Doing dev ed differently

Faced with poor success rates for students placed in remedial classes, community colleges are Doing Developmental Education Differently, reports Inside Out, a new publication by the Community College Research Center‘s Scaling Innovation project.

Roughly 45 percent of students who place into a developmental math course one level below the college level complete their remediation requirements. Among students who begin three or more levels below college math, only 17 percent complete their entire developmental sequence. More than half of students who do complete all of their developmental courses do not complete the subsequent gatekeeper course.

Learning communities, compressed courses and mainstreaming hold promise for improved outcomes, CCRC research has found, but benefits “appear to be modest and relatively short-term.” Scaling Innovation seeks to understand how small-scale innovations can be expanded and adapted to “generate significant long-term impacts.”

Scaling Innovation is working on replicating several models:

The Accelerated Learning Project (ALP) at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) places eight upper-level developmental writing students in introductory college composition with 12 “college-ready” classmates. ALP students simultaneously take a companion course taught by the same instructor.

Concepts of Numbers for Arithmetic and Pre-algebra at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania “employs a conceptual rather than topic-focused approach in teaching arithmetic in order to make mathematical connections more transparent and to provide students with sustained practice in foundational elements of quantitative reasoning.”

The California Acceleration Project (CAP) pilots new English and math classes that shorten the developmental sequence and teach “the most essential skills and habits of mind required for student success.”

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