N+1 developmental math article

Posted on December 18, 2017


Will stick to the abstract today because it’s enough to let me know this article  is scraping at the surface of “what do we do w/ people with really low math skills?”  At least it’s scraping…

Objective: This article examines the effectiveness of remediation for community
college students who are identified as having the lowest skills in math.

Method: We use transcript data from a state community college system and take advantage of a regression discontinuity design that compares statistically identical students who are assigned to the lowest level of the math sequence that consists of three remedial courses versus the next lowest level that consists of two courses.

Results: The results suggest that for the students with the lowest preparation in math, the longest developmental sequence offers little benefit and may even reduce the likelihood of earning a degree to certificate within 4 years.

Contributions: This study is one of the first attempts to compare the academic outcomes of students assigned to long sequence of developmental math
education to students with similar academic skills but assigned to shorter developmental math sequence. Results from this study can therefore help inform the national effort
in reforming remedial education, especially in terms of whether shortening the long
remedial sequence would either benefit or harm the academic outcomes of students
who are least prepared for college-level coursework.


Some of the assumptions challenged:

“However, the assistance model is based on several assumptions that are yet to be
verified. The first assumption is that there are well-defined criteria for what students need to know to be ready for college-level courses and graduation and that remedial courses offer that content. Second, it is assumed that remedial assessment correctly identifies students who can benefit from the remedial content. A third assumption is that any benefit in acquiring the relevant knowledge and skills outweigh the additional financial burden to the students, the additional opportunities for students to leak out of the system, and any stigma associated with being assigned to remediation (ScottClayton & Rodriguez, 2015).”


… Let me just offer one more assumption:   that students are being taught in ways that will help things “stick” and deal with those things like stigma.

Separating the “almost there!” folks on the margins from the ones placing at the beginning is encouraging, though.

Now to the vagaries of geogebra for its allotted 2 hours…

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