The Carolina Works Study aims to increase student persistence across 10 North Carolina community colleges. This rigorous study is evaluating whether data-informed proactive success coaching has a positive and significant impact on students' retention and credential completion rates.
Carolina Works is funded through a First in the World (FITW) grant, a Department of Education program managed through the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). FITW aims to support, develop, test, and replicate innovative solutions to address persistence and other challenges affecting student outcomes. The Carolina Works Validation Study, led by Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), is one of only two validation grants awarded in 2015 by the Department of Education’s FITW Program.
- Validate success
coaching as an effective intervention for retention and credential completion.
- Identify best practice
characteristics of success coaching for adaptation by other colleges statewide
- Through a return on
investment analysis, demonstrate that success coaching is a sustainable
JFF provides strategic guidance on the implementation of success coaching, including developing project plans, designing technical assistance, facilitating access to national experts, and identifying resources for colleges and coaches. JFF supports colleges in developing sustainability plans and works with project leadership to scale success coaching beyond the 10 colleges. JFF also helps amplify project learnings through its national networks.
Each college has hired at least one dedicated, professional success coach to work with students in the treatment group. Coaches use predictive analytics, early alerts, and other student data to proactively connect with students and address barriers to success, through Aviso’s advising and retention software.
- Proactively reach out
- Empower students to
choose the right path toward success
- Serve as the
relationship manager between the student and the institution
- Use student data to
identify and neutralize obstacles and challenges
- Help students set goals,
manage their time, and negotiate life challenges related to work and family—not just school
Proactive success coaching has been proven in other contexts
to remove academic barriers leading to increases in persistence and completion
rates (Bettinger & Baker, 2014). Since 2016, the
Carolina Works project has worked to validate these findings, examining whether or not
success coaching has a positive and significant impact on community college
students' retention and credential completion rates compared to the "business as
usual" condition. Carolina Works is gathering evidence through a
randomized controlled trial (RCT), meeting the What Works Clearinghouse
standard—without reservations—with the final results available in 2020. Approximately 15,000 students from 10
North Carolina community colleges are involved in this study. Key outcomes that
are being measured are first- to second-semester retention, third-term
retention, and credential completion between 2016 and 2020 (duration of study