Louisiana ends remedial classes at its public colleges and universities

The Louisiana Board of Regents this week adopted a new policy that effectively ends the use of remedial courses at public universities and colleges in that state. With this decision, Louisiana higher education institutions will join a growing number of schools that are abandoning remedial (or developmental) education in favor of an alternative known as co-requisite teaching.

The problem of students entering college unprepared for college-level work is widespread. This year, at least a million beginning students will be forced to take one or more prior remedial courses in maths or English – sometimes both – because they scored too low on entrance or job placement exams. standardized. Nationally, more than half of students entering community colleges will be told by their institution that they are not ready for college-level math and English courses, and those numbers will be significantly higher. for black and Latino students.

Under the traditional remedial model, instead of enrolling in a credit course, these students will be placed in prerequisite remedial courses, non-credit courses designed to help students with weak academic backgrounds upgrade themselves so they can succeed in required, credited courses and ultimately earn a degree. Although remedial courses do not count towards graduation, students must still pay tuition for them.

Remedial classes are well-intentioned, but the problem is that they largely fail. It is what I previously called the Hotel California of Higher Education; millions of students enter but never leave.

Among students in remedial courses, significant percentages do not even finish one of them. And very few students who start in remediation complete the next bridging course. Too often, remediation is simply a bridge to nowhere.

How many remedial students end up graduating from college? The answer is appalling. As few as 10% of remedial students in two-year schools complete their degree in three years; at non-flagship four-year universities, only about a third of students who take a remedial class graduate after six years. The results are even worse for minority and low-income students.

Louisiana decided to revise its policy after two years of study and work by Regents staff, faculty, campus stakeholders, system leaders, and national experts aimed at improving student success.

Under the new co-requisite guidelines, beginning students who need remedial will instead enroll in the Maths/English Bridge course while receiving additional academic support to help them pass the course. These students will take the credit course with the extra academic help instead of having to jump over the non-credit remedial hurdle first.

The Louisiana Gateway Math and English Class Placement Policy will go into effect statewide for math classes in fall 2023 and for English classes in fall 2024. Louisiana hears his new approach:

  • Increase the number of students who successfully complete bridging courses;
  • Increase retention and graduation rates of university students; and
  • Remove barriers to access and outcomes for Louisiana students.

“Today’s action by the Board of Directors is an excellent example of the implementation of the objectives of our master plan,” said Board Chairman Collis Temple III. “Tackling the barriers to student success, like succeeding in college math, brings us closer to our goal of doubling the number of college graduates in our state by 2030 and, at the same time, saves time and money. money to our students.

Louisiana used a grant from the States Education Commission to study the effects of using a co-requisite education model. Data collected in the 2020-21 academic year showed that first-year students participating in associated mathematics courses achieved a 55% pass rate, compared to 11% for those taking only remedial courses in mathematics.

Louisiana’s results are consistent with what other states have found. In fact, it has often been found that the co-requisite model at least triples the percentage of students who successfully complete gateway math courses and significantly increases the percentage who complete gateway English courses.

Here is an example. A recent report from Complete College America (CCA) analyzed the results of 26,000 college students in Georgia who enrolled in corequisite support.

Using the traditional remedial course sequence that characterized developmental education in the past, only 20% of Georgian students passed a gateway course in mathematics. With the co-required education, the math bridge completion percentage jumped to 66%. The results were similar with English. Only 45% of those who take remedial English classes eventually pass a Gateway English course, but with the corequisite approach, the pass rate jumps to 69%.

At the same meeting, the Louisiana Board of Regents also approved a new policy that will allow undergraduate credit to be awarded to students for learning previously completed in settings other than academia, such as in the labor market. work or in the army. Such a prior learning policy is particularly useful for adult students who have acquired skills and knowledge related to their work experience, but who have not received an official diploma attesting to the experience.

According to the guidelines, Louisiana will award credit to students based on national criteria such as advanced placement, college-level exam curriculum, industry-based certificates, DANTES subject standardized tests, or exams or training. military. Credit may also be awarded based on the assessment of a portfolio of work experience or through a faculty-developed challenge exam.

Advocacy groups, like Complete College America (CCA), have praised Louisiana’s actions. “Complete College America commends the Louisiana Board of Regents for its commitment to college completion by adopting policies that promote co-requisite support and prior learning assessments,” said Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, CCA President. .

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