The first pair of Workshops on Quasi-Experimental Design and Analysis in Education was held in August at Northwestern University. These workshops were intended to build the capacity of the education research community to carry out advanced quasi-experiments and update the field on ongoing advances being made in quasi-experimental methods. They were led by Thomas Cook of Northwestern University and William Shadish of the University of California, Merced.
Under a cooperative agreement between IES and Northwestern University, along with support from the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern, two more pairs of one-week workshops will be held in the summer of both 2011 and 2012. Each workshop is open to 60 participants drawn from faculty, postdoctoral students and senior graduate students as well as employees in the federal, state, and local governments and contract research firms.
Information including photos and PowerPoint presentations from the 2010 workshops and related papers can be found at http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/events/workshops/qeworkshop-2010index.html.
Each year, colleges across the United States struggle with how to best help the large number of students who enroll with weak academic skills. Nationally, it is estimated that of those who enter higher education, more than one-third are required to take developmental education (remedial) courses in reading, writing, or mathematics. This problem is especially acute in community colleges, which accept most people who apply without regard to academic preparedness. The need to take remedial courses represents a profound barrier to college completion. Students enrolled in any remedial course are less likely to earn a degree or certificate than those who take no remedial courses; those who need remediation in reading face the highest odds of not graduating.
A diverse group of close to 200 higher education researchers and other experts gathered on September 23 and 24 at Teachers College, Columbia University to participate in a national conference on developmental education. The conference—Developmental Education: What Policies and Practices Work for Students?—was hosted by Thomas Bailey, director of the IES-funded National Center for Postsecondary Research, and featured panels and sessions on existing research on the effectiveness of developmental education.
These included: the role of state policy in improving developmental education outcomes; the role of assignment to developmental education in later student academic outcomes; trends in developmental education and alternative models such as summer bridge programs and learning communities; and the quandaries of providing basic skills education to adults and specific strategies for teaching developmental mathematics, reading, and writing at postsecondary institutions.
Panelists included researchers from NCPR partner institutions—the Community College Research Center, MDRC, and the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia—and other national developmental education experts. Martha Kanter—the Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education in charge of postsecondary education, vocational and adult education, and federal student aid—was the keynote speaker. IES Director John Easton also addressed the conference and spoke about the organizational context of postsecondary reform and the role of data and research in shaping this reform.
Papers presented at the conference and videos of the panel presentations will be available on the NCPR website by mid-to-late October. Also check the site for more information about NCPR plans for continuing the conversation about developmental education.