CAPR Link Roundup: Reform from East to West and in Between

With colleges around the country experimenting with reforms to developmental education, researchers are partnering with them to measure the effect of the changes. Here are some recent studies of developmental ed reforms, including Florida’s dramatic overhaul from 2013, California’s growing movement to reform placement and developmental pathways, and Virginia and North Carolina’s efforts to combine developmental reading and writing into one literacy-reinforcing discipline.

Florida Dev Ed Reform: Year 3

Florida State University’s Center for Postsecondary Success is continuing to study the effects of the 2013 state legislation that made placement testing and developmental courses optional for many Florida community college students—essentially allowing students to make placement decisions for themselves. Its latest report looks at the third year of implementation of the reforms and how instructors are dealing with having more underprepared students in first-level college courses. It also discusses issues around advising, student finances, and communication between departments. Here’s a summary.

Cuyamaca College Transforms Remedial Education

The California Acceleration Project (CAP) just released a report on the dramatic changes at Cuyamaca College after it overhauled math remediation in the 2016–17 school year. The college started using multiple measures, including high school grades, to decide course placements, added corequisite remedial classes, changed teaching methods, and put in place different math pathways for various groups of majors. A different CAP report from a few months back highlights reform efforts at several California colleges.

Combining Developmental Reading and Writing Courses

The Community College Research Center (CCRC), which co-leads CAPR with MDRC, recently released the results of a study on integrating developmental reading and writing into one course. The two disciplines are often run out of separate departments, but there is a movement to combine them, both to improve educational outcomes and to allow students to spend less time in dev ed. The study looks from the faculty perspective at what works and what doesn’t when colleges bring the two specialties together. Susan Bickerstaff, one of the authors of the study, talks about the findings in a video by the Austin Community College District.

A Summary of Dev Ed Research

MDRC put out a two-page look at its research into promising reforms in developmental education. It summarizes MDRC research into math pathways, summer bridge programs, modularized math, the comprehensive programs CUNY Start and Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, and more.

Creating New Policies for Lowest-Skilled Math Students in Texas

MDRC recently released a brief describing changes to developmental math policy in Texas that include new tests and cut scores that “raise the floor” for developmental math courses. Instead of allowing all students into developmental math courses, colleges are creating new practices for serving their lowest-scoring students. This brief describes how the change is occurring at two large community colleges in Texas, as well as how similar policies are being enacted—and how colleges are reforming their practices—across the nation.

More Recent Reports and Briefs

Brad Bostian wrote about multiple measures placement in Learning Abstracts. Meanwhile, Research for Action has launched a website intended to be a toolkit for exploring multiple measures placement systems.

Angela Boatman and Bridget Terry Long examined the impact of remedial classes on students who test at different levels of academic preparation.

CLASP put out a brief promoting the ASAP program as a successful reform that helps students and makes education more equitable. It notes ASAP’s success with different populations in New York and Ohio.