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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

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