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ERIC Number: ED512610
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 49
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 28
Does Remediation Work for All Students? How the Effects of Postsecondary Remedial and Developmental Courses Vary by Level of Academic Preparation. An NCPR Working Paper
Boatman, Angela; Long, Bridget Terry
National Center for Postsecondary Research
Each year, thousands of American students enter postsecondary institutions unprepared for college-level work and are subsequently placed in remedial or developmental courses. Several recent studies have examined the impact of these courses on student outcomes, but such studies focus exclusively on students who need just one or two classes; the impact of remediation on students with more severe levels of underpreparedness is unknown. This study addresses this hole by examining the impact of remedial and developmental courses on students at multiple points on the preparedness distribution. Using longitudinal data from Tennessee, we estimate the effects of placement into varying levels of mathematics, reading, and writing courses for students attending public four- and two-year colleges and universities. This is possible due to the state's multi-tiered system in which students could be assigned into one of four levels of mathematics and one of three levels of reading and writing courses. Therefore, unlike previous studies, we examine the effects of remediation on a wider range of students than previously analyzed. Using regression discontinuity (RD) techniques, we provide causal estimates of the effects of placement on a number of student outcomes, including persistence, degree completion, the number of total and college-level credits completed, and college GPA. The results suggest that remedial and developmental courses do differ in their impact by the level of student preparation. Similar to other research, we find negative effects for those students on the margins of needing any remediation. However, at the other end of the academic ability spectrum, the negative effects of remediation were much smaller and occasionally positive. These results suggest that remedial and developmental courses help or hinder students differently depending on their level of academic preparedness. Appendices include: (1) Figures; and (2) Tables. (Contains 12 tables, 13 figures, and 8 footnotes.)
National Center for Postsecondary Research. Teachers College, Columbia University, Box 174, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3091; Fax: 212-678-3699; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Department of Education (ED)
Authoring Institution: National Center for Postsecondary Research (ED)
Identifiers - Location: Tennessee
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305A060010