New philosophies for developmental education

To approach developmental education, community colleges in the Philadelphia area are trying on new philosophies. Some institutions are phasing out developmental education, while others are using a co-requisite rather than a prerequisite approach. In other words, students who place just below the college-level are placed into the college courses, but with additional support. Another dimension is thinking about how students are evaluated in the first place, which includes a shift from more traditional testing considered by some to be an outdated approach.

Often believed to be a mostly community college issue, plenty of universities must also work with underprepared students and deliver developmental education. Temple University, for example, has anywhere from 5-6% of students in developmental mathematics and up to 20% in developmental English (including ESL students). Temple is also incorporating a co-requisite model in dev ed and making adjustments to how students are evaluated.



Successful rates from Tennessee

Last Fall, Tennessee expanded its use of a co-requisite approach to math, writing, and reading at all of its 13 public community colleges. The Board of Regents’ latest study indicates that the approach was successful, overall, in facilitating students’ completing credit-bearing courses compared to traditional developmental education approaches four years ago. College-level course passing rates also increased for minority, adult, and low-income students. Despite the promising results, Tennessee still has much to learn about the differences in course delivery among the community colleges. Another recent research study seems to support some of the efficiency seen in Tennessee. The Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College’s report indicated that using a co-requisite model is more cost effective than traditional remediation, and also improved student engagement.

Source:  InsideHigherEd

New report calls developmental education a “bridge to nowhere”

Back in 2012, Complete College America issued a report that called remedial, or developmental, education a bridge to nowhere. Now, four years later, a report by New America echoes this statement while also suggesting that co-requisite models may offer improved results. Evidence to support this assertion comes from data gathered at institutions in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia that have used the co-requisite approach as well as other models, including the emporium model, boot camps, and fast-track courses. The report also advises that such approaches must be brought to scale and that states/institutions must be given reasonable timelines, resources, and support from state policy leaders.

Sources:  Diverse Education, New America

Fixing dev ed

The Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) released a report that explores the experiences of underprepared students. Center director Evelyn Waiwaiole writes, “Developmental education is broken—and it is worth fixing,” a noteworthy call for finding ways to improve students’ college readiness. The report findings were based on survey data gathered from more than 70,000 community college students and 4,500 faculty members. Findings suggest that, despite 86% of students believing themselves to be college-ready, about 67% of them test into developmental education and even 40% of students with A- grade point averages in high school placed into developmental courses. The report also appears to back co-requisite models, a suggestion consistent with other recent reports. While this remediation approach has been found to improve students’ completion of college-level coursework, Hunter Boylan cautions that most institutions lack the necessary resources to bring such co-requisite pilots to a larger scale. Boylan suggests that colleges would require significant restructuring and reorganizing as well as cultural change in order to implement such reforms.

The complete list of eight approaches for improving developmental education include redesigning mathematics, trying acceleration or paired developmental courses, using more than one measure for assessing college readiness, and partnering with high schools to offer bridge programs.

Sources:  Campus Technology, InsideHigherEd

New reports detail strategies used in developmental education in Tennessee and Connecticut

The American Council on Education’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy recently released two reports examining innovative strategies in higher education in Tennessee and Connecticut.  In Tennessee, Developmental Studies Redesign and Course Revitalization Redesign were pursued between 2005-2010 and 2010-2015, respectively.  In order to accomplish each, system-level changes were implemented to redesign developmental education and gateway courses across the state.  State legislation, specifically the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, also played a role.  Redesign efforts led the Tennessee Board of Regents to implement a co-requisite model that would bring together developmental and college-level.

When the State of Connecticut passed Public Act 12-40, educational institutions would have to revise existing assessment and placement practices for developmental education.  Additionally, institutions would be limited to one semester for developmental coursework and had to implement a three-level model that provided students with integrated support for college-level courses, intensive developmental courses in one semester, and tuition-free transitional programs that were non-credit.  The ACE report includes data gathered through interviews with several constituent groups at the state legislative and higher education levels, and findings serve as recommendations for improving communication between the legislature and higher education community and more.

Sources: InsideHigherEd, ACE on Tennessee, ACE on Connecticut

Community colleges in Tennessee nix traditional dev ed

Across community colleges in Tennessee, more than 70% of incoming students require developmental education; however, only 46.5% complete remediation and fewer (12.6%) graduate within three years’ time. To address low graduation rates, the state has eliminated traditional remediation and implemented a co-requisite model.  Students considered underprepared will start with introductory courses in math and English, and a learning support course to help students strengthen their academic skills.

Past pilots of the co-requisite approach in Tennessee have yielded positive results.  Underprepared students passed courses in statistics, quantitative reasoning, and English more frequently than in the traditional model at Austin Peay State University and nine other community colleges. Despite these results, concerns over using this approach linger.  Director of the National Center for Developmental Education, Dr. Hunter Boylan, voiced concerns that it is unclear whether the learning support class will help the most underprepared or first-generation college students, and further cautioned the use of a seemingly one-size-fits-all model, stating that sustaining such a system will be no easy task.

Sources:  Complete College America, PBS NewsHour

West Virginia reforms found to be successful

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia recently authored a guest column in the Logan Banner.  In the piece, Governor Tomblin details dev ed reforms undertaken by the West Virginia Community and Technical College System to meet the growing projected need for a credentialed workforce.  A million-dollar grant from Complete College America enabled reforms via co-requisite courses in two-year colleges across the state. Prior to implementation of the co-requisite model, only 14% of students passed college-level math within two years of taking developmental math.  Under the new model, however, 62% of students now complete college-level math within one semester.

Source: Logan Banner

States look to legislation for repairing dev ed

The remediation system for educating students deemed underprepared for the college-level is far from perfect.  Amid controversy over low success rates and high costs, many states are looking to legislative policy to repair developmental education.  Minnesota is considering whether remedial classes should be optional, Nevada and Montana are considering co-requisite models, and other states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, and Florida have already passed some reform.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Alternative models emerge in dev ed redesigns

As concerns over high referral rates, low completion rates, and the high costs associated with dev ed come to the forefront, redesign models have emerged.

At the Community College of Baltimore County, a co-requisite model called the Accelerated Learning Program is used.  Students who place into upper-level dev writing can enroll in a co-requisite composition course.  A similar model, through the California Acceleration Project, has shortened the dev ed course sequence in the state’s community colleges.

Other models include the integration of reading and writing courses to teach these critical skills that often go hand-in-hand, and the New Mathways Project in Texas community colleges that offers students multiple pathways through dev math through acceleration and revised curricula.  The project was also profiled in greater depth by the National Journal.

Source: Education DIVE