To increase graduation rate, colleges rethink non-credit pre-requisits

graduatesFour years’ worth of college credits is daunting for any student. But, when colleges also require a bunch of non-credit remedial courses in math and English many students find the challenge insurmountable.

Very few students who need to take non-credit remedial courses ever enroll in and complete their first college courses, says a new report from Complete College America. Only 17% ever graduate from college. But a new initiative called “corequisite remediation” is doubling and tripling the rate of students who complete their remedial and first college courses in half the time or better.

“It comes down to attrition. Most students succeed in their remedial courses, but simply fail to enroll in subsequent courses,” the report says. “Off-track and often out of money, more give up than fail.”

In corequisite remediation, students enroll directly into college-level courses and receive concurrent academic support to help them complete their regular classes. The focus is both on improving remedial course completion and, more significantly, on completion of the entry-level, credit-bearing college courses that put students on track for completing college.

“Rather than facing a long sequence of prerequisite, non-credit courses, students get up to speed while working toward their degree,” the study reports.

In Tennessee, a trailblazer on remediation reform, student success in gateway English courses improved from 31% in 2 years to 64% in one semester.

Established in 2009, Complete College America is a national nonprofit that works with states to significantly increase the number of Americans who earn career certificates or college degrees.

“Corequisite Remediation: Spanning the Completion Divide, Breakthrough Results Fulfilling the Promise of College Access for Underprepared Students,” Complete College America, January 2016

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