CCRC and MDRC Receive $10 Million Federal Grant to Conduct Research on Innovative Approaches to Remedial Education

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University, in collaboration with social policy research organization MDRC and scholars at Stanford, U.C. Davis, and Vanderbilt, has been awarded a five-year grant of $9,951,362 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to create a center focused on rigorously assessing the effects of new approaches to remedial assessment, placement, and instruction. The new center, the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR), will utilize findings from this research to assist states and colleges in crafting policies and programs that lead to improved outcomes for struggling students.

The grant responds to a national climate in which states and colleges have reached a consensus that the current system of remedial education needs reform, but have little rigorous research to draw upon as they work to develop and implement new approaches.

Housed at CCRC, the center will be led by principal investigator Thomas Bailey, CCRC’s director, and co-principal investigator Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, the director of MDRC’s Young Adults and Postsecondary Education Policy Area. The center will conduct three major studies:

  • A national study to survey the characteristics of developmental students, the dominant remedial practices across two- and four-year colleges, and the nature and extent of reforms that have been recently implemented or are in process.
  • A randomized control trial in partnership with the State University of New York’s community college system to test the effectiveness of a “data analytics” assessment and placement system that relies on more information, including high school records, than the traditional method of placing students into remedial education.
  • A randomized control trial study at several Texas community colleges comparing The New Mathways Project—a program developed by The Charles A. Dana Center at UT Austin to engage students in more active learning of math curricula that are tailored to specific academic pathways—with the traditional remedial and introductory college math sequence.

In addition to the above studies, CAPR will carry out smaller-scale quasi-experimental studies of innovative approaches to remediation, including California’s Early Start, a program that requires non-proficient California State University students to complete remediation in the summer before their freshman year, and an Emporium model of developmental math instruction that modularizes the curriculum and incorporates online learning, now in place at all two-year and some four-year Tennessee colleges.

CAPR will share findings from the studies at national policy forums and a national conference, and will work with states and colleges to implement and scale up policies and practices informed by the research.

CAPR is supported with a grant (R305C140007) from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.