CAPR Link Roundup: The Breadth of Developmental Education Reform

Students raised up hands green chalk board in classroom
Developmental education is not one-size-fits-all, and researchers across the country are examining the effectiveness of a variety of innovative approaches to remedial learning. From probing lingering achievement gaps to interrogating the meaning of “college preparedness,” recent reports provide a snapshot of the latest major trends in developmental education reform and policy. Here are some worth a look.

Assessment and Placement Policies in the States

Assessment and placement policies in developmental education have been evolving rapidly as colleges look for ways to make their placement systems more accurate. The Education Commission of the States scanned developmental education assessment and placement policies to put together this comprehensive resource. The 50-state comparison breaks down state and system policies by assessment instruments, cut scores, the use of multiple measures, and more.

ASAP Doubles Grad Rates in Early Results from Ohio

A new brief from an MDRC study of the highly regarded Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) indicates that it can be successfully transplanted from New York City, where it was developed by the City University of New York, to other colleges in other states. Three community colleges in Ohio adopted the model, which provides intensive supports for students, and saw two-year graduation rates double.

Math Pathways at the State Level

The Charles A. Dana Center’s Mathematics Pathways to Completion (MPC) project is helping six states implement math pathways, a major developmental math reform. The Community College Research Center’s report on the MPC project explains some of the critical factors that go into implementing math pathways statewide, including leadership from various sectors and strong mechanisms for gaining consensus.

Placement and Curricular Policy Change in California

A report from the Public Policy Institute of California looks at the implementation of corequesite remediation and multiple measures placement reforms in the state. When colleges rely on multiple measures to gauge students’ academic readiness, they take factors like high school grade point average into account in addition to placement test scores. The report also describes the reforms’ effect on student outcomes at early adopter colleges, thereby giving a preview of what the rest of the state’s more than 100 community colleges can expect as they work to implement Assembly Bill 705, which mandates those reforms be put in place by fall 2019.

Early Findings on CUNY Start

A July 2018 report from MDRC and CCRC delves into early findings from a study of CUNY Start, a developmental education program in the City University of New York designed for students with multiple developmental needs that condenses remedial learning into one packed semester. It highlights researchers’ findings about the pros and cons of implementing CUNY Start, including that students in the program made substantially more progress through developmental education than their peers in more traditional developmental education sequences.

A Guide to Multiple Measures Assessment

Research suggests reliance on a single exam to place students into college-level or developmental courses forces many of them into the wrong classes. But, as a CCRC and MDRC guidebook details, evidence is building that assessing students with a multiple-measures approach is a promising alternative. The report, which highlights pilot programs in Minnesota and Wisconsin, is a resource manual for practitioners considering a multiple-measures approach. It digs into the methodology behind multiple measures assessment, evaluates alternatives to placement tests, and provides a step-by-step outline for implementation.

Math Pathways in California

Algebra may not be pertinent for an aspiring writer. Geometry may seem unnecessary for a future business analyst. And who’s to say if calculus will ever prove helpful to a would-be lawyer? As community colleges across California look to diversify their math offerings, a report from WestEd homes in on the most prevalent practices statewide. Researchers explain AB 705, California legislation that overhauled basic skills education; dive into how past policies hindered the development of alternative pathways; and categorize alternatives to algebra-based math sequences.

An Expanded View of Developmental Education

An article in Texas Education Review from researchers at CCRC posits that the field is due for a reevaluation of the entire notion of “academic preparedness.” The current structure of developmental education—even reformed developmental education—as a discrete intervention at the beginning of a student’s college career overlooks many obstacles that can derail students’ educations, even if they are deemed college-ready. The researchers explain the shortcomings of the current system and offer strategies for helping students who are underprepared.

And Finally…

CAPR’s Nikki Edgecombe and Alexander Mayer wrote a quick summary of the center’s major research studies and their results so far in a post for the Inside IES Research blog. CAPR is funded by the U.S. Education Department’s Institute of Education Sciences.