Traditional remediation presents a number of obstacles for student success and completion – two of which are particularly damaging. (1) Traditional remediation’s long course sequences result in significant numbers of students who never make it to the transfer-level course. (2) Traditional remediation courses do not count toward a degree. Placing students in these courses imparts a stigma on students that while they may be paying college prices, they aren’t necessarily ‘college material.’
In contrast, Corequisite Support places students directly into transfer-level courses and provides additional academic support that strengthens performance in their credit-level work, effectively eliminating these two proven barriers to college completion.
Throughout the field, many have developed models that they label as Corequisites, but despite their best intentions, these approaches fail to address the central shortfalls in the traditional approach. In an effort to provide clear contrast, we’ve shared below descriptions of some of the course designs that don’t pass the Coreq Test:
Delivering Additional Academic Support in a Traditional Remedial Course
Providing additional academic support in a remedial course does not constitute Corequisite Support. Alexandra Logue and Mari Watanabe-Rose’s random sample controlled experiment found that delivering academic support in a transfer-level college course was far more effective than when it was provided in a remedial course. Academic support is crucial, but simply delivering it in traditional remediation neither eliminates the stigma of remedial education nor addresses attrition.
Co-enrollment in Two Remedial Courses
Enrolling students in two remedial courses concurrently fails to address either student attrition or the stigma of remedial education placement. These courses often pack two semesters into one, with content that is misaligned with that of the college-level math or English course. CCA has often heard claims that an institution has implemented Corequisite Support and that it didn’t work – only to reveal later that they had deployed this ineffective model.
Co-enrollment in a Traditional Remedial Course that is Not Aligned with the Transfer-level Course
In this model, students enroll in a traditional remedial course and a transfer-level course – without linking remedial instruction to transfer-level content. Simply put, the remedial course fails to fortify the student’s skills as it relates to the transfer-level course. An analysis done by Myra Snell from Los Medanos Community College, for example, found that a very small number of the topics in an intermediate algebra course are relevant to a transfer-level statistics course. Taking remedial and transfer-level courses simultaneously is not enough. Skills must be aligned, as in the Corequisite Support model, to promote student success in college-level courses.
Providing Additional Academic Support in a Non-Transferable College-Level Course
Recategorizing a remedial course into a non-transferable, college-level course with corequisite academic support may address stigmas, but not student attrition.
When the Tennessee state legislature prevented four-year colleges from offering traditional remediation courses, many colleges offered the highest-level remedial course at the college without fulfilling general education or program requirements. These courses had higher success rates, but still resulted in student attrition. When they replaced this approach with corequisites for their transfer-level courses, they found higher success rates than in the old two course college-level sequence, proving that Corequisite Support in transfer-level courses are fully scalable.
At best, the approaches described above provide marginal improvements, and at worst, they offer no improvement in transfer-level course success whatsoever. There is no reason to compromise the success of true Corequisite Support. The Coreq model has increased transfer-level course success rates to around 60 percent, up from 20 percent from traditional remediation. When implemented with fidelity, #CoreqWorks.
In Chapter 3, we’ll propose models for ending remedial courses for all students – including those who are assessed at the lowest levels of academic readiness.