A recently released report from the Community College Research Center examines?the effectiveness of “transition courses” being used across the country to organize students for college-level math and English coursework.
The report, “Increasing the Transition to College: Estimating the Impact of Senior high school Transition Courses on Short-Term College Outcomes,” discusses the recent use of “transition courses” by many people states, districts, and individual high schools, that are implemented as a result of the increasing number of students who graduate high school unprepared for school coursework. ?These students typically sign up for remedial courses upon entering college, which are associated with lower progression and college completion rates.
Outcomes for the study were measured by observing which students weren\’t required to enroll in remedial courses after they entered college as a result of receiving a passing score on a placement exam.
Researchers used a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of these courses on high school seniors?in West Virginia between 2011 and 2013. ?The findings suggest that for students who scored near to the cutoff score on an assessment that determined who took such courses, the mathematics transition course did not improve college readiness, and?instead had?a negative impact on a students’ probability of passing a remedial math course in college.
The authors suggest that this could have happened for one of two reasons. ?First, the transition course might have taken the area of traditional courses taken during the senior year of high school that were harder or offered a more positive impact because they included higher performing peers. ?Or, they suggest that the curriculum included in the transition course may not be aligned with the skills needed to successfully pass the COMPASS placement test.
Most from the students who took part in the transition course didn\’t pass the COMPASS, that is offered at the conclusion of the course.
Researchers in?the study concluded that the intervention method didn\’t in fact enhance the academic results of students who\’re unprepared for college-level coursework. ?In fact, a five percentage point reduction was found among students in passing entry-level college math inside the first year as a result of taking the transition course in high school.
In addition, students who took the transitional math course were found to perform worse when it comes to total college credits accrued.
The report suggests a number of reasons for this, including the fact that many students in the state do not immediately enroll in college. ?In addition, students in transitional courses are separated using their higher-performing peers and higher level courses.
The authors go on to say that the math course used for the study was the very first of its kind within the state, which could imply that Transition Math for Seniors was too new to show any positive results.
The authors noted the math course used for the study is no longer offered in West Virginia. ?Math transition courses within the state currently follow a different curriculum.