Reforming Remedial Education with Corequisites

Remedial courses are often viewed as one of the biggest hurdles in improving college completion rates. Complete College America reports that nearly 20% of freshmen entering a four-year college are placed into developmental-level mathematics and English courses, a number that jumps to over 50% at community colleges.

While these remedial courses intend to help students achieve success, the outcomes are often discouraging. Recent research by Complete College America and the Lumina Foundation shows that students who begin college in developmental courses are less likely to complete a degree. Fewer than 10% will graduate from community college within three years, and only 20% will earn a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Remediation comes with a hefty price tag as well: the American Economic Association estimates the cost to be $7 billion annually. Because these courses rarely yield college credit and cannot be transferred elsewhere, students are frequently frustrated.

One approach shifts remediation from a prerequisite requirement to a corequisite. The student is enrolled directly into the gateway college level course while simultaneously receiving “just-in-time” remediation. Rather than lengthening remedial students’ degree paths by adding additional semesters of noncredit coursework, the corequisite approach accelerates students with academic deficiencies to a credit-level curriculum while continuing to provide remedial support.

Remediation may be delivered in a variety of forms, such as peer tutoring, team teaching, computer lab usage, online resources, and supplemental technologies. Implementation of this model has resulted in improved success rates among students with remedial needs while reducing degree completion time.

To address poor success rates and overpopulation in its developmental math courses, Texas State Technical College (TSTC) in Waco, Texas recently redesigned its Intermediate Algebra course as a corequisite in conjunction with a credit-bearing College Algebra course. Using both direct and indirect measures of data from the Spring 2014 inaugural cohort, TSTC found that it was possible to successfully accelerate developmental students into a college-level curriculum and that students with initial academic deficits could still succeed in a credit-bearing course alongside college-ready students. For more information, watch the recorded webinar.

Learn more about the corequisite model, best practices for implementation, and success stories by checking out Complete College of America’s resource center.