Mathematics Mainstreaming Experiment

Alexandra W. Logue and Mari Watanabe-Rose (CUNY Central)

More than 700 freshmen needing the highest level of math remediation (elementary algebra) at three community colleges were randomly assigned into one of the three course types:

  1. traditional remedial elementary algebra;
  2. traditional remedial elementary algebra plus weekly workshop;
  3. college-level introductory statistics plus weekly workshop (mainstreaming). The pass rate for Group 3 (55.7%) was significantly higher than those for Groups 1 and 2 (38% and 44.8%, respectively).

The results indicate that many remedial mathematics students can be successfully placed into college-level statistics with extra support, which will help these students progress more quickly to a degree, incurring less personal, college, and state expense. This project will be presented at the CUNY Math Conference on May 9, 2014.

The following two experiments also have relevance for effective math remediation

Academic Momentum Project

Paul Attewell, Robin Isserles, Daniel Douglas, Sou Hyun Jang, and David Monaghan (CUNY Graduate Center)

The project examined whether increased academic momentum—defined as increased engagement in course-taking in the first year—improves retention and degree completion among community college students, in non-experimental and experimental settings. The three practices/interventions were:

  1. attending summer school immediately prior to the first semester;
  2. increasing from a part-time course-load to a full-time course-load during the first year; and
  3. attending summer school at the end of the first year.

Analyses of non-experimental data show that all three practices had significant positive effects on retention and/or degree completion. Ongoing experimental studies showed some significant results; for example, experimental students in the second intervention above were approximately 31 percentage points more likely than control students to attend full-time in the following semester.

An Experimental Evaluation of Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP)

Susan Scrivener and Michael J. Weiss (MDRC)

CUNY’s ASAP combines the ideas of many effective programs into a comprehensive model; it requires students to attend college full time and provides a rich array of supports and incentives for up to three years. ASAP includes some block-scheduled classes and an ASAP seminar for the first year of the program; comprehensive advisement, tutoring, career services, a tuition waiver that covers any gap between a student’s financial aid and tuition and fees, free MetroCards for use on public transportation, and free use of textbooks are all provided for three years. In MDRC’s experimental evaluation of ASAP, 896 students were randomly assigned to the program (ASAP) group or the control group. Among study participants who had placement test scores, 75 percent had developmental math needs. Two-year results show that students offered ASAP outperformed their control group counterparts with respect to persistence, credit accumulation, and graduation. Two-and-a-half-year graduation rates (available for 1/3 of the sample) were 33.3% for the program group and 18.2% for the control group for an estimated effect of 15.1 percentage points (Scrivener & Weiss, 2013).