We’ve built a shared roadmap proven to drastically improve student success.

For years, impatient reformers across our Alliance have been working tirelessly to identify and implement the bold practices needed to close achievement gaps, boost graduation rates and ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Thanks to these partners, our Game Changers have been refined and their evidence base expanded. The strategies now provide provide a tested roadmap for drastically improving student success.

01

15 to Finish

 

The vast majority of college students aren’t taking the credits needed to graduate on time, despite research showing the significant benefits of doing so – including better academic performance, higher retention rates and the increased likelihood of completion. Through the use of advertising campaigns, advisor engagement and new institutional policy and practice, more than 25 states and nearly 500 institutions are changing that. 15 to Finish – which originated at the University of Hawaii – encourages students who are able to take more credits, graduate on time and start earning faster.

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Degree Credit Caps in Minnesota

Background

In 2007, the Minnesota State Legislature directed the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees to adopt a policy setting the maximum number of credits for a baccalaureate degree at 120 semester credits and the maximum number of credits for an associate degree at 60 credits. The legislature allowed the board to grant waivers for specific degrees in which industry or professional accreditation standards required a greater number of credits.

In 2008, the legislature further directed the board to submit annually by October 1, a report on the board’s current degree credit cap policy for baccalaureate and associate of arts degrees, and to identify the requests for waivers from the policy that had been submitted during the previous academic year, specifying the program and campus for which the request was made, and whether the request was granted.

Policy and Procedure

The Board of Trustees, on January 21, 2009, amended Board Policy 3.36: Academic Programs to set credit length limits for baccalaureate and associate degrees, but allowed campuses to seek a waiver from the credit limits pursuant to industry or professional accreditation standards.

On January 30, 2009, the chancellor approved an amendment to System Policy 3.36.1 which adopted credit limits for baccalaureate and associate degrees and set out a procedure for processing waiver requests. These policies and procedures remain in effect.

Conclusion

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is in compliance with the legislative directive to reduce associate degree requirements to 60 credits and baccalaureate degree requirements to 120 credits. All current programs that exceed the credit caps have been reviewed and granted a waiver based on industry and professional standards.

Source

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Myth Busters: 15 to Finish and Today's Students

Panelists - including CCRC - discuss "momentum students," those who attempt 15 credit hours in the first semester and the benefits of doing so.

02

Math Pathways

 

Higher education’s approach to mathematics can either boost student success or serve as a major barrier to it. Research shows that students who complete a college-level math course within their first academic year are more likely to earn a postsecondary credential. Unfortunately, few of today’s students actually hit this important mark. One reason for the gap is that many institutions use College Algebra as the default math placement for their students, despite the fact that national math faculty leaders believe the course should be used primarily as preparation for Calculus. Complete College America works with math leaders from around the country to design alternative, yet equally rigorous, Math Pathways – including quantitative reasoning and statistics – that enable students to enroll in mathematics that are aligned and relevant to their chosen program of study.

Alliance Implementation

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Ohio Math Pathways

Overview

Ohio’s adoption of remediation free standards that exempts students who meet the standards from remedial courses set in motion conversations among math faculty leaders on the essential math skills that should be required of a high quality postsecondary credential. Simultaneously, increasing difficulties with the approval of transferable math courses in the Ohio Transfer Module created a demand to examine current gateway math courses. To address these needs the Ohio Department of Higher Education convened math faculty leaders to develop recommendations for designing revised and transferable math pathways. The elimination of Intermediate Algebra as a prescribed prerequisite for all gateway math courses triggered efforts to design new or revised math courses. Critical to the new policy and curricular landscape was the creation of clear learning outcomes for the new pathways that would enable new math courses to be included in the state’s Ohio Transfer Module, ensuring seamless transitions for Ohio postsecondary students.

The Leaders

State and faculty leaders insist that the math pathways work has truly been a team effort with the Ohio Mathematics Faculty Community including the Network of Mathematics Chair/Leads, college leaders and numerous state level leaders working together to create an impressive systemic reform in a state with a highly decentralized higher education governance structure. The Ohio Math Initiative (OMI) Steering Committee, which designed the original report, included twelve math faculty leaders as well as ex-officio membership from the Ohio Department of Higher Education, representatives from the Ohio Association of Community Colleges and the Ohio Inter-University Council, and institutional leaders. In the implementation of the strategies to reach OMI goals five faculty subgroups were formed corresponding with the strategies and additional math faculty became actively involved.

The Pathways

A new quantitative reasoning math pathway is resulting in new quantitative reasoning courses that will provide rigorous and relevant math instruction for students not pursuing a calculus based program of study.  Likewise, revised learning outcomes for statistics and college algebra will enable programs of study to review program requirements to align with the learning outcomes in all pathways.

Next Steps

With the pathways established and learning outcomes outlined to ensure effective transfer and new college readiness assessments created, the work now turns to institutional implementation. The Ohio Department of Higher Education has structured several professional development opportunities to support the development of new quantitative reasoning courses and are now facilitating the adoption of new corequisite math models that will fully leverage the math pathways to increase gateway course success rates. In addition, the math pathway reforms are triggering additional systemic reforms to include robust guided pathways and greater alignment with K-12 education.

OGTP Initiative

“The work of the Ohio Mathematics Initiative is playing an important part in the development of the Ohio Guaranteed Transfer Pathways (OGTP). The OGTP initiative is focused on building seamless transfer pathways so that any associate degree from a state institution of higher education can be transferred and applied to a bachelor’s degree in an equivalent field without unnecessary duplication or barriers. Ensuring that students are taking an appropriate mathematics course is critical to creating this seamless transition for students. For this reason, Ohio Mathematics Initiative representatives presented about the three possible mathematics pathways (statistics, quantitative reasoning, and STEM) at the OGTP faculty panel meetings. In turn, the OGTP faculty panels utilized the work of the OMI to identify a preferred mathematics course for each discipline. Collaboration between OGTP and OMI will be ongoing, both to determine if additional mathematics pathways are needed and to educate faculty about the preferred mathematics pathways utilized in the OGTP.” – Dr. Candice Grant, Director, Ohio Guaranteed Transfer Pathways

Related Content

The Case for Mathematics Pathways

Dana Center - Brief on Math Pathways

Creating the Future of Postsecondary Mathematics

Progress report from the Ohio Mathematics Initiative.

03

Corequisite Support

 

Each year, more than a million students begin college in remediation – prerequisite coursework that costs thousands of dollars but doesn’t count toward a degree. For most of these students, remediation will be their first and last college experience – a reality that is disproportionally true for low-income students and students of color. Corequisite Support allows students who need additional support in college-level math and English to enroll in those credit-bearing courses and receive extra help.

Several states have scaled Corequisite Support and as a result have doubled or tripled the percent of students who are completing gateway math and English courses in one academic year. Many lessons have been learned by those who have successfully implemented Corequisite Support, and their insights and resources are included here.

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Corequisite Support at Oklahoma State University

Why did OSU Change to Corequisites?

We have long had a significant population of students who were unprepared for college-level math courses, and we also had a group that would have been fine in a quantitative literacy course but wanted to pursue a STEM degree and needed something more rigorous. These students would take remedial math at a community college, but, consistent with national numbers, very few of them would earn college-level math credit within a reasonable amount of time. We wanted to find ways to serve this population better, getting them into a college-level class with extra support right away, decreasing their costs and time to graduation, and teaching them skills that will transfer to future classes.

 

WHAT MODELS ARE BEING USED AND WHY?

Our entry-level math classes generally meet MWF for 50 minutes. In our corequisite model, students also attend on TR for 50 minutes at the same time of day, enrolling in designated sections with these special meeting times. This encourages them to think about math every day of the week, and because many of the students are new freshmen, it provides a smooth transition from a typical high school schedule. The MWF classes are very similar to standard sections. During the TR classes, an undergraduate learning assistant leads group work that is designed both to practice the college-level material and to provide “just-in-time” refreshers of prerequisite material that will come up soon in the class. Our course coordinators design the activities and oversee the learning assistants. We do not give any extra credit hours for the corequisite sections because it is the same amount of college-level material, and the class appears just the same as standard sections on a student’s transcript, avoiding stigmatizing the sections to future employers or graduate or professional programs. We find this model to be cost-effective and generally easy to run.

WHAT ARE YOUR RESULTS?

Our results have been excellent, surprising even to those of us who were most optimistic about corequisite instruction. The students in the corequisite sections have much lower placement scores and early-semester diagnostic test scores. However, in the 2016-7 academic year, in both College Algebra and in our Math Modeling pathway (an alternative to College Algebra for non-STEM majors), the corequisite sections outperformed the standard sections in each semester. In College Algebra, over two-thirds of students in the corequisite sections earned a C or better. This is especially remarkable when one considers that fewer than 20% of students who start in remedial math earn college-level math credit within two years. In the Modeling pathway, the results were even better with over 80% of students earning a C or better. First-generation students fare particularly well in the corequisite sections, consistently outperforming their peers in standard sections despite entering the semester with lower test scores.

Over the three years we have had corequisite instruction, through Spring 2018, students have succeeded at a 70% rate overall. These are students who would ordinarily not qualify for the course they are taking and whose early-semester diagnostic scores are low, so we think this is a remarkable achievement, demonstrating both the success of the model and the effect of the hard work the students have put in. The students in corequisite sections continue to outperform students in standard sections nearly every semester. We have expanded corequisite instruction to Calculus I and to our new Prep for Calculus course, showing that the model works well for courses beyond the remedial level.

ANY LINGERING CHALLENGES?

While we are ecstatic about the results and the effect our corequisite program is having at Oklahoma State University, we do face some challenges. One of the biggest challenges is classroom space to hold five-day-per-week classes. Our administration has come through with fantastic support to build new state-of-the-art corequisite instruction classrooms on the first floor of the Mathematical Sciences Building, which will be a tremendous boost for our program. Funding is always a challenge as well. The Schusterman Family Foundation provided outstanding support for our pilot program, allowing us to demonstrate success and earn support across campus at our institution and in the state. We will likely begin charging a small fee to corequisite students to guarantee that we can fund our learning assistants and necessary course revisions. However, we do not charge the students separate tuition for the two hours per week of corequisite support, and students save the tuition and fees they would pay for a remedial course. In addition, we have some students who just miss out on the regular sections of our courses who resent being in the corequisite sections, stop attending the Tuesday/Thursday classes, and end up not succeeding. It is a challenge to convince these students that the support can help them. Finally, scheduling can be a nightmare at times, trying to coordinate schedules among instructors, learning assistants, and with the rest of the university, avoiding scheduling corequisite sections during other classes that our corequisite students would typically take. This is, of course, an inevitable problem that is not unique to corequisite instruction, but it is a bit more difficult for the corequisite classes because of the extra hours of class each week.

ANY BIG LESSONS LEARNED?

The lesson that stands out to me is that the corequisite sessions do not need to be anything particularly fancy. Our instructors have just thought about what they would like to do with students in regular sections if they had two extra hours per week, and that has been the source of many of the materials the coordinators have developed. We try to keep things as simple as possible.

While we did come across advisors through part of last year who still didn’t know about the corequisite options, that’s no longer the case, so in our fourth summer, we have managed to hit essentially 100% awareness. I think an additional lesson that we learned recently is that parents have really taken to this model, very pleased with the extra support their students are receiving.

Photo credit: Jason Wallace

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#CoreqWorks: An In-­Depth Conversation with National Expert, Dr. Bruce Vandal

Bruce Vandal provides a deep dive into Corequisite Support.

04

Academic Maps with Proactive Advising

 

Far too often, students in American higher education wander aimlessly, picking from a smorgasbord of courses and degree requirements rather than choosing a clearly-articulated, full program of study. By providing students early opportunities to explore career and program options (including meta majors), offering academic maps that provide semester-by-semester pathways to graduation, and using proactive advising to monitor progress and provide interventions as needed, states, systems and institutions can implement a framework and support system that help students choose a path, maintain momentum on their path and ultimately complete their degree.

Alliance Implementation

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Indiana State University

In part because of its adoption of academic maps, Indiana State University is seeing its highest on-time graduation rate in measured history.

Related Content

Building an Academic Map

Larry Abele discusses the design of default academic maps, including the use of meta-majors, and guaranteed milestone courses.

Four-Year Colleges are Using Guided Pathways, Too. Here's Why.

EAB