The Washington Monthly has published several pieces in the last few years about remediation in American colleges.
Remedial courses, the non-credit classes college students take that are supposed to prepare them for real college lessons, mostly aren’t effective. Student who take remedial courses are dramatically less likely to complete college.
But community colleges in Texas have a new plan to try to address this. According to an article by Max Baker at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
New Mathways Project is a system of new mathematics courses and student support services that will help students earn college-level math credit more quickly. The project is a systemic approach to the problem that will allow students to take math courses that align with their majors and future jobs.
So basically students will still have to take remedial math, but now instead of all remedial students taking the same no-credit courses, they’ll be taking specific developmental math courses targeted with specific subsequent classes in mind.
Remedial students who want to major in the sciences or math will still have to take the algebra-based remediation course now offered. But the new system will also offer different remedial courses, designed to prepare students for statistics or quantitative reasoning, which might be a little more appropriate for their interests.
This is not necessarily the best solution, (which would probably be just putting students in regular math courses and offering them targeted, extra help) but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
At least community colleges in Texas are starting to think about what students are taking remedial courses for, and what they want to do afterward. Creating a targeted pathway like this has some very important potential for helping to promote improvement.
According to the Baker article, Texas college students referred to remedial courses are 50 percent less likely to graduate.