An Experimental Evaluation of Accelerated Pathways through Developmental Education

About the Research Study

An Experimental Evaluation of Accelerated Pathways through Developmental Education

About the Research Study

Research has found that students who were required to take developmental (remedial) courses in college were struggling to persist in and complete credit-bearing coursework. These findings have spurred a range of reforms to developmental education. Many of these reforms focus on accelerating students through developmental education and into credit-bearing courses. One acceleration model, corequisites, requires that students be placed directly into a credit-bearing course and then provided with “just in time” developmental education support within the same semester.

Texas has recently passed several policies encouraging experimentation with and scaling of corequisites among institutions of higher education in the state. This study is examining the impact and implementation of corequisites in Texas community colleges. The research team is working with five open- and broad-access institutions across Texas to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that assigns students to either corequisites or traditional developmental education courses and then compares 3-year outcomes in terms of course success, persistence, and degree completion. The RCT is examining three different models of corequisites in writing and reading: the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) model, an extended instructional time model, and an academic support service model. The study primarily focuses on students at the margin of college readiness, as determined by the state’s placement examination. In addition to this RCT, the research team conducted a study of the implementation of corequisites models at community colleges across Texas.

Study period: 2015–21 (cohorts randomized: fall 2016, spring 2017, fall 2017, and fall 2018; follow-up on student outcomes for up to three years)

This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305H170085 to American Institutes for Research (AIR).

About the Research Team

An Experimental Evaluation of Accelerated Pathways through Developmental Education

About the Research Team

This research team represents a partnership among American Institutes for Research (AIR), RAND Corporation, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). AIR and RAND have partnered with THECB on several studies examining state postsecondary policies, including accelerated developmental education reform strategies, use of multiple measures for placement, supports for students who enroll with low basic skills (that is, skills below the grade 9 level), and dual credit education. All three organizations are committed to conducting collaborative research that generates accessible findings for policymakers and practitioners and that supports evidence-based implementation of reforms across the state. 

Research Team Members