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The Impact of Postsecondary Remediation Using a Regression Discontinuity Approach: Addressing Endogenous Sorting and Noncompliance

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  • Juan Carlos Calcagno
  • Bridget Terry Long

Abstract

Remedial or developmental courses are the most common instruments used to assist postsecondary students who are not ready for college-level coursework. However, despite its important role in higher education and substantial costs, there is little rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of college remediation on the outcomes of students. This study uses a detailed dataset to identify the causal effect of remediation on the outcomes of nearly 100,000 college students in Florida. Using a Regression Discontinuity design, we provide causal estimates while also investigating possible endogenous sorting around the policy cutoff. The results suggest math and reading remedial courses have mixed benefits. Being assigned to remediation appears to increase persistence to the second year and the total number of credits completed for students on the margin of passing out of the requirement, but it does not increase the completion of college-level credits or eventual degree completion. Taken together, the results suggest that remediation might promote early persistence in college, but it does not necessarily help students on the margin of passing the placement cutoff make long-term progress toward earning a degree.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14194.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14194

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  1. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2011. "The Effectiveness Of Remedial Courses In Italy: A Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers 201114, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica).
  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, vol. 29(2), pages 187-199, April.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Battistin, Erich & Schizzerotto, Antonio, 2012. "Threat of Grade Retention, Remedial Education and Student Achievement: Evidence from Upper Secondary Schools in Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 7086, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Cortes, Kalena & Goodman, Joshua & Nomi, Takako, 2013. "Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra," Working Paper Series rwp13-009, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Bailey, Thomas & Jeong, Dong Wook & Cho, Sung-Woo, 2010. "Referral, enrollment, and completion in developmental education sequences in community colleges," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 255-270, April.
  8. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2011. "Pre-University Courses and Student Performance," QA - Rivista dell'Associazione Rossi-Doria, Associazione Rossi Doria, issue 2, June.
  9. 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).
  10. Battistin, Erich & Meroni, Elena Claudia, 2013. "Should We Increase Instruction Time in Low Achieving Schools? Evidence from Southern Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 7437, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Cecilia Speroni, 2011. "High School Dual Enrollment Programs: Are We Fast-Tracking Students Too Fast?," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7288, Mathematica Policy Research.
  12. 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.

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