Examining the Effectiveness of the Accelerated Learning Program for English in Tennessee Community Colleges

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Hite, Joshua Adam
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Middle Tennessee State University
The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) is recognized as a leader in Basic Writing reform for community colleges due to their Accelerated Learning Program (ALP). The features Adams et al. adapted from various programs to better support CCBC students, particularly the central features of mainstreaming and acceleration, have helped reinvent Basic Writing at the community college level and have prompted state-wide implementation programs like Tennessee’s A-100. While ALP and similar programs have been assessed on the local level, state-wide implementation of such a program and its effects has not been examined. By attending to Tennessee’s implementation of A-100, my dissertation extends the conversation about the effectiveness of such programs and suggests strategies for successful implementation on both a local and state level. I identify the more effective features of ALP and argue that successful implementation requires knowledge of and respect for various stakeholders and their converging roles. I examine the quasi-experimental design of Tennessee’s state-wide implementation of mainstreaming (A-100), applying regression discontinuity analysis to a sample of some 100,000 first-time freshmen from the thirteen Tennessee Community Colleges from two years before A-100 implementation and three years after. Drawing from qualitative data from each school, including surveys and interviews with individual program implementers, I use a convergent methodological approach to link the quantitative markers of success to the perceptions around implementation while attending to how each individual institution adapted features of ALP for their local context. I highlight the features of ALP that are key to student success, recommend strategies schools can adopt to facilitate a smooth implementation process and boost student success more quickly, and suggest that programs like ALP help reduce the equity gap that previous approaches to Basic Writing reinforced.
Acceleration, Basic Writing, Corequisite, Developmental Education, Mainstreaming, Remedial Education, Rhetoric, Community college education, Education policy