Bailey and Richburg-Hayes at White House for College Readiness Event and Launch of CAPR

On August 12, CCRC’s Thomas Bailey and MDRC’s Lashawn Richburg-Hayes joined U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz and other administration officials, to speak at a White House meeting focused on best practices in college remediation.

The convening—a follow-up to the January White House Summit, which aimed to mobilize efforts to increase college access and success for low-income students—provided an opportunity for college leaders, researchers, and policymakers to share and discuss promising reforms in developmental education and the role of research in strengthening remediation practices.

The White House also formally announced the launch of the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR), funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. Directed by Bailey, with Richburg-Hayes serving as co-principal investigator, CAPR will conduct three major studies to document current practices in developmental English and math education across the United States, and to rigorously assess the effects of innovative assessment and instructional practices on student outcomes.

In his presentation with Richburg-Hayes, Bailey described the portfolio of research designed by CAPR and reviewed the advances that have been made in understanding and addressing the deficiencies in the nation’s developmental education system. But he emphasized that remedial reform by itself cannot significantly increase college completion among low-income students. Improvements to developmental education, he stressed, must be pursued in the context of broader institutional reforms that attend to the entire student experience.

The convening—and CAPR’s launch—comes at a time of growing national consensus that current approaches to developmental education are not working. One half of all entering college students and 68 percent of entering community college students take at least one developmental course, but only one third of these students go on to earn a postsecondary credential. States and colleges are pursuing reforms to improve outcomes for remedial students, but they have need of a broader evidence base to inform their work.

Following the announcement of the center, participants discussed how CAPR can best work with colleges and states to disseminate findings on effective intervention and address challenges colleges face in implementing new strategies.