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 Investigators: David Gardner (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board)

Partner Institutions: Rand Corporation and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Education Issue: In Texas, over 85 percent of first-time students enrolling in the state's public community college system require developmental education in at least one subject. These services are costly, and research by the RAND team suggests that the programs as currently implemented are ineffective for students at the margin of placement. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is currently funding the implementation of 15 innovative developmental education programs in institutions across Texas to improve developmental education under the Developmental Education Demonstration Project (DEDP) Grant. However, THECB has not determined which of these innovative approaches are most effective.

Partnership Significance and Goal: The primary aim of the proposed partnership is to bring together the THECB and RAND Corporation to conduct preliminary research to determine which DEDP programs appear most effective. They plan to recruit potential research sites for subsequent evaluations, and develop a successful IES proposal to support the evaluation of the efficacy of the interventions.

Partners and Partnership Activities: THECB brings numerous data resources, the ability to tie institutional funding to participation in research efforts, and the desire for evidence-based decision-making. RAND brings research expertise and its mission to improve decision-making through research and analysis. Together, they will build a partnership that will support both the research conducted during this project and future research efforts. To ensure partnership stability, RAND and THECB will participate in a number of activities that will facilitate engagement among staff from both organizations. These include 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 that will be explored are implemented in eight public higher education institutions across Texas, including four 4-year and four 2-year institutions.

Population/Sample: The samples involved in this study are college students that are required to take developmental education courses.

Initial Analysis: THECB and RAND will conduct 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 will use data that THECB collects on all students who apply 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 has 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 will construct a dataset of first-time entering college students who first enrolled between 2007 and 2012. They will link 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 will likely differ in many other ways, they will estimate the effects of the programs using multivariate regression, differences-in-differences, and propensity score matching models to help reduce the influence of confounding factors.

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)


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.