WWC review of this study

Becoming College-Ready: Early Findings from a CUNY Start Evaluation.

Scrivener, S., Gupta, H., Weiss, M. J., Cohen, B., Cormier, M. S., & Brathwaite, J. (2018). MDRC Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED586380

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    3,835
     Students
    , grade
    PS
At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: January 2019

Academic achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

College-ready in math

CUNY Start vs. Business as usual

0 Semesters

Full sample;
3,835 students

57

25

Yes

 
 
30
 
More Outcomes

College-ready in reading

CUNY Start vs. Business as usual

0 Semesters

Full sample;
3,835 students

70

62

Yes

 
 
9
 

College-ready in writing

CUNY Start vs. Business as usual

0 Semesters

Full sample;
3,835 students

61

52

Yes

 
 
9
 
Credit accumulation outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

Persistence

CUNY Start vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
3,835 students

69

64

Yes

 
 
5
 
Credit accumulation and persistence outcomes—Statistically significant negative effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
ESSA
rating

College-level credits earned

CUNY Start vs. Business as usual

0 Semesters

Full sample;
3,835 students

0.57

2.45

Yes

-27
 
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 44% English language learners

  • Female: 56%
    Male: 44%
  • Race
    Black
    32%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    44%
    Not Hispanic
    56%

  • Urban
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    New York

Setting

The study took place at four City University of New York (CUNY) campuses: Borough of Manhattan Community College, Kingsborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College, and Queensborough Community College. CUNY Start is housed in each college’s Continuing Education division.

Study sample

56 percent of students in the study were female. Most students were Hispanic (44 percent) or Black (32 percent), and 44 percent were non-native English speakers. 35 percent were the first person in their family to attend college. 48 percent were 19 years old or younger, while 22 percent were 24 or older. Half (51 percent) required developmental instruction in three subject areas, 33 percent in two subject areas, and 15 percent in one subject area.

Intervention Group

CUNY Start is a one-semester program for students assessed as needing remediation; it has both a full-time and part-time version. The full-time version is open to students who need remediation in math and reading or writing (or in all three subjects), while the part-time version is also open to students who need remediation in only one subject. CUNY Start provides up to 26.5 hours of intensive instruction following a prescribed approach in math, reading, and writing; it also provides advising, tutoring, and a weekly college skills seminar. CUNY Start's math instructional approach is student-centered, rather than lecture-centered, and "integrates arithmetic and algebra and encourages conceptual understanding, real-world learning, and the building of academic skills..." (p. ES-6). CUNY Start's instructional approach to reading and writing is less substantively different than the standard developmental courses in these areas but integrates the two subjects to allow students to move more quickly through their developmental requirements. Students pay $75 to participate in CUNY Start (the cost is not covered by financial aid but, therefore, does not require students' to use one of their semesters of federal financial aid eligibility). The program's goal is to prepare students for college-level courses while providing all of the developmental education they need in one semester. After 12 weeks of CUNY Start, students take exit tests in the subject areas for which they needed remediation; if they pass, they are eligible to take college-level courses the next semester; if they fail, they receive three to six additional weeks of CUNY Start instruction before being reassessed.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was "business as usual." Students could receive standard developmental or college-level courses and services.

Support for implementation

"CUNY Start instructors are expected to spend a paid apprenticeship semester observing and assisting lead instructors before they begin teaching their own classes. After the apprenticeship period, CUNY Start professional development staff members provide continuing training and support" (p. 11). The implementation evaluation indicated the CUNY Start was implemented as intended.

 

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