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Regional Educational Laboratory Program

Participation and Pass Rates for College Preparatory Transition Courses in Kentucky

The purpose of this study was to examine Kentucky high school students’ participation and pass rates in college preparatory transition courses, which are voluntary remedial courses in math and reading offered to grade 12 students in the state. Three groups of students were compared using the population of grade 12 students in Kentucky public schools in school year 2011/12 (n=33,928): students meeting state benchmarks, students approaching state benchmarks (1 to 3 points below), and students performing below state benchmarks (4 or more points below). The courses targeted students who were approaching state benchmarks, but all students were eligible to take them. Results were examined for member school districts of the Southeast/South-Central Educational Cooperative (a research partner with Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia), a matched comparison group of districts with similar characteristics identified through propensity score matching, and the state as a whole. The study found that most students, even those targeted for the intervention, did not participate in the college preparatory transition courses. Among students who were approaching state benchmarks in math, fewer than one-third (28.1 percent) took transition courses, and among students approaching state benchmarks in reading, fewer than one-tenth (8.0 percent) enrolled in transition courses. Despite the intention of the policy, students from all three groups (meeting, approaching, and below state benchmarks) enrolled in the courses. Statewide pass rates for students who did enroll in transition courses in math or reading were more than 90 percent. Examining participation and pass rates can help schools and districts understand how college preparatory transition courses are used and may be adapted to meet the needs of students targeted for intervention.
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Publication Date:
January 2015