Kayla Webley’s May 9 article (“We’re Doing a Lousy Job of Getting Poor Kids to College”) unfortunately compounds the damage wrought by Cecilia Rouse and Ron Haskins in their recent policy brief, “Time for a Change: A New Federal Strategy to Prepare Disadvantaged Students for College.”
Rouse and Haskins’ proposal to consolidate federally-funded college access and success programs known as TRIO and GEAR UP primarily rests on their argument that the programs have been shown to be ineffective. It’s shocking to us—and to many leading education researchers— that when reviewing one of the TRIO programs, Upward Bound, they cite the Mathematica Policy Research study that has been disavowed as “seriously flawed” by the very Department of Education staff assigned to monitor it. More specifically, I am particularly concerned that in this era of “contract research,” decision-makers are allowed to pick and choose evaluations that make a certain point – no matter how erroneous the methods are.
Upward Bound has helped hundreds of thousands of students go on to earn bachelor’s degrees, and the program’s success is well-documented each year in government reports. To ignore the positive outcomes is a travesty to all low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities and the educators who serve them.
Arnold L. Mitchem
President, Council for Opportunity in Education
Arnold Mitchem, Washington, D.C.