Report: 2 in 5 states use multiple measures for remedial placement
- Nineteen states or university systems use multiple measures methods to place students in the appropriate courses, according to a new guide from the Education Commission of the States. Those additional measures can include high school academic performance, additional tests, work experience, and noncognitive factors such as motivation and attitude.
- Twenty-one states have either state or systemwide policies that establish minimum scores students must achieve on an assessment to be deemed college-ready.
- Two in five states have reporting requirements for their developmental education programs. Those can include data on the share of students enrolled in remedial courses, the cost of such programs and measures of student success used.
Policymakers and higher education leaders are rethinking how they approach remedial education as a growing body of research reveals traditional programs may not be working.
Assessments used to determine whether a student has to take developmental education are not always effective, some studies have found. At community colleges, one in three students placed in remedial courses is likely "misdirected," according to a report by the Community College Research Center and MDRC. And in one system, about one-third of students placed in English remedial courses could be earning a B grade or better in credit-bearing courses, according to a report by the Brookings Institution that discusses related research.
Being placed in remedial classes can significantly prolong the length of time a student is in college. Generally, fewer than 10% of students in such courses graduate on time, according to the Center for American Progress.
Amid these findings, more community colleges have been using multiple measures to determine a student's readiness for college coursework. More than half (57%) of surveyed two-year institutions used a variety of measures for math placement in 2016, compared to 27% five years earlier, according to a study by the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR). In addition, many of the surveyed colleges were using methods for remedial education other than just traditional course sequences.
Meanwhile, some colleges are doing away with remedial courses altogether. The California State University System, for example, has replaced remedial courses with credit-bearing classes than span two semesters and have a simultaneous support class. Research has suggested this method, called corequisite support, has been an effective tool for some colleges.
However, the Brookings report states corequisite supports have seen pushback from faculty members. It also notes that it be a "heavy lift" for some institutions to collect multiple measures to determine a students' placement.
- Education Commission of the States 50-State Comparison: Developmental Education Policies