>Remedial Courses Increase Chances That Underprepared Students Will
>Complete Their Degrees, Study Finds
>Remedial courses appear to improve poorly prepared college students'
>odds of eventually completing a degree, two economists reported in a
>working paper distributed last week. 
>The new study, which draws on data for more than 28,000 students who
>entered public colleges and universities in Ohio in 1998, arrives at a
>time when some state governments and university systems are debating the
>cost-effectiveness of remedial programs. The Nevada Board of Regents,
>for example, recently adopted a plan that will eliminate state subsidies
>for remedial courses. Without the subsidies, students will have to pay
>the full cost of such courses. 
>Scholars have generally found it difficult to estimate the effectiveness
>of remedial courses. Few colleges rigorously evaluate their own
>programs. Earlier studies have often found that students who take
>remedial courses have worse grades and higher dropout rates than their
>peers. But that in itself is no surprise, since remedial students
>generally have weaker skills and high-school preparation than the
>typical college student. 
>The challenge for researchers has been to find a valid apples-to-apples
>comparison that can assess the experiences of students with roughly
>equivalent skills and preparation. In other words: If Douglas and
>Elizabeth enter college with identical C- high-school grades and
>identical achievement-test scores, and Douglas begins college with
>remedial courses in English and mathematics, is he likely to be better
>off than Elizabeth in the long run? 
>The authors of the new paper -- Eric P. Bettinger, an assistant
>professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University, and Bridget
>Terry Long, an associate professor of education and economics at Harvard
>University -- believe that they have solved the puzzle. 
>Their new study takes advantage of the fact that Ohio's public colleges
>and universities have considerable discretion in setting their
>remediation policies. Some institutions, for example, require students
>who score worse than 580 on the verbal portion of the SAT to take
>remedial writing courses. But other Ohio colleges use lower SAT-score
>cutoffs -- in some cases, as low as 410. There is also similar variation
>in the colleges' standards for high-school grade-point averages. 
>So a student in one corner of Ohio with a 2.1 high-school GPA and a
>verbal SAT score of 520 might (hypothetically) enter a Dayton-area
>community college and be required to take remedial courses in writing
>and mathematics. Meanwhile, in Youngstown, a student with an identical
>high-school record might enter the local community college and face no
>such requirement. With a large enough number of such pairs, it becomes
>possible to generalize about the effects of remedial courses. 
>The Ohio Board of Regents provided Mr. Bettinger and Ms. Long with data
>on 28,376 students who entered public colleges in Ohio in 1998 (with
>appropriate steps taken to prevent any student from being identified by
>name). The two economists then developed a statistical model that
>assesses the progress of the students through the spring-2003 semester. 
>The researchers were especially interested in a subgroup --
>approximately 15,000 students -- whose high-school grades and test
>scores were low enough that they would have been required to take
>remedial courses at some Ohio colleges, but not so low that they would
>have been required to take remedial courses at all 25 institutions
>included in the study. 
>Among the students in that group, the researchers found that those who
>took remedial courses in mathematics were 9.6 percent less likely to
>drop out of college within five years than were students with similar
>high-school preparation who did not take such courses. 
>Students who took remedial courses in English, the researchers found,
>were 17.3 percent more likely to complete a bachelor's degree within
>four years than were students with similar high-school preparation who
>did not take such courses. 
>The students who took remedial courses in English were also 18.9 percent
>less likely to transfer to a less-selective college than students in the
>comparison group. 
>The authors note that their study has at least one important limitation.
>Because of its methodology, the study reveals nothing about the
>experiences of students whose high-school grades and test scores were so
>low that all 25 public Ohio colleges would have required them to take
>remedial courses. 
>Mr. Bettinger and Ms. Long's study has been presented at several
>seminars, but has not yet completed a formal peer review. It was partly
>financed by a grant from the Lumina Foundation. An abstract is available
>on the Website ( of the National
>Bureau of Economic Research. The full paper may be purchased for $5 on
>the same site. 
>* * *
>In a related study, the U.S. Education Department's National Center for
>Education Statistics released a report on Thursday about the differing
>outcomes between students who enroll in college right out of high school
>and those who delay their enrollment, for economic or other reasons. 
>According to the report, "Waiting to Attend College: Undergraduates Who
>Delay Their Postsecondary Enrollment," students who delay beginning
>their postsecondary education are at a "significant disadvantage"
>relative to those who go straight to college from high school, in terms
>of how well prepared they are, how much they have to work to finance
>their education, and so on. 
>Delayed matriculators also tend to be outperformed by their peers who do
>not delay: 40 percent of delayed entrants earn some kind of
>postsecondary credential, compared with 58 percent of immediate
Link to delayed enrollers from Inside Higher Ed:


Dan Kern  AD12
Reading Skills
East Central College
1964 Prairie Dell Road
Union, Missouri 63084
Phone:  636-583-5195 ext. 2426
Fax:  636-584-0513
Email:  [log in to unmask]

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