A review of impact and implementation studies from the past 10 years, this report summarizes what is known about how innovations in developmental education (that is, remedial college courses) can improve student outcomes. It also identifies five principles that are essential to successful reforms.
A Brief Synthesis of 20 Years of MDRC’s Randomized Controlled Trials
What works to help community college students progress academically? This brief synthesizes 20 years of rigorous research by MDRC, presenting new evidence about key attributes of community college interventions that are positively related to larger impacts on students’ academic progress.
An Exploratory Study of Student Outcomes and Placement Practices
Informed self-placement (ISP) helps college students determine whether they are ready for entry-level college courses or need remedial education first. This brief explores the potential of ISP to improve students’ access to college-level courses and gives colleges an opportunity to consider placement-method changes that may boost student success.
Practices, Justifications, Outcomes, and Limitations
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.
This brief prepared for the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness presents interim findings from a random assignment evaluation of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) program at four Texas community colleges. It also includes an exploratory analysis of the effectiveness of the program for various subgroups.
Two experimental studies examined multiple measures assessment (MMA), in which colleges use alternative measures (like high school GPA) rather than just standardized test scores, to assign students to developmental or college-level courses. Students placed using MMA were more likely to complete college-level courses. This brief offers recommendations for other colleges.
Three-Semester Findings from an Experimental Study of Multiple Measures Assessment and Placement
Some students are referred into developmental (or remedial) education inappropriately when placed using only standardized placement tests. When multiple measures assessment was used, students in Minnesota and Wisconsin were more likely to enroll and pass college-level math and English courses within three semesters. The additional cost of this alternative assessment averaged $33 per student.
Lessons from Growth Sector’s STEM Core Program
Millions of community college students, particularly students of color and women, don’t complete the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses critical to succeeding in the modern economy. This brief examines one program that combines increased academic support, out-of-classroom activities, accelerated coursework, and other components to help improve student outcomes.
Scaling Up Postsecondary Student Success Strategies
Minnesota’s two-year project to improve student success and degree attainment focused on improved course placement methods, communications about satisfactory academic progress and policies, and comprehensive student support programs. A major lesson in this brief: Programs that show significant results must be implemented widely to change student outcomes meaningfully.
A Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluation of a Developmental Education Reform at the City University of New York
CUNY Start aims to prepare students with significant remedial needs for college-level courses. This working paper reports that over three years, CUNY Start substantially increased college readiness, slightly increased credit accumulation, and modestly increased graduation rates (by increasing participation in another highly effective program).