Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Student participation and pass rates in college preparatory transition courses in Kentucky high schools

All Kentucky students in grade 11 are required to take the ACT assessment. Students with scores below benchmarks established by the Kentucky Department of Education are encouraged to enroll in college preparatory transition courses in grade 12 to help equip them with the skills they need for college-level math and English courses.

The purpose of this study was to examine Kentucky high school students’ participation and pass rates in college preparatory transition courses, which are voluntary remedial courses in math and reading offered to grade 12 students in the state. 
Three groups of students were compared using the population of grade 12 students in Kentucky public schools in school year 2011/12 (n=33,928): students meeting state benchmarks, students approaching state benchmarks (1 to 3 points below), and students performing below state benchmarks (4 or more points below). The courses targeted students who were approaching state benchmarks, but all students were eligible to take them. 
Results were examined for member school districts of the Southeast/South-Central Educational Cooperative (a research partner with Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia), a matched comparison group of districts with similar characteristics identified through propensity score matching, and the state as a whole. 
The study found that most students, even those targeted for the intervention, did not participate in the college preparatory transition courses. Among students who were approaching state benchmarks in math, fewer than one-third (28.1 percent) took transition courses, and among students approaching state benchmarks in reading, fewer than one-tenth (8.0 percent) enrolled in transition courses. 
Despite the intention of the policy, students from all three groups (meeting, approaching, and below state benchmarks) enrolled in the courses. 
Key Findings:
•    Among all groups of students—those in the state, those in the research alliance districts, and those in the matched comparison districts—most did not meet the state benchmarks for both math and reading.

•    A majority of students in the approaching state benchmarks category (those whom the state recommends for the transition courses), do not enroll. Among students who do enroll, statewide pass rates are over 90 percent.

•    Participation in transition courses among students approaching benchmarks is somewhat larger in alliance districts compared with the state overall and matched comparison districts.

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