Fulfilling The Pittsburgh Promise®

Early Progress of Pittsburgh's Postsecondary Scholarship Program

by Gabriella C. Gonzalez, Robert Bozick, Shannah Tharp-Gilliam, Andrea Phillips


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This report presents a detailed assessment of the extent to which The Pittsburgh Promise — a postsecondary education scholarship intended to remedy the area's population decline, foster high school completion and college readiness among Pittsburgh district students, and prepare a capable and energetic workforce for the city — has met its goals to date and offers recommendations for improving the program's short- and long-term effectiveness. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to address questions concerning (1) changes in enrollment in PPS district (traditional and charter) schools, (2) the effect of The Promise on parents' decisions to send their children to district schools, (3) its effect on students' attitudes toward completing high school and going on to postsecondary education, (4) changes in rates of enrollment and persistence in postsecondary institutions since the inception of The Promise, and (5) what can be learned from progress to date to inform future improvements. The results of the analyses are synthesized to develop a conceptual model that Promise administrators can use to ensure continual improvements and to evaluate the extent to which the program is meeting its goals in the coming years.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Study Framework, Data Sources, and Analytic Approach

  • Chapter Three

    The Context of The Promise's Inception: A Description of PPS Education Initiatives from 2005-2006 Through 2009-2010

  • Chapter Four

    Trends in Enrollment and The Role of The Promise in Parents' Decisions to Enroll Their Children in PPS

  • Chapter Five

    How The Promise Factors into Students' Attitudes and Behaviors

  • Chapter Six

    Rates of Enrollment and Persistence in Postsecondary Education Institutions

  • Chapter Seven

    Findings and Recommendations

  • Chapter Eight

    Looking to the Future

  • Appendix A

    Promise-Type Scholarship Programs Across the United States

  • Appendix B

    Description of PPS Enrollment Data

  • Appendix C

    Parent Survey Technical Notes

  • Appendix D

    Student Focus Group Technical Notes

  • Appendix E

    Methodology and Elaborated Results for PPS District Enrollment and Parent Survey Analyses

  • Appendix F

    Data Used, Methodology, and Elaborated Findings of Postsecondary Education Analyses

This research was conducted by RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation. The research was sponsored by The Pittsburgh Promise®.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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