Jenkins, D., Speroni, C., Belfield, C., Jaggars, S., & Edgecombe, N. (2010). A model for accelerating academic success of community college remedial English students: Is the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) effective and affordable? (CCRC Working Paper No. 21). New York: Columbia University, Community College Research Center.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) on success in college-level English courses (ENGL 101 and 102). In this program, students who otherwise would have taken a developmental English course instead took ENGL 101, as well as an eight-person companion course designed to help the students pass ENGL 101.
- This nonexperimental study used college administrative data to measure impacts on courses attempted and passed, student persistence, and credits accrued. Multivariate linear regressions were used to measure impacts.
- The study found that ALP students were significantly more likely to pass ENGL 101 and 102.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the ALP, but other factors might also have contributed.
The Accelerated Learning Program
Features of the Intervention
Students who tested into upper-level developmental writing could voluntarily enroll in the ALP program, which had two components: (1) enrollment in special sections of college-level English (ENGL 101) in which eight seats per section were reserved for ALP students and the other 12 seats were available to students who tested into ENGL 101 directly; and (2) enrollment in ALP 052, an ALP course that met immediately following the ENGL 101 class period and had the same instructor. The ALP 052 course was intended to increase the number of students successfully passing ENGL 101 by answering student questions, practicing writing, and addressing grammar and punctuation. If the students passed both ALP 052 and ENGL 101, they could proceed to the next English course, ENGL 102. If they failed ENGL 101 but passed ALP 052, they had to retake ENGL 101. Likewise, if they failed both ENGL 101 and ALP 052, they had to either retake the ENGL 101 and ALP 052 combination or take the traditional ENGL 052 course (a developmental writing course). Because students in the ALP program did not have to take ENGL 052, they could finish their English requirement faster than students in the traditional course structure.
Features of the Study
This nonexperimental study used college administrative data to measure impacts on courses attempted and passed, student persistence, and credits accrued. Multivariate linear regressions were used to measure impacts. The study included 2,174 students (104 treatment and 2,070 comparison) enrolled in either the ENGL 052 course or the coupled ALP 052 and ENGL 101 courses in fall 2007, spring 2008, or fall 2008. The sample excluded students who had already taken (and not passed) ENGL 052 and students who took ENGL 052 while still in high school as a parallel enrollment. About 56 percent of the treatment and 53 percent of the comparison group was female. The treatment group was 19 years old on average; the comparison group was 20.5 years old on average. Fifty-seven percent of both groups were enrolled full time at their first enrollment at CCBC. Most students in the treatment group were white (47 percent) or African American (43 percent). Similarly, 38 percent of the comparison group was white, and 50 percent were African American.
- Compared to non-ALP students, ALP students were significantly more likely to attempt and pass ENGL 101 and ENGL 102.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Study authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to progress toward degree completion. Performing multiple statistical tests on related outcomes makes it more likely that some impacts will be found statistically significant purely by chance and not because they reflect program effectiveness. The authors did not perform statistical adjustments to account for the multiple tests, so the number of statistically significant findings in this domain is likely to be overstated.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the ALP, but other factors might also have contributed.