Reporting their initial findings, researchers at New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) have found that New York City’s summer jobs program improved school attendance and other educational outcomes for youth participants.
In their policy brief entitled “More than Paycheck? The Impact of Summer Youth Employment on Students Educational Engagement and Success,” co-authors Jacob Leos-Urbel, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Meryle Weinstein, and Beth C. Weitzman explored school-related outcomes for New York City public school students who applied to the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program in the summer of 2007. IESP is a joint institute of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
The new analysis found that school attendance increased in the school year following the applicants’ participation in the summer job program. The greatest gains, it found, were among participants who had shown risk of educational failure, including those with less than 95 percent attendance before their summer job stint, as well as those age 16 and above who had greater degrees of autonomy with regard to their own school attendance decisions. In addition, for that group, the program increased the probability that they would pass the English and math Regents exams.
“Although the Summer Youth Employment Program is focused primarily on work during the summer, these results suggest that benefits of the program carry over into the following school year,” said NYU researcher Leos-Urbel.
New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development administers the summer jobs program. All New York City youth ages 14 to 24 are eligible to apply. Youth apply through community-based organizations, which serve as intake sites and supervise those placed in jobs. Participants work in entry-level posts in the nonprofit, private and public sectors, and are paid the minimum wage. Placements with summer camps and day care center are the most common.
Because the program is in high demand, the city uses a lottery system to determine which youth are offered a job. According to Leos-Urbel, “While the city uses the SYEP lottery to be as fair as possible, it is also great from a research perspective, as it randomly assigns youth to the Summer Youth Employment Program, which represents the ‘gold standard’ for program evaluation.”
The researchers used Summer Youth Employment Program data for the summer 2007 program year, matched to NYC Department of Education files. The study sample included 36,630 applicants who were in grades 8-to-11 during the prior school year, of which 90 percent were eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and 85 percent were black or Hispanic. Future briefs by the researchers will examine additional years of data and look at the program’s effect on other outcomes such as high school graduation and college enrollment.
For a copy of the policy brief, please contact NYU press officer Courtney Bowe at the contact information listed with this press release.