You’ve likely seen headlines over the past few months from Texas, California and New York announcing efforts to fully scale Corequisite Support as an alternative to traditional prerequisite remedial education. And in CCA’s Spanning the Divide report, we highlighted six states that have fully-scaled Corequisite Support for the vast majority of students in math, English or both subjects – efforts that garnered extraordinary results. With momentum building across the country and evidence of success mounting, your state, higher education system or college should be seriously considering implementation of corequisites for students who need additional academic support.

So with the evidence in and implementation in your sights, you probably have some fundamental questions on what is and is not a scaled corequisite model, and you’re looking for the best approach to dramatically increase gateway success in math and English courses. Over the next few weeks, CCA will publish a series of blog posts that provide basic information on these questions. Today, we start with the basics – what is a corequisite course?

What is a corequisite course?

Those familiar with a prerequisite course – a course students must complete before being allowed to enroll in a subsequent course – can intuitively understand the basic concept of a corequisite model for students who need additional academic support. The corequisite approach eliminates the need for prerequisite remedial courses and instead allows students to enroll directly into a transfer-level course, providing just-in-time support alongside the credit-bearing coursework. Providing academic support in this manner eliminates the all-to-common occurrence of students who enroll in prerequisite remedial courses never finding their way into transfer-level courses – an outcome proven to be the primary cause of failure of traditional pre-requisite remedial education.

The most well-known corequisite approach is the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), which was first developed by Peter Adams at The Community College of Baltimore County. In ALP, students are co-enrolled in a transfer-level English composition course and a remedial English course – meaning students in need of additional academic support are enrolled alongside students who were assessed as college-ready in English.

Coreq 101: The Accelerated Learning Project (MD)

Peter Adams, Professor Emeritus at the Community College of Baltimore County, provides information about ALP, a highly-successful corequisite remediation model now in place in over 200 institutions around the country.

Immediately following or before the transfer-level course, the students who need additional academic support meet with the transfer-level instructor in a separate remedial course, giving them additional time on task and an opportunity to address basic skills needs critical to success in the transfer-level course. As a result of the ALP model’s innovation, students in ALP complete the gateway English course at twice the rate of students who are enrolled in traditional remedial English courses.

Does Corequisite Support require students to concurrently enroll in two separate courses (one remedial and one transfer-level)?

No. There are many approaches to Corequisite Support that do not require students to enroll in a separate remedial course. Austin Peay University’s Structured Learning Assistance Program requires students in need of additional academic support in math or English to enroll in a 0-credit lab that is linked to the transfer-level course. Students spend two hours a week in a lab where they receive customized support that might include mini-lectures, small group instruction or individualized work with technology solutions. Austin Peay’s Structured Learning Assistance Program has resulted in dramatic improvements in gateway math and English course success – providing results two to three times the rates of traditional remediation.

At Boise State University, students in need of additional academic support in English enroll in English 101P for four credits, rather than the typical three credits. Like the ALP model, students in need of additional support are enrolled in the transfer-level course, but they spend extra time with an instructor to receive that support. English 101P is so successful that it has now been scaled to all Idaho postsecondary institutions.

How are students able to learn all the basic skills content for the remedial course AND the transfer-level course in the same semester? – Seems overwhelming?

They don’t. Traditional remedial sequences presume that students must demonstrate a concrete set of basic skills before entering a transfer-level course – a proposition that may even result in students working on content that is irrelevant to the transfer-level course in which they intend to eventually enroll. In contrast, Corequisite Support is focused on developing the essential skills students need to be successful in the specific transfer-level course.

For example, the skills necessary for success in a transfer-level statistics course are different than the skills needed for College Algebra. As a result, the content taught in a Corequisite Statistics model may be a subset and/or distinct set of skills from the skills taught in a sequence of elementary and intermediate algebra remedial courses. Even a College Algebra corequisite approach may find that many of the skills taught in prerequisite remedial math courses are redundant to skills that are taught in College Algebra courses. Among the many benefits, corequisites eliminate unnecessary and redundant content in the curriculum.

Hopefully this provides a basic understanding of corequisite courses, as well as some of the successful models that are being used to dramatically increase student success across the country. Please refer to the links in this post for more information on the various approaches to corequisites. In Chapter 2, we will examine models that are not corequisite remediation to create a clear dichotomy between the corequisite strategy and other forms of remediation. Questions? Tweet at me at @BruceatCCA.