Date of Award
Educational Administration and Policy Studies
Kent Seidel, Ph.D.
Academic intensity, Developmental education, Remediation
College remediation--sometimes referred to as developmental education--has come under increasing scrutiny as policymakers have focused on the racial and economic disparities evident in academic outcomes. The courses are designed to remedy the academic deficiencies of incoming freshmen, but descriptive statistics indicate that these students fare poorly in college, and many will not persist to graduation. This phenomenon is especially pronounced in community colleges, which--due to policy decisions and open enrollment philosophies--take on a the largest proportion of students in remedial education. Considering the attention paid to remediation, the following study focuses on predictors and interventions that could potentially help educators identify students who may need remediation well before high school graduation, and apply timely treatments that could reduce the likelihood of those students requiring remedial education in college.
The study considers current research around predictors of college success and persistence--the likelihood that students will persist to four-year degrees--and uses this research to construct a study that seeks to identify variables that can reduce the likelihood that secondary students will need college remediation. The study considers background, skills-based and behavioral variables, but focuses in particular on academic intensity--the general rigor and level attainment achieved by students in their high school careers. To explore the phenomenon, it uses data collected by a large, urban school district in the Rocky Mountain West --data that includes information of standardized test scores, high school course-taking behaviors, and remediation status for those students who attended in-state, public institutions of higher education.
In order to measure the effects of academic intensity, the study makes use of eight-grade standardized test scores as independent variables. These scores are collected early enough that effective interventions can be applied before high school graduation, and they offer a convenient means of assessing the likelihood that students will require remediation. They also offer a means of measuring the effects of those interventions: ideally, the study will demonstrate that the predictability of those scores is significantly weakened as the level of academic intensity is increased.
Researchers vary in their definitions of academic intensity, with most focusing upon the number of Carnegie units completed in each discipline, and on the highest level of achievement within each discipline. Using the most reliable data available, this study focuses on two primary measures: student participation and achievement in Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum, and the calculated difference between a student's weighted and unweighted grade point average, which reflects the breadth of a student's participation in accelerated or AP curriculum. Though AP curriculum, in particular, possesses limitations demonstrated in previous research, these measures offer up the most consistent and trustable data.
Using binary logistic regression, the study reveals three primary findings: race- and class-based remediation gaps cease to measure as significant when skills-based and dispositional student characteristics are factored into the model; after factoring in dispositional measures of academic intensity, only eighth-grade standardized math test scores and the volume of AP tests passed by students persist as significant predictors of college remediation; and the calculated difference between a student's weighted and unweighted GPAs offers the single best predictor of college remediation.
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Buddenhagen, Brian J., "Opportunity Gaps and Remediation: Can Academic Intensity in High School Level the Playing Field?" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 97.
Received from ProQuest
Brian J. Buddenhagen
Educational administration, Education