Participation in Postsecondary Remedial Education

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1 1 Participation in Postsecondary Remedial Education Summary Participation in postsecondary remedial education in the first year of college is a key measure demonstrating students readiness to do college-level work. Postsecondary remediation, sometimes referred to as developmental education, is costly to both students and institutions. Remedial coursework is usually not eligible for college credit and is associated with lower postsecondary completion rates. Background Recent national initiatives are focused on achieving the highest college attainment rates in the world by As an important part of reaching this goal, high schools must ensure that students are college ready and colleges must increase the number of students who successfully complete remediation and move on to credit-bearing studies that lead to credentials. To help with K 12 and postsecondary education alignment, the Common Core State Standards Initiative has defined the knowledge and skills with which students should graduate high school to be able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. Participation in remedial education is a useful measure for several reasons. It provides important feedback to school and district staff about whether graduates are ready for credit-bearing postsecondary coursework. Examining the relationships between students high school coursetaking, proficiency on state assessments, and other high school experiences, and their subsequent participation in postsecondary remediation can help K 12 educators identify early indicators of college readiness and critical experiences that may contribute to this readiness. Data on postsecondary remediation can also serve as a catalyst for conversations among high school and college educators about needed academic preparation and how to better align secondary and postsecondary curricula and expectations.

2 2 Research Highlights Remedial coursetaking is a common experience, especially for community college students. Among all first-time postsecondary students in , half took at least one remedial course by Sixty-eight percent of these first-time students who enrolled in community colleges took a remedial course by 2009, with smaller percentages for students who enrolled in four-year public (39.4 percent) and four-year private non-profit (31.6 percent) institutions. The average number of remedial courses taken was 2.6 and the average number passed was 1.8. A number of studies indicate that students who participate in remedial courses are subsequently less likely to earn a degree. For example, Bailey (2006) reported that, among the high school graduating class of 1992, less than one quarter of community college students who enrolled in developmental education completed a degree or certificate within eight years. This compared with eight-year completion rates of almost 40 percent for community college students in the same cohort who did not take any developmental courses. Remedial education costs students money and time that could be better spent on creditbearing courses that lead to a credential. Postsecondary institutions, particularly community colleges, invest substantial sums of money on staff and facilities to deliver developmental education. 2 One estimate is that remedial education costs about $2.3 billion annually. 3 Indicator Details Operational Definition For purposes of the pilot, this measure was operationally defined as taking a postsecondary-level course in English or math with a remedial or developmental designation in the state course catalog. Students were included in calculations if they enrolled in a state public postsecondary institution within 12 months of their high school graduation date. Students with only a graduation year value (no date) were considered to have graduated on June 1 of that year. 1 See 2 See The Completion Arch, pp.17 23, for a useful state-by-state summary of data on developmental education. 3 Strong American Schools, Diploma to Nowhere, cited in Education Commission of the States, Getting Past Go, p.4.

3 3 Data Sources Participation in postsecondary remedial coursework was constructed from postsecondary transcript records for state public institutions. Transcript data were obtained from public 2-year and 4-year postsecondary education systems, as well as public technical college systems, where relevant to the state. Data Limitations As noted above, remediation data were available only for students who enrolled in state public postsecondary institutions. In addition, the data described students who took remedial coursework, rather than those who were assessed to need remedial coursework. Some students who are identified as needing remediation may never enroll in a remedial course and some fraction of students who are not identified as needing remediation may elect to take a remedial class. Bailey (2008) found that 21 percent of students referred to developmental math and 33 percent of those referred to developmental reading did not enroll in these classes. Pilot measures focused on remedial coursework in English and math. Related Measures Measures were created for remedial coursetaking in English and math separately, as well as any English or math, and both English and math. Related measures included number of credits earned during the first year of postsecondary education, as well as postsecondary GPA in the first year, also at state public postsecondary institutions. A complete list of postsecondary measures created for the pilot can be found in the List of Pilot Variables. How to Use the Measure This measure provides an early indication of postsecondary academic achievement that is strongly (negatively) associated with postsecondary success. It can be used to describe an overall cohort or to compare remediation rates across groups of interest. It is important to provide information about data limitations along with results, so that users may interpret the data appropriately. This measure was constructed for students attending state public postsecondary institutions only; data on remediation at private and out-of-state institutions were not available. The data describe actual remedial coursework taken, rather than an independent assessment of the need for remedial education. Measures also focus on remediation in English and math only, not other subjects.

4 4 Prompting Questions Users may find it helpful to think about the following questions when reviewing remediation results: What are the overall remediation rates for our school, district, or state? Do remediation rates differ by subject? What do these results suggest about the alignment between high school and postsecondary academic standards and expectations? Do remediation rates differ by demographic group? What high school coursetaking or achievement patterns are associated with lower remediation rates? What factors may contribute to higher and lower remediation rates? Presentation This section describes how information about postsecondary remediation can be presented effectively to state, district, and school audiences. State and local staff who are considering how to use the rich source of information in their state longitudinal data systems (SLDS) may find the examples presented here a useful guide for their own practice. These examples were developed through extensive conversations with, and iterative review by, stakeholder advisory groups in the three participating pilot states. Standard Display The standard reports included in the pilot web tool, Advance, combine a graphical display, a table containing demographic detail, the option to switch between percentages and counts, state-specific variable definitions, notes about the data and interpretation, questions to prompt thought and action, and the ability to export results to a PDF document or Excel spreadsheet. As seen on the next page, the graphical display for remedial coursetaking is a pie graph with slices for the percentages of a selected cohort enrolled at state public postsecondary institutions who did and did not take remedial coursework in math or English during their first year at the institution. Below the graph, a table shows additional detail, first repeating the overall result (total row) and then disaggregating results by three student demographic characteristics of general interest: gender, race/ethnicity, and economic disadvantage status. Definitions of terms and symbols and other related information appear to the right of the graph and table to provide context and support in understanding and interpreting the results. See the Sample Advance Report to view all standard report components.

5 5 To protect student privacy, results based on less than a state-defined minimum number of students were suppressed and replaced with a footnote indicating small numbers. Typically, the state practice for suppressing assessment results in public reporting was followed (a minimum of either five or ten students for the states participating in the pilot). Users can toggle between Percentages and Counts in the table to obtain the number of students upon which each percentage is based. This helps users interpret results appropriately, since results based on small numbers may be more volatile than those based on larger numbers. Remedial coursetaking during the first year of postsecondary education for 2009 high school graduates enrolled at state public postsecondary institutions 46% Took remedial math or English 54% Did not take remedial math or English

6 6 Remedial coursetaking during the first year of postsecondary education for 2009 high school graduates enrolled at state public postsecondary institutions, by selected student characteristics Took remedial math or English Did not take remedial math or English Total Percentages 46% 54% Gender Female 48% 52% Male 43% 57% Race/ethnicity African American 64% 36% White 30% 70% Hispanic 44% 56% Asian/ Pacific Islander 24% 76% Other 27% 73% Income Economically disadvantaged 52% 48% Not economically disadvantaged 31% 69% Reading the table: Forty-six percent (46%) of the 2009 high school graduates who enrolled at state public postsecondary institutions within 12 months of graduating from high school took at least one postsecondary-level remedial math or English course, while 54% percent did not take any such course. Forty-eight percent (48%) of female graduates who enrolled within 12 months took at least one remedial course, compared with 43% of their male classmates. Comparative Display Users often gain insight by comparing their school s or district s results with results for similar schools or districts. For example, how does participation in postsecondary remediation compare among districts with similar proportions of economically disadvantaged students, English language learners, or students proficient on the state s 8th-grade math test (a measure of achievement prior to high school)? An effective presentation can be constructed by grouping schools or districts in a state into deciles according to the characteristics of interest. For example, schools or districts within a state can be grouped into deciles based on the percentage of their students who were ever identified as economically disadvantaged in grades Each decile repre-

7 7 sents 10% of the schools or districts in the state. The first (lowest) decile includes the 10% of schools or districts with the lowest percentage of students ever classified as economically disadvantaged, while the tenth (highest) decile includes the 10% of schools or districts with the highest percentage of students ever classified as economically disadvantaged. Similar measures can be created for English Language Learner populations or 8th-grade proficiency rates. A bar chart can be used to illustrate how a school or district compares with similar schools or districts on selected characteristics. The following figure shows a comparative display for remedial coursetaking during the first year at state public postsecondary institutions. The table shows additional detail. Participation in remediation can also be shown separately by the type of remedial course taken (mathematics or English), characteristics of the postsecondary institution attended (such as 2-year or 4-year), high school coursetaking patterns (such as highest math course taken or number of years of math taken in high school), 9th-grade experiences (such as number of courses failed or attendance rate), whether a student transferred high schools, and the type of high school diploma earned. Remedial coursetaking during first year of postsecondary education for 2009 high school graduates at state public postsecondary institutions 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 46% 52% 34% 42% Your district Similar economically disadvantaged population Similar English Language Learner population Similar proficiency rate on the 8th grade math test

8 8 Remedial coursetaking during first year of postsecondary education for 2009 high school graduates at state public postsecondary institutions, by selected student characteristics Reading the table: Forty-six percent (46%) of the 2009 high school graduates from your district who enrolled at state public postsecondary institutions within 12 months of graduating from high school took at least one postsecondary-level remedial math or English course. In comparison, 52% of the 2009 graduates from districts with similar economically disadvantaged populations as your district took a remedial course; 34% of the 2009 graduates from districts with similar English language learner populations and 42% of the 2009 graduates from districts with similar 8th grade proficiency rates took such a course. Forty-eight percent (48%) of the 2009 high school graduates in your district who enrolled in postsecondary education within 12 months and were female took at least one remedial course, compared with 43% of their male classmates. Trend Display Examining trends over time provides information on the consistency of results and whether postsecondary outcomes are holding steady, increasing or decreasing. Simple line graphs may be used to illustrate trend data as shown below.

9 9 Percentage who took both a remedial math and English course, among high school graduates who took any remedial math or English during their first year at a state public postsecondary institution 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 45% 44% 44% 42% Sources Bailey, T. (2008). Challenge and opportunity: Rethinking the role and function of developmental education in community college. Community College Research Center Working Paper #14. Teachers College, Columbia University. New York. College Board (2012). The Completion Arch: Measuring Community College Student Success. Education Commission of the States. (2010). Getting Past Go: Rebuilding the Remedial Education Bridge to College Success. Retrieved December 9, 2012 from National Center for Education Statistics, 2003/04 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, Second Follow-up (BPS:04/09) and the 2009 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS:09). Table 2-A. Remedial Courses. Retrieved 12/9/2012, from The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (2009, July 14). Excerpts of the president s remarks in Warren, Michigan and a fact sheet on the American Graduation Initiative. Retrieved September 9, 2010, from Warren-Michigan-and-fact-sheet-on-the-American-Graduation-Initiative/.

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