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Examining the Role of Summer Bridge Programs in Promoting College Readiness and Completion: Lessons Learned from Texas’ Developmental Summer Bridges

A Forum Co-sponsored by the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) and the National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR).

Download: Forum Brief

  • Luzelma Canales, Interim Associate Dean, Community Engagement & Workforce Development, South Texas College (McAllen, TX)
  • Katherine L. Hughes, Assistant Director for Work and Education Reform Research, Community College Research Center (New York, NY)
  • David Gardner, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Planning and Policy, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (Austin, TX)
  • Evan Weissman, Operations Associate, MDRC (Oakland, CA)

As colleges across the nation strive to reduce the number of students requiring developmental education, summer bridge programs have emerged as a promising intervention designed to provide graduating high school seniors with the academic and college-going skills required to be successful college students. The National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR), in cooperation with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), is currently assessing the effectiveness of the summer bridge model in improving college preparation and success for students in need of remediation. This forum will describe efforts in Texas to create and evaluate developmental summer bridge programs for at-risk students. Panelists will discuss the program’s development, review the evaluation results, and consider the implications for policy.

About 40 percent of traditional aged college students and nearly 60 percent of those who attend community college take at least one developmental education course.(1) In fact, students with greater academic deficiencies may be referred to a sequence of three or more semester-length courses in a single subject area, significantly delaying entry into credit-bearing classes. Yet research suggests that fewer than one half of students who are referred to developmental education complete their recommended sequence of courses.(2)

Developmental summer bridge programs aim to reduce or eliminate the need for developmental courses so that more students are prepared for credit-bearing courses in their first semester of college. Programs typically offer intensive targeted coursework for four to six weeks over the summer, accompanied by tutoring, additional labs, and student support services. The integrated approach of developmental summer bridges is thought to help ease students’ transition into college.

Beginning in 2007, the Texas legislature provided funding to the THECB to develop developmental summer bridge programs for at-risk students who were recent high school graduates, specifically with the goal of reducing the need for remediation among this population. Soon thereafter, NCPR began a large-scale, rigorous evaluation at eight of the developmental summer bridge sites, conducted with support from the USDOE’s Institute for Education Sciences and Houston Endowment.

The National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR) focuses on measuring the effectiveness of programs designed to help students make the transition to college and master the basic skills needed to advance to a degree. NCPR is currently pursuing research on dual enrollment; postsecondary remediation, including summer bridge programs; and financial aid. Established through a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, NCPR is housed at the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, and operated in collaboration with partners MDRC, the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, and faculty at Harvard University.

More Information:

1. Attewell, P., Lavin, D., Domina, T., and Levey, T. (2006). New evidence on college remediation. Journal of Higher Education, 77(5), 886–924.
2. Bailey, T., Jeong, D. W., & Cho, S.-W. (2010). Referral, enrollment, and completion in developmental education sequences in community colleges. Economics of Education Review, 29(2), 255–270.

Type: Lectures & Talks

Location: Capitol Hill, Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2261, Washington, DC

Date & Time: 12/3/2010, 12:00:00 PM - 1:00:00 PM