Learning Matters: Rethinking Basic Skills In Community Colleges (2012)

According to Stan Jones of Complete College America, U.S. taxpayers are spending close to $3 billion per year on supporting remedial classes at the community college level. Remedial courses — designed to help students catch up, and often taken on a non-credit basis — often aren’t successful at preparing students for their primary, credit-earning coursework.

At the same time, though, the presence of remedial classes is often a cash cow for the colleges; the courses can end up providing funding to other areas.

What can be done to improve the situation? Producer John Tulenko traveled to two community colleges in Maryland that are taking different approaches to the problem.

Via You Tube.

Long Beach City College Tries an Alternative to Placement Tests

Edward Yacuta felt rushed and nervous when he took a test to determine whether he was ready for college-level English classes at Long Beach City College.

The 18-year-old did poorly on the exam, even though he was getting good grades in an Advanced Placement English class at Long Beach’s Robert A. Millikan High School.

Most community colleges would assign students like Yacuta to a remedial class, but he will avoid that fate at Long Beach. The two-year school is trying out a new system this fall that will place students who graduated from the city’s high schools in courses based on their grades rather than their scores on the standardized placement tests.

Long Beach is in the forefront of a movement in community colleges nationwide to reassess the use of placement tests for incoming students.

The issue is especially acute in California, where about 85% of students entering a two-year college are assigned to remedial English classes and 73% to remedial math, mostly based on placement tests. Only about one-third of those students go on to earn an associate degree or transfer to a four-year college, according to California’s community college system.

Remedial classes — sometimes referred to as developmental or basic education — typically don’t offer credit that counts toward graduation. Many students must take multiple levels of remedial courses to catch up. And some research indicates that remedial courses don’t adequately prepare students for more advanced courses. (Read more.)

Via Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times.

Posted in Postsecondary (13-18), Testing. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Long Beach City College Tries an Alternative to Placement Tests

The Crucial Need to Hold Students to a Higher Standard

Over the last few months, hundreds of thousands of high school seniors have walked across a stage and received a diploma, an important moment that should be applauded.

Unfortunately, for many of those students, that diploma represents a false promise.

Recent data from the ACT, Inc. shows that only 25 percent of high school students who take the test are college-ready in all subject areas. In my home state of Tennessee, the situation is even bleaker. All students in Tennessee take the ACT test, but only 15 percent meet college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading, and science. While more than 80 percent of our students say they want to attain at least a two-year degree, far too few are graduating with the skills they need to thrive after high school. Even some high school valedictorians are taking remedial courses in college. Too many students are completely unprepared for the future.

These hard truths are particularly worrisome because college readiness and a postsecondary credential are critical to longterm success. In 2010, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that almost two-thirds of all job openings in the United States by 2018 will require some form of postsecondary education — including technical certificates and Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and advanced degrees. Last year, the unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma was 14.1 percent. For those with a Bachelor’s degree, it was 4.9 percent. (Read more.)

Via Bill Frist, The Week.

Posted in Commentary, Secondary (9-12), Testing. Tags: . Comments Off on The Crucial Need to Hold Students to a Higher Standard

Long Beach City College Tries an Alternative to Placement Tests

Edward Yacuta felt rushed and nervous when he took a test to determine whether he was ready for college-level English classes at Long Beach City College.

The 18-year-old did poorly on the exam, even though he was getting good grades in an Advanced Placement English class at Long Beach’s Robert A. Millikan High School.

Most community colleges would assign students like Yacuta to a remedial class, but he will avoid that fate at Long Beach. The two-year school is trying out a new system this fall that will place students who graduated from the city’s high schools in courses based on their grades rather than their scores on the standardized placement tests.

Long Beach is in the forefront of a movement in community colleges nationwide to reassess the use of placement tests for incoming students.

The issue is especially acute in California, where about 85% of students entering a two-year college are assigned to remedial English classes and 73% to remedial math, mostly based on placement tests. Only about one-third of those students go on to earn an associate degree or transfer to a four-year college, according to California’s community college system.

Remedial classes — sometimes referred to as developmental or basic education — typically don’t offer credit that counts toward graduation. Many students must take multiple levels of remedial courses to catch up. And some research indicates that remedial courses don’t adequately prepare students for more advanced courses. (Read more.)

Via Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times.

Posted in Community College (13-14), Testing. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Long Beach City College Tries an Alternative to Placement Tests

Summer Bridge Programs Have Modest Benefits

new study of developmental education “summer bridge” programs in Texas—designed to prepare high school students to move more rapidly into college-level classes—shows that students who attend the programs are more likely to pass college-level math and writing in their first year and a half of college than those who do not attend.

However, the study also found that these effects fade after two years, and that the program has no effect on student persistence or credit accumulation—two important indicators of student success.

The report from the National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR)—in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board—tracked 1,300 mostly Hispanic students over two years who participated in summer bridge programs at two four-year and six community colleges in Texas. The intensive summer programs ranged in length from four to five weeks and provide up to six hours a day of instruction in math, reading and/or writing, as well as academic tutoring and college advising.

The study shows that students in the program—who tested below college-level at the start of the summer—were 7 percentage points more likely to pass college-level math and 5 percentage points more likely to pass college-level writing in the first year and half after participating. By spring, 2011—the fifth semester after attending the program—students were still slightly more likely to have passed these classes, but the difference was no longer statistically significant. (Read more or download the report here.)

Via Times Staff, Community College Staff.

Posted in Community College (13-14), Data/Research, Postsecondary (13-18). Tags: , . Comments Off on Summer Bridge Programs Have Modest Benefits