Two-thirds of students who attend community colleges enroll in one or more remedial courses, which require them to invest time and money that could instead be applied to college-level coursework. Studies suggest that the effects of remedial courses on student outcomes are at best mixed for students on the cusp of needing additional academic support, and those who start college in remediation are less likely to graduate.
Most students who participate in remediation are referred to these programs based on standardized placement test scores. However, research shows that some students assigned to remediation would likely pass a college-level course in the same subject area if given that opportunity; it also suggests that using multiple measures, including high school GPA, may be useful in assessing college readiness. To evaluate the impact of a multiple measures placement system on student outcomes, CAPR researchers initiated an experimental study in partnership with the State University of New York (SUNY) system and seven community colleges. Over 13,000 incoming students who arrived at these colleges in the fall 2016, spring 2017, and fall 2017 terms were randomly assigned to be placed using either the status quo placement system (the control group) or the alternative placement system (the program group). Students were tracked for up to five terms.
This session summarized initial impact findings for the study’s first cohort and preview final impact findings for the full sample of study participants. For both math and English, researchers considered three outcome measures constructed from administrative data: the rate of college-level course placement (versus remedial course placement), the rate of college-level course enrollment, and the rate of college-level course completion with grade C or higher, all in the same subject area. We also examined impacts on overall credit accumulation, persistence, and degree completion.
Elizabeth Kopko, CCRC and CAPR