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The Effects of Corequisite Remediation: Evidence From a Statewide Reform in Tennessee

By Florence Xiaotao Ran & Yuxin Lin
The Effects of Corequisite Remediation: Evidence From a Statewide Reform in Tennessee

Corequisite remediation, which mainstreams students deemed academically underprepared into college-level courses with additional learning support, is rapidly being adopted by colleges across the nation. This paper provides the first causal evidence on a system-wide corequisite reform, using data from all 13 community colleges affiliated with the Tennessee Board of Regents. Using regression discontinuity and difference-in-regression-discontinuity designs, the authors estimated the causal effects of placement into corequisite remediation compared with placement into traditional prerequisite remediation and direct placement into college-level courses.

For students on the margin of the college readiness threshold, those placed into corequisite remediation were 15 percentage points more likely to pass gateway math and 13 percentage points more likely to pass gateway English within one year of enrollment than similar students placed into prerequisite remediation. Compared with their counterparts placed directly into college-level courses, students placed into corequisite remediation had similar gateway course completion rates and were about 8 percentage points more likely to enroll in and pass a subsequent college-level math course after completing gateway math. The positive effects of corequisite remediation compared with prerequisite remediation in math were largely driven by efforts to guide students to take math courses aligned with the requirements for their program rather than placing most students into the algebra–calculus track by default, as has been the standard practice.

The authors found no significant impacts of placement into corequisite remediation on enrollment persistence, transfer to a four-year college, or degree completion. This suggests that corequisite reforms, though effective in helping students pass college-level math and English, are not sufficient to improve college completion rates overall.