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


Learner Support System used to track dev ed students

After finding that commercial software to track students’ use of learning support services was inflexible and expensive, developmental faculty at South Mountain Community College worked with IT employees to design their own system.  The result was LSS, the Learner Support System now used at the college, located in Maricopa County, AZ.  The web-based application was first implemented in the summer of 2013 and, after the first year, provided the college with the data necessary to compare students’ usage rates (from LSS) to passing and retention rates.  The comparison indicated a difference between students who used three or more hours of support services (e.g., tutoring, supplemental instruction, and workshops) and those who did not–a finding that led to a new requirement of dev ed students to complete at least three hours of tutoring, study group, or other learning support.  In the years since implementing LSS, the college has seen double-digit gains in student success and retention.  LSS is now used in the college’s TRIO program and cohorts in other specialized areas, as well as four sister colleges in the district.

Source:  Campus Technology