Strategies for Promoting Gatekeeper Course Success Among Students Needing Remediation: Research Report for the Virginia Community College System

Roksa, Josipa; Jenkins, Paul Davis; Jaggars, Shanna; Zeidenberg, Matthew; Cho, Sung-Woo

The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is engaged in a strategic planning process to improve performance beyond the goals in Dateline 2009, the system’s current vision and plan. A key objective is to encourage colleges to improve retention and academic success for students, particularly the substantial numbers who arrive unprepared for college-level work. Specifically, the VCCS seeks to improve the rates at which underprepared students complete developmental coursework and advance to take and pass college courses, particularly the initial college-level, or “gatekeeper,” math and English offerings. The VCCS asked the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University, to conduct analyses to inform its efforts to improve student outcomes. In response, CCRC designed a study to address the following question: What student characteristics, course-taking patterns, and other factors are associated with higher probabilities that students who require remediation will take and pass college-level math and English? The dataset used by CCRC, provided by the VCCS, contained information on 24,140 first-time college students who enrolled in a VCCS college in summer or fall 2004. It included information on student demographics, institutions attended, placement test scores and placement recommendations, transcript data on courses and grades, and information on educational attainment (including transfer to four-year institutions and certificates and associate degrees earned). Students were followed for four years, through the 2008 summer term. CCRC examined a range of educational outcomes, including: whether students took and passed development courses and gatekeeper English and math, the number of terms they were enrolled, the number of credits they accumulated, and whether they earned educational awards (certificates and associate degrees) or transferred to four-year institutions. This report presents the main findings from CCRC’s study and outlines suggestions for steps that the VCCS and its member colleges might take to improve completion of gatekeeper courses by the many students who enter the state’s community colleges poorly prepared to succeed in college-level work.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Community College Research Center
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
April 4, 2014