A new initiative is targeting failure rates in foundational courses–a major cause of college dropouts–by giving scalable, high-quality support to colleges and universities seeking to improve student retention.

Every Learner Everywhere is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aims to increase the number of institutions using adaptive learning to improve course outcomes and graduation rates.

The initiative, which consists of a network of 12 higher-ed and digital learning groups, also hopes to eliminate the equity gap for low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students.

Read more: Adaptive learning helps students finish faster

Foundational courses (college credit-bearing and/or developmental education courses that enroll large numbers of students and have high rates of Ds, Fs, withdrawals, and incompletes) continue to be a barrier to entry for undergraduates.

Across all foundational courses, completion rates are 63 percent for community colleges and 75 percent for public four-year colleges. For foundational English and math courses, in particular, completion rates are 21 percent for two-year institutions and 51 percent for four-year institutions. What’s more, completion rates are 6 percent lower for low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students.

These failed courses put students further at risk by setting them on a path to leave school without a degree–all while having accumulated debt.

Every Learner Everywhere will directly address student success in these foundational courses by supporting the effective integration of adaptive learning systems, which offer a student-centric design, in an attempt to improve student retention.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura

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