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New Publication on Developmental Summer Bridge Programs

Getting Ready for College: An Implementation and Early Impacts Study of Eight Texas Developmental Summer Bridge Programs

Heather D. Wathington, Elisabeth A. Barnett, Evan Weissman, Jedediah Teres, Joshua Pretlow, and Aki Nakanishi, with Matthew Zeidenberg, Madeline Joy Weiss, Alison Black, Claire Mitchell, and John Wachen

October 13, 2011

In 2007, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) funded 22 colleges to establish developmental summer bridge programs. Aimed at providing an alternative to traditional developmental education, these programs involve intensive remedial instruction in math, reading, and/or writing and college preparation content for students entering college with low basic skills. In 2009, NCPR launched an evaluation of eight developmental summer bridge programs in Texas (seven at community colleges and one at an open-admissions four-year university), the early findings of which are described in this report.

Students who participated in the study were randomly assigned to the program group or the control group. Program group students participated in the developmental summer bridge programs, while control group students received colleges’ regular services. All developmental summer bridge programs had four common features: accelerated instruction in math, reading, and/or writing; academic support; a “college knowledge” component; and the opportunity for participants to receive a $400 stipend.

The main findings of this preliminary report are:
  • All eight programs in the study were implemented with reasonable fidelity to the model framed by the THECB, but they varied on some key dimensions.
  • Program costs averaged about $1,300 per student but varied widely.
  • Program group students did not enroll in either the fall or spring semester at significantly different rates than control group students; enrollment rates were high for both groups.
  • There is evidence that the program students were more likely to pass college-level courses in math and writing in the fall semester following the summer programs. The findings also suggest that program students were more likely to attempt higher level reading, writing, and math courses compared with control group students.
Download the Full Report (PDF) | Executive Summary (PDF)

To mark the release of this publication, NCPR's Georgia West Stacey discussed the study's preliminary findings with David Gardner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Conchita Hickey of Texas A&M International University, and Heather D. Wathington, the study's lead author.

Read the Q&A