How to fix developmental education

According to a PBS article, an increasing number of students who enroll in public colleges enter unprepared. At first glance, the idea of dropping placement tests like Accuplacer may seem like a bad idea. After all, students with low skills need to be identified and brought up to speed. But consider the following factors: outside stress, illness, and poor test-taking skills can all impact student scores. Much of the time, results don’t reflect what students can actually accomplish, because too many variables can cause an inaccurate result in a single placement test.

Then there’s the problem of the remedial label; often, students who place in developmental classes don’t attend their courses. The stigma can interfere with student achievement.

Enter competency-based learning, a solution many community colleges are choosing to better serve students whose skills are still developing. The model is gaining in popularity at colleges and universities across the country, including Northern Essex in Massachusetts, Purdue University, the University of Michigan, and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).…Read More

Colleges try new fixes to remedial education

Colleges are taking alternative approaches to remedial classes.

After leaving high school as a teen mother, Ashley McCullough is back on track to receive a two-year degree and work as a respiratory therapist. But she first had to conquer a remedial math class and its core lessons on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division — the same basic skills her now 6-year-old daughter will soon start to learn in elementary school.

“I didn’t have my act together,” the 23-year-old said. “I had a baby at 16.”

McCullough is far from alone at Missouri State University-West Plains, a two-year school nestled in the southern Missouri Ozarks near the Arkansas border where roughly three out of every four students take at least one remedial class.…Read More

Cash-strapped universities look at cutting remedial classes

Remedial courses that prepare students for college-level work are in danger as states and schools look for cheaper alternatives.

As finals approached, nearly 240 students in a computer lab worked through basic algebra problems at Ohio’s Kent State University, where they and more than 3,200 of their classmates had been deemed unprepared for college-level math. They struggled to solve for x in equations such as 3x + 1 = 7, a skill students are meant to master in middle school.

Just down the hallway, university officials were trying to crunch a few numbers of their own, analyzing how much it’d cost to keep providing such remedial education to students who don’t arrive ready for college-level work.

The annual price tag for remedial education in American colleges and universities is at least $3.6 billion, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. It’s also a reason that many college students quit in frustration, contributing to high dropout rates.…Read More