It’s time to double down.

We’re seeing more on-time graduation, gateway course success, and faster credit accumulation at institutions across the Alliance. But we’re nowhere near being finished. Fortunately, the stories, ideas, and data from our Alliance Members provide us with a clear vision for continuous improvement that will lead to many more students graduating on time each year.


When the Game Changers were identified in 2013, a handful of Alliance Members quickly reacted. They implemented the Game Changers. And they did so at scale. Their results show what is possible in terms of ultimate student outcomes when Alliance Members go all-in: dramatic improvements in graduation rates and substantial uptick in degrees produced.




The Path Forward

The Game Changers work. Day 3 told that story. The challenge now is not to chase new solutions. It’s to fully scale these across the entire CCA Alliance. 2025 is fast approaching and Alliance Member attainment goals must be met. The challenges are staggering, but the opportunities are enormous. We are approaching a tipping point where Game Changers become the rule, not the exception. We must get there quickly.


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Three-Year Effects of Corequisite Remediation With College-Level Statistics


The Problem

The data suggest that Corequisite Support is an effective replacement for traditional college remediation courses, resulting in higher pass and persistence rates, yet many arguments still maintain that evidence is lacking.

However, Lexa Logue, Dan Douglas, and Mari Watanabe-Rose, researchers at The City University of New York (CUNY), have provided research to debunk these myths and show that Corequisite Support works.

“The theory people have is that remedial courses prepare unprepared students for college-level work,” said Logue. “The reality is that the course pass rates in those remedial courses are low, which can deplete a student’s financial aid. And students who are from families with low financial resources are more likely to be placed in these remedial courses.”


The Study

In the fall of 2013, Logue and her colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of Corequisite math remediation on student success. They studied the effects on the performance of CUNY students in associate-degree programs through one year after the intervention.

To do so, 907 students at three different CUNY campuses, all of these students assessed as needing remedial elementary algebra, and who did not need College Algebra for their majors, were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a traditional elementary algebra remediation group; an elementary algebra remediation group with a weekly workshop for extra help; and a college-level statistics group with a weekly workshop for extra help (the Corequisite Remediation group).

Of those students who enrolled in their assigned courses, the Corequisite Remediation group had a 55.7 percent pass rate, compared to a 39.3 percent pass rate for the traditional remediation group (and 44.9 percent for the traditional remediation group with extra help). Students in the Corequisite Remediation group were also more likely to attend their workshops than students in the remediation course with workshops. Not including any credits from statistics, the Corequisite Remediation group also earned 19 credits by one year after the experiment, while the traditional remediation group earned 16.


The Results

This study dispelled many myths around Corequisite Remediation. First, Logue (pictured) and her colleagues put an end to the argument that Corequisite Remediation’s effectiveness has not been established by a controlled trial.

Having students in the Corequisite Remediation group take statistics instead of college algebra was also informative. Some critics of Corequisite Remediation and Math Pathways argue that students who do not ever take elementary or college algebra will be less equipped to handle their general education classes, and that they may never be able to be STEM majors.

The students in the in the Corequisite Remediation who took statistics, however, ended up taking and passing a far greater number of advanced math courses than students in the other two remediation groups, which both involved elementary algebra. Logue suggested that having a chance to take college quantitative courses and succeed in them may be more conducive to students wanting to take additional quantitative classes than is taking traditional remedial math.  

“Students who have to go the traditional remediation route typically don’t end up changing their minds and becoming STEM majors,” Logue said.

Myth Busting

Critics also often suggest that Corequisite Remediation models do not lead to good long-term results because there is no evidence that students who have taken these courses ultimately graduate at rates any higher than their peers who have been placed on the traditional remediation route.

Logue and her colleagues, however, have busted this myth too.

The researchers looked at grad rates three years after the study ended, and found that the grad rate for students in the Corequisite Remediation (statistics with extra help) group was 8 percentage points greater than in the traditional remediation group, resulting in close to 50% more students having graduated from the Corequisite Remediation group. And these results were independent of students’ race and ethnicity.

Pictured: Researcher Mari Watanabe-Rose

The Implications

“If you put college students into college-level courses, they do better in college. It seems so obvious when you say it that way, but we’ve had many years now of this strange artifice of resubjecting students to high school classes,” said Dan Douglas (pictured.) “The students already took these courses and they must have passed, so why are we making them take such courses again?”

Logue said that the results of her study are not only important to CUNY but relevant to the rest of the country.

“Almost 70 percent of students at CUNY community colleges are Pell grant recipients. That population has a lot of challenges, and if they take multiple remedial courses, they can run out of financial aid,” said Logue. “But these are national problems. If our findings were applied to all students, we would help close graduation gaps related to race and ethnicity.”


Community College of Denver College-Level Math Completion Soars


The Problem

Community College of Denver (CCD) had a two-pronged math problem. Students who didn’t test into college-level math often had to take up to four semesters of remedial math just to get into college-level math — a lengthy process that proved de-motivating to many students. For every 100 students who began this process, only four completed it. Additionally, once students were ready for college-level math, too many ended up taking College Algebra, which until 2014 had a pass rate of just 50 percent.

To address this situation, CCD’s leaders looked to Complete College America and the University of Texas’ Dana Center for guidance. They found two promising approaches that inspired them to overhaul their math model: incorporating co-requisite instruction and college pathways.

Taking Action

The first step CCD took was to discontinue mandatory placement testing. Now, students can instead demonstrate college readiness using multiple measures: GPA from recent high school classes, ACT or SAT scores, or a placement test score.

Those students who do not show college-readiness are no longer enrolled in a pre-requisite remedial sequence. Instead, they enroll in a college-level course paired with a co-requisite support class. The support class prepares them for new topics and gives them an opportunity to review content minutes before they go into the college-level lecture course.

The support class also improves the student-to-teacher ratio from an average of 24 students to each instructor to 12 students per instructor.

Taking Action

Following the strategies recommended by Complete College America, CCD also redesigned students’ journeys through math. Previously, 60 percent of students enrolled at CCD were advised to take College Algebra, even though it only applied to the majors of 30 percent of the students.

With the new model, students enroll in a math course specifically designed for their major. The math courses align with the skills students need for their future careers. For example, while an engineering-bound student still must take college algebra, a liberal arts student can take a statistics class about election demographics or a geometry class for landscaping.

The Results

A March 2018 research study from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Boston Consulting Group has validated that these two changes are improving math success rates at CCD.

Compared with the old model, where only four out of 100 students completed college-level math after five semesters, now 54 percent of students are completing college-level math in their first semester. Math outcomes in liberal arts courses are improving each semester. Math for the trades is at nearly 100 percent successful completion.


The Implications

The math reforms have also decreased the equity gap for African American, Hispanic, and Pell-eligible students, reducing the disparity of students from these groups who have enrolled in developmental math courses and college-level courses

“The work that Community College of Denver has done with co-requisite instruction has shown some promising results.” said James Morski, associate professor and math department chair. “We are going to continue to refine how we deliver our math classes in hopes of furthering student success.”