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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.

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posted by Bruce Vandal

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