplomas Now, on the early impact results from MDRC’s on-going, independent evaluation and randomized field trial of the Diplomas Now mode.
Diplomas Now i3 Project: Early Monitoring Protects At-Risk Students. Education Week, Inside School Research Blog
In efforts to keep kids on track to graduate, a new evaluation of the Diplomas Now intervention suggests an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Addressing Early Warning Indicators: Interim Impact Findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Evaluation of Diplomas Now. MDRC (2016)
This most recent report demonstrated that schools with Diplomas Now partners saw a positive, statistically significant impact on the percentage of sixth and ninth graders exhibiting no early warning indicators as compared to similar schools without Diplomas Now. To learn more and to download the full study, visit our page on Evidence of City Year's Impact.
This report, which features findings from the second year of the Diplomas Now randomized control trial, focuses on model implementation and contrasts between implementing and non-implementing schools.
Laying Tracks to Graduation: The First Year of Implementing Diplomas Now. MDRC (2014)
This report introduces Diplomas Now and the associated evaluation, describing the reform model, the research design, and the participating schools and districts. The report also shares first-year implementation fidelity findings, and discusses collaboration among the Diplomas Now partners and between those partners and schools.
Other Diplomas Now Resources
Findings from the First Decade and What’s Next. Diplomas Now (2016)
How an evidence-based, collaborative, whole-school improvement model, leveraging AmeriCorps members and early warning systems, can accelerate student and school success in the highest-need schools.