CAPR is conducting three major studies and two supplemental studies to provide a foundation for more comprehensive developmental education and college readiness innovation.

National Study of Developmental Education Policies and Practices

To establish a better understanding of the approaches used by colleges and states in the assessment practices, instruction, and structure of their developmental education programs; of new reform strategies that are emerging; and of the extent to which colleges are adopting more ambitious reforms, CAPR is conducting a descriptive study based on a nationally representative survey of two- and four-year colleges as well as other sources of evidence, including qualitative interviews with institutional and state-level representatives.

Evaluation of Alternative Placement Systems and Student Outcomes

Assessment and placement practices are an instrumental component of developmental education because they determine the extent to which incoming college students participate in developmental programming. Most community colleges currently use short standardized tests to determine placement into developmental education, and research indicates that this approach results in large numbers of placement errors. In collaboration with several community colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system, CAPR is conducting a random assignment study of an alternative “data analytics” assessment and placement method that relies on more information than the students’ assessment test scores, including information from high school records.

Evaluation of Developmental Math Pathways and Student Outcomes

Instructional practices in developmental math education often do a poor job of addressing student needs, even among accurately placed students. CAPR is conducting a random assignment study of an innovative model designed to address weaknesses in the current instructional approach to developmental math. The Dana Center Mathematics Pathways Project (NMP), developed by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas, uses a student-centered, activities-based pedagogy that is designed to be more engaging than the traditional approach. DCMP also employs accelerated developmental and college-level math pathways, which provide alternative curricula based on students’ academic and career goals, and tie developmental content more closely to college-level programs of study.

Supplemental Study: Evaluation of Early Start Developmental Education Policy

To determine if a policy requiring students to complete developmental coursework before entering college boosts outcomes, CAPR is conducting a quasi-experimental study of the Early Start policy in the 23-campus California State University system. The policy, which was enacted in 2011, requires students to complete remediation during the summer prior to their freshman year.

Supplemental Study: Exploration of the Use of Learning Technologies in Developmental Math

In 2010, the Tennessee Board of Regents voted to replace traditional developmental and gateway college-level math courses at all of its 19 colleges with a technology-centered curriculum known as the Emporium Model. Students learn at their own pace by completing modules in a computer lab while faculty track student progress online and answer questions individually, both online and in the lab. CAPR is examining implementation of the Emporium Model and conducting a quasi-experimental research study to evaluate student outcomes.