Support for Expectant and Parenting Youth Reaches New Heights in Effectiveness

Evidence from the Positive Adolescent Futures Study Points to Promising Programs
May 17, 2017

teen mother with infant at high school graduationNew rigorous research from Mathematica Policy Research demonstrates that the Washington, DC-based New Heights program offers parenting female high school students a brighter future. A new report, “Raising the Bar: Impacts and Implementation of the New Heights Program for Expectant and Parenting Teens,” finds the program, as implemented and examined in the DC evaluation, helps these youth stay in school and achieve academic success. The research is part of the Positive Adolescent Futures study, a larger rigorous evaluation of three programs designed to improve outcomes for expectant and parenting teens. Funded by the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), this research informs OAH’s overall strategy to identify effective programs that offer a seamless network of support for teen mothers and fathers and their children.

“The odds are stacked against parenting teens. Often these young people must overcome many challenges to succeed—including closing education gaps—while raising a family,” says Senior Researcher Susan Zief, “Our research found that the New Heights program in Washington, DC, made a significant impact on key academic outcomes.”

Using a rigorous study design, researchers found that the program had several positive effects on students’ academic outcomes:

  • Improved school engagement through reduced unexcused absences and increased days in attendance
  • Increased the number of credits earned
  • Potentially increased the graduation rate of parenting female students

In addition to evaluating the New Heights program, Mathematica is also examining programs in California and Texas that offer a range of programmatic approaches prevalent nationwide, and particularly among OAH Pregnancy Assistance Fund grantees, including case management and referrals, home visiting, and school-based workshops. The evaluations measure impacts on outcomes that align closely with the program models and examine program implementation. Mathematica’s researchers also conducted a descriptive study of the programs and practices of the OAH Pregnancy Assistance Fund grantees.


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    Evaluating Selected Programs for Expectant and Parenting Youth

    Mathematica is testing the effectiveness of three programs for pregnant and parenting youth designed to delay subsequent pregnancies, improve contraception use, and encourage and promote expectant and parenting females to remain in school and, ultimately, graduate.

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