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CUNY Pilot Shows Promise for Developmental Ed Students

Community colleges are searching for new ways to help students get through developmental classes and push on through to a degree.

A new study of a pilot program at the City University of New York released Wednesday shows some promise when students are given financial help and a wide range of support services.

The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) was launched in 2007 as an attempt to help struggling students who arrived on campus not ready for college-level work. The program requires students to attend full time. To manage this, CUNY gave the students tuition waivers to cover any gaps between financial aid and the cost of attending. ASAP also offered special seminars, block-scheduled classes, enhanced advising, career services, free textbooks, and subway cards to get to campus.

MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social-policy research firm with offices in New York and Oakland, Calif., evaluated the impact of the program and found:

•After one semester, ASAP had increased the proportion of students who completed their developmental education courses by 15 percent.

•Students in the program earned an average of 2.1 credits more in their first semester than those in the comparison group.

•ASAP increased the proportion of students who enrolled in college during the second semester by 10 percentage points and increased full-time enrollment that semester by 21 percentage points.

Other research has shown that students are less likely to complete a degree when attending just part time.

With evidence that this approach is effective, CUNY plans to triple the size of ASAP and will share what it learned from the experience with its new flagship community college opening this fall.

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