Upon entering college, Students probably feel that they will enroll in college level courses right now. But this is not a new case for community college for more than half of the students.
These students find themselves required to take a step back to take classes in developmental, or remedial, reading, writing, or mathematics because the college has determined that they do not have the skills to succeed in the college level curriculum. They are “not ready for college.”
Students must pay the same tuition for developmental courses as they do for college courses, but do not receive any college credit. Many are required to take at least three such courses before their college education actually begins. Yet research suggests that many students who enroll in developmental courses drop out before completing college-level courses.
And these development courses are not cheap. The nation is investing at least $ 1 billion per year.
With so much money going towards developmental education, states and colleges have started rethinking their approach. Some states have already passed legislation that dramatically eliminates resurgence or developmental education as we know it. In 2013, Florida became the first state to cut funding for developmental education. All college students in the state, whether they are deemed college ready, can enroll in college level courses. Recently, Tennessee and Texas passed legislation that accelerates students to college-level courses while providing some additional support in favor of catching students. (Colleges refer to this approach as “primarily”) Other states and college systems are considering similar policies that make acceleration in college-level courses mandatory.
Policy changes that give students momentum in college-level courses can be a positive development. Emerging research indicates that in some cases such programs can help students succeed in college. Corequisites at Baltimore County Community College The probability of passing the college-level English course by about 30 percent increased. Students in Florida and Tennessee were more likely to pass the first college-level course after states became compulsory Acceleration-to-college level course improvement.
However, some college administrators and faculty members have expressed concern that developmental education reform is proceeding at a much faster pace. They worry that students who are lagging behind academically may not be ready for college-level courses and that bringing them as quickly as possible can set them up for failure. It is not clear which approach is best for acceleration or how to apply them effectively. Current research provides little guidance on these issues, but the US Department of Education is funding major rigorous studies on major reforms for developmental education that will address many of these questions. They include a study Corequests Investigated in Texas A colleague and I lead the RAND Corporation and the American Institutes for Research. States that wait for reforms to pass may benefit from the lessons emerging in this research.
What are the risks of moving too fast? Policymakers who pass comprehensive legislation based on limited information face many disadvantages:
Political cartoon on economy
Choosing the wrong horse. Colleges have experimented with many reforms for curriculum, education, and support within developmental education that hold promise. If policy-makers do not have enough information to compare the effectiveness or cost of several types of promising interventions, they may choose something that does not provide the best return on investment. By “all” on a single correction, states can limit the flexibility to change directions as evidence increases, and potentially inhibit the growth of other promising reforms.
Assuming one size fits all. All colleges with similar policies require mitigating policies, which all students (and every college) with the same intervention can benefit from the same solution. This may not happen. Little research has been done to determine whether students who are academically behind may be disadvantaged by pursuing a college level course immediately, and whether different colleges may benefit in different ways.
Separating troops. Faculty are essential for the successful implementation of many developmental education reforms, as they have strong control over institutional offerings and sufficient academic freedom within classrooms. Top-down mandates that are pushed too quickly and without sufficient engagement of faculty and college administrators can create distrust and create a combative environment that can serve as an obstacle to successful implementation.
Quit working and cut it in half. When policies are implemented quickly and with little money or guidance on implementation, colleges can implement reforms in less-than-ideal ways that limit their potential for effectiveness. Little attention has been paid to understanding how to support successful implementation. If institutions fail to obtain appropriate guidance on how to implement programs better, colleges may design ineffective models with the potential to leave students worse off.
It may soon become widespread for states “one size fits all policies” that accelerate students’ college courses. Meanwhile, states should do nothing? Research that can provide guidance on this topic can take from five to 10 years, giving many students the opportunity to benefit from the reform. Instead, states can design policies that encourage institutions to experiment with promising approaches but provide flexibility for colleges to roll out programs slowly, as the work progresses.
Texas recently addressed “one size fits all” by encouraging institutions to experiment with different core models and allowing institutions to keep students at least prepared from taking college-level courses. Texas is also allowing colleges to gradually roll out corequotes over three years to make adjustments as they go to college. And the state has ordered more research on the subject.
Are states moving too fast to make development education policy mandatory? It depends on the policy. With Texas, states can help innovate and build evidence by developing flexible policies that encourage the adoption of promising reforms while gradually allowing experimentation and research. But states have to be cautious in considering a restrictive, one-size-fits-all approach, with limited evidence on reforms that accelerate students in college-level courses.