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Addressing the Needs of Under-Prepared Students in Higher Education: Does College Remediation Work?

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  • Eric P. Bettinger
  • Bridget Terry Long

Abstract

Each year, thousands of students graduate high school academically unprepared for college. As a result, approximately one-third of entering postsecondary students require remedial or developmental work before entering college-level courses. However, little is known about the causal impact of remediation on student outcomes. At an annual cost of over $1 billion at public colleges alone, there is a growing debate about its effectiveness. Who should be placed in remediation, and how does it affect their educational progress? This project addresses these critical questions 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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11325.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Publication status: published as Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Addressing the Needs of Underprepared Students in Higher Education: Does College Remediation Work?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11325

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  1. Bridget Terry Long, 2003. "Does the Format of a Financial Aid Program Matter? The Effect of State In-Kind Tuition Subsidies," NBER Working Papers 9720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Christopher Avery & Thomas J. Kane, 2004. "Student Perceptions of College Opportunities. The Boston COACH Program," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 355-394 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Prashant Loyalka & Andrey Zakharov, 2014. "Does shadow education help students prepare for college?," HSE Working papers, National Research University Higher School of Economics WP BRP 15/EDU/2014, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  2. Butcher, Kristin F. & McEwan, Patrick J. & Taylor, Corrine H., 2010. "The effects of quantitative skills training on college outcomes and peers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 187-199, April.
  3. Joshua Angrist & Philip Oreopoulos & Tyler Williams, 2014. "When Opportunity Knocks, Who Answers?: New Evidence on College Achievement Awards," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(3), pages 572-610.
  4. Larry Singell & Mark Stater, 2006. "Going, going, gone: the effects of aid policies on graduation at three large public institutions," Policy Sciences, Springer, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 379-403, December.
  5. Judith Scott-Clayton & Peter M. Crosta & Clive R. Belfield, 2012. "Improving the Targeting of Treatment: Evidence from College Remediation," NBER Working Papers 18457, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2010. "Mentoring, Educational Services, and Economic Incentives: Longer-Term Evidence on Risky Behaviors from a Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 4968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Lagerlöf, Johan N.M. & Seltzer, Andrew J, 2008. "The Effects of Remedial Mathematics on the Learning of Economics: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 6895, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Cortes, Kalena & Goodman, Joshua & Nomi, Takako, 2013. "Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra," Working Paper Series, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government rwp13-009, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Philip Oreopoulos & Daniel Lang & Joshua Angrist, 2009. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 136-63, January.
  10. Eric Bettinger, 2010. "To Be or Not to Be: Major Choices in Budding Scientists," NBER Chapters, in: American Universities in a Global Market, pages 69-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Judith Scott-Clayton & Olga Rodriguez, 2012. "Development, Discouragement, or Diversion? New Evidence on the Effects of College Remediation," NBER Working Papers 18328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Núria Rodríquez-Planas, 2010. "Longer-term Impacts of Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in the United States," Working Papers 449, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  13. Jessica S. Howell & Michal Kurlaender & Eric Grodsky, 2010. "Postsecondary preparation and remediation: Examining the effect of the early assessment program at California State University," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(4), pages 726-748.
  14. Sandner, Malte, 2013. "Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of a Student Mentoring Program," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP), Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät dp-512, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  15. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2010. "Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: What Do We Know About Them?," IZA Discussion Papers 5255, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2010. "Longer-Term Impacts of Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 4754, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2011. "Pre-University Courses and Student Performance," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 2, June.
  18. Di Pietro, Giorgio, 2012. "The Short-Term Effectiveness of a Remedial Mathematics Course: Evidence from a UK University," IZA Discussion Papers 6358, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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