VIA Community College Spotlight: Why it’s hard to fix remedial ed

The more time I spend reading about the challenges faced by Community Colleges, the more certain I am that the problems they’re tackling are the same ones we’re facing, because we’re increasingly teaching the same pool of students.  One fascinating titbit that fell out of this little blog post was the difficulty of evaluating college-readiness in any predictive way:

Among students with the same remedial test scores, those who start in college-level classes do as well or better as students who take remedial classes, they write. “But without a remedial screening system, college-level courses would be flooded with underprepared students.” Instructors fear they’d have to fail large numbers of students or lower standards.

Recommendations were pretty standard:

Colleges should design accelerated remedial classes that include “targeted support” for students’ weaknesses, they suggest. In addition, remedial courses should be linked to fields of study, such as “developmental math for business and accounting majors.”

These both seem fine as recommendations, but I think that for 4-year universities (as opposed to CCs) to implement them, I wonder how easy it is to devise “targeted support” that does not count as classes under our current state-enforced efficiency and accountability regime?  But I think we’re currently trying some things like this in a variety of ways. I will be interested to see how well they work.

DM

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