UC-Irvine spends $7M a year on "fill the pipeline" programs

5/8/2013: The NYT discusses California’s extensive programs to respond to the ban on racially explicit affirmative-action programs for admissions with low SES “fill the pipeline” programs:

The results of California’s efforts offer some measure of satisfaction to supporters and critics alike. Both sides hail the U.C. system’s strides toward economic — and not just racial — diversity; opponents of affirmative action claim that as vindication of their argument that it primarily benefits middle-class minority members. Supporters of race-conscious admissions acknowledge that the system has reversed the initial decline in black and Hispanic enrollment, though they say that is not enough. Whatever the merits of race-blind admissions, gifted poor and minority students are less likely than others to take the right classes to be eligible for college admission, to take the SAT or ACT, to get academic help when they need it, to fill out complex forms properly or to apply to competitive colleges. 

So California’s public universities, and some of their counterparts around the country, have embedded themselves deeply in disadvantaged communities, working with schools, students and parents to identify promising teenagers and get more of them into college. 

It is not enough, university administrators say, to change the way they select students; they must also change the students themselves, and begin to do so long before the time arrives to fill out applications.

This perfectly captures the reasons UO faculty volunteers started the SAIL program in 2007. The story notes that UC-Irvine, President Gottfredson’s old school, now spends $7 million a year on these efforts:

The University of California, Irvine, alone spends more than $7 million a year on that outreach, with a few hundred people working on it — mostly part time, and not always for pay — and reaching into dozens of poor neighborhoods in its region, said Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, director of the university’s Center for Educational Partnerships.

And here’s the sort of story we hear a lot from our SAIL students:

“Do you have to baby-sit your brothers and sisters all the time, or cook for them, or go work with your parents?” Ms. Flores asked a group of students, about half of whom raised their hands. “My mom used to make me go with her to clean houses on the weekends. I hated it. That’s why I went to college.” 

“But that’s what you put on the part of the application that asks for activities and volunteering,” she said. “Because if you don’t tell them, they’ll think you didn’t do anything.”

Fortunately SAIL is a lot cheaper than $7 million, and thanks to two UO economics honors students, we now have good empirical evidence of large increases in college attendance, comparing local HS students who have gone through it with those who have not. (And yes, we test for selection effects.)
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One Response to UC-Irvine spends $7M a year on "fill the pipeline" programs

  1. Awesome0 says:

    If you it was possible to do a placebo test (effects of SAIL on elementary school stuff) then I think your program eval could published in a leading field journal of econ of ed or education policy.

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