Panel Paper: Mathematics Remediation Reforms in States and University Systems: Using Data to Influence Policy Changes

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Water Tower (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Mari Watanabe-Rose1, Alexandra W. Logue1 and Daniel Douglas2, (1)City University of New York, (2)Rutgers University

An increasing number of states and university systems across the U.S. have been adopting new policies to provide college students assessed as needing remediation with corequisite academic support for college-level courses, rather than requiring them to take zero-credit remedial courses as prerequisites. These policy changes have been made due to a substantial amount of research showing that traditional remediation, especially in mathematics, plays a major role in high attrition and low graduation rates at many institutions of higher education. At the City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban university system in the country, the effectiveness of such corequisite remediation has been investigated with longitudinal data analyses following a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Fall 2013 (Logue, Watanabe-Rose, & Douglas, 2016). In the RCT, 907 incoming non-STEM majors at three CUNY community colleges, who had been assessed as needing remediation in mathematics, were randomly assigned to either: traditional remedial elementary algebra; traditional remedial elementary algebra with weekly workshops led by advanced undergraduates; or college-level statistics with weekly workshops led by advanced undergraduates (which can be termed corequisite remediation or mainstreaming with supplemental instruction). In comparison to the other two groups, the students assigned to college-level statistics had a significantly higher course pass rate. For the three years after the RCT began, we continued collecting academic performance and enrollment data of all 907 participants, using CUNY and national databases. Follow-up data analyses showed that the students in the college-level statistics group also accumulated more credits, were more likely to stay in the colleges in which they originally enrolled in Fall 2013 (as opposed to transferring or dropping out), and were more likely to complete gateway mathematics courses. This last outcome is consistent with results obtained following the state- and system-wide policy changes outside CUNY (Complete College America, 2016). The effectiveness of corequisite remediation having been corroborated in various settings, evidence-based reforms are also considered helpful in closing performance gaps, because students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are more likely to be assessed as needing remediation. Despite the accumulation of evidence supporting corequisite remediation, however, CUNY, as well as other colleges and universities, have faced challenges in effecting mathematics remediation reforms and policy changes. Therefore, some of the questions to be addressed in the discussion portion of this presentation will include: How does a higher education institution promote remediation reform?; What are some challenges to those efforts?; and How can the challenges be overcome? We propose that, although data themselves are crucial in effecting any policy changes, how the data are presented and discussed are also critical.