Rethinking remediation : how does remedial coursework relate to high school dropout behavior?
Donahue, Kerry L.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Policymakers, educators, and activists have referred to the 40-year decline in the average number of Americans graduating high school on time as both an "epidemic" and a "crisis." Feeling the pressure to stop the tide of dropouts, schools have implemented an array of interventions primarily designed to support students academically, since research shows that failure in core high school classes is a critical predictor of dropout behavior. One of these interventions, remedial math and English coursework, is the focus of this study. Most of the existing research on remedial education examines the relationship between these classes and high school student achievement. However, this body of work does not indicate if remedial coursework helps students at risk of academic failure avoid dropping out of high school. Using data from the U.S. Department of Education's nationally representative Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 ("ELS:2002"), this paper examines how remedial coursework relates to high school dropout behavior among a sample of 15,000 10th graders. Additionally, the study uses the baseline student-level achievement test data included in ELS:2002 to determine if the relationship between remedial coursework and dropping out differs across students' 10th grade achievement on mathematics and English tests. Results of the study confirm that remediation is not associated with a decreased likelihood of dropout behavior and support the conclusions of prior research showing that GPA is a major determinant of dropout propensity. Results also confirm that the relationship between being in remedial courses and dropping out does not vary by a student's level of achievement on standardized tests of reading and math ability.
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