Should Students Assessed as Needing Remedial Mathematics Take College-Level Quantitative Courses Instead? A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published in:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
June 23, 2016

Alexandra W. Logue, The City University of New York
Mari Watanabe-Rose, The City University of New York
Daniel Douglas, The City University of New York


Many college students never take, or do not pass, required remedial mathematics courses theorized to increase college-level performance. Some colleges and states are therefore instituting policies allowing students to take college-level courses without first taking remedial courses. However, no experiments have compared the effectiveness of these approaches, and other data are mixed. Researchers randomly assigned 907 students to (a) remedial elementary algebra, (b) that course with workshops, or (c) college-level statistics with workshops (corequisite remediation). Students assigned to statistics passed at a rate 16 percentage points higher than those assigned to algebra (p < .001), and subsequently accumulated more credits. A majority of enrolled statistics students passed. Policies allowing students to take college-level instead of remedial quantitative courses can increase student success.

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News Coverage

Study casts doubt on value of remedial math for college
The Washington Post, June 23, 2016

Mainstreaming Remedial Math
Inside Higher Ed, June 23, 2016

Author Interview

Watch Alexandra W. Logue discuss the study's findings

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