Calif community colleges focussing on help courses

A faculty-led group called the California Acceleration Project has helped 42 of the state’s community colleges offer redesigned, faster versions of remedial math and English tracks. But the group’s co-founders said they would be able to make much more progress if the University of California changed its transfer credit requirements.

As InsideHigher Ed reports: “Remedial courses are widely seen as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to improving college graduation rates, as few students who place into remediation ever earn a degree.images

“The problem is particularly severe for black and Hispanic students, who account for almost half of the California community college system’s total enrollment of 2.4 million. More than 50 percent of black and Hispanic community college students place three or more levels below college mathematics, said Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College. And only 6 percent of those remedial students will complete a credit-bearing math course within three years of starting the first remedial course.

“A key reason for abysmal pass rates is the length of remedial sequences, argue Snell and Katie Hern, an English instructor at Chabot College, which, like Los Medanos, is a two-year institution located in California. “The lower down you start, the fewer students complete,” Hern said.

“The two instructors decided to do something about the problem. In 2010 they founded the California Acceleration Project. Armed with research from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advanced of Teaching and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, they encouraged their peers to offer shorter remedial sequences in math and English.

“In 2009 Snell created an accelerated algebra course she calls “Path2Stats.” The course seeks to prepare students for statistics. It includes some intermediate algebra, but left out the parts she and others deem nonessential for students to succeed in college-level statistics. Some experts think statistics, instead of algebra, is sufficient for students who are not majoring in science, engineering or mathematics. Instead of a three- to four-semester remedial pipeline, Path2Stats is a single, 6-unit course that students can complete to move directly to the transfer-level, credit-bearing statistics. Its results have been impressive (see graphic). Students who enrolled in it were more than four times as likely to complete college-level math as their peers in traditional remedial sequences.”

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Inside Higher Ed

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