Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Education Reform

Advisor

Gary W. Ritter

Committee Member

Patrick J. Wolf

Second Committee Member

Robert Maranto

Keywords

Developmental Education, Higher Education, Postsecondary, Remediation

Abstract

This dissertation is an evaluation of the impacts of assignment to and enrollment in postsecondary remedial coursework in the state of Arkansas. In this study, I evaluate the impacts of the policy on students’ academic achievement and attainment as measured by graduation rates and persistence. I include subgroup analyses of these outcomes to determine whether there are heterogeneous effects for students enrolling at two-year or four-year institutions, institutions with the highest remediation rates, and students of different races, genders, and baseline achievement. Like previous evaluations of remediation in other settings, the results here point to negative impacts of remediation on students’ persistence and earning a degree, regardless of institution type. Secondary analyses show that students who were assigned to English Language Arts remediation but tested out of the course earned higher grades in the first college-level course compared to their peers who were unable to test out of remedial courses. There was no detectable difference in course performance for math students. Similarly, there were few substantial differences in noncognitive skills for students enrolling in remedial English courses compared to their nonremedial peers. These studies contribute to the literature on college remediation policies by providing the first rigorous evaluation of the policy in Arkansas, a comparison of noncognitive skills of remedial and nonremedial students, and a descriptive analysis of course performance for students who avoided remedial courses.

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