Program Offers a Quicker Path to College Credit for Students Mired in Remedial Courses

A developmental mathematics program unveiled on Wednesday by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching shows promise in helping students avoid the remedial quicksand that prevents many from graduating.

The “Statway” program, tested last year at 21 colleges, more than tripled the rates at which remedial students earned college math credit, Carnegie officials said. The students got there twice as fast, too.

The program, which focuses on statistics and data analysis, replaces remedial math sequences that can take more than two years with an intensive yearlong program. During that year, students complete remedial requirements and earn credit for college-level statistics.

Nearly two-thirds of new community-college students require developmental math before they can enroll in college-credit courses, Carnegie officials noted. Up to 80 percent of those students never get out of the remedial sequence, they said.

“The community college offers access to a better job and a better life,” the foundation’s president, Anthony S. Bryk, said in a Web conference with reporters on Wednesday. “It is essential that developmental math be a gateway to opportunity rather than a gatekeeper.”

High failure rates for remedial courses have prompted national groups to call for sweeping changes in how they’re taught.

Fifty-one percent of students who finished the Statway program went on to earn college math credit with a C or better. By comparison, only 5.9 percent of the developmental-math students at the pilot colleges who weren’t involved in the study earned college math credit after one year, 15.1 percent did so after two years, and 23.5 percent after four years. <Read more.>

Via Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education.