Closing the Opportunity Gap
Rainier Scholars believes that one reason people of color are underrepresented as college graduates is because they do not have the same access to educational advancement opportunities as their peers.
To explore the impact of college preparation on student success, a detailed analysis of Rainier Scholars attending Seattle Public School (SPS) from 2006-2012 was conducted by MGS Consulting with the support of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The research project aimed to:
- Assess Rainier Scholars participants' academic performance for periods both prior and subsequent to their participation in Rainier Scholars, using data from the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) system as an independent proxy for program impacts.
- Compare the academic performance of Rainier Scholars participants with a comparison group of similar students who also are present within the SPS system.
- Compare the performance of Rainier Scholars participants with a well-matched, internal comparison group of students that had applied to be part of the Rainier Scholars program, but were not admitted.
- Rainier Scholars students either outperformed or equaled all comparison group students in terms of average GPA while taking a significantly more complex workload.
- Rainier Scholars students were significantly outperformed all control group students in standardized testing. Rainier Scholars students started out better than the comparison group and maintained their higher performance over time.
- Rainier Scholars students appeared to remain enrolled within the SPS system longer than all comparison group students.
- On average, only 25% of Rainier Scholars students had been tested as eligible for a Spectrum or AP/APP programs by the sixth grade. By seventh grade, close to 100% of Rainier Scholars students had tested into Spectrum or AP/APP programs.
- Rainier Scholars students were taking more honors classes at the commencement of their participation in Rainier Scholars than all comparison group students, (approximately 300% more). From initial participation and in subsequent academic years, the number of honors classes taken by Rainier Scholars students continued to increase relative to the number taken by all comparison group students. For example, for the study's first cohort, the gap between Rainier Scholars students and all comparison groups in number of advanced classes taken grew to approximately 500% by their sixth year in Rainier Scholars.
Access the full study methodology and findings