A new study of developmental education “summer bridge” programs in Texas—designed to prepare high school students to move more rapidly into college-level classes—shows that students who attend the programs are more likely to pass college-level math and writing in their first year and a half of college than those who do not attend.
However, the study also found that these effects fade after two years, and that the program has no effect on student persistence or credit accumulation—two important indicators of student success.
The report from the National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR)—in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board—tracked 1,300 mostly Hispanic students over two years who participated in summer bridge programs at two four-year and six community colleges in Texas. The intensive summer programs ranged in length from four to five weeks and provide up to six hours a day of instruction in math, reading and/or writing, as well as academic tutoring and college advising.
The study shows that students in the program—who tested below college-level at the start of the summer—were 7 percentage points more likely to pass college-level math and 5 percentage points more likely to pass college-level writing in the first year and half after participating. By spring, 2011—the fifth semester after attending the program—students were still slightly more likely to have passed these classes, but the difference was no longer statistically significant. (Read more or download the report here.)