Curricular/Instructional Reforms


A Study of Achieving the Dream in Florida

December, 2022
Oscar Cerna, Dominique Dukes, Sumner Perera

Implementing institutional change is challenging. Achieving the Dream (ATD) provides expert guidance to promote positive change, close achievement gaps, and accelerate student success at community colleges, particularly among students of color and from low-income backgrounds. This brief summarizes the common drivers of institution-wide reforms at nine ATD colleges in Florida.

September, 2022
Edith Yang, Peter Halpin, Daniel Handy

The New World of Work (NWoW), a program that promoted teaching soft skills—the capabilities and habits that affect communication, social interactions, and problem-solving—operated briefly in over 75 community colleges in California. This brief describes statistical analyses of assessments NWoW used to grant credentials in those soft skills.

Issue Focus
September, 2022
Parker Cellura, Marco Lepe

“Soft skills” are the capabilities and habits that affect communication, social interactions, and problem-solving. Credentials in soft skills aim to show employers that job applicants are proficient in these skills. MDRC interviewed employers to gauge how they perceive these credentials and to learn what could increase their utility and credibility.


Lessons from the New World of Work

August, 2022
Hannah Dalporto, Marco Lepe

Increasingly, companies are favoring skill-based requirements—such as communication and writing—in job postings. In response, postsecondary educators are looking for ways to teach these “soft skills” explicitly. This brief outlines practical considerations and recommendations for developing and implementing soft-skills instruction in a postsecondary setting.

August, 2022
William Corrin, Pei Zhu, Miki Shih, Kevin Thaddeus Brown, Jr., Jedediah J. Teres, Catherine Darrow, Austin Nichols, Kelly Lack

Academic language skills are critical for reading and understanding content for all students, and particularly for English learners and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This study investigated WordGen Elementary, a program designed to improve fourth- and fifth-grade students’ ability to understand and communicate academic language and their general reading skill.


Practices, Justifications, Outcomes, and Limitations

June, 2022

Many colleges are exploring alternative assessment models, such as informed self-placement (ISP), to increase student enrollment and success in entry-level college courses and to identify students who would benefit from developmental (remedial) instruction. This literature review provides a discussion of the methods used to implement ISP and justifications for its use.