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Using longitudinal data to research College and Career Readiness and Success in the Northern Mariana Islands

Tue, April 12, 8:15 to 9:45am, Convention Center, Floor: Level One, Room 101


In the Pacific region, many students graduate high school academically unprepared for college. When enrolling in college as first-time freshmen, students are frequently placed in non-credit-bearing developmental English and math courses. The impacts of these developmental courses on academic outcomes remain unclear. Understanding outcomes for students enrolled in developmental courses remains a high priority for policymakers, administrators, and practitioners throughout the Pacific region.
The purpose of this study is to longitudinally track the academic outcomes of students who begin college in credit-bearing math and English courses and their peers who begin in developmental/remedial noncredit courses. The study takes place on an island in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific region. (The name of the college and the U.S.-affiliated jurisdiction is not revealed in this proposal as the work is being finalized, but it will become public should the AERA accept the proposal.)

Theoretical Framework
Although developmental education is intended to help underprepared students catch up and be ready for college-level courses, little is known about the outcomes of students in developmental versus credit-bearing courses, particularly in Pacific Island contexts, which are linguistically and culturally complex.

This is a descriptive study that tracks two groups of students from entry through their eighth semester (four academic years). The design allows each student to be tracked for 200 percent of expected time to degree, since all students in the study are pursuing associate degrees.

Data Sources and Materials
The sample includes 652 first-time freshmen in the English sample and 490 students in the math sample.
Academic outcomes include retention rate, average number of developmental courses, average number of semesters of developmental courses, the percent of developmental students that progress to credit-bearing courses, grades in first credit-bearing courses, grade point average, average college credits earned, graduation rate, and time to degree. The longitudinal data were provided by the college and analyzed by REL Pacific at McREL International.
The study also examined whether background characteristics of students (gender, Pell grant status, language spoken at home, visa status, and ethnicity) were related to placement in credit-bearing versus developmental courses.

Scholarly Significance
This study is the first of its kind in a Pacific setting. There are few extant studies that carefully track student progress through college over four academic years for students who start in credit-bearing versus developmental courses. As such, it is an important contribution to the literature on developmental education, college readiness, and in particular, each of these issues in a Pacific Island context.


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