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Dual-Credit Courses and the Road to College: Experimental Evidence from Tennessee
Last registered on August 20, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Dual-Credit Courses and the Road to College: Experimental Evidence from Tennessee
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004522
Initial registration date
August 19, 2019
Last updated
August 20, 2019 9:36 AM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Michigan
PI Affiliation
Tennessee Department of Education
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2013-08-30
End date
2018-07-01
Secondary IDs
IES Grant R035H140028
Abstract
Dual-credit courses expose high school students to college-level content and provide the opportunity to earn college credits, in part to smooth the transition to college. With the Tennessee Department of Education, we conduct the first randomized controlled trial of the effects of dual-credit math coursework on a range of high school and college outcomes. We find that the dual-credit advanced algebra course alters students’ subsequent high school math course-taking, reducing enrollment in remedial math and boosting enrollment in precalculus and Advanced Placement math courses. We fail to detect an effect of the dual-credit math course on overall rates of college enrollment. However, the course induces some students to choose four- year universities instead of two-year colleges, particularly for those in the middle of the math achievement distribution and those first exposed to the opportunity to take the course in 11th rather than 12th grade. We see limited evidence of improvements in early math performance during college.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Dynarski, Susan, Steven Hemelt and Nathaniel Schwartz. 2019. "Dual-Credit Courses and the Road to College: Experimental Evidence from Tennessee." AEA RCT Registry. August 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4522-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
At its core, the intervention is a new math course that offers high school students the potential to earn both high school and college credit. High schools in Tennessee have traditionally offered a course called "Advanced Algebra and Trigonometry." The intervention is a new course, Dual-Credit College Algebra, with similar content that was developed by a team of secondary and postsecondary math instructors to be aligned to college math standards. Teachers implementing the new College Algebra course were provided with two days of training in the summer to become familiar with these standards. Students that took Dual-Credit College Algebra (typically 11th and 12th graders) would therefore be exposed to a standardized, college-level algebra curriculum, taught by a high school math instructor, and were also required to take a standardized final exam. Students who passed the course and the exam would earn both high school and college credit claimable at any public college in Tennessee. Students in the control condition remained exposed only to the traditional Advanced Algebra and Trigonometry course, which offered only high school credit, and which did not have a standardized curriculum. Treatment schools were expected to offer the Dual-Credit College Algebra course for both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
Intervention Start Date
2013-08-30
Intervention End Date
2015-06-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
12th grade math course-taking, 12th grade AP math test scores, college enrollment and college choice, college credits earned within one year following high school, performance in college math courses
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The Tennessee Department of Education solicited interest in offering the new Dual-Credit College Algebra course from Tennessee high schools in the spring of 2013. In total, 105 schools submitted the necessary forms to be eligible for the trial, just under one-third of the state's public high schools. Two of these schools were new and had no baseline data, and so were excluded, leaving a sample of 103 schools. Schools were blocked by region (west, central, and east), and then randomized into treatment and control conditions within these blocks. This resulted in 53 treatment and 50 control schools.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computerized randomization using psuedorandom number generator in Stata.
Randomization Unit
School
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
103 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
61,766 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
53 treatment schools, 50 control schools
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
14-0330
IRB Name
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
HUM00087170
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
July 01, 2018, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
July 01, 2018, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
103 schools
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
61,766 students
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
53 treatment schools, 50 control schools
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
Dual-credit courses expose high school students to college-level content and provide the opportunity to earn college credits, in part to smooth the transition to college. With the Tennessee Department of Education, we conduct the first randomized controlled trial of the effects of dual-credit math coursework on a range of high school and college outcomes. We find that the dual-credit advanced algebra course alters students’ subsequent high school math course-taking, reducing enrollment in remedial math and boosting enrollment in precalculus and Advanced Placement math courses. We fail to detect an effect of the dual-credit math course on overall rates of college enrollment. However, the course induces some students to choose four-year universities instead of two-year colleges, particularly for those in the middle of the math achievement distribution and those first exposed to the opportunity to take the course in 11th rather than 12th grade. We see limited evidence of improvements in early math performance during college.
Citation
Hemelt, S. W., Schwartz, N. L., & Dynarski, S. M. (2019). Dual-Credit Courses and the Road to College: Experimental Evidence from Tennessee. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12481.