English Corequisite Remediation Improves Students’ Early Course Progression Outcomes but Does Not Increase Persistence Rates

Trey Miller, Lindsay Daugherty, Paco Martorell, and Russell Gerber

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What are corequisites?

Faced with troubling evidence on the success of students who take traditional developmental education (DE) courses, states and higher education institutions across the United States are rethinking the way they address college readiness. Corequisite remediation is one promising and common approach to DE reform. Under corequisite remediation, students skip the traditional DE course(s) and move immediately into a foundational college-level course, while also being required to enroll in concurrent DE support in that same semester. Corequisites also call for changes to instruction to better align content in DE with college-level coursework and some models build in opportunities for more personalized support and/or peer support through various design features such as smaller class sizes and the mixing of college ready and DE students.

How to read this chart:
Within two-years of enrolling in colleges, students assigned to corequisites were 21.2 percentage points more likely to take a college English course and 18.4 percentage points more likely to pass a college English course than were students who were assigned to prerequisite remediation. Students in both groups had similar two-year persistence rates.

Do Corequisites Work?

Yes, we found that, compared to traditional prerequisite DE, English corequisites significantly increase the probability that students take and pass a college level English course within two years of enrolling in college, and that students assigned to corequisites completed more college credits during their first two years of college. We found positive effects on these short-term course progression outcomes for three different corequisite models and for traditionally under-represented students including Latinx students, first generation students, and students whose first language was non-English.

However, we did not find evidence that students assigned to corequisites were more likely than those assigned to prerequisite remediation to persist in college, which suggests DE reforms such as corequisites may need to be paired with other postsecondary reforms (e.g., enhanced financial and wraparound supports, Guided Pathways, etc.) that continue beyond the students’ first semester in college in order to produce effects on persistence and completion.

How did we do this study?

These findings come from an IES-funded experimental study, which falls under Tier 1 of the ESSA evidence standards. First-time-in-college students at five large and diverse community colleges in urban and suburban regions of Texas who scored within a predetermined range on the state’s college readiness exam were recruited to participate in the study during orientation or initial advising sessions. The final study sample included 1,434 students from four cohorts, who were recruited from fall 2016 through fall 2018. Each student was randomly assigned to either corequisite or prerequisite remediation. The specific approaches to corequisite remediation varied across the five community colleges, allowing us to evaluate the impact of each of those approaches. 

Full Article Citation:
Miller, T., Daugherty, L., Martorell, P., and R. Gerber. (2021). Assessing the effect of corequisite English instruction using a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2021.1932000


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