Transforming Remediation: Understanding the Research, Policy, and Practice

Transforming Remediation: Understanding the Research, Policy, and Practice
Transforming Remediation: Understanding the Research, Policy, and Practice

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According to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, approximately half of all undergraduates and 70 percent of community college students take at least one remedial course.  Unfortunately, many of these students never move beyond their placement in remediation. Only about a quarter of community college students who take a remedial course graduate within eight years according to a 2006 sample from NELS.  Thus in order to ensure more students successfully complete postsecondary education, there is a need to significantly transform remedial education.

This webinar presented some key principles for this transformation along with the growing research base of best practices.  In addition, the webinar highlighted promising institution-level practices.

Presenters Included:

Joe Harris, Managing Research Analyst, American Institutes for Research

Katie Hern, Ed.D., Chabot College and Director, California Acceleration Project

Michelle Hodara, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Education Northwest

Cynthia D. Liston, Assoc. VP, Policy Research & Special Projects, NC Community College System Office

Bruce Vandal, Ph.D., Vice President, Complete College America

Presenter biographies

Phot_Joe HarrisJoe Harris is the Managing Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research, and has an extensive background in secondary school improvement, college and career readiness, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) reform as a practitioner, researcher and evaluator. He currently serves as Director of the College & Career Readiness & Success Center, a national technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to help regions and states promote knowledge development and dissemination and effective collaboration among CCRS stakeholders. From 2006 to 2012, he served as the Director of the National High School Center, also funded by USED, to promote college and career readiness, dropout prevention, and integrating special and general education instruction.

From 1994 to 2006, Dr. Harris served as project director for a series of major technical assistance contracts funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of the Systemic Initiatives, a multiyear NSF effort designed to foster STEM education reform in more than 100 state, rural, and urban school district projects. Dr. Harris also has led numerous K–12 initiatives to improve program operations and outcomes in areas such as differentiated teacher compensation, program evaluation, student assessment, strategic planning, education policy, program equity, minority student achievement, and public/private partnerships. For the first two decades of his career he was a public school teacher and administrator and, since then, has worked in a variety of public school settings. Dr. Harris holds a B.A. in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Florida, an M.A. in Secondary Education from the Catholic University of America, and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Photo_Katie HernKatie Hern, Ed.D., is an English Instructor at Chabot College and has conducted extensive research into her department’s longstanding accelerated developmental English course. Hern is Director of the California Acceleration Project, working with math colleague Myra Snell to support faculty from the state’s 112 community colleges to redesign their reading, writing, and math curricula to increase student completion ( Hern and Snell’s work has been featured in the New York Times, KQED public radio, and Inside Higher Education, along with national organizations Complete College America, Getting Past Go, the Developmental Education Initiative, and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. Hern speaks nationally on integrated reading and writing and accelerated models of remediation. Her article “Acceleration across California” appeared in Change magazine (May/June 2012).

Photo_Michelle HodaraMichelle Hodara is a Senior Researcher at Education Northwest a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, where she conducts quantitative research on programs and policies that improve students’ college persistence and completion. Dr. Hodara is currently the lead researcher for the Oregon College and Career Readiness Research Alliance, a partnership that brings together education stakeholders from across Oregon to foster greater alignment between the secondary and postsecondary systems and promote evidence-based policies and practices that improve Oregon students’ college readiness, access, and success. She is also a research affiliate at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University where she has worked for a number of years on research related to reforming developmental education course sequences, curriculum, and instruction. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to earning her doctorate, she was a special education teacher on the Zuni Pueblo Indian reservation in northwest New Mexico and a developmental reading and writing instructor at University of New Mexico in Gallup, New Mexico.

Photo_Cynthia D. ListonCynthia D. Liston is Associate Vice President, Policy Research & Special Projects at the NC Community College System Office where for three years she has been facilitating comprehensive redesign of developmental education across the state, as well as playing key roles in other student success initiatives focused on increasing credential attainment and completion.

Previously, Cynthia served as a consultant for Jobs for the Future, and from 1995 to 2007 worked at Regional Technology Strategies, Inc., a national economic and workforce development policy organization in Chapel Hill.

A public policy professional for more than twenty years, Cynthia focuses on collaborative approaches to applied research, policy development, and capacity building. Cynthia has played major research and management roles in projects supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, the Golden LEAF Foundation, National Science Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Governors Association, and numerous state agencies.

Early in her career, Cynthia worked for the national association of electric utilities and served on the legislative staff of U.S. Senator Jim Sasser (TN) in Washington, DC.

Cynthia holds a Masters of Public Policy from Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute and a B.A. in Political Science and French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Photo_Bruce Vandal-FINALBruce Vandal is the former Director of the Postsecondary and Workforce Development Institute at the Education Commission of the States (ECS). At ECS, he led “Getting Past Go,” a three-year Lumina Foundation for Education project to more effectively leverage investments in remedial and developmental education to increase college attainment.

Bruce also served as co-director of the Tennessee Developmental Studies Redesign Initiative, a partnership with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to reform developmental education courses at TBR institutions funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. Bruce also directed projects on aligning education and workforce development policy, teacher preparation and college access. He earned his Ph.D in Education Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota.

Recommended resources

Click here to view Joe Harris’ PPT presentation

Click here to view Katie Hern’s PPT presentation

Click here to view Michelle Hodara’s PPT presentation

Click here to view Cynthia Liston’s PPT presentation

Click here to view Bruce Vandal’s PPT presentation

Click here to view the webinar video

Presenter Information

Joe Harris

Managing Research Analyst

American Institutes for Research

1000 Thomas Jefferson St. NW

Washington, DC 20007


Katie Hern, Ed.D.


California Acceleration Project

25555 Hesperian Blvd.

Hayward, CA 94545

Michelle Hodara, Ph.D.

Senior Researcher

Education Northwest

101 SW Main

Suite 500

Portland, OR 97204-3213


Cynthia D. Liston

Associate Vice President, Policy Research and Special Projects

North Carolina Community College System Office

200 W Jones St.

Raleigh, NC 27603


Bruce Vandal, Ph.D.

Vice President

Complete College America

1250 H Street NW, Suite 850

Washington, DC 20005





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