‘Transitional’ courses boost college readiness

Colleges spend nearly $7 billion a year on remedial education, according to federal data.  Eight states — and many school districts — are offering  “transitional” math and English courses to help students catch up and avoid remediation in college, reports Education Week

Seventy percent of Tennessee high school graduates place into remedial math in college. Only five percent of community college students placed in remedial math earn a two-year degree in three years.

Chattanooga State Community College developed the SAILS model, short for Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support. High school teachers and community college instructors developed a self-paced math course for low-scoring students with college aspirations. Students learn online in a school computer lab with a teacher on hand. College instructors come in once a week.

The idea is catching on, reports the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia. Twenty-five states, and districts in another 13 states, assess 11th graders’ college readiness to give them time to improve in 12th grade. More than a dozen states are planning similar programs.

The transitional curricula being offered by states and districts typically consist of a course, a set of instructional units, online tutorials, or other educational experiences offered no later than 12th grade to students considered at risk of being placed into remedial college courses, according to the Teachers College report.

These programs are designed for students who don’t quite meet college-readiness benchmarks, but who aspire to college and need some extra instruction. Students take the transitional courses during the school day, usually for high school credit with the goal of entering credit-bearing college courses upon matriculation.

Tougher Common Core standards will reveal the “huge readiness gap,” said Megan A. Root, a senior associate with the Southern Regional Education Board. The SREB is piloting math and literacy courses for struggling high school students in seven states. The curriculum is available online for free.

Core to College, backed by the Lumina Foundation, Gates Foundation and others, is funding collaboration between colleges and high schools in 12 states. As states implement Common Core standards, they’re aligning expectations and assessments, so college-prep classes really will prepare students for college demands.

Collaboration between K-12 and higher education is very important, say school district and college leaders in an edBridge survey. However only a third say they collaborate effectively.

Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Post a Comment

[…] Colleges spend nearly $7 billion a year on remedial education. Some are working with high schools to offer “transitional” math and English courses to low-performing 12th graders with college aspi…. […]

Allison Martin

Hello Joanne,

I enjoyed your recent blog “Transitional courses boost college readiness” and wanted to share with you an initiative called BPCC’s Open Campus, which we began last year at Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), serving Northwest Louisiana. Like Tennessee, many Louisiana secondary students need additional math and English prep before they are ready for a successful higher education experience.

In response, last year, BPCC rolled out its Open Campus series of cross-curricular, developmental MOOCs in math, English, and reading. BPCC’s Open Campus, funded completely in-house on a shoe-string budget, targets high school students preparing for placement testing as well as students enrolled in credit-bearing college course work.

While many higher ed practitioners perceive MOOCs as a direct challenge to the vitality of post-secondary instruction, early, emerging results from our MOOC models seem to point in the opposite direction. What we know at this stage is that students who are given access to free, user-friendly, full-blown developmental courses which contain brief video lectures and quizzes feel much more confident when they arrive for placement testing.

Equally significant is the value we’re seeing when our developmental instructors adopt the videos in flipped-classroom model, so the courses function as “next-generation” textbooks. The latter usage has become so popular that, last fall, we began a partnership with our TEM division so that students enrolled in credit-bearing developmental maths (we offer three levels) are given direct access to the MOOC version of their course. We intentionally designed our courses for portability to meet the growing availability of free wireless access coupled with consumer demands for inexpensive tablets and laptops.

You may have read about BPCC’s Open Campus as featured in Inside Higher Ed and NACADA’s Academic Advising Today. We would love to share more information on our program so that other Community Colleges can learn the benefits of a developmental MOOC model.

With best regards,
Allison Martin

Allison Martin
Director of Institutional Effectiveness Initiatives
Professor of English and Humanities
Bossier Parish Community College
6220 East Texas Street, A-252
Bossier City, LA 71111
318.678.6191 phone
318.678.6389 fax

Your email is never published nor shared.