Summer bridge programs don’t help developmental students earn more credits or persist longer in college, concludes Bridging the Gap, a two-year study at six Texas community colleges and two state universities with open admissions. High school graduates who attended the summer sessions were more likely to pass college-level math and writing in their first year and a half of college than similar students in the control group. But the benefits didn’t last.
The National Center for Postsecondary Research tracked 1,300 mostly Hispanic students.
The intensive summer programs range in length from four to five weeks and provide up to six hours a day of instruction in math, reading and/or writing, as well as academic tutoring and college advising. Final results of the study reveal that students in the program—who tested below college-level at the start of the summer—were 7 percentage points more likely to pass college-level math and 5 percentage points more likely to pass college-level writing in the first year and half after participating. By spring, 2011 – the fifth semester after attending the program –program students were still slightly more likely to have passed these classes, but the difference was no longer statistically significant.
The average cost was $1,319 per student.