IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

CAPR: Answers to Pressing Questions in Developmental Education

Since 2014, IES has funded the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) to answer questions about the rapidly evolving landscape of developmental education at community colleges and open-access four-year institutions. CAPR is providing new insights into how colleges are reforming developmental education and how their reforms are impacting student outcomes through three major studies:

  • A survey and interviews about developmental education practices and reform initiatives
  • An evaluation of the use of multiple measures for assessing college readiness
  • An evaluation of math pathways.

Preliminary results from these studies indicate that some reforms help more students finish their developmental requirements and go on to do well in college-level math and English.

National Study of Developmental Education Policies and Practices

CAPR has documented widespread reform in developmental education at two- and four-year colleges through a national survey and interviews on developmental education practices and reforms. Early results from the survey show that colleges are moving away from relying solely on standardized tests for placing students into developmental courses. Colleges are also using new approaches to delivering developmental education including shortening developmental sequences by compressing or combining courses, using technology to deliver self-paced instruction, and placing developmental students into college-level courses with extra supports, often called corequisite remediation.

Developmental Math Instructional Methods in Public Two-Year Colleges (Percentages of Colleges Implementing Specific Reform Strategies)

Notes: Percentages among two-year public colleges that reported offering developmental courses. Colleges were counted as using an instructional method if they used it in at least two course sections. Categories are not mutually exclusive.

Evaluation of Developmental Math Pathways and Student Outcomes

CAPR has teamed up with the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin to evaluate the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) curriculum at four community colleges in Texas. The math pathways model tailors math courses to particular majors, with a statistics pathway for social science majors, a quantitative reasoning pathway for humanities majors, and an algebra-to-calculus pathway for STEM majors. DCMP originally compressed developmental math into one semester, though now the Dana Center is recommending corequisite models. Instructors seek to engage students by delving deeply into math concepts, focusing on real-world problems, and having students work together to develop solutions.

Interim results show that larger percentages of students assigned to DCMP (versus the traditional developmental sequence) enrolled in and passed developmental math. More of the DCMP students also took and passed college-level math, fulfilling an important graduation requirement. After three semesters, 25 percent of program group students passed a college-level math course, compared with 17 percent of students assigned to traditional remediation.

Evaluation of Alternative Placement Systems and Student Outcomes (aka Multiple Measures)

CAPR is also studying the impact of using a combination of measures—such as high school GPA, years out of high school, and placement test scores—to predict whether students belong in developmental or college-level courses. Early results from the multiple measures study show that, in English and to a lesser extent in math, the multiple measures algorithms placed more students into college-level courses, and more students passed those courses (compared to students placed with a single test score).

 

College-Level English Course Placement, Enrollment, and Completion in CAPR’s Multiple Measures Study (Percentages Compared Across Placement Conditions)

 

College-Level Math Course Placement and Completion in CAPR’s Multiple Measures Study

Looking Ahead to the Future of Developmental Education

These early results from CAPR’s evaluations of multiple measures and math pathways suggest that those reforms are likely to be important pieces of future developmental education systems. CAPR will release final results from its three studies in 2019 and 2020.

Guest blog by Nikki Edgecombe and Alexander Mayer

Nikki Edgecombe is the principal investigator of the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness, an IES-funded center led by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and MDRC, and a senior research scientist at CCRC. Alexander Mayer is the co-principal investigator of CAPR and deputy director of postsecondary education at MDRC.

Evaluating Oregon’s Adult Basic Skills Transition Planning Process: An Interview with Judith Alamprese

In her 2017 IES grant, Judith Alamprese (Abt Associates) is collaborating with the state of Oregon’s Office Community College and Workforce Development to evaluate a program that aims to help adults earn a GED® and transition into postsecondary education. This project is funded under the Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions competition, which supports research that aims to produce meaningful results for local and/or state education agencies quickly. Program Officer, Meredith Larson, interviewed Ms. Alamprese about this current work, how it came into being, and what it might mean for Oregon and adult education more broadly.

Tell us about your area of research and why it’s important to Oregon.

My current research is focused on determining effective interventions for assisting low-skilled adults establish and succeed in a career pathway. Oregon was one of the first states to implement a statewide initiative for transitioning adult basic skills learners (henceforth adult learners) to further education and work, and this project expands Oregon’s activities to support adult learners’ success.  

What is your current project studying?

The Transition Planning Process (TPP) project is a collaboration between Oregon’s Office of Community College and Workforce Development (CCWD) and Abt Associates (Abt). We are using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test whether text messaging helps adult learners earn a GED® and transition to postsecondary education and training.

What is TPP, and why is this approach innovative?

TPP is a text messaging intervention in which transition facilitators who work with the adult learners send text messages to the learners to help keep them on track to complete their GED® and enroll in postsecondary courses. The intervention is a supplement to the facilitators’ other transition activities to prepare learners for next steps in education and work.

TPP has a standardized list of text messages to prompt learners to take the GED® tests, set college goals, access information on college planning and other college preparation activities. Facilitators can send texts customized to programs’ specific transition activities.

CCWD chose text messaging because it appeared to be a low-cost approach that could support existing transition activities and provide a boost to ABS learners. The TPP project is an exciting opportunity to determine whether texting can be effective with ABS learners, and may be a promising approach for encouraging specific behaviors in learners preparing to go to college.

How did this project come into being?

The TPP project grew out of Abt’s and CCWD’s work together on an IES Researcher-Practitioner Partnership grant. This grant was a longitudinal study of Oregon’s Pathways for Adult Basic Skills Transition to Postsecondary Education and Work initiative. The findings from Abt’s analyses of adult learners’ GED® attainment and postsecondary participation prompted Oregon to want to try some additional strategies to encourage ABS learners to earn a secondary credential and enroll in postsecondary courses.

What is the current status of the project?

The study is underway, and transition facilitators are providing text messages to encourage adult learners to initiate and complete GED® testing, determine next steps, and begin the postsecondary planning process. The facilitators have found that while many treatment group learners respond to the texts, some learners have chosen to increase their face-to-face interaction with their facilitators. The facilitators report that texting is an efficient way to reinforce learners and check on their progress.

Why is this work important?

This research is particularly important because it is a rigorous test of an intervention that could be beneficial to adult basic skill learners nationwide and could leverage such programs’ existing activities in transitioning learners from basic skills programs to further education and training. We will learn more about the types of information and support that are most persuasive in helping learners succeed.

Celebrating 150 Years of Education Data

Statistics paint a portrait of our Nation. They provide important information that can help track progress and show areas that need attention. Beginning with the first Census in 1790, federal statistics have been used to allocate representation in Congress. Labor statistics have been gathered since the middle of the 19th century. And since 1870, the federal government has collected statistics on the condition and progress of American education.

One of the early Commissioners, John Eaton, lamented in his 1875 report to Congress that, “When the work of collecting educational statistics was begun by the Office, it was found that there was no authentic list of the colleges in the United States, or of academies, or normal schools, or schools of science, law, or medicine, or of any other class of educational institutions.” In the beginning, data were collected on basic items such as public school enrollment and attendance, teachers and their salaries, high school graduates, and expenditures. Over the years, the level of detail gradually has increased to address the needs of policy makers and the public. For example, data collections were expanded after WWII to provide more information on the growth of postsecondary education resulting from the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill.

Patterns of enrollment change help to illustrate the growth in the nation’s education system. In 1900, relatively few students ever attended high school or college.  Of the 17.1 million students in 1900, only about 0.6 million, 4 percent of students, were enrolled in grades 9 through 12 and 0.2 million, 1 percent of students, were enrolled in postsecondary education.  During the first half of the 20th century, high school became a key part of the educational experience for most Americans. Between 1899-1900 and 1949-50, both population growth and an increase in the number of students attending high school and postsecondary education led to shifts in the distribution of students at different levels. Of the 31.2 million students in 1949-50, about 71 percent were enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 8, about 21 percent were enrolled in grades 9 through 12, and about 9 percent were enrolled in college. From 1949–50 to more recent years, enrollment in postsecondary education has become more common. Of the 75.7 million students enrolled in 2015, about 26 percent were enrolled in postsecondary education. About 52 percent of students were enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 8 in 2015, and about 22 percent were enrolled in grades 9 through 12.   

In 1962, the National Center for Education Statistics was authorized by legislation, which underscored the expanding role of education statistics within the federal system. This new role was highlighted by major advances in gathering policy-relevant and research-oriented information about our education system through the establishment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the late 1960s and the beginning of the National Longitudinal Study of 1972. Elementary and secondary administrative record systems were expanded by working collaboratively with state education agencies through the Common Core of Data beginning in the late 1970s.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) was developed from existing systems to better meet the needs of institutional, state, and federal decision makers. At the same time, the Center developed new sample surveys to efficiently meet research and policy needs. These new surveys included the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (1986-87), the Schools and Staffing Survey (1987-88) and the National Household Education Survey (1991).

NCES longitudinal studies have continued to strongly support research and policy analyses at all levels from early childhood to postsecondary education.  One example was the groundbreaking Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (2001), which obtained nationally representative data on children from birth to kindergarten entry. NCES has continued a tradition of innovation by including digitally based assessments in the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress and by introducing interactive geographic mapping to our website. NCES strives to improve measures of the condition of education by collecting data that reflect the educational experiences of all students, while maintaining a faithful commitment to accuracy, transparency, and objectivity. Find out more about the history of NCES here or by visiting the NCES webpage at nces.ed.gov.

 

By Tom Snyder

Back to School by the Numbers: 2018

Across the country, hallways and classrooms are full of activity as students head back to school for the 2018–19 academic year. Each year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiles some back-to-school facts and figures that give a snapshot of our schools and colleges for the coming year. You can see the full report on the NCES website, but here are a few “by-the-numbers” highlights. You can also click on the hyperlinks throughout the blog to see additional data on these topics.

The staff of NCES and the Institute of Education Sciences hopes our nation’s students, teachers, administrators, school staffs, and families have an outstanding school year!

 

50.7 million

The number of students expected to attend public elementary and secondary schools this year—slightly more than in the 2017–18­ school year (50.6 million). The racial and ethnic profile of these students includes 24.1 million White students, 7.8 million Black students, 14.0 million Hispanic students, 2.6 million Asian students, 0.2 million Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.6 million students of Two or more races.

About 5.9 million students are expected to attend private schools this year.

 

16.0

The expected number of public school students per teacher in fall 2018. This ratio has remained consistent at around 16.0 since 2010. However, the pupil/teacher ratio is lower in private schools (12.3) and has fallen since 2010, when it was 13.0. 

 

$12,910

This is the projected per-student expenditure in public elementary and secondary schools in 2018–19. Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools are projected to be $654 billion for the 2018–19 school year.

 

3.6 million

The number of students expected to graduate from high school this academic year, including about 3.3 million from public schools and nearly 0.4 million from private schools.

 

19.9 million

This is the number of students expected to attend American colleges and universities this fall—higher than the fall 2000 enrollment of 15.3 million but lower than the peak of 21.0 million in 2010. About 13.3 million students will attend four-year institutions and 6.7 million will attend two-year institutions.

 

56.5%

The projected percentage of female postsecondary students in fall 2018, for a total of about 11.2 million female students, compared with 8.7 million male students.

 

By Lauren Musu, NCES and Molly Fenster, American Institutes for Research

Trends in Graduate Student Loan Debt

Sixty percent of students who completed a master’s degree in 2015–16 had student loan debt, either from undergraduate or graduate school. Among those with student loan debt, the average balance was $66,000.[i] But there are many types of master’s degrees. How did debt levels vary among specific degree programs? And how have debt levels changed over time? You can find the answers, for both master’s and doctorate degree programs, in the Condition of Education 2018.

Between 1999–2000 and 2015–16, average student loan debt for master’s degree completers increased by:

  • 71 percent for master of education degrees (from $32,200 to $55,200),
  • 65 percent for master of arts degrees (from $44,000 to $72,800),
  • 39 percent for master of science degrees (from $44,900 to $62,300), and
  • 59 percent for “other” master’s degrees[ii] (from $47,200 to $75,100).

Average loan balances for those who completed master of business education degrees were higher in 2015–16 than in 1999–2000 ($66,300 vs. $47,400), but did not show a clear trend during this period.

Between 1999–2000 and 2015–16, average student loan debt for doctorate degree completers increased by:

  • 97 percent for medical doctorates (from $124,700 to $246,000),
  • 75 percent for other health science doctorates[iii] (from $115,500 to $202,400),
  • 77 percent for law degrees (from $82,400 to $145,500),
  • 104 percent for Ph.D.’s outside the field of education (from $48,400 to $98,800), and
  • 105 percent for “other (non-Ph.D.) doctorates[iv] (from $64,500 to $132,200).

While 1999–2000 data were unavailable for education doctorate completers, the average balance in 2015–16 ($111,900) was 66 percent higher than the average loan balance for education doctorate completers in 2003–04 ($67,300).

For more information, check out the full analysis in the Condition of Education 2018.

 

By Joel McFarland

 

[i] The average balances in this analysis exclude students with no student loans.

[ii] Includes public administration or policy, social work, fine arts, public health, and other.

[iii] Includes chiropractic, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry, and veterinary medicine.

[iv] Includes science or engineering, psychology, business or public administration, fine arts, theology, and other.