Unlocking the Remedial Gate

Community college students often fail in remedial classes. MDRC’s Unlocking the Gate reviews the research on the most promising approaches to remediation.

Four strategies help students succeed in college: helping high school students prepare for college-level classes; streamlining the remedial ed sequence;  teaching basic skills and job skills or college-level content together; improving advising and tutoring for remedial students.

Programs that show the greatest benefits with relatively rigorous documentation either mainstream developmental students into college-level courses with additional supports, provide modularized or compressed courses to allow remedial students to more quickly complete their developmental work, or offer contextualized remedial education within occupational and vocational programs.

Several ideas merit further study: technology-aided approaches, improved alignment between secondary and postsecondary education, and curricular redesign that reconsiders the key skills that academically underprepared students will need in their careers.

In addition, community colleges will have to rethink placement tests and faculty support, MDRC found.

Via Community College Spotlight.

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Overhaul Career and Technical Education

Economist Prakash Loungani of the International Monetary Fund has estimated that 25 percent of the unemployed are out of work today due to skill-job mismatches. Georgetown’s Harry Holzer has calculated that today’s unemployment rate of 9.1 percent would be nearer to 8 percent if a majority of these jobs were filled. When it’s difficult and costly for employers to find skilled workers, either employers don’t hire or they concentrate their growth overseas.

The training and skills discussion is less about professionals with four-year degrees, who remain employed at a pretty hefty rate, and more about those who need top-shelf career and technical education. It’s easy to forget that 68% of the labor force has less than a four-year degree, including 47% of those in professional occupations and 32% of those in management roles.

Fact is, America’s community colleges, job training, and workforce development are a mess. Community colleges suck up nearly $36 billion* in taxpayer subsidies to provide training of uncertain quality, retain a balky and inconvenient academic calendar, and frequently do a lousy job of linking their instruction to local workforce needs. Moreover, they’ve been slow to meet new needs, instead insisting that they first require new state subsidies.

Consequently, most growth in career and technical education in the past decade has been driven by for-profit providers, including operators that rake in federally-subsidized loans while delivering training of dubious quality. The result has been the Obama administration’s heavy-handed effort to regulate for-profit education through “gainful employment” regulations that measure loans taken and earnings of graduates.

Read more.

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