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New Research Center Focuses on College Remediation

By Sarah D. Sparks

One in five incoming college students has to take at least one remedial class, and the time and money spent in these often-noncredit courses can put higher education out of reach for the students in them.

That's why the Institute of Education Sciences is launching a new $10 million national research and development center to find better ways to identify and teach students in college developmental education.

"The common assessment tool that most colleges and universities use to determine whether most students need developmental /remedial coursework are not very good at predicting which students will in fact benefit from taking those courses," said Tom Brock, the commissioner for the National Center for Education Research, at a meeting of IES' advisory board in Washington yesterday. "There are some innovations out there of ways to improve assessment practices, but so far none of them have been evaluated with any rigor. The Center's job is to do just that."

IES has opened competition for the first five-year, $10 million contract for the center, which will have five core goals:
• Describe the current landscape of placement tests and teaching practices which colleges and other higher education institutions use for developmental education.
• Gather researchers, educators, and policymakers interested in improving remedial education.
• Identify promising new instructional methods, assessments, and other practices.
• Evaluate both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of practices already being used for large numbers of students and those with the potential for expansion.
• Support efforts by states and universities to scale up effective practices.

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