Underprepared Students and Remediation

The Effects of Developmental and Remedial Education

Bettinger, Eric and B. T. Long. (2009) “Addressing the Needs of Under-Prepared College Students: Does College Remediation Work?” Journal of Human Resources 44(3): 736–771.

This project addresses critical questions about the impact of postsecondary remediation by examining the effects of math and English remediation using a unique dataset of approximately 28,000 students. To account for selection biases, the paper uses variation in remedial placement policies across institutions and the importance of proximity in college choice. The results suggest that students in remediation are more likely to persist in college in comparison to students with similar test scores and backgrounds who were not required to take the courses. They are also more likely to transfer to a higher-level college and to complete a bachelor's degree.

Boatman, Angela and B. T. Long. (forthcoming) “Does Remediation Work for All Students? How the Effects of Postsecondary Remedial and Developmental Courses Vary by Level of Academic Preparation.”

Calcagno, Juan Carlos and B. T. Long. (2008) “The Impact of Postsecondary Remediation Using a Regression Discontinuity Approach: Addressing Endogenous Sorting and Noncompliance.” National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper No. 14194.

Overviews - Developmental and Remedial Education

Boatman, Angela, B. T. Long, and Eric Bettinger. (2013) “Student Supports: Developmental Education and Other Academic Programs.” Future of Children volume, Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Cecilia Rouse, Lisa Barrow, and Thomas Brock, Eds.

Long, B. T. and Angela Boatman. (2013) “The Role of Remediation and Developmental Courses in Access and Persistence.” In Anthony Jones and Laura Perna, Eds. The State of College Access and Completion: Improving College Success for Students from Underrepresented Groups. New York: Routledge Books.

A significant number of high school graduates, as well as older students, are underprepared for college-level coursework and require remedial or developmental courses. The costs of postsecondary remediation are substantial for students, institutions, and taxpayers. This chapter addresses what is known, as well as the limitations of that knowledge, regarding the impacts of remediation on student outcomes. It also outlines needs for future research, including the use of more rigorous research designs to better target causal impact, ways to utilize existing data for such analyses, continued improvements to the alignment of state secondary and postsecondary curricula and expectations.

Bettinger, Eric and B. T. Long. (2007) “Institutional Responses to Reduce Inequalities in College Outcomes: Remedial and Developmental Courses in Higher Education.” In Stacy Dickert-Conlin and Ross Rubenstein, Eds. Economic Inequality and Higher Education: Access, Persistence, and Success. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.