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Are two subjects better than one? The effects of developmental English courses on language minority and native English-speaking students’ community college outcomes

Michelle Hodara and Di Xu

Economics of Education Review, 2018, vol. 66, issue C, 1-13

Abstract: Developmental reading and writing courses seek to provide underprepared college students with the academic literacy skills necessary to succeed in college-level coursework. Yet, little is known about the effects of these courses on students with different language backgrounds. This study uses administrative data from a large college system and a regression discontinuity design to identify the impact of two developmental English subjects, reading and writing, compared to one developmental English subject, writing, on the educational outcomes of native English-speaking and language minority community college students. Results suggest heterogeneous effects. Taking developmental reading and writing versus just writing coursework has no impact on the educational outcomes of native English-speaking students. However, there is a potential benefit of pairing developmental reading and writing together on language minority students’ persistence and college-level reading and writing skills, as measured by a standardized exam.

Keywords: Educational economics; Community college; Developmental education; Regression discontinuity; Language and literacy development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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