Teachers College, Columbia University

Strategies for Promoting Gatekeeper Course Success Among Students Needing Remediation: Research Report for the Virginia Community College System

By Josipa Roksa, Davis Jenkins, Shanna Smith Jaggars, Matthew Zeidenberg & Sung-Woo Cho

The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is engaged in a strategic planning process to improve performance. A key objective is to improve the rates at which underprepared students complete developmental coursework and advance to take and pass college courses, particularly the initial college-level, or "gatekeeper," math and English.

This study was designed to address the following question: What student characteristics, course-taking patterns, and other factors are associated with higher probabilities that students who require remediation will take and pass college-level math and English?

The dataset used by CCRC contained information on 24,140 first-time college students who enrolled in a VCCS college in 2004. It included information on student demographics, institutions attended, placement test scores and placement recommendations, transcript data, and educational attainment. CCRC followed students through 2008 and examined a range of educational outcomes, including enrollment and pass rates in developmental and gatekeeper courses, number of terms enrolled, credit accumulation, and degree attainment and transfer.

This report presents the main findings from CCRC's study and outlines suggestions for VCCS to improve completion of gatekeeper courses.