Elizabeth
Zachry Rutschow
Senior Associate

Zachry Rutschow is a lead in MDRC’s research on developmental education, adult basic education, and GED preparation. She is the director of two projects in these areas: (1) an evaluation of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways and (2) an evaluation of the Learning Pathways Pilots in New York’s District 79 and Office for Adult and Continuing Education programs. She also codirects a demonstration concerning new adult education and General Educational Development (GED) reforms that aim to improve students’ college readiness and success. She has authored two literature reviews analyzing the most promising reforms in developmental and adult education, based on the results of rigorous research (Unlocking the Gate and Beyond the GED). Zachry Rutschow was the project director for MDRC’s evaluation of Achieving the Dream from 2007 to 2012, and in this role authored a number of reports examining the implementation, costs, and outcomes of the initiative. Before joining MDRC in 2007, Zachry Rutschow worked as a researcher and teacher in adult literacy education and is a specialist in reading instruction. She received her EdD in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • MDRC Publications

      New Approaches to Serving the Lowest-Skilled Students at Community Colleges in Texas and Beyond

      October, 2017

      Faced with many applicants with very low math skills, community colleges are responding with a variety of reforms, including restricting developmental courses to students with high-school-level skills. This brief provides context for the policy changes and describes the alternatives two colleges offer to those who don’t make the cut.

      September, 2017

      This grant program funds semester-long paid internships for college juniors and seniors with financial needs. These part-time opportunities, typically with hourly wages of $10-$14, are intended to provide meaningful experiences connected to students’ career interests. Despite some difficulties, many students had highly positive impressions of the program overall.

      Early Findings from a Study of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways

      May, 2017

      A promising new community college intervention involves a revised developmental math course that emphasizes statistical and quantitative reasoning skills to align with students’ fields of study. In a random assignment evaluation at four schools in Texas, students report a qualitatively different experience with math instruction.

      Early Findings from the New Mathways Project

      April, 2015

      Developmental math is too often an obstacle to community college students’ success. By shifting the emphasis from “algebra for all” to math skills with broader career relevance — such as quantitative literacy and statistics — and revising course structure and sequence, this Texas-wide education reform is off to a promising start.

      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.

      Promising Models for Moving High School Dropouts to College

      January, 2014
      Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, Shane Crary-Ross

      This report examines interventions that make adult education and GED standards more rigorous, that combine academic preparation with supports for transitioning to college, or that allow students to enroll in college while earning their GED. The most promising reforms integrate basic skills and GED instruction within specific career fields and support students’ entry into college.

      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.

      What We Know About Improving Developmental Education

      June, 2011
      Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, Emily Schneider

      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.

      Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges

      February, 2011
      Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Thomas Brock, Genevieve Orr, Oscar Cerna, Dan Cullinan, Monica Reid Kerrigan, Davis Jenkins, Susan Gooden, Kasey Martin

      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.

      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.

      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.

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