Thursday, November 17, 2016

Upward Bound at 50: Reporting on Implementation Practices Today

Launched in 1965, Upward Bound is one of the flagship federal programs designed to increase college access for low-income or potential first-generation college students. The legislation that created Upward Bound prescribes seven core services to be offered to students—advising, tutoring, academic coursework, college exposure, college entrance exam preparation, college application assistance, and financial aid application assistance.

A new study, released today (Nov. 17), examines the approaches that Upward Bound projects use to provide core program services based on a survey of 819 regular project directors. Key findings include:

  • There was a dominant approach to how projects focused activities in four of the seven core services: At least half of projects reported spending the most time with students by: (1) offering coursework as supplemental (non-credit) classes, (2) helping with homework for tutoring, (3) working with students to research colleges using guidebooks or online tools for college exposure, and (4) helping students complete actual college applications for application assistance;
  • When, where, and how services were delivered differed across service areas: There was no dominant approach to when services were offered except for tutoring, which was typically available after school. Services were most commonly provided at the host institution or at students' high school, and were delivered either in groups or one-on-one, depending on the service; and
  • The focus and delivery of services varied more by type of host institution (4-year, 2-year, and non-higher education) and urbanicity than by other project characteristics examined: There were few substantive differences in the share of projects that reported using each approach by project size (number of students served), per-student funding, and whether the host institution was a Minority-Serving Institution.

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