Remediation, Only Good

Remediation, the process where students enter college but are then forced to take ramp-up classes for which they cannot earn credit, has long been a problem at community colleges.

Everyone is admitted, but only a few start college prepared to earn credits. Most are tracked into a series of remedial math and reading courses. As soon as someone takes a remedial course, the chances of him successfully completing college go down dramatically.

The trouble is that most remedial courses don’t really work.

According to a new piece in Community College Spotlight, tracking students into accelerated remedial courses, where the remediation and the eventual credit-bearing class are integrated into the same course, works pretty well. As Joanne Jacobs writes, at one Maryland community college:

Accelerated Learning Program students who place into the highest level of remedial writing are allowed to enroll directly in English 101, a college-level course, if they also take a companion ALP course, which is limited to eight students and taught by the same instructor.

Apparently some 82 percent of the students eventually earned college credit for English. Those are much better odds than remedial courses generally enjoy.

Now there’s something a little odd about that “students who place into the highest level of remedial writing” thing—how many levels are there? How apt are these students already?—this looks like a very promising program.

Integrate extra help into the course itself. Don’t ghettoize extra help as a separate class full of people unable to succeed in normal college courses.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

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