Thursday, February 9, 2017
Opening Doors

This Monday morning at 10:00 a.m., as several of us rushed to fill our coffee mugs before our weekly staff meeting, we noticed that the door to our office was standing wide open. I had been the last one in, but I was certain I had shut the door behind me. “It must have been a ghost” I joked.

We wouldn’t find out until two hours later, but at that precise moment, our president and founder Stan Jones breathed his last breath.

It is tempting for me to construe this as a supernatural occurrence, that Stan himself opened that door. Certainly, if anyone were to take a detour en route to the afterlife to check in at the office, it was Stan Jones. His work was an extension of himself and he never deviated his focus from it, even as he battled a cruel illness that robbed him of his energy, then his speech, and eventually his life. I find comfort in the idea that he came back for one last strategy session, one last opportunity to smirk and roll his eyes at a dumb idea or a bad joke, one last time to tell a story we’ve heard before but wanted to hear again, one last vigorous debate with his old friend Tom.

But realistically, I probably just didn’t latch the door properly. So I make sense of this moment – a door unexpectedly open at 10:00 am this Monday morning – by thinking of it as a metaphor, not a mystic occurrence.

Stan Jones opened doors.

The doors of our colleges and universities in the past required a special key to get in – wealthy, well-educated parents and a well-resourced high school. Stan Jones removed the lock and threw away the key. He opened higher education’s doors to poor students, to first-generation students, to Black and Hispanic students, to immigrants, to those so often kept out by discriminatory policies and practices. In Indiana, he made tuition free for these students as long as they did their part in high school to be prepared. At least 30,000 students have graduated thanks to the 21st Century Scholars program since he created it 25 years ago.

When there weren’t enough doors to open, Stan Jones created them.

When Indiana needed more high-quality associate degrees and workforce credentials for its economy and citizens, Stan Jones built a community college system, full of open doors in the both the urban centers and rural pockets of the state. Ivy Tech Community College now serves more than 170,000 students per year in 75 communities and with Stan’s urging, continues to focus more sharply on improving the graduation rates and workforce outcomes of its students.

When doors were boarded back up, Stan Jones came in with a battering ram.

An increased focus on college access meant our at-risk students could get in the door, but once inside they still faced policies and practices that essentially boarded up the door to graduation. While many rested on the laurels of increased access, Stan Jones refused to claim victory until students had college degrees in hand. Stan demanded that higher education do more than just tinker with marginal change. He insisted that the entire game change.

But he was also clear on how to do it, because in Stan’s words, “people need things to be concrete and specific.” As a result, once novel concepts – guided pathways in higher education, college students starting in college-level courses, redefining full-time as 15 credits – are now becoming commonplace in the field. True to Stan’s plan, these ideas didn’t stay within the walls of Complete College America. They became viral.

Before we knew it, the doors of higher education were more open than ever and the promise of college access began to be matched with the promise of college completion. Those countless students who benefitted will likely never know Stan’s name. But that’s okay. Stan didn’t care about their gratitude. He only cared about them.

So, did Stan Jones open the CCA office door this Monday at 10:00 a.m.? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that he opened all the doors before that.

posted by Sarah Ancel


Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Stan Jones: A Game Changer (1949-2017)

Stan Jones, who transformed education in Indiana and throughout the nation as a long-time state legislator, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education, and founder and president of the national nonprofit Complete College America, passed away peacefully at his home in Indianapolis on Monday, February 6th while surrounded by family.

An engineering graduate of Purdue University, Stan began his longstanding commitment to education in 1974, when, at the age of 24, he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives, a seat he would hold for 16 years. As a member of both the House Education and State Budget committees, he developed expertise in education and education finance, emboldening his ever-growing passion for creating opportunity for students and their families, holding accountable institutions and systems to better serve our communities, and building bridges for those far too often left behind.

In 1990, he was tapped by then-Governor of Indiana Evan Bayh to serve as a senior advisor, a post he would hold for more than five years before being appointed as Indiana’s 5th Commissioner for Higher Education.

During his more than 12-year tenure at the Commission, a time in which he served under four governors from both parties, Stan transformed the agency from a policy-maker sounding board and budget organization into a catalyst for positive change in the state. He is credited as the primary architect of several landmark education policy initiatives, including the 21st Century Scholars program, an early promise scholarship aimed at increasing the number of low-income students attending and completing a postsecondary education. Additionally, he was instrumental in the creation of the state’s community college system; Indiana’s Education Roundtable; the deployment of outcomes-based funding; and the implementation of Core 40, a college prep curriculum that has contributed to significant increases in high school seniors going to college.

In 2009, following three decades of advocacy and reform in the state of Indiana, Stan founded Complete College America in order to build a network of states committed to substantially increasing the number of Americans with a postsecondary credential. Under his leadership, the organization grew to 42 member states and institutional consortia and advanced an ambitious agenda to revolutionize the nation’s higher education systems and close attainment gaps for underrepresented populations.

Whenever urging forward those around him, Stan would often famously say, “change at the margins will only produce marginal change.” Those words could never be used to describe Stan Jones – a leader, husband, father and man who made a significant difference for the betterment of Indiana and our country.

A visitation will be held from 2:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 10, 2017, at Daniel F. O’Riley Funeral Home, 6107 S. East Street, Indianapolis, IN 46227.  Funeral will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at St. Roch Catholic Church, 3600 S. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46227. Burial to follow at Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis.

For those inclined, the family suggests contributions to Complete College America for the Stan Jones Memorial Scholarship, supporting 21st Century Scholars. Donations can be made at or mailed to Complete College America, 429 East Vermont Street, Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46202.

posted by Blake Johnson


Friday, January 13, 2017
New York Governor’s Free-College Plan Needs Improvement to Boost ROI

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new plan to make college more affordable for middle- and low-income New Yorkers is commendable, but it doesn’t go far enough in solving the more pressing challenge in higher education: When students get to college, far too few actually complete their degrees. To get the greatest bang for the state’s buck, the Governor should be using the leverage of public investment – dollars from hard-working taxpayers – to ensure the state isn’t just putting more students in seats, but also getting them to graduation day.

Affordability matters. It affects whether or not students go to college and how long they stick around when they get there, but data from around the country reveal that time, not tuition, is the more menacing barrier to college completion. Simply put, the longer it takes to graduate, the more life gets in the way and the less likely students are to ever complete their degrees.

Today’s college students are especially susceptible to this harsh reality, often commuting to campus while balancing jobs, school and family responsibilities. Their lives are complicated, and our higher education system has done too little to adjust to that complexity. Rather than a clear and direct route to a degree, students face unpredictable course scheduling, broken transfer policies, long sequences of non-credit-bearing remedial courses, and an overwhelming number of choices about their programs of study.

All this adds up to a number of startling facts: Less than half of U.S. college students graduate. For those who do, it takes, on average, nearly four years to complete a 2-year associate’s degree and approximately five years to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Ultimately, students don’t just need financial relief when it comes to higher education, they need a better deal altogether – one that provides a system of higher education committed to their success.

The good news is Governor Cuomo has shown he understands that time is the enemy of college completion by requiring all participants in the Excelsior Scholarship program to attend school full time – a move that dramatically increases students’ likelihood of success. Further, institutions in New York are already setting a powerful example of how college completion strategies and structural changes can ensure we better serve students and help them get to graduation day.

The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, known as ASAP, has doubled graduation rates by putting students in streamlined schedules and providing them greater levels of advising and other supports throughout the academic journey.

CUNY’s Guttman Community College has boosted completion rates, especially for underrepresented populations, by using prescribed academic maps and enrolling “underprepared” students directly into college-level math and English courses with support, rather than placing them in costly, no-credit traditional remedial classes.

The State University of New York System has also begun engaging with Complete College America to explore strategies that boost completion rates and reduce the time it takes to earn a degree. As conversations continue around remediation reform and the use of schedules that help students balance work and school, it is clear the state system has got an eye on college completion.

Money focuses minds, and the governor has an opportunity to not only throw open the doors of higher education to more New Yorkers, but to provide an educational structure that is designed for their success. He can start by taking these home-grown, effective strategies and bringing them to scale throughout the state of New York. Don’t just give tax dollars to institutions based on the noble idea of more students in college, back it up with the actions needed to attain higher completion rates and provide a stronger economy in the Empire State.

If Governor Cuomo is serious about creating opportunity for New Yorkers and addressing some of our nation’s most pressing economic challenges, his focus cannot be solely on access. New York needs more college success, too. It is our hope that Governor Cuomo will reimagine his good idea to make it transformative for the future of New York, setting an example for America to follow.

posted by Tom Sugar


Thursday, July 28, 2016
Coreq and College Algebra

Spanning the Divide revealed dramatic improvements in gateway math course success when institutions shift from traditional prerequisite remediation to Corequisite Remediation.  However, many have rightly pointed out that much of the corequisite success for math students is for students enrolled in quantitative reasoning and statistics courses. The question posed by many is whether corequisites work for college algebra and whether success in corequisite college algebra translates into success in subsequent math courses.

Of the current corequisite scale states, Georgia has used corequisites for college algebra most extensively. In addition, there are individual institutions like University of Nevada Reno and Oklahoma State that have utilized corequisites for their college algebra courses.  The data from these institutions reveals that corequisites can most definitely work in college algebra.

College of Coastal Georgia

As the University of Georgia System shifts to a policy where at least 50% of all students in need of academic support will receive it via corequisites, institutions like the College of Coastal Georgia have begun offering corequisites for their college algebra and quantitative reasoning courses.

Before the implementation of coreq at CCG, only about 36% of students placed into remedial education were completing gateway math courses in two academic years.  Now, 56% of students placed into the corequisite college algebra course are completing college algebra in a single semester.  The success rate for college algebra students is not far off from the success rates of 62% for students who are placed directly into college algebra.

Equally important is the success rate in subsequent math courses after college algebra.  Because Georgia is moving to a math pathways strategy, college algebra is no longer viewed as a terminal math course and instead is seen as a gateway into higher level math, including calculus.  The results from CCG show that corequisite college algebra can be a gateway into higher level math.  Of those that completed corequisite college algebra, 53% who enrolled in Trigonometry received a “C” or better.  This percent is comparable to the 63% success rate for students who did not require the corequisite college algebra course.

Oklahoma State University

OSU made a similar shift to a college algebra corequisite for students who intend to pursue a calculus based math sequence. The results are equally as promising.

Of those placed into the college algebra corequisite, 65.5% completed the course with a “C” or better, slightly below the 68.8% of students placed directly into college algebra.  Most promising is that first generation college students actually performed better in the corequisite course than those placed directly into college algebra. 68.7% of first generation students who enrolled in the college algebra corequisite completed the course, compared to 63% of first generation college students placed directly into college algebra.

Success rates for students in subsequent math courses were 83.7% for students who completed the corequisite college algebra course.  Most students who enrolled in subsequent math were enrolled in either Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus or Business Calculus.

University of Nevada Reno

The success of students enrolled in corequisite college algebra has been documented previously by CCA in this blog post.  Most interesting is that UNR is seeing that students who completed their college algebra corequisite are very successful in subsequent college courses.  UNR found that successful corequisite college algebra students were far more likely to pass either Business Calculus or Pre-Calculus than students who were placed directly into those two courses.  88% of successful corequisite college algebra students who enrolled in Business Calculus were successful, compared to only 74% who were placed directly into Business Calculus.  Likewise, 84% of corequisite college algebra completers passed Pre-Calculus, compared to 83% for those who placed directly into Pre-Calculus.

While the data is still preliminary, there is reason to believe that as states create a more streamlined pathway for college algebra into higher level math, Corequisite Remediation can become a viable strategy for increasing access and success into programs of study in STEM fields and other fields that require higher-level math.

posted by Bruce Vandal


Sunday, July 10, 2016
Year-Round Pell is Important, But It’s Not Enough

The higher education community was hopeful when, last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee put forth a funding bill that would bring back year-round (or summer) Pell. But just last week, the House Appropriations Committee shared a draft bill that does not include the provision.

Not only should Congress fund year-round Pell, they should go further and ensure the program is built for many more students to complete their degrees on time. Year-round Pell is a critical tool to help more students progress toward a degree; however, year-round Pell, by itself, is not enough. Students certainly need the Pell Grant to be more flexible and available, but they also need the program to provide a clear path to on-time graduation, which it currently lacks. That’s why in our new policy brief, On-Time Pell: Maintain Access, Ensure Completion, Complete College America (CCA) outlines a plan for the creation of an “on-time” status for the Pell Grant. By leveraging the expanded flexibility of year-round Pell and matching it with a clear and guided pathway toward on-time completion, we can transform the expectation for both full-time and part-time students, communicating clearly that on-time graduation is feasible. On-time Pell, as proposed by Complete College America, would enable students to complete 30 funded credits per year in whichever enrollment pattern works for them.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.19.53 PM

Currently, the Pell Grant covers only 12 credits per term or 24 credits per year, but to graduate on time, students must complete 30 credits per year. Pell Grant recipients who currently choose to enroll in 30 credits are forced to cover the remaining six credits without financial support from the grant. On-time Pell communicates to students what is needed to graduate on time and sets an expectation for both full-time and part-time students to do so.

This proposal does not change the per-student funding level; it simply allows students to draw down their lifetime Pell eligibility more quickly. It does not change the definition of full-time or harm any other Pell population; it simply adds another status designation for students to better understand what it takes to graduate and how to get there.

Why has Complete College America, a state policy organization, come out with a federal policy proposal? For two reasons: First, most states and institutions adhere to the federal definition of full-time as 12 credits for their financial aid programs and would likely follow suit if a new federal standard were set to encourage on-time completion. Second, Complete College America’s work across our 40 state and consortium members (and down into systems and institutions) is directly impacted by the current limitations of Pell. The creation of an on-time Pell status would go a long way to both support and spur efforts by states and institutions to help their students graduate in a timely manner.

Year-round Pell is important, but at this moment, when the higher education community is standing up to support it, we need to use this opportunity to go further and ensure significantly more students can earn their degrees on time.

posted by Julie Johnson


Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Complete College America and the Alliance: Redefining How We Measure Success

Measuring Outcomes for More Students

It is imperative to the future of this nation that we Increase degree completion in higher education, yet for many years, the higher education community measured success at colleges and universities by looking at outcomes for only a portion of students. In 2010, Complete College America partnered with the National Governors Association to change this. We worked with the Work Group on Common College Completion Metrics to urge states to collect both outcome and progress metrics for all students, including part-time and transfer students, broken out by race/ethnicity, gender, age, Pell status, and remedial need. Specifically, the resulting publication Compete to Complete: Common College Completion Metric urged Governors, higher education executive officers, legislators, and college and university presidents to implement policy and data system changes to produce accurate information on the following metrics:

Context: Enrollment; Completion Ratio

Outcome Metrics: Degrees and certificates awarded; Graduation rates; Transfer rates; Time and credits to degree

Progress Metrics: Enrollment in remedial education; Success beyond remedial education; Success in first-year college courses; Credit accumulation; Retention rates; Course completion

Stakeholders from Complete College America’s Alliance of States rose to this challenge, and over the past five years, more than 30 states and 500 institutions have submitted these metrics to Complete College America, creating an unprecedented data set that includes students whose outcomes have never before been measured and outcomes that have never before been understood at scale.

Complete College America has used these data to highlight the impact of additional time in a student’s ability to complete a degree and to highlight the consistent challenges in the higher education system. Alliance states have used these metrics to create new funding models, measure their current performance and track the success of new interventions. And now that the data set has grown and matured, we look forward to the overall impact it might have in addressing unanswered questions for the field as a whole.

Moving the Field Forward

This year marks another turning point in the metrics conversation. Six years after Complete College America and the National Governors Association released the Common Completion Metrics, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released Answering the Call: Institutions and States Lead the Way Toward Better Measures of Postsecondary Performance. This piece calls for the entire field to count all students and institutions, count all outcomes, and count all costs. This work brings together the work done by more than 15 voluntary data initiatives and urges the field to scale the exchange of essential higher education metrics. The framework draws heavily on the Common Completion Metrics to define access, progress, completion, and equity measures.

This work was followed by the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s (IHEP) Toward Convergence: A Technical Guide for the Postsecondary Metrics Framework. This technical guide provides functional definitions for all the metrics defined in Answering the Call’s framework.

The Complete College America Alliance of States leads the way as a model for how states and institutions can report and use these metrics. With a few exceptions, states and institutions already reporting the Common Completion Metrics to Complete College America will find the definitions related to Access, Progress, Completion and Equity metrics almost identical to those they have been reporting for more than five years.

Today, IHEP, in conjunction with leaders in the field, will release Envisioning the National Postsecondary Data Infrastructure in the 21st Century, a paper series that examines existing Postsecondary Data Infrastructure and provides clear recommendations to support a more functional data ecosystem. These papers discuss opportunities and improvements in existing systems, pathways to greater flexibility in exchanging data, a proposal for a centralized student data system at the federal level and guidance on protecting privacy and quality. Complete College America partnered with our data collection partners at the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) to highlight the importance of these state postsecondary data systems. These are the systems that have enabled the vast majority of states to report the Common Completion Metrics. They provide an important resource in the field and are essential to helping states plan, respond and assess changing state needs, not to mention they are critical to states’ ability to improve student outcomes. The release of these papers will be livestreamed here at 12:30 PM Eastern on May 18th.

Complete College America has always relied on data as the foundation of our work to drive the field toward improving outcomes for all students. We look forward to helping support the data ecosystem as we work together to scale the use of student data to improve outcomes for everyone.

posted by Katie Zaback


Friday, February 12, 2016
Remedial Education’s Role in Perpetuating Achievement Gaps

With new research adding to the evidence that students of color are far less likely to earn postsecondary credentials, we are once again faced with the challenge of how we can best close achievement gaps in postsecondary education.  It is abundantly clear that increasing attainment rates among students of color, first generation students and low-income students is essential to dramatically increasing college completion rates. CCA remains committed to tackling head on the issues of educational equity and helping states implement CCA’s Game Changers to improve outcomes for traditionally underrepresented populations.

Recent data from Complete College America’s Alliance of States finds that students of color and low-income students are far more likely to be placed into remedial education and, consequently, far less likely to ever pass college-level courses in math and English.  In particular, African American students are most disadvantaged by the prevailing system of traditional pre-requisite remedial education. 70% of African American community college students and almost half enrolled at non-flagship, four-year institutions are placed into and enroll in at least one remedial course in their first academic year. Students receiving Pell grants are also far more likely to be placed into remedial education, meaning that these students are expending this financial resource on courses that do not count toward a postsecondary credential.

Percent of New Entering Students Enrolled in Remedial Education



Not only are students of color and low-income students more likely to be placed into remedial education, they are more likely to be placed in both remedial math and English.  40% of African American students, 30% of Latino students and 32% of Pell students at community colleges are enrolled in both remedial math and English.  As a result, these students have, at a minimum, two additional courses they must enroll in, complete and pay for as part of their postsecondary education.  For many, they must complete multiple remedial math and English courses before they ever see a college-level math or English course.  It is easy to understand how placement in remedial education could negatively impact efforts to boost completion rates among students of color and low-income students.  Ultimately, these students must do more and pay more for their degree.

Percent of New Entering 2-year Students Enrolled in Remedial Math, English or Both Subjects


Not surprisingly, students of color and low-income students placed into remedial education are far less likely to complete their remedial education requirements, enroll in and complete college-level math courses within 2-years.  Only 11% of African American students complete their gateway math and/or English course in two academic years after being placed in remedial education.

Percent of New Entering Community College Students Completing Gateway Math and/or English Courses in Two Academic Years 


Adding time and cost to a degree by placing students in long remedial sequences disproportionately impacts low-income students and students of color, arguably contributing to – not eliminating – the college equity gap in postsecondary education.

CCA’s recent report Spanning the Divide is showing that Corequisite Remediation – placing students into college-level courses and providing support while enrolled in those courses – is increasing college-level gateway course pass rates to nearly three times the rate of traditional remediation, and it’s happening in about a quarter of the time.  It stands to reason that the movement toward large-scale implementation of corequisite support can reduce the equity gap in higher education. There are many examples of Minority Serving Institutions and Community Colleges that have already undertaken this work to better serve underrepresented students. Our job is to amplify that existing work and move it to scale.

posted by Bruce Vandal


Wednesday, January 13, 2016
The Research Behind Corequisite Remediation

Complete College America will soon be releasing a new report that documents tremendous improvements in gateway course success rates as a result of Corequisite Remediation.  While we have consistently seen remarkable institutional data, the new report will look at Corequisite Remediation as a scaled, state-wide initiative.

Results from the states are exciting, but it’s important to note that the research base in remedial education has been pointing to the viability of Corequisite Remediation for some time.

The first place to look when trying to understand the effectiveness of Corequisite Remediation is to examine the research on the reasons students fail in the traditional, prerequisite model. Tom Bailey’s groundbreaking research pointed to high attrition rates among remedial students as a result of long, remedial education course sequences. This indicated that many students were academically capable of college-level work, but simply could not endure multiple semesters of courses that did not count toward a degree.

Further insights came from the research of Judith Scott-Clayton, who found that upwards of 50% of students placed into remedial education could have passed college-level courses if given the opportunity. Bailey’s and Scott-Clayton’s research made it clear that many students who could pass college courses were being placed into a cumbersome system that actually constructed additional barriers to student success, rather than clearing them.

It stands to reason that simply removing the barriers of placement and long remedial sequences and placing students directly into college-level courses would immediately boost the number of students who completed college-level courses. Low and behold, the research found exactly that result.

Additional research by the Community College Research Center found that when the Virginia Community College System dramatically increased the number of students who enrolled directly into college-level courses, the number of students who completed college-level courses dramatically increased without significant declines in the overall success rates in those courses.  The study also suggested that providing corequisite support for students could have addressed the minimal drop in college-level course completion rates.

This work lays the foundation as to why Corequisite Remediation could work, but we have the added benefit of seeing Corequisite Remediation in action.  The research on the Accelerated Learning Program has found that corequisite support in English is highly effective.  Further, more recent research is finding that it is consistently effective at different institutional types and through various adaptations.   Research by Angela Boatman found that the Austin Peay corequisite model resulted in higher credit accumulation for students than modular prerequisite reforms.   Another study done at the City University of New York found that additional academic support in the college-level math course proved far more effective than the same level of support provided in a remedial course.   Finally, the recent study conducted by the Tennessee Board of Regents found that students, regardless of their score on the ACT, performed far better in a corequisite model than a traditional model.

This research, combined with the results emerging from our Alliance of States, is providing strong support for Corequisite Remediation, and all of us at CCA are excited to see it spread throughout the country.

posted by Bruce Vandal


Tuesday, June 23, 2015
The results are in. Corequisite remediation works.

This month, more than 200 faculty, administrators and system-level leaders from around the country came together in Minneapolis to take a deeper dive into corequisite remediation. In every presentation, the results showcased were nothing short of astounding.   Armed with incredible outcomes and evidence from around the country, there is no doubt: the time has come to leave behind the practice of stand alone, prerequisite remedial education and make the bold transition to providing intensive corequisite support to students while they are enrolled in college-level courses.

While CCA has held multiple convenings focused on the merits of corequisite remedation, this most recent event was the first ever where states showcased the results of scaling corequisite remediation to the vast majority of students in statewide higher education systems.

Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee and West Virginia presented data on their unique approaches to corequisite remediation.  And while each version of the reform differed slightly, the results were remarkably consistent.  Students enrolled in single-semester, corequisite English courses typically succeeded at twice the rate of students enrolled in traditional prerequisite English courses. Students enrolled in corequisite gateway math courses that were aligned with their chosen programs of study saw results at five to six times the success rates of traditional remedial math sequences.

Some key highlights from the day included:

  • A presentation by Dr. Tristan Denley from the Tennessee Board of Regents showed that regardless of ACT score, students enrolled in either single-semester corequisite English or corequisite math performed markedly better than students enrolled in prerequisite, modular-based remediation.  Students that scored as low as 13 on the ACT benefited more from corequisite models.
  • A session from Mary Ostrye and Kathryn Walz of Ivy Tech Community College showcased the remarkable results from their scaling of corequisite remediation at all 24 state campuses.
  • A presentation from Chancellor James Skidmore and Sarah Tucker from the West Virginia Community and Technical College Council highlighted results from their 9-month effort to scale corequisite remediation at all 9 community and technical college institutions in the state. The results were jaw-dropping, with some campuses showing success rates in gateway math courses increasing from 10% to up to 70%.


Faculty joined in the discussion, touting the incredible results associated with corequisite remediation.  Gwen Eldridge (Ivy Tech and President of the National Association of Developmental Education), Shawna Van (Front Range Community College) and Brandon Feres (Community College of Aurora) testified to the effectiveness of their corequsite English models.  In addition, Mike McComas (Mountwest Community College) described the results from his corequisite math model.

Most importantly, this national institute kicked off an 18-month effort to work with up to 16 additional states on the scaling of corequisite remediation.

A bright future is within our grasp, one where hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of students who would otherwise never make it out of remediation will pass gateway courses and enter programs of study.  We look forward to working with CCA Alliance states on this exciting and achievable goal.

posted by Bruce Vandal


Thursday, June 4, 2015
Building High-Quality Community Colleges: The Forgotten Piece

In a recent piece for the Washington Post, education columnist Jay Mathews opines that President Obama’s proposal for free community college – while well intentioned – falls short in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing today’s students. In addition to concerns associated with tuition and fees, Matthews lays out living expenses, working while going to school, and a failed college structure as key barriers keeping students from graduation day.

Some key excerpts:

“Community colleges provide such a disorganized mess of courses with so many dead-ends that many students never get to where they want to go.” “…the push to provide as many courses for as many students as possible has backfired.” “Regular students blunder through on their own with mostly bad results. More than 80 percent of students entering community college say they plan to graduate from a four-year school. Six years later, just 15 percent have done so.”

While this is all true, a core part of the President’s proposal does, in fact, seek to address these concerns, calling for the “building [of] high-quality community colleges.” The proposal specifically states that, “colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes” – reforms like those in place at CUNY ASAP and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology where highly-structured programs and proactive advising ensure many more students earn their degree or certificate.

The attention and dialogue around the President’s proposal – especially this often omitted element of it – provide an important opportunity to help community colleges realize their full potential and address some inherent challenges in their systems and structures. This is where the Complete College America Game Changers come in. By providing remediation as a corequisite, not a prerequisite, alongside the college-level course, we can ensure significantly more students finish their gateway courses and move into their programs of study. GPS provides the backbone of highly-structured programs by creating default pathways, clear academic maps, and implementation of intrusive advising to help students find the most direct path to graduation. Structured schedules, which provide a reliable and consistent block schedule from the beginning of the degree to the end, make it easier for students to move through and complete on time, even as they balance work and school. Finally, encouraging full-time attendance of 15 credits per term or 30 credits per year ensures that students finish their programs in a timely fashion, without additional cost. We believe in the need for more investment in higher education to give students a better chance to enter and complete.

However, it is highly structured programs and transforming systems through the Game Changers that will help more community colleges become the high-quality institutions that students need and deserve, saving students valuable time and money. After all, it is far cheaper to earn your degree in 2 or 4 years rather than in 5 or 6.

posted by Julie Johnson


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