About The Study

Like most major American cities, Chicago is battling against significant high school dropout rates and violence. The University of Chicago is investigating the most effective way to help disadvantaged male youth in the Chicago Public Schools, focusing on social-cognitive skill development and individualized academic remediation (tutoring) alone and in combination.

Read these articles from the following newspapers about our partnership with the University of Chicago: New York Times,  Chicago Sun-Times,  DNAinfo Chicago

Match-style Tutoring – High-dosage Academic Remediation

Match Education operates a growing portfolio of high performing charter schools and has been using a full-time tutoring model for over 8 years with tremendous success. Our schools are rated among the top 100 charter schools in the United States by the Washington Post and the U.S News and World Report and among the top 10 charter schools in the United States by the U.S. Department of Education.  In additional, Match has seen significant student growth from other Charter schools who have replicated their full time tutoring model in their schools, and in various small pilot programs in Boston.

In 2010 Match joined Roland Fryer in a large non-experimental turnaround project in the Houston Independent School District in Texas. Match recruited trained and oversaw the deployment of 260 tutors for 3000 students in 9 schools.  Fryer’s evaluation of the Apollo 20 program showed that intensive daily mathematics tutoring boosted academic achievement by 0.6 or 0.7 standard deviations in one year. To put this magnitude in perspective, 0.6 or 0.7 standard deviations is about the size of the black-white test score gap, or approximately the equivalent of two to four years’ worth of learning.

Because the intervention wasn’t structured as an experiment, there is some uncertainty around these results, but the size of the apparent impacts has generated significant attention around Fryer’s study and the tutoring intervention in particular.

Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) – Social Cognitive Approach

Youth Guidance’s B.A.M. (Becoming A Man™)-Sports Edition is a school-based counseling, mentoring, violence prevention and educational enrichment program that promotes social, emotional and behavioral competencies in at-risk male youth. The curriculum addresses six core values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, visionary goal-setting and respect for women, as each value relates to personal and academic success.

A recent University of Chicago Crime Lab study found that B.A.M. significantly reduced violent crime and arrests. According to the University of Chicago this randomized clinical trial, the largest ever conducted with an urban youth population (nearly 2,500 adolescent boys in 18 schools in Chicago).

Unfortunately, interventions to strengthen academic skills among disadvantaged youth have a very poor track record, particularly in the age range where problems like dropout and violence are disproportionately concentrated. Furthermore, although there was a slight improvement in student grades the program did not significantly drive student achievement.

  • Results from the first B.A.M. research study here
  • The University of Chicago's press release about the first B.A.M research study here
  • Chicago Sun Times article/video about B.A.M. here
  • President Obama visits B.A.M. here
  • The Daily Beast article about B.A.M here
  • U.S. News Word Report article about B.A.M here
  • Youth Guidance's website here

General Study Design (2x2 experiment)

Given the strong track record of both interventions the University of Chicago would like to test how these models together and alone impact student achievement and violent crime in a two year randomized clinical trial.

Group A Control Group (no B.A.M. or tutoring)
Group B 2 years of B.A.M. only
Group C 2 years of tutoring only
Group D 2 years of B.A.M and tutoring

* The Match model is designed for all students in a grade, but because this is a randomized control group study, we will only work with some students in each grade.  

People behind the study

Jens Ludwig is the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law, and Public Policy in the School of Social Service Administration and the Harris School, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and co-director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab. He also serves as a non-resident senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and co-director of the NBER's working group on the economics of crime. His research focuses on social policy, particularly in the areas of urban poverty, crime, and education.

Read more about Jens Ludwig.