The Effects of Middle School Remediation on Postsecondary Success: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida

Research Rundown Issue: October '21
Publisher: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research
Date Published: September '21


Researchers examined the short, medium, and long-term effects of a Florida remediation policy, which requires middle schools students to be placed in remedial English language arts (ELA) if they score below a certain proficiency cutoff on the prior year’s ELA assessment. The study found a significant effect on reading achievement in the year following the remediation, but that the effects lessened over the next two years. Interestingly, however, measurable benefits reappeared in high school and postsecondary. Taking a remedial ELA course in middle school increased the likelihood that a student would:

  • Take a college credit-bearing ELA course (like AP) by 3.5 percentage points,
  • Enroll in college by 2.7 percentage points;
  • Persist in college beyond the second year by 4.7 percentage points; and
  • Attain a two-year or four-year college degree by 3.7 percentage points.

The author notes that their findings are consistent with the findings of several other studies that find dissipating impacts in the short-term, but significant positive effects in the long term.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

All students should leave Minnesota’s K-12 system with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and career. Unfortunately, we are falling short. Last year, EdAllies published a report that found gaps in advanced coursework for Minnesota’s students of color—particularly for Black, Indigenous, and Latino students—which start early in gifted and talented programming and persist as students go through high school. This study highlights another issue around the need to ensure that students are receiving high-quality education and getting prepared for college and career readiness starting prior to high school so that they do not need remediation. We must look at the E-12 education system in totality and invest in childcare, early literacy, learning acceleration, universal meals, social-emotional learning, and other research-based supports that contribute to a student’s academic achievement and mental health.

Explore the study results