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Success Boston: Evaluating Transition Coaching for College Success


  • Does the college transition program Success Boston Coaching work?
  • Abt measured college persistence, achievement and financial aid filing among participants and similar students.
  • The results demonstrated that the program is having many of the desired effects.
The Challenge

In 2008, only 35 percent of Boston public school graduates who had enrolled in college had completed a post-secondary certificate within seven years of graduation. To improve those stats, the Boston Foundation, the city of Boston, Boston Public Schools, local nonprofits and 37 institutions of higher education implemented a four-part  strategy, Success Boston, focused on getting ready, getting in, getting through and getting connected. A core component of the initiative is transition coaching to support students in their first two years of college.

The Approach

Abt evaluated the transition coaching program to see if it works. We’re following 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 high-school grads to examine their college success. The study uses a quasi-experimental design that matched Success Boston students to similar students who did not participate. Matches were made between similar high schools and identical college settings and were statistically equivalent on characteristics such as achievement, gender and race. The study measures persistence, achievement and financial aid and eventually will measure completion.

The Results

The results demonstrated that the program is having the desired effects. The study will continue to monitor students’ progress over the next several years, culminating in a 2020 report on impacts five and six years after high school graduation. That report will help address questions about whether the positive impacts persist and whether Success Boston has continued to progress toward its central goal: at least 70 percent of Boston public school college entrants earning college credentials.


The Story of Scaling Up: Highlights and Interim Report on the Impact of Success Boston’s Coaching for Completion - October 2019

The Power of Coaching: Highlights from the Interim Report on the Impact of Success Boston's Transition Coaching on College Success – March 2017

Progress Toward Success Boston's College Completion Goals for Graduates of the Boston Public Schools – June 2016

Boston Globe: College Graduation Rates for Boston Students are Up, But That’s Not the Whole Picture