Innovative Pathways Through Developmental Education and Postsecondary Success

An Examination of Developmental Math Interventions Across Texas

Published in: The Journal of Higher Education, 88:2, 183-209

Posted on RAND.org on March 15, 2017

by Emily Weisburst, Lindsay Daugherty, Trey Miller, Paco Martorell, Jana Cossairt

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This study assessed alternative course delivery for developmental education (DE) math and student outcomes in community colleges in Texas. We examined 2 innovative interventions: (a) study skills courses offered alongside DE math and (b) DE math courses that are shorter than a full semester. Our model leveraged detailed demographic information and DE placement exam scores to compare students in these interventions to similar students in traditional DE math. We found that students in shorter courses were 12% more likely to pass DE math and 2% more likely to pass a first college-level (FCL) math course within a year. Likewise, students also enrolled in a study skills course were 4% more likely to pass DE math, 1% more likely to pass FCL math within a year, and 4% more likely to persist to the next college year. These findings suggest that emerging reforms to DE show promise and deserve further study.

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