More Remediation News

Paul Bradley has an interesting piece in Community College Week about many community colleges’ efforts to help students earn more credits. According to the article, “Playing Catch-Up,” there’s too much remediation:

The phenomenon has its roots in the open-access mission of community colleges, and has dogged colleges for decades. But even as public and private groups try to devise solutions, the situation appears to be getting worse.

“For whatever reason, we are getting more and more under-prepared students,” he said. “It’s not going away. In fact, it’s worse than it was 40 years ago.”

“Playing catch-up” is a misleading title, however. Just taking remedial courses at all predicts that students will probably never catch up, will never complete college. And not all of them, interestingly, were terrible high school students, either. Almost 80 percent of students who are forced to take remedial courses in college actually had a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $110 million to try and improve community college remediation. The Gates Foundation explains that good remediation seems to consist of three things:

•Collaboration between middle schools, high schools and colleges that can prevent the need for remediation in the first place.

•Tightly structured blending credit-bearing classes with enhanced academic supports.

•Flexible and personalized programs to address specific skill gaps to ensure that students learn what they need.

In other words, just don’t have remedial courses at all. Put students in regular courses and provide unprepared students with extra supports.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer