University takes back remedial role

For years, Metropolitan State University of Denver admitted unprepared students, then sent them to community college for remedial classes. Now, the university is doing some of its own remediation — while students take college-level courses, reports Chalkbeat.

Wanda Holopainen scored low on the math, reading and writing portions of the ACT. Instead of as much as three semesters of community college, she takes Metro State classes with “supplemental academic instruction” (SAI).

Alongside their normal classes, students receive extra support ranging from tutoring and peer study sessions to extra class time where students can receive targeted one-on-one help.

The goal? Reduce the number of students who may never never make it back from a remedial course into a college-level course or receive a degree.

Last year, 40 percent of first-year students at Colorado universities required remediation, reports Chalkbeat. By state law, they’re required to catch up at a community college. 

At Metro State, which has a high remediation rate and a low graduation rate, English and math professors asked the state for permission to take back remediation.

“They’d get admitted and then we told them, ‘you can’t really take our classes,’” said Jessica Parker, a professor in Metro State’s English department. “These are our students and we really wanted to keep them here.”

The English department uses an additional test and an essay to place some low-scoring students out of remediation. 

Those students who still exhibit a need for extra support enroll in one of two programs: an extended version of the introductory writing class spread over two semesters or the regular course with an additional writing lab. In either case, Parker keeps a close eye on their performance, so she or their instructor can intervene if their performance drops.

So far, students are earning fewer low grades and incompletes. The pass rate for SAI students is higher in both English and math than for their classmates. 

“The community colleges resisted [SAI] at first because [remediation] is a huge revenue source,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. But community colleges are adapting. “Even there, they’re going to try and do [remediation] in less time,” said Garcia. “Instead of three semesters of remedial math, they’re going to try and do it in one or two semesters.”

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 9, 2014

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