Two questions for educational researchers

These are honest questions, and there is no “trap” intent. I hope that some of my smart and worldly readers will know their answers. If they have not been studied, I hope some enterprising higher education scholars can accept the challenge.

In the past 5 to 10 years, dual admissions, simultaneous admissions, and early college and high school courses have become more common in the United States. In these projects, high school students attend college courses in high school and obtain transcripts (and grades) for these courses. Community colleges are usually the dual and parallel admissions department with the most participation in higher education, but there are also four-year universities.

Although there are huge differences in implementation details—such as teacher qualifications, course locations, course sequence, etc.—the consistency of the definitions is that they involve students younger than the traditional age. In some cases, students may be only fourteen or fifteen years old.

In light of all this, I have a few questions, and I hope someone has good data.

First, has anyone done a systematic study on dual admissions and tutoring?

For high school graduates, we have turned to multi-factor placement in mathematics and directed self placement in English. The early results are encouraging. The idea is to prevent “false negatives” and unnecessary time and money spent in remedial classes. But for younger students, some of these factors are meaningless, such as checking their Algebra II scores. (Many people have not yet accepted it.) If targeted self-placement is a leap of faith for 18-year-olds, it is even more so for tenth graders.

Or is it? I honestly don’t know. (Ten years ago, I would laugh at almost anyone’s targeted self-placement. Now, I’m a fan. Evidence is important.) I don’t want students to enter classes where they are hopelessly surpassed, but I don’t want to reject them randomly student.

If anyone knows of good research in this area, I would love to hear it. Assuming that the evidence is good, I am happy to support any direction the evidence points in.

Secondly, do we have a good idea on how the graduate school, law school, medical school, etc. view the grades achieved at the age of 15?

I don’t believe that a student who scored 3.8 points from the traditional age is necessarily better than a student who scored 3.8 points after going to college but got 3.0 points in college courses in high school. However, the cumulative gpa of the former will be higher than that of the latter, and selective graduate institutions must exclude them based on certain circumstances.

As a dedicated community college advocate, I like to make mistakes in tolerance. When in doubt, I tend to say let us open the door to as many people as possible to learn. But there is a larger political economy there, with its own rules, many of which tend to be directions that I personally would not choose. I don’t want to harm the prospects of dual admission students by mixing the grades I got when I was young. But to be honest, I don’t know whether this fear accurately reflects the way these places work, or whether it’s caused by medical schools and other reasons. (I don’t know whether the double admission score is closely related to the subsequent college scores. This question has no practical significance. If it is true, it will be very convenient.)

Does anyone really know? Has empirical research been conducted?

The policy implications of this question are more vague than the first. Graduate programs create their own admission criteria; presumably, they can change them. But at this point, I don’t know if this is a time bomb or a purely hypothetical question. If it is the latter, I am happy to give it up and move on. But I just don’t know.

If you know, or someone you know may find out, I would be happy to hear from you on Twitter (@deandad) or via email (deandad at gmail dot com).

If you have never done empirical research on one or two of them, I would be happy to provide these two topics to any enterprising researcher. Come on, guys!

Thank you!


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