Remedial math enrolls — and fails — more community college students than any other class. Some of the Achieving the Dream colleges are redesigning remedial math and improving success rates, reports Community College Week.
The College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas increased first-year students passing remedial math to 54.8 percent in 2009 from 46 percent in 2003-06. The college credits instructor training and a student success course.
Change was more dramatic at Galveston College in Galveston, Texas, which changed the curriculum and adopted MyMathLab software. Success rates rose from 21 percent in 2006 to 58.6 percent in 2010.
At Roxbury Community College, in a historically African-American section of Boston, 70 percent of students require remediation. In 2006, only 11 percent of remedial math students were able to take college-level math by their third semester. That rose to 25 percent by 2009.
RCC offers workshops before students take placement tests to help students — especially adults who’ve been out of school for years — brush up on math skills. Accurate placement boosts success rates, said Sterling Giles, the college’s ATD coordinator.
The college now has three levels of developmental math. The most demanding is aimed at those students intent on pursuing careers in the sciences. The other two, into which the vast majority of students are placed, are basic math and introductory algebra.
“We separated the majority of students from the science track,” Giles said. “We stopped making students take those courses. We want to give the students facility at math, but we also want to be intelligent with the appropriate placement.”
The college also strives to assure that students don’t languish in math courses they can easily master. By taking a modular approach to math instruction, students can test out of one module and quickly progress to the next, focusing on the skills they need
Periodic math clinics and workshops — including one focusing on math anxiety — are designed to help students through their coursework. A computer-equipped math lab provides a place where students in need of help can go to work with peers and instructors.
The college also requires a one-credit college survival seminar to ensure students know how to access academic and support services.