Michal Kurlaender receives $1.8 million grant Study of the California Early Assessment Program
June 2010 – Michal Kurlaender, an associate professor in the
School of Education, has been awarded a $1.8 million federal
grant to study a unique California program established six years
ago to help high school students better prepare for college.
The grant will fund a study of the California Early Assessment
Program, which gives students information and advice about their
readiness for the California State University.
The program measures English and math skills after students’
junior year in high school. Those with poor scores receive
recommendations on courses and other steps they can take during
their senior year to better prepare for college.
An earlier study by Kurlaender and two colleagues of students at
CSU Sacramento found that participation in the early assessment
program reduced the average student’s probability of needing
remedial English and math by 6.2 percentage points and 4.3
percentage points. This study was presented at a research
conference last spring and will be published this fall in the
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.
But it’s unclear whether those improvements resulted from
students taking more college prep classes, as recommended, or
whether some simply were dissuaded from applying to CSU campuses.
The new study will attempt to answer those questions in a much
larger research project that will include all 23 CSU campuses.
“We want to know not just if the program works, but why,”
Kurlaender said. “Kids who get a bad message, do they decide not
to apply? Is it working because we’ve weeded out the students who
maybe aren’t ready? Our early evidence suggests that’s not the
“Second, we’re going to do a more in-depth study of transcripts
to try and see if kids are taking better advantage of their
senior year as a result of this information.”
Kurlaender will conduct the study with Jessica Howell, a CSU
Sacramento economics professor, and Eric Grodsky, a former UC
Davis sociology professor now at the University of Minnesota.
Michal Kurlaender investigates students’ educational pathways, in
particular K-12 and postsecondary alignment, and access to and
success in postsecondary schooling. She has expertise on
alternative pathways to college and college readiness at both
community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. In
addition to working with national data, Kurlaender works closely
with administrative data from all three of California’s public
higher education sectors–the University of California, the
California State University and the California Community College