Topic: Postsecondary Education and Training
Purpose: The National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR) focuses on measuring the effectiveness of programs designed to help students make the transition to college and master the basic skills needed to advance to a degree. NCPR is currently pursuing research in dual enrollment; postsecondary remediation, including learning communities; and financial aid.
Established through a five-year grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, NCPR is housed at the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, and operated in collaboration with partners MDRC, the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, and faculty at Harvard University.
Principal Investigator: Robert Ivry, MDRC
One increasingly popular strategy to help students with low academic skills succeed in college is to form learning communities of students who need remedial instruction. Researchers from the Postsecondary Center will conduct a random assignment evaluation in which they test the effects of learning communities at six colleges or universities.
Principal Investigator: Katherine Hughes, Columbia University Teachers College
Dual enrollment is one of the fastest growing educational innovations that involve high schools and postsecondary institutions. Yet little rigorous research exists that compares the outcomes of students who have participated in dual enrollment to the outcomes of non-participants. Researchers from the Postsecondary Center are conducting analyses of student unit-record data to examine the potential outcomes of dual enrollment, while exploring opportunities for a random-assignment evaluation in several other states.
Principal Investigator: Juan Carlos Calcagno, Columbia University Teachers College
Traditionally, students who begin postsecondary education with low basic skills have been placed in developmental English and mathematics courses with the goal of remediation. Typically, scores on a proficiency exam, which students must pass before they are allowed to register for regular college-level English and mathematics classes, are used to measure remediation success. Little rigorous research exists, however, that compares the outcomes of students who receive general remediation with the outcomes of students who enroll directly into college-level courses. This study seeks to compare the success of general remediation versus direct entry into college-level courses among students who begin postsecondary education with low general skills.
Principal Investigator: Eric Bettinger, Case Western Reserve University
Higher education plays an increasingly important role in helping individuals attain social and economic success. Yet, despite decades of financial aid policy, substantial gaps in college access remain by income level and race. One major impediment to increasing college enrollment among low-income students is the lack of information about financial aid. In particular, few families appear to know about the types of aid available, and the federal application process for financial aid is so complex that it may actually impede student access. However, little research has been done to determine whether such policies would truly address the problems of access for low-income students, and there is almost no information about how programs designed to increase awareness affect the likelihood that students attend college and receive aid. This project addresses these questions by measuring the effects of an intervention designed to provide direct assistance with the completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application process as well as to test the impact of providing accurate and timely higher education information.
Key Personnel: Thomas Bailey, Elisabeth Barnett, Melinda Mechur, Karp, Amanda Rosenburg, John Wachen, Matthew Zeidenberg, Robert Ivry, Katherine Hughes.
Technical reports and working papers
Bettinger, E.P., Long, B.T., Oreopoulos, P., and Sanbonmatsu, L. (2009). The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results and Implications from the HandR Block FAFSA Experiment (An NCPR Working Paper). New York, NY: National Center for Postsecondary Research.
Calcagno, J.C., and Long, B.T. (2008). The Impact of Postsecondary Remediation Using a Regression Discontinuity Approach: Addressing Endogenous Sorting and Noncompliance. New York, NY: National Center for Postsecondary Research.
Long, B.T. (2008). What Is Known About the Impact of Financial Aid? Implications for Policy (An NCPR Working Paper) . New York, NY: National Center for Postsecondary Research.
Visher, M.G., Schneider, E., Wathington, H., and Collado, H. (2010). Scaling Up Learning Communities: The Experience of Six Community Colleges. New York, NY: National Center for Postsecondary Research.
Visher, M.G., Wathington, H., Richburg-Hayes, L., Schneider, E., with Cerna, O., Sansone, C., and Ware, M. (2008). The Learning Communities Demonstration: Rationale, Sites, and Research Design. New York, NY: National Center for Postsecondary Research.
Weiss, M.J., Visher, M.G, and Wathington, H. (2010). Learning Communities for Students in Developmental Reading: An Impact Study at Hillsborough Community College. New York, NY: National Center for Postsecondary Research.
BriefsCalcagno, J.C. and Long, B.T. (2009). Evaluating the Impact of Remedial Education in Florida Community Colleges: A Quasi-Experimental Regression Discontinuity Design (An NCPR Brief) . New York, NY: National Center for Postsecondary Research.
Center Website: http://www.postsecondaryresearch.org/.
IES Program Contact: Dr. Katina Stapleton
Telephone: (202) 219-2154