Whether you think the idea is brilliant or foolhardy, the Connecticut state legislature is considering abolishing remediation courses from the state entirely, and moving to a model where students with additional needs receive “embedded remedial support” in their credit-bearing courses. The idea, of course, is to get the state out of the business of paying for underprepared students’ high-school years a second or third time. Interestingly, there is some evidence that this approach has worked, but never at the scale proposed by this initiative. Here’s a sample of the article:
Hunter Boylan, director of the National Center for Developmental Learning, said there are at least four models of embedded remedial education that show promise. For example, he cites a program in Washington state, dubbed Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, that pairs workforce training with adult basic education and literacy courses. But that smattering of pilot programs, which includes increased student support services, are not imposed on all of the state’s colleges.
Embedded remedial courses need more “field testing,” Boylan said. “I don’t think it’s been thoroughly researched enough for an entire state to put it into practice.”
Inside Higher 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.