Many students enter postsecondary education underprepared academically, and the success rate for these students is low. At open access colleges (like community colleges), underprepared students are typically referred to developmental (or remedial) coursework, often in the form of multilevel, noncredit course sequences in reading, English, and math.
To help address the needs of incoming underprepared students, the City University of New York (CUNY) developed CUNY Start, a multifaceted prematriculation program that provides intensive instruction in reading, writing, and math through a carefully prescribed curriculum and instructional delivery. CUNY Start condenses the time students spend preparing for college-level English and math into a single semester. In addition, it delivers enhanced academic and nonacademic supports in the form of advisors, tutors, and a weekly seminar that builds college success skills, at a cost to students of only $75 per semester. (CUNY has published a resource guide for college administrators, faculty, and stakeholders interested in learning about the CUNY Start model.)
The underlying theory of change posits that students with developmental needs are best served through a cohort-based integrated academic and nonacademic support model designed to build academic preparedness, confidence, and college know-how, prior to matriculating in college.
With support from the federal Institute of Education Sciences, MDRC, CUNY (co-PI Alexandra W. Logue), and the Community College Research Center are collaborating to evaluate the effectiveness of CUNY Start on student academic success. In addition, the research partners will co-develop a research agenda beyond the evaluation of CUNY Start and will build CUNY’s internal research capacity.