A college degree remains critical to unlocking opportunity and to accessing America’s middle class, yet millions of students who pursue higher education never earn degrees. This memo, produced with Results for America, draws lessons and policy implications from two decades of rigorous research in postsecondary institutions focused on addressing this problem.
What States and Colleges Need to Know
Colleges, researchers, and advocates believe innovation and change are needed in developmental (remedial) education, because developmental courses have low success rates and because many of their students ultimately drop out. This brief summarizes research on developmental education and provides summaries of findings and implications for state and college practices.
In this commentary, originally published in Community College Daily, President Marcia Ballinger of Lorain County Community College describes how Lorain’s comprehensive student success program, SAIL, has persevered during the pandemic — and offered lessons for school’s overall response to COVID-19.
Rapid Innovation and Ideas for the Future
The pandemic has exacerbated postsecondary education issues in rural areas that have affected students and communities for decades, such as the lack of adequate broadband infrastructure. In response, educators are developing innovative strategies that may be applicable to all institutions, not just those with a preponderance of rural students.
In this commentary, which originally appeared in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, MDRC’s Alex Mayer and Alyssa Ratledge describe evidence-backed strategies that colleges can employ this fall to help students stay engaged.
Adapting the Evidence for 2020 and Beyond
MDRC has studied a number of strategies for helping students stay in college and succeed there. Lessons from some of these models may be readily adapted to support students and close equity gaps now and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This Issue Focus offers three lessons taken from MDRC’s evaluations.
Learning from CUNY Start
This paper describes the professional development model used in CUNY Start, a program developed at the City University of New York to support entering students identified as academically underprepared in literacy and mathematics.
Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
Toward Better College Completion Rates
MDRC has developed a body of rigorous evidence on interventions designed to help low-income college students succeed. This issue brief draws six lessons from that work for colleges and policymakers as they seek to improve college completion rates.
A Study of a Transition Program Serving Students with Low Math Skills at a Community College
A four-week course to prepare students for developmental-level math did not attract many students who were referred to it. While some participants gained needed skills, most did not complete the course or move on to developmental math, and communication about the course among staff, faculty, advisors, and students was inconsistent.