Increased Rigor

Attewell, Paul & Domina, Thurston. (2008). Raising the Bar: Curricular Intensity and Academic Performance. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.
This research report looks at the effects of taking advanced classes in high school, with attention to socioeconomic inequity in coursetaking.  Researchers found significant disparities in rigorous coursetaking that were not explained by a student’s academic ability and are likely related to a student’s socioeconomic status.  Differences in access to rigorous courses were centered on schools themselves, indicating the school a student attends could have a significant impact on their ability to access certain higher-level courses.  This also suggests that targeting schools with large percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch could be effective at reducing unequal access to rigorous courses.

Education Research & Data Center. (2011). Enrollment in Pre-College-Level Coursework: Washington State High School Graduates, 2008-09
This EDRC research brief analyzes the pre-college (developmental) coursetaking of students who graduated from Washington public high schools and attended a public community college or university in 2009-2010.  They found that only 61 percent of all high school graduates attending college took no pre-college course.  Of the students who did take a pre-college course, 22 percent took math only, 12 percent took both math and English, and 5 percent took English only.  Data is further broken down by student and school characteristics.

Klepfer, Kasey & Hull, Jim. (2012). High School Rigor and Good Advice: Setting Up Students to Succeed. Center for Public Education National School Boards Association.
This research report completed by a graduate fellow and policy analyst at University of Texas at Austin looks at high school, college, and student characteristics that influence student persistence in post-secondary education.  Data used came from the Educational Longitudinal Survey 2002, which includes a nationally representative sample of students who started as sophomores in 2002.  The dataset was restricted to students who graduated from high school and directly enrolled in a college or university. They found that high school mathematics, taking rigorous high school courses (AP or IB), and using academic advising services in college increased their likelihood of persisting in college.  They also found evidence supporting that these factors were the strongest for low-income students.

Kurlaender, Michal & Howell, Jessica. (2012). Collegiate Remediation: A Review of the Causes and Consequences. College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.
This literature brief from researchers at the College Board summarizes their review of the research around developmental education.  The report includes national remediation statistics pulled from the literature.  The researchers cite the lack of conclusive evidence around the impact of remediation on subsequent student success and find that the two strongest areas with most support for reducing the need for remediation are strong high school preparation and alignment of K-12 education and college education systems.

Long, Mark, et al. (2012). Effects of High School Course-Taking on Secondary and Post Secondary Success. American Educational Research Journal.
This peer-reviewed journal article looks at how courses a student takes in high school influence their test scores, likelihood of graduating high school, enrolling in college, and academic performance in college.   Sample included students enrolled in the 8th grade in 1998 in Florida public schools (n = 106,736).  They found that taking more rigorous courses in high school increased student test scores, students who took rigorous classes in the first two years of high school were more likely to graduate and enroll in a four-year college, and that challenging math courses are the most important for postsecondary success.