Increasing College Readiness: An Investigation of California’s Early Assessment Program
Michal Kurlaender

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Davis

Primary Discipline

Higher Education
Today, over 25 percent of first-time college freshmen are enrolled in some remedial course. Why do so many college students appear to require remediation? Part of the explanation for the large share of remedial students in American colleges and universities may be a combination of the limited information students possess regarding what they need to succeed in college and the (arguably) mistaken perception that everyone must at least attend, if not complete, college in order to succeed in the labor market. In recent years, many states have been questioning the role of remedial courses in their postsecondary institutions. California, where approximately two-thirds of all first-time freshmen across the California State University campuses are enrolled in a remedial math or English course, is no exception. The Early Assessment Program (EAP) is an academic preparation program developed jointly by the California Department of Education (CDE), the State Board of Education, and the California State University (CSU). The purpose of the program, now in its fourth year, is to bridge the gap between K-12 educational standards in English and mathematics and the requirements and expectations of postsecondary education at the California State University. As such, the explicit goal of EAP is to identify students before their senior year who need additional coursework or preparation in English and/or mathematics before entering CSU.My project focuses on three interrelated research questions: (1) Does providing high school juniors with early information regarding their academic preparedness for college-level work reduce their probability of requiring remediation in college?; (2) To what extent does this information reduce the likelihood that students apply to and matriculate at California State University?; and (3) Are there differences in program effects across California high schools and for different types of students? I utilize longitudinal student-level data for California public high school students who were in 11th grade between the fall of 2001 and the fall of 2004. The data come from two sources (California State University and the California Department of Education) and span several academic years, including two years prior to the implementation of EAP and two years following statewide implementation of EAP. The quasi-experimental nature of the data enables me to use multiple strategies to identify EAP program effects. In addition, my project also explores the mechanism by which EAP functions—is it to encourage students to become better prepared or to sort students in their application behavior?
About Michal Kurlaender

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