Study Shows Developmental Summer Bridge Programs Help

A two year random assignment study of ‘developmental summer bridge’ programs in Texas has found that students enrolled in the programs have an increased chance of passing college level math and writing in their first 18 months of college compared to those who do not attend such bridge programs. The students in the program, who were tested below college level prior to participation, were 7% more likely to pass college level math and 5% more likely to pass college level writing.

The NCPR study is the first to use a random assignment design to provide experimental evidence that these programs contribute to greater success early in students’ college careers, a period when they are most likely to drop out.

The study also found, however, that the effects were not persistent and faded after two years with no effect on credit accumulation. Of additional note is that four to five week bridge programs were not alone sufficient to improve long term student outcomes. Sustained benefits may come from layering such programs with additional interventions.

The study, from the National Center for Postsecondary Research and in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, tracked 1300 mostly Hispanic students over two years who participated in summer bridge programs at two four-year and six community colleges in Texas.

The developmental summer bridge programs studied ranged in length from four to five weeks and contained an intensive six hours a day of instruction as well as academic tutoring and college advising.

Colleges across the country have been seeking ways to help students move more quickly out of remediation and into college-level classes: nationally, six out of ten students entering community college need at least one remedial class, and only 28% of these students go on to complete a college degree or credential.

One in eight four year colleges now offer bridge programs showing that these programs have become a popular way of addressing the problem of students not being ready for college. However until this study there had been no rigorous investigation of the effectiveness of developmental summer bridge programs.

The National Center for Postsecondary Research is housed at the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University and operated in collaboration with MDRC, the Curry School of Education at University of Virginia, and a Harvard University professor. It was established in 2006 with a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences. NCPR measures the effectiveness of programs which are designed to help students make the transition to college.

Via Education News.

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Long Beach City College Tries an Alternative to Placement Tests

Edward Yacuta felt rushed and nervous when he took a test to determine whether he was ready for college-level English classes at Long Beach City College.

The 18-year-old did poorly on the exam, even though he was getting good grades in an Advanced Placement English class at Long Beach’s Robert A. Millikan High School.

Most community colleges would assign students like Yacuta to a remedial class, but he will avoid that fate at Long Beach. The two-year school is trying out a new system this fall that will place students who graduated from the city’s high schools in courses based on their grades rather than their scores on the standardized placement tests.

Long Beach is in the forefront of a movement in community colleges nationwide to reassess the use of placement tests for incoming students.

The issue is especially acute in California, where about 85% of students entering a two-year college are assigned to remedial English classes and 73% to remedial math, mostly based on placement tests. Only about one-third of those students go on to earn an associate degree or transfer to a four-year college, according to California’s community college system.

Remedial classes — sometimes referred to as developmental or basic education — typically don’t offer credit that counts toward graduation. Many students must take multiple levels of remedial courses to catch up. And some research indicates that remedial courses don’t adequately prepare students for more advanced courses. (Read more.)

Via Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times.

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Diagnostic Assessment: Challenges and Opportunitiess for the California Community Colleges

California can learn from the experiences of several states that have already developed, or are developing, statewide diagnostic tests for their community colleges. These states’ reforms are still in their infancy, and how they will play out over the long term is not yet clear. But their efforts help clarify the crucial issues for California to consider and how the ambitious reforms envisioned by the Task Force might differ from those being undertaken in other states.

This report:

1. Introduces “diagnostic assessment” and why it has attracted attention as a tool for community college reform.

2. Describes how several community college systems—Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina—are developing their own diagnostic assessments.

3. Shows that California’s proposed reforms differ because statewide diagnostic assessments would be developed without prior agreement about how the developmental curriculum should be structured.

4. Discusses practical implications related to the time needed for testing and the resources needed to use diagnostic information effectively.

5. Describes the opportunity that California colleges and K–12 schools have to better coordinate their expectations and assessments for students. Fundamental to this discussion will be the K–12 system’s recent adoption of Common Core State Standards.

To download the full brief click here.

To download the executive summary click here.

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