- EMCF Evidence Base - Talent Development Secondary - Current Grantees - Grantees - EMCF
Talent Development Secondary

Talent Development Secondary

The effectiveness of the Talent Development Secondary  program was demonstrated by a 2004-2006 evaluation conducted by MDRC of high schools with which TDS partnered in Philadelphia before the launch of Diplomas Now.

In high schools, TDS produced substantial and pervasive impacts on credits earned and attendance and promotion rates. There were also early indications that TDS was improving graduation rates.  

Within EMCF’s framework for assessing an organization’s evidence of effectiveness, TDS meets the standard of “demonstrated effectiveness.”  

MDRC and ICF International are conducting a national, school-level random assignment evaluation of TDS's Diplomas Now school reform model and publishing a series of annual reports.

The first implementation study, released in 2014, demonstrated that schools implemented most program components as designed, and succeeded in incorporating additional student support services such as tutoring and afterschool programs.

The second implementation report, released in 2015, confirmed the first report’s findings and suggested that the program is changing schools’ practices in accordance with the goals of Diplomas Now.

The first impact report, Addressing Early Warning Indicators, released in 2016, found that Diplomas Now reduced the percentage of students with early warning signs of poor attendance, behavior, and course performance flagging that they were at risk of failing or dropping out of school. However, the first year of impact analysis did not yet detect a significant impact on average attendance, discipline, or course-passing rates in sixth and ninth grades compared with rates at schools that did not implement Diplomas Now.


MDRC and ICF International’s evaluation and annual reports will continue through 2019. The study will offer lessons about the Diplomas Now model, its viability at scale, and its impact on keeping students in school and helping them succeed there. Additional research is investigating the fidelity with which the Diplomas Now model is implemented, comparing teacher and student support at Diplomas Now and non-Diplomas Now schools, and identifying lessons that can inform future replication and scaling of the program.