Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Designing a RCT Experiment to Test the Impact of Innovative Interventions and Policies for Postsecondary Developmental Education: A RAND—TX Higher Education Coordinating Board Research Partnership
Center: NCER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Miller, Trey Awardee: RAND Corporation
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/13-6/30/15) Award Amount: $399,360
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H130026

Co-Principal Investigator: Gardner, David

Partner Institutions: RAND Corporation; Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Partnership Significance and Goal: The primary aim of the proposed partnership was to bring together the THECB and RAND Corporation to conduct preliminary research to determine which DEDP programs appeared to be most effective. They recruited potential research sites for subsequent evaluations and developed successful IES proposals to support the improvement and evaluation of the efficacy of the interventions.

Partners and Partnership Activities: THECB brought numerous data resources, the ability to tie institutional funding to participation in research efforts, and the desire for evidence-based decision-making. RAND brought research expertise and its mission to improve decision-making through research and analysis. Together, they built a partnership that supported both the research conducted during this project and future research efforts. To ensure partnership stability, RAND and THECB participated in a number of activities that facilitated engagement among staff from both organizations. These included regular project meetings, a RAND-THECB Liaison, a conference presentation, brownbag seminars, training sessions, and developing partnerships with Texas-based research organizations.

Setting: The DEDP programs included are in nine public higher education institutions across Texas, including four 4-year and four 2-year institutions.

Sample: The samples involved were college students that are required to take developmental education courses.

Initial Analysis: THECB and RAND conducted preliminary descriptive analyses to assess the likely impact of developmental education interventions developed and implemented under DEDP. The interventions used by the various DEDP programs include a range of activities such as those that focus on modifying traditional pedagogy (e.g., integrated reading and writing courses), strengthening student support services (e.g., technology-based tools such as Early Alert/Warning systems to improve communications among students, faculty, and support staff), instituting an array of pre-assessment activities (e.g., giving students practice questions offered online or through workshops, informing students about the importance of the assessment), exploring ways to reduce exit points (e.g., limiting the number of stand-alone developmental education courses students must complete),  and focusing on other instructions supports (e.g., faculty development, integration of technology with emphasis on instructional support programs).

To analyze the DEDP programs, RAND used data that THECB collected on all students who applied to or attend any college in Texas including information about basic demographics, SAT scores, high school GPA, admissions decisions, semester-by-semester enrollment, placement into and completion of developmental courses, and degree completion. THECB also had data-sharing agreements with other state agencies and data providers (e.g., the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission).

For the purposes of this study, RAND constructed a dataset of first-time entering college students who first enrolled between 2007 and 2012. They linked these data to THECB data on student outcomes generated from college enrollment, developmental education placement, and course-taking records. Because students in different DEDP programs differ in many other ways, the researchers estimated the effects of the programs using multivariate regression, differences-in-differences, and propensity score matching models to help reduce the influence of confounding factors.

Key Outcomes: According to findings published in Weisburst et al. (2017), two innovations resulted in the following outcomes for learners in developmental education (DE) mathematics.

  • Students in shorter courses were 12% more likely to pass DE math and 2% more likely to pass a first college-level (FCL) math course within a year.
  • Students enrolled in a study skills course alongside DE math were 4% more likely to pass DE math, 1% more likely to pass FCL math within a year, and 4% more likely to persist to the next college year.

Related Projects: Continuous Improvement Research to Support the Implementation of a Statewide Reform to Postsecondary Developmental Education—A RAND-THECB Research Partnership (R305H150069) and An Experimental Evaluation of Accelerated Pathways through Developmental Education - A RAND-THECB Partnership (R305H150094)


ERIC citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Weisburst, E., Daugherty, L., Miller, T., Martorell, P., and Cossairt, J. (2017). Innovative Pathways Through Developmental Education and Postsecondary Success: An Examination of Developmental Math Interventions Across Texas. The Journal of Higher Education, 88(2), 183–209.