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.