One big barrier to college completion has often been remedial courses. When students spend too much time in them, without earning college credits, they often get discouraged.
Remedial courses have long been used by colleges to provide focused training in basic subjects like math and English to get incoming students ready for college-level work. But in recent years, some systems have experimented with different models.
One of those is called corequisite support, an approach that allows students to get extra academic support while also enrolling in classes that earned them credits towards their degree.
One system that adopted the approach was the 26-campus University System of Georgia.
Tristan Denley, the executive vice chancellor of the university system, said various types of state colleges — from smaller to bigger universities and both highly selective and open access ones — all had the same traditional approach. It wasn’t working for any of them, he said.
In 2017, the system analyzed success rates of students finishing the remedial classes and saw those rates were low. For students who took remedial math, only one out of five passed. For English, just under half did.
“The students just kind of get lost in the whole journey and really never successfully navigate their way through it,” said Denley.
Since adopting the new model, state colleges in Georgia saw increases in pass rates to 66% in math and to 69% in English. Black students earning a C or higher more than doubled after the new approach, moving pass rates closer to their Latinx and white peers. Gaps in performance also significantly improved for first-generation students and Pell eligible students.
The model showed despite different preparation or lack of resources, students from multiple backgrounds could succeed.
The new model, Denley said, is “producing this very powerful leveling effect.”
Were you placed in one of those classes? The ones you stressed over because it meant studying one of your weaker subjects, all while knowing the class is a gate to actual credit courses. What got in your way? How did you make it through? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what the experience was like.