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IES Grant

Title: Assessment of the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative
Center: NCER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Mokher, Christine Awardee: CNA Corp.
Program: Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (7/1/2012-1/31/2017) Award Amount: $4,687,046
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305E120010

Co-Principal Investigator: Lou Jacobson

Purpose: Students who receive a high school diploma may not have the requisite skills to successfully complete college-level work and may not recognize that they lack this preparation. As a result, when they enter college they may be required to enroll in remediation courses. To increase these students' college-readiness in high school and reduce their need for remediation at community colleges, Florida has implemented the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative (FCCRI). The FCCRI uses test scores to identify 11th grade students likely to graduate high school but also likely to need remediation in college and then provides remediation in 12th grade. The researchers will evaluate the impact of the FCCRI on students' college persistence and completion.

Project Activities: The researchers will examine Florida administrative data for three cohorts of 11th-graders. Two of the cohorts will experience FCCRI as a voluntary program and the third as a mandatory program. Using a regression discontinuity design, the researchers will compare the college outcomes of students who are eligible for FCCRI (based on a standardized test score) versus those who scored just above the cutoff point and were not referred to the FCCRI program. The researchers will use the data along with teacher surveys and forums to examine the fidelity of implementation of FCCRI. Specifically, the team will identify which high schools carried out which components of FCCRI, the number and percent of students who took part, and obstacles to implementing FCCRI.

Products: The products of this project will be evidence of the efficacy of the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative. The evidence will be provided to the Florida Department of Education directly through the participation of department personnel on the project and to the research community and other education practitioners and policymakers through peer reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The setting is all Florida public high schools.

Sample: The sample includes students from three cohorts of Florida public high school students who were in 11th grade in 2008–09, 2009–10, and 2011–12.

Intervention: The Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative (FCCRI) uses a two-test process to identify 11th-grade students likely to graduate high school but also likely to need remediation coursework in college. These students are then recommended (when the FCCRI was voluntary) or required (when the FCCRI became mandatory) to take remediation coursework in 12th grade. The first test is the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Florida high school students must achieve at least a 3 on a 5-point achievement level scale on the FCAT in math and English to meet the state's high school diploma criteria. The second test is a community college placement test used to determine if a student should be placed in remedial or for-credit college courses.

Prior to the FCCRI, high school remediation was given to students who scored below a 3 on the FCAT and these students were provided with FCAT remediation. College placement testing was done at the college. In school year 2008–09, the FCCRI began and all public high schools were required to offer the College Placement Test (CPT) in 11th grade and remediation to prepare students for college in the 12th grade. Taking the CPT was optional for 11th graders with FCAT achievement levels of 3 in reading, and 3 or 4 in math and taking remediation was optional regardless of CPT score. In school year 2011–12, the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT) replaced the CPT, and testing became mandatory for high school students with FCAT achievement levels of 3 in reading, and 3 or 4 in math. In school year 2012–13, remediation in grade 12 became mandatory for students with PERT scores corresponding to college remedial course placement.

Research Design and Methods: A regression discontinuity design will be used to evaluate the FCCRI. The continuous scale score on the FCAT that underlies the FCAT achievement levels will be used to identify students targeted for treatment. Students near the cutoff point (those just above versus those just below) for placement testing and possible remediation will be compared on college outcomes. For two cohorts of students under the voluntary FCCRI, a fuzzy regression discontinuity design will be used because students who scored just below the FCAT cutoff had the option of not taking the CPT and/or not taking remediation. For the one cohort under the mandatory FCCRI, a sharp regression discontinuity design will be attempted because students who scored just below the FCAT cutoff were required to take part in the placement testing and remediation.

Two additional exploratory analyses will be done. The first will estimate the average treatment effect for the first cohort of students using propensity score matching. In the FCCRI's first year, not all districts were able to offer the CPT and remediation. Cohort 1 students and schools where the CPT and remediation were offered will be matched with students and schools where it was not offered and their college outcomes compared. The second exploratory analysis will use a regression discontinuity design to compare college outcomes for the students eligible for the CPT and remediation versus those scoring below a 3 on the FCAT who were supposed to take FCAT remediation and not expected to attend college.

For the fidelity of implementation study, a random sample of 180 high schools will be selected (stratified by percentage of students with FCAT scores below the threshold for high school graduation and by location), their administrative data will be examined, and one remedial teacher in math and one in language arts will be surveyed about FCCRI's success and impediments.

Control Condition: For the main analysis, the comparison group is composed of students who score just above the FCAT threshold for taking the college placement exam (CPT or PERT) and participating in remediation in 12th grade. For the exploratory analysis using propensity score matching, the comparison is with schools and students matched to the FCCRI-eligible students but who did not have access to the CPT testing and remediation in the first year of the FCCRI. Students who score below the high school graduation threshold (FCAT achievement level of 3) making them ineligible to take part in the FCCRI make up the comparison group in the exploratory analysis regarding whether the FCCRI helps the lowest scoring group of FCCRI-eligible students.

Key Measures: The researchers will use both short-term and longer term college outcomes in their examination of FCCRI's impacts. The shorter term impacts include: completion of three or more courses for college credit, cumulative college GPA by the end of the first year of college enrollment, completion of a college-level course in the same subject area in which the student did not meet the college readiness benchmarks on the CPT or PERT, and continued enrollment in college. The researchers will be able to follow the first cohort for 6 years after expected high school graduation, the second cohort for 5 years, and the third cohort for 3 years. As a result, they will be able to examine longer term college outcomes of completing a certificate or a degree. These outcomes will be examined for students who enter college directly after high schools and those who enroll in later years.

Data Analytic Strategy: The data will be analyzed using a three-level (student in school in district) hierarchical generalized linear model. The model will be estimated separately for subject and year. A logit model will be used for the dichotomous outcomes.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Lansing, J., Ahearn, C., Rosenbaum, J.E., Mokher, C., and Jacobson, L. (2017). Improving High School–College Alignment: A Sociological Reform and New Challenges. The Educational Forum, 81(3): 267–280.

Mokher, C., and Pearson, J.L. (2017). The Complexities of Recruiting Participants for a Statewide Education Survey. Survey Practice, 10(4).

Mokher, C.G., Leeds, D.M., and Harris, J. C. (2017). Adding It Up: How the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative Impacted Developmental Education. Educational Evaluation and  Policy Analysis.