Performance-Based Scholarships, Student Services, and Developmental Math at Hillsborough Community College

October, 2014

This program provides an incentive for developmental math students to take their math courses early and consecutively, get help in an on-campus Math Lab, and strive for passing grades or better, in exchange for a modest performance-based scholarship. Compared with standard services, the program's effects are modest but positive.

The Importance of Evidence

July, 2014

In this essay, adapted from remarks made to the Growth Philanthropy Network/Social Impact Exchange 2014 Conference on Scaling Impact, MDRC President Gordon Berlin explains why developing reliable evidence of effectiveness is critical when expanding programs to a large scale.

Educational Challenges and MDRC’s Research

May, 2014

MDRC hosted a recent colloquium to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the contributions of former Board Chair Robert Solow. This issue focus summarizes a panel presentation, featuring Frank Levy, Richard J. Murnane, Cecilia E. Rouse, and Ronald F. Ferguson, about current challenges in education and how MDRC’s research can help address them.

Lessons from the First Round of Achieving the Dream Community Colleges

April, 2014

Launched in 2004, Achieving the Dream is designed to help community colleges collect and analyze student performance data and apply the results to help students succeed. This report offers lessons from the first 26 colleges to join the national initiative, which now includes more than 200 institutions.

Seven Years Later

March, 2014

This paper presents the long-term effects of a learning communities program. The program’s positive effect on credit accumulation was maintained for seven years, and there is some evidence that graduation rates increased. Economic outcomes are examined, and sobering reflections on detecting effects on economic outcomes in higher education interventions are presented.

A Technical Assistance Guide for Developing and Implementing Performance-Based Scholarships

February, 2014

Drawing on the findings and experiences of two research demonstrations that tested the effectiveness of performance-based scholarships, this guide provides helpful information for colleges and scholarship-granting organizations on this type of aid, which can reduce the financial burden on low-income students while offering incentives for good academic progress.

Two-Year Results from an Evaluation of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students

December, 2013

This policy brief presents results from an evaluation of a program designed to increase the graduation rates of low-income community college students. The initiative requires full-time attendance and offers comprehensive supports and financial incentives for three full years. The program boosted two-year graduation rates substantially — by 66 percent.

Early Findings from the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration in Arizona

October, 2013

College graduation rates for Latino students, especially Latino male students, are lower than the national average. This report presents findings from a study of performance-based scholarships paired with a robust set of student services designed to help low-income Latino men succeed.

Interim Findings from the PBS Demonstration

August, 2013

Interim results suggest that performance-based scholarships improve students’ academic performance and increase the number of credits they earn. In some sites, the scholarships also appear to reduce student debt. In the one location for which data are available so far, the program increased the proportion of students earning a degree.

A Case Study of Two Community College Programs Designed to Accelerate Students Through Developmental Math

May, 2013

“Acceleration” strategies seek to help developmental students progress to college-level math quicker. This report examines two models: one at Broward College compresses a traditional 16-week course into eight weeks and another at Tarrant County College divides a course into modules, allowing students to skip content they’ve already mastered.

March, 2013

Too many students enter college underprepared, drop out, and never earn a credential that would give them access to stable, well-paid jobs. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes some promising college readiness programs that can provide students with the skills they need to successfully complete college, but cautions that more evidence is needed.

February, 2013

Too many community college students arrive on campus unprepared, get placed into developmental (or remedial) courses, and never complete a credential, graduate, or transfer to a four-year institution. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo calls for bolder action to learn what works to improve developmental education.

 

Lessons from the Developmental Education Initiative

January, 2013

This report examines the efforts of 15 community colleges that expanded preexisting interventions or put in place new ones directed toward helping students move through developmental coursework more quickly and more successfully.

An Evaluation of Achieving the Dream in Washington State

December, 2012

In 2006, six community and technical colleges in Washington State joined the innovative Achieving the Dream (ATD) initiative. This report describes the progress they made in implementing ATD’s “culture of evidence” principles for institutional improvement, examines strategies they implemented to improve student success, and charts trends in student outcomes before and after they joined ATD.

Lessons from Two New York City Community Colleges

November, 2012

Can a scholarship without services improve academic progress? For adult developmental education students, this program encouraged more full-time enrollment during the semesters in which it operated and increased registration and credit accumulation in the summer semester, but it did not increase the average number of semesters registered or credits earned over two years.

Six-Year Effects of a Freshman Learning Community Program at Kingsborough Community College

July, 2012

Students who participated in a one-semester learning community, in which small groups of student took three linked classes together and received other extra services, were more likely to have graduated six years later. The program also proved to be cost-effective.

A Synthesis of Findings from Six Community Colleges

July, 2012

This report looks at the short-term impacts of 174 one-semester learning communities for developmental students at six community colleges. On average, the programs produced a modest impact on credits earned.

July, 2012

Two reports offer findings on the effectiveness of learning communities, a popular strategy that places small cohorts of students together in two or more thematically linked courses, usually for a single semester, with added support, such as extra advising or tutoring.

Bridging the Gap between High School and College in Tacoma, Washington

June, 2012

Getting Ready for Success provides low-income students in Tacoma with academic and social supports and monetary incentives during the late high school and early college years to increase their motivation and ability to succeed in college.

An Impact Study of Eight Developmental Summer Bridge Programs in Texas

June, 2012

Eight developmental summer bridge programs offered accelerated and focused learning opportunities for entering college students with low skills in Texas. An evaluation shows positive impacts on introductory college-level course completion in math and writing, which faded by the end of two years. The programs had no impact on persistence or the average number of credits students attempted or earned.

Early Results from an Evaluation of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students

June, 2012

The City University of New York’s ASAP program requires full-time attendance and offers comprehensive supports to community college students for three full years. Early results from a random assignment study show that ASAP increases credits earned, full-time enrollment, and completion of developmental (or remedial) coursework.

An Impact Study of a Student Success Course at Guilford Technical Community College

April, 2012

A random assignment study of a student success course for developmental students finds positive effects on students’ self-management, self-awareness, and engagement in college. The program had few overall effects on students’ academic achievement, although there were some positive impacts for the first group of students to enter the study.

A Case Study of Peer Leader Programs at Two Achieving the Dream Colleges

February, 2012

Northern Essex Community College and Bunker Hill Community College employed academically successful students to serve as peer leaders to offer additional classroom assistance to fellow students in developmental and introductory college-level courses. The report discusses how the colleges designed and implemented these programs and offers insights into students’ experiences in peer-assisted courses.

Impact Studies at Merced College and The Community College of Baltimore County

February, 2012

Two colleges implemented semester-long learning communities linking developmental English with a range of other courses. At Merced, learning communities students earned more developmental English credits and passed more English courses than a control group. At CCBC, there were no meaningful impacts on students’ credit attempts or progress. Neither college’s program had an impact on persistence or on cumulative credits earned.

An Implementation and Early Impacts Study of Eight Texas Developmental Summer Bridge Programs

October, 2011

For entering college students with low basic skills, eight intensive summer programs provided accelerated instruction in math, reading, and/or writing; academic support; a “college knowledge” component; and the opportunity to receive a $400 stipend. Early results suggest that participants were more likely to pass entry-level college courses in math and writing.

An Impact Study of Career-Focused Learning Communities at Kingsborough Community College

July, 2011

Students took two courses in their major and one on careers associated with their major. Active, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning was emphasized. No meaningful impacts on educational outcomes were found for the full sample, but recent transfer students saw a modest positive impact on credits earned during the program semester.

What We Know About Improving Developmental Education

June, 2011

One of the greatest challenges that community colleges face in their efforts to increase graduation rates is improving the success of students in their developmental, or remedial, education programs. Emphasizing results from experimental and quasi-experimental studies, this literature review identifies the most promising approaches for revising the structure, curriculum, or delivery of developmental education and suggests areas for future innovations in developmental education practice and research.

Progress and Challenges During the First Year of the Achieving the Dream Developmental Education Initiative

May, 2011

This report examines the Achieving the Dream Developmental Education Initiative, an effort to expand promising developmental education interventions in 15 community colleges. During the 2009-2010 academic year, the colleges made progress and encountered challenges in implementing reform strategies in four key areas: changes in curriculum and instruction, academic and student supports, institutionwide policy changes, and precollege interventions.

A Synthesis of Findings from an Evaluation at Six Community Colleges

March, 2011

MDRC’s Opening Doors Demonstration, launched in 2003 with six community colleges, provides some of the first rigorous evidence that a range of interventions can improve educational outcomes for community college students. This 12-page policy brief describes the strategies tested, discusses the results, and offers suggestions to policymakers and practitioners for moving forward.

Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges

February, 2011

This interim report examines the experiences of the first 26 colleges to join the ambitious Achieving the Dream initiative. Launched by Lumina Foundation for Education in 2004, Achieving the Dream helps community colleges collect and analyze student performance data in order to build a “culture of evidence,” enabling the colleges to use that knowledge to develop programs to increase students’ academic success.

Impact Studies at Queensborough and Houston Community Colleges

February, 2011

Learning communities, which co-enroll small groups of students into linked courses, are a popular strategy for helping developmental students at community colleges succeed. This report examines the impacts of one-semester learning communities for developmental math students at Queensborough Community College and Houston Community College. At both colleges, students in learning communities attempted and passed their developmental math class at higher rates than students in a control group. However, this impact generally did not translate into increased cumulative progress in math by the end of two or three semesters.

How Do We Know What Works?

October, 2010

Prepared for the recent White House Summit on Community Colleges, this paper describes interventions with rigorous research evidence of effectiveness and offers thoughts on bringing such programs to scale. The good news is: many states and colleges are piloting reforms, and there is a growing body of evidence on strategies that work.

An Impact Study at Hillsborough Community College

June, 2010

A random assignment study of learning communities that linked a developmental reading course and a “college success” course finds that faculty collaboration and curricular integration increased over time. Overall, the program had no impact on students’ academic success, but evidence suggests that it had some positive effects for the last cohort of students in the study.

How Much Do Achieving the Dream Colleges Spend — and from What Resources — to Become Data-Driven Institutions?

June, 2010

This report analyzes the experiences of five community colleges that participate in Lumina Foundation’s Achieving the Dream initiative and the investments they made in implementing an institutional improvement process aimed at increasing students’ success. The report examines how, where, and with what resources these colleges supported their reforms, as well as the key activities driving their overall expenditures.

Men of Color Discuss Their Experiences in Community College

March, 2010

This report takes an in-depth look at the perceptions and experiences of 87 African-American, Hispanic, and Native American men who were enrolled in developmental math courses at four community colleges. The study explores how the students’ experiences in their high schools and communities, as well as their identities as men of color, influenced their decision to go to college and their engagement in school.

The Experience of Six Community Colleges

March, 2010

Learning communities, which enroll groups of students together in coordinated classes, are increasingly being used to help developmental-level students succeed. This report on the Learning Communities Demonstration, a large-scale, random assignment evaluation, describes the strategies that six community colleges used and the challenges they faced in scaling up their programs.

The Policy and Practice of Assessing and Placing Students in Developmental Education Courses

March, 2010

This paper reports on case studies conducted at three community colleges to learn about how the colleges assess students for placement in developmental education courses. The case studies identify several problems and challenges, including lack of consensus about the standard for college-level work, the high-stakes nature of the assessments, and the minimal relationship between assessment for placement and diagnosis for instruction.

An Impact Evaluation of the Beacon Program at South Texas College

February, 2010

Created as part of the national Achieving the Dream initiative, a “light touch” intervention targeting students enrolled in lower-level math courses increased the number of students using campus tutoring and academic services. While the program has not improved math class pass rates or persistence in college overall, it has had positive effects for part-time and developmental students.

A Case Study of an Achieving the Dream College

September, 2009

Achieving the Dream teaches community colleges to use student data to improve programming and student success. Since participating, Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina has become a data-driven, success-oriented institution and has seen promising trends in student achievement. This study offers lessons for other colleges undertaking similar institutional reform.

A Case Study of Three Achieving the Dream Colleges

December, 2008

This report examines the experiences of three of the 83 colleges currently involved in the Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count project, an initiative of Lumina Foundation for Education, and their efforts to improve instruction in developmental education classrooms.

Rationale, Sites, and Research Design

May, 2008

Launched in 2007 by MDRC and the National Center for Postsecondary Research, the Learning Communities Demonstration is testing models of this promising approach in six community colleges in five states. This report describes the research design, including information about the colleges and their models, the random assignment process, data sources, analysis plans, and reporting schedule.

Two-Year Effects of a Freshmen Learning Community Program at Kingsborough Community College

March, 2008

Freshmen in a “learning community” at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY, moved more quickly through developmental English requirements, took and passed more courses, and earned more credits in their first semester than students in a control group. Two years later, they were also somewhat more likely to be enrolled in college.

Early Progress in the Achieving the Dream Initiative

May, 2007

Achieving the Dream is a multiyear, national initiative, launched by Lumina Foundation for Education, to help community college students stay in school and succeed. The 83 participating colleges commit to collecting and analyzing data to improve student outcomes, particularly for low-income students and students of color. This baseline report describes the early progress that the first 27 colleges have made after just one year of implementation.

Early Results from the Opening Doors Demonstration in Ohio

April, 2007

This report presents the early results from MDRC’s evaluation of the Opening Doors program at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio. The two-semester program offered intensive student advising services and a modest scholarship to low-income students to encourage them to stay in school and earn credentials.

Students Navigating Community College

July, 2006

For this study, MDRC interviewed students at two colleges that are part of the Opening Doors Demonstration, a program to help community college students remain in school and succeed. The students spoke about their experiences on and off campus and the factors that help or hinder their progress in school.

A Background Paper

December, 2005

Interest in learning communities at colleges and universities is growing, as is early evidence of their impact on student success. This paper reviews the history, theory, and research on learning communities, describes how they operate, and proposes a multicollege demonstration project to build more conclusive evidence of their effectiveness.

The Opening Doors Demonstration

June, 2005

The Opening Doors Demonstration is designed to show how community colleges can help more low-income students remain in school and improve other outcomes, including degree attainment, labor market success, and personal and social well-being.

Early Results from the Opening Doors Demonstration at Kingsborough Community College

June, 2005

Opening Doors Learning Communities, a program serving mostly low-income freshmen at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY, improved course and test pass rates, particularly in English.

Services That May Help Low-Income Students Succeed in Community College

November, 2004

Community colleges can pursue many strategies for enhancing student services, including offering “one-stop shopping,” which provides students with multiple services at the same time and place.

Instructional Innovations That Help Low-Income Students Succeed in Community College

July, 2003

This paper looks at curricular and program redesign strategies currently used by community colleges to speed nontraditional students’ advancement from lower levels of skill into credential programs and to shorten the time commitment required to earn a credential.

July, 2002

The latest report from the Opening Doors project explores how to help low-wage workers move toward career advancement and higher wages by enrolling in and completing community college programs.

Project Overview

As community colleges try to increase graduation rates, one of the greatest challenges they face is improving the success of students in their developmental, or remedial, education programs. The New Mathways Project (NMP) is a demonstration study involving a new program developed by the Dana Center at the University of Texas-Austin.

Project Overview

Despite steadily increasing enrollments in community colleges, graduation and transfer rates remain disappointingly low. Developmental (or remedial) math is arguably the greatest stumbling block to community college completion.

Project Overview

For many low-income college students, one of the biggest barriers to attendance is cost. While federal and state financial aid is available to help with tuition, fees, books, and some living expenses, students still often have unmet need, particularly if they are from the poorest families or are independent from their parents.

Project Overview

Too many students enter college without sufficient skills in English and math to succeed — which forces them to take developmental (or remedial) education courses. Across the nation, roughly 30 percent of entering freshman students enroll in developmental math or English courses.

Project Overview

Unprecedented national attention is now focusing on the community college as a critical institution for helping American workers secure economic well-being and for helping the nation as a whole to retain a competitive edge in the world economy.

Project Overview

National attention is focused on increasing graduation rates at community colleges. Graduation rates are particularly low for students who come to campus underprepared for college-level work.

Project Overview

Roughly half of college students and close to 60 percent of community college students do not earn a college credential within six years, leaving them with poor labor market prospects in an economy that increasingly demands a credential in order to find a job.

Project Overview

A postsecondary credential has become increasingly important in the labor market, and college attendance has grown. Unfortunately, college completion remains less common, particularly in community colleges, which serve many low-income and academically underprepared students who often need remedial (developmental) courses.

Project Overview

Community colleges, which tend to be accessible and affordable, serve as a critical resource for low-income individuals striving to improve their prospects in the labor market and life.

Project Overview

Community colleges enroll almost half of all U.S. undergraduate students, yet the majority of these students leave without earning a degree or certificate or transferring to another institution to continue their studies. As a result, they risk losing the opportunity to learn and to earn a livable wage.

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