“Florida colleges will let students opt out of remedial coursework, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
That’s a bad idea,writes Amber Bradley in a letter to the editor. “Some students who are genuinely not ready for college level coursework will opt to take the college level class and not succeed.” Instead, students should be allowed to retake the placement exam, she proposes.
Also, it is important for counselors to reiterate the importance of the placement exam . . . . Another suggestion is to offer these remedial classes the summer before the start of the student’s first semester so that once school commences, the student is caught up to the proper level class.
Bradley is a graduate student in education at University of Southern California.
Late enrollment sets students up to fail, writes an anonymous community college administrator in Inside Higher Ed.
In the name of access, many community colleges set no deadlines to enroll or apply for financial aid, Anonymous writes. Students can self-select into the classes they want, even if they’ve failed the placement test. They can start a week late, missing two or three classes.
We worry over our rising student loan default numbers. We struggle to improve our retention and completion rates and yet we have created a system that makes it OK for college to be a last-minute decision, where our most at-risk students start out behind and many never catch up. We force our professors to take students who will be seriously behind on their first day in class, and who will either sidetrack the instructor or fall more behind. Instructors, especially in our core classes, must balance trying to meet the course objectives while also providing in-class remediation for underprepared students.
Late enrollment often leads to academic failure, the administrator writes. Dropouts often have student loans that they won’t be able to pay.
Application and enrollment deadlines that ensure a student has enough time to get financial aid and payment plans in place before the semester begins. We need to have deadlines in place so a student knows that being successful requires planning and some time getting his or her life organized to be a student. A student who misses the deadline for enrollment isn’t told “no,” they are told “next semester.”
Mandatory orientation for all new students. We have a moral obligation to ensure that students have been informed of the institutions’ expectations, policies and practices before students try to begin navigating our increasingly large bureaucracies.
Required placement and advising prior to the first semester of enrollment. Students should start knowing what they’ll need to graduate, what classes they are truly ready for and what their academic plan will be.
Some community colleges have ended late enrollment to raise student success rates. In a 2002 study, 80 percent of on-time students made it to the next semester, compared to 35 percent of late registrants.
States and community colleges are trying several strategies to improve developmental education, concludes a Government Accountability Office report.
. . . two community colleges have implemented fast track classes that enable students to take two classes in one semester instead of in two semesters. One developmental education program in Washington places students directly into college level classes that also teach developmental education as part of the class.
Some community colleges help students prepare for placement tests, so they can qualify for college-level classes. And most colleges work with local high schools to align curricula.
However, it’s not clear whether remedial education reforms are boosting student success rates, the report concluded.
Fewer than 25 percent of developmental education students will complete a degree or certificate, researchers estimate.
Automated Teaching Machine, which foresees “the end of human teachers,” was created by two California community college professors. Adam Bessie, who teaches English at Diablo Valley College, was the writer; Arthur King, who teaches studio and computer arts, was the illustrator.
It was inspired by the introduction of an automated reading machine to score English-placement assessments at the college, Bessie told the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Previously, English-department faculty members had created and reviewed the assessments manually, a collective exercise that gave them the opportunity to discuss standards, he said.
“We were told that the robo-reader could do the same job as us for cheaper, which seemed an absurd notion,” Mr. Bessie said. “I had, before this, never heard of a robo-reader and thought that I had the one job that couldn’t be automated: that written human communication was one area that technology could augment, but not replace.”
Here’s the first part of the graphic, which was published on Truthout.
Community colleges are creating free online courses and study guides to help students brush up on academic skills and avoid paying for no-credit remedial courses, reports Inside Higher Ed. Although some use free Khan Academy videos or other sources, instructors also are developing their own online content.
Cleveland’s Cuyahoga Community College developed a free online course to help high school students improve their math skills and place into college-level courses, reports The Quick and the Ed. Tri-C, as the college is known, incorporated Khan’s lectures, the open-source TeacherTube and Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, or MERLOT.
The Gates Foundation awarded $550,000 to 10 institutions trying to develop MOOC content for remedial and introductory courses. Tri-C used $50,000 in Gates funding to develop its course. Wake Tech partnered with Udacity to develop a remedial math course.
Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana created five free online courses without outside seed money. Open Campus classes, which are open to anyone, provide remediation in reading, writing and math. Instead of partnering with a MOOC provider, Bossier asked faculty members to design the courses, said Allison Martin, director of institutional effectiveness initiatives. “We think we have a better understanding about our own developmental education population,” she said.
The project’s leaders said they felt students at the college would react better to learning from online instructors they were likely to see on campus and in classrooms . . .
Most of Bossier’s students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, said Jim Henderson, the college’s chancellor. He said those students in particular do not react well to impersonal or “sterile” online courses.
“They’ve got to be able to see that face and know that ‘this is a person I can talk to,’ ” Henderson said.
Both the Tri-C and Bossier Parish courses are self-paced and competency-based. Students can retake modules until they reach mastery.
Tri-C uses game-style learning, said Sasha Thackaberry, the college’s director of eLearning technologies. “It actually teaches persistence and resilience.”
Most students are familiar with gaming. And college officials said nontraditional students in particular thrive on the positive feedback of progressing from level to level, rather than just receiving a single grade when they complete a course.
“The pressure isn’t on them to succeed,” said (E-learning Dean Charles) Dull. “It’s to learn.”
Students must master 80 percent of the competencies embedded in the non-credit course to earn a “digital badge” certifying mastery.
Thirty-eight states are measuring 11th-graders college readiness, reports the Community College Research Center in Reshaping the College Transition. Some use state exams,while others use the ACT, SAT or community college placement tests. Even more states are expected to start testing when Common Core State Standards’ assessments are available.
Twenty-nine states are using catch-up courses or online tutorials to prevent students from landing in remedial education.
In a few years, high school graduates in North Carolina will earn diplomas showing their readiness for university, community college or careers, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. Each seal requires a minimum 2.6 grade point average, basically a C+.
To earn the community college readiness seal, graduates must have completed Algebra II or integrated math III.
In February, the community college board decided graduates with a minimum 2.6 GPA can skip placement tests and start in college-level courses. The system’s research showed that 20 percent of students placed in remedial courses could have succeeded at the college level. High school grades are the best predictor of college success, the study concluded.
To earn the career readiness seal, students must
take four career/technical courses, score well on ACT’s WorkKeys exam, or have an industry-recognized credential, such a car repair certificate, Microsoft suite certification, or SAS programmer credentials.
Creating structured pathways to graduation will help more community college students achieve their goals, said presenters at the American Association of Community Colleges meeting in San Francisco.
Completion by Design, a Gates Foundation initiative, is working with community colleges on mandatory student advising and structured course sequences, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. College leaders from North Carolina, Ohio and Florida discussed their efforts.
Jobs for the Future‘s completion campaign focuses on getting students into college-level classes as quickly as possible.
Many students who end up in remedial courses don’t need to be there, but they don’t realize the importance of the tests that colleges often use as the sole placement criterion, said Gretchen Schmidt, a program director at Jobs for the Future. ”They didn’t prepare, they had kids in the hall running around, or they rushed through the test to get back to work … and as a result they ended up two levels down” in developmental courses.
Students who start in remedial courses rarely earn a degree. Recent research has shown students placed in high-level developmental courses do just as well at the college level.
North Carolina now lets high school graduates with a 2.6 grade point average or better skip community college placement tests and start at the college level.
A new Connecticut law limits state funding for remedial education to a single course.
Florida may “cut off nearly all support for stand-alone remedial education,” reports the Chronicle.
Lenore P. Rodicio, director of Miami Dade College‘s Completion by Design effort, worries that’s going too far.
“Seventy percent of our students come in needing some kind of remedial education, many of them from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and this could close the door to them,” she said.
Her college offers a one-week boot camp for students who place into remedial education to allow them to zero in on the skills they need to improve, and it’s looking at other ways to get students into credit-bearing courses faster.
In another session, California Community Colleges chancellor Brice Harris discussed the state’s new “student-success agenda,” which includes encouraging students to develop a study plan, dropping reliance on a single remedial placement test and giving new students priority for registration over perennial students who aren’t moving toward a credential.
The study measured students’ performance on the California Standards Test as high school juniors against their first year community college performance in four areas: the portion of the classes they took that transferable to the California State University system; the portion of remedial classes taken; and their grades in both types. In dramatically unsurprising findings. . . the authors found that students with the best scores on the CST had higher grades their first year in community college and were enrolled in fewer remedial classes.
One finding was surprising: “Regardless of their academic achievements in high school, Asian and white students consistently enroll in more transferable courses than their Latino and black counterparts do,” the study found. Whites and Asians in the bottom 25% of CST performance enroll in more transferable courses that blacks and Hispanics in the top 25%.
Latinos and blacks may have attended high schools with lower academic standards, start with less “college knowledge” and be sidelined by placement tests with cultural biases, Michal Kurlaender, an associate professor at the University of California at Davis’s School of Education, told Inside Higher Ed.
Researchers say community colleges place too many students in dead-end remedial classes, reports Education Week.
“Remediation is the typical experience now,” especially at urban community colleges, said Judith Scott-Clayton, an assistant professor of economics and education at Teachers College and an author of an influential study that analyzed an urban and statewide community college system. Eighty percent of urban students and 70 percent of statewide students failed the math placement test. Yet a look at students’ high school transcripts showed a different story.
She found that 20 percent of students placed in remedial math and 25 percent of those placed in remedial reading were “severely misidentified,” meaning that not only could they have passed the entry college course in that subject, but they could have done so with a grade of B or better.
“The high school transcript info is basically more accurate for every group we look at,” Ms. Scott-Clayton said. “It’s true that it’s more subjective, but you are getting multiple measurements accumulated over time across several instructors. And it is capturing a broader array of skills, not just pure mechanical test-taking skills, but effort, persistence, motivation—things that we know matter a lot for college success.”
However, she found results uneven for specific racial groups: While fewer Hispanic students were placed in remedial courses using high school information, more young black men were pulled into remediation.
At several Texas community colleges requiring universal placement tests, 30 percent of students assigned to remediation were ”college ready” based on their scores on the ACT, SAT, and state test scores, a RAND researcher concluded. Texas will develop its own placement test aligned to state college readiness standards.
The new assessment includes diagnostic tests to identify specific problem areas in each subject, and the coordinating board will require colleges and universities to use those to plan more targeted remediation—for example, enrolling a student in a credit-bearing class while providing tutoring or an elective class to fill gaps in the student’s knowledge in that subject.
The diagnostic part of the exam will help students catch up quickly, so they don’t have “to take a 15-week course, go into this sinking hole, and rot for the next two years,” said Judith Loredo, the assistant commissioner for the P-16 initiative.