Measuring the Effects of Delayed or Avoided Developmental CourseworkA Suggested Approach for Assessingthe Effectiveness of Pre-College Courses T.M. Wright Columbia-Greene Community College
99.6% of two-year public institutions offer pre-college courses • Often referred to a remedial or developmental education (distinction between the two at CGCC) • First ‘remedial courses’ were offered at Harvard College in 1657 where students took remedial courses in Latin
Growing Phenomenon • Nationwide 36% of entering freshmen in 1985 increased to 41% by 1999
Two-thirds of students requiring pre-college preparation in one subject only are deficient in math
National Trend to transfer developmental/remedial mission to the two-year sector either by • De jure • CUNY Initiative, Florida, California, others • De facto • Open access and expanded support services offered at a lower cost by two-year sector • Two-year sector share approaching 90% (2003) • Costly Endeavor • Michigan Study in 2000 found that the cost to the state was $600 million (post secondary and private industry) • If the costs nationwide are comparable, then remedial education for basic skills costs about $16.6 billion annually in the United States.
Are inadequate state high school graduation standards to blame for so many academically under prepared students? ACT Survey of Faculty (2006) • How well do you think your state’s standards prepare students for college-level work in your content area? • Percent reporting “Very Well” or “Well” • Post Secondary Faculty • Writing 33% • Reading 37% • Math 42% • High School Faculty • Writing 76% • Reading 72% • Math 79%
Do the outcomes of pre-college courses justify the costs? • Lower mandated class sizes and reduced loads for remedial & developmental faculty plus enhanced support services result in a higher cost per credit hour • CGCC max class size for pre-college course=15 • Full load for developmental faculty = 4 courses • CGCC max class size for college-level course=22 • Full load for faculty teaching college level = 5 courses • Developmental & remedial classes have higher withdrawal and failure rates
Academically under prepared students have lower retention and graduation rates
Problems with The Traditional Approach to Assessing Pre-College Course Outcomes • Control group not representative of the treatment group • Need to examine post-developmental course outcomes for similar treatment and control groups in terms of academic preparation and social characteristics • Unrealistic Expectations • Intent of pre-college courses is to increase the probability of success but not to erase a history of poor academic preparation • Placement tests cannot measure motivation or other affective variables in academic learning. “ if we simply compare the performances of remedial versus non-remedial students in terms of educational outcomes, the former group will perform far worse than the latter group due mainly to pre-college differences rather than to the program itself “ (Bettinger & Long, 2005).
The Columbia-Greene StudyDesign & SampleFunded by the Institute of Community College Development
Ex Post Facto, Quasi Experimental design • Study population includes • all first-time students enrolled for 9 or more credits who first entered CGCC between fall 2000 and fall 2005 with 15 or more accumulated credits by fall 2006 • Tested for developmental (50% pre-college, 50% college material) but not remedial (100% pre college) courses in English, math, or both • Separated into • Treatment Group – those that took the required developmental course within their first two semesters and subsequently enrolled in a follow-on college-level course • Control Group – those that did not take the required developmental course within their first two semesters and enrolled in a follow-on college-level course
Control Group further broken down into subgroups • Those that tested or waived out of the requirement • Advisor may waive EN100 requirement based upon review of writing sample (WAIVE) • Student tests out of the course on the first day • Those that delayed taking the required course(s) beyond their first two semesters (DELAY) but did not take a follow on course • Those that managed to avoid the requirement altogether. Took follow on course w/o taking developmental (AVOID) • Did drop then add in first week • Advisor error allowed student to enroll in follow-on course (student did not take or failed the required developmental course)
Course Placement at CGCC Using COMPASS • CGCC Uses the ACT COMPASS tests to make placement decisions for selected first-time students: • Students with a non-Regents diploma, including students from other states. • Students with a Regents diploma but whose grades are weak or inconsistent (set at < 76). • Students with a GED. • Students without a high school diploma or GED. • Students who are or have been home-schooled. • Transfer students who have not successfully completed (C or better) college-level or skill building coursework in English and math. • The COMPASS tests provide an objective measure of students’ academic achievement and readiness for college and incorporates curriculum-based tests of educational development in: • English (writing) • mathematics • reading.
COMPASS Placement ScoreProbability of Success Chartfor Establishing Cutoff Points 100 0
The Columbia-Greene Study Results
Outcomes Measures Included in the Study • Grade performance on follow-on English & math courses • % A-B & F or W • One year retention • CUM GPA and Credits Earned • Earn Rate (Credits Earned/Credits Attempted) • Three-year Graduation Rate
Conclusions • Effectiveness of developmental courses is questionable as control group exhibits better academic outcomes on most indicators • Non academic factors seem to play a large role (Control Group’s Savvy Student) • More confident • Finds creative ways around requirement • Obtains advisor waiver • Drop/Add ploy • Transfer in from another institution • Need to examine other factors such as # tutoring hours, class attendance, goal commitment
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