ERIC Identifier: ED416940
Publication Date: 1998-03-00
Author: Yamasaki, Erika
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges Los Angeles CA.
Effective Policies for Remedial Education. ERIC Digest.
EFFECTIVE POLICIES FOR REMEDIAL EDUCATION
Current discussions about postsecondary remedial education reflect differences in the opinions of legislators, educators, and the public as to the purpose and effectiveness of higher education. Concerned parties are asking, how many students need remedial education? Who are they? How much does it cost? Does it achieve its purpose? While these questions require attention, the more pressing issue is that of responsibility. Should the burden of remediation fall on community colleges or four-year institutions? Or should the nation's high schools be held responsible for adequately preparing their graduates?
summarizing the volume of New Directions for Community Colleges
edited by Jan M. Ignash (1997), this Digest reviews the role of
research in addressing these policy decisions on remedial education.
Effective solutions implemented by community colleges across the
nation also are highlighted.
Much of the opposition to remedial education is due to its costs. Often, however, the cost of remedial education seems astronomical because figures are provided outside the context of all instructional costs. For example, in Illinois, the total dollar amount devoted to remedial education provided in community colleges was $23.4 million, yet this was only 6.5 percent of all direct faculty salary costs (Ignash, 1997).
While cost invariably bears on state and institutional policy, effective solutions consider a broader base of information including student demographics, characteristics of successful programs, and program evaluations. Data on students' age, race/ethnicity, extent of necessary remediation, and English as a Second Language (ESL) needs can assist policy makers in allocating their scarce dollars where they are needed most (Ignash, 1997).
According to McMillan, Parke, and Lanning (1997), a number of studies document a high level of correlation between student success and the following program characteristics:
* required entry-level testing,
* mandatory placement in basic skills courses,
* continuous evaluation,
* interface between remedial and college-level courses, and
* using technology to offer remediation through alternative instructional media.
A well-designed assessment of programs also can inform the process of allocating public funds and increase accountability. Weissman, Bulakowski, and Jumisko (1997) recommend measuring four aspects of program effectiveness:
* course completion success rate, which is the percentage of students earning grades of C or better,
* movement of students from remedial to college-level courses,
* successful completion of college-level coursework, and
* student persistence over a three-year period.
policy areas suggested for review include mandatory student
placement into remedial courses, enrollment in remedial courses upon
initial entry to the college, and concurrent enrollment in remedial
and college-level courses.
South Suburban College in Illinois adopted a structured model in the early 1990s that demonstrates that intrusive procedures need not be punitive and can actually foster a caring environment for students with remedial needs (Fonte, 1997). Samples of the 14 policies of the model include:
* Mandatory placement testing for full-time and part-time students who have taken six credit hours.
* Developmental (remedial) courses are mandatory beginning with the student's first semester.
* Students on academic warning or probation status are required to develop an action plan to improve their academic standing.
The San Diego Community College District recently instituted mandatory enforcement of all course prerequisites, including recommended levels of English and math skills (Berger, 1997). Previously, the district did not insist on the use of prerequisites and students often enrolled in courses inappropriate for their ability levels. Although this system has not been in place long enough to evaluate results, some positive outcomes are evident. Berger (1997) notes increases in instructional research conducted by faculty as well as interaction among colleagues across the district. Increases in student success rates, however, remain to be seen.
Collaborative partnerships between
community colleges and their feeder high schools are effective means
of reducing the need for postsecondary remedial education (Richey,
Mathern, O'Shea, & Pierce, 1997). By developing a secondary school
writing curriculum and an assessment system that relies heavily upon
portfolios that follow students throughout high school and to the
community college, faculty from the two educational segments can
make significant strides in promoting student success. Such a model
also addresses growing public concerns that remedial courses in
higher education are simply repeating what students should have
learned in high school.
The cited articles include:
"Mandatory Assessment and Placement: The View from an English Department," by Dorothy M. Berger.
"Structured Versus Laissez-Faire Open Access: Implementation of a Proactive Strategy," by Richard Fonte.
"Financial Aid and the Developmental Student," by Michael B. Goldstein.
"Who Should Provide Postsecondary Remedial Developmental Education?" by Jan M. Ignash.
"Quality Versus Quantity in the Delivery of Developmental Programs for ESL Students," by Reuel Kurzet.
"Remedial/Developmental Education Approaches for the Current Community College Environment," by Virginia K. McMillan, Scott J. Parke, and Carol A. Lanning.
"Community College/High School Feedback and Collaboration: Preventive Measures," by Deborah K. Richey, Jeanette Mathern, Carol S. O'Shea, and Shelby J. Pierce.
"Using Research to Evaluate Developmental Education Programs and Policies," by Julie Weissman, Carole Bulakowski, and Marci K. Jumisko.
The ERIC Clearinghouse is administered by the National Library of Education and operates under OERI Contract No. RR3002003. The opinions expressed in this Digest do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of NLE/OERI and no official endorsement by NLE/OERI should be inferred.
Title: Effective Policies for Remedial Education. ERIC Digest.
Document Type: Information Analyses---ERIC Information Analysis Products (IAPs) (071); Information Analyses---ERIC Digests (Selected) in Full Text (073);
Descriptors: Basic Skills, Community Colleges, Developmental Studies Programs, Educational Policy, Educational Research, English (Second Language), Financial Needs, Government School Relationship, High Risk Students, Higher Education, Partnerships in Education, Program Costs, Program Development, Program Effectiveness, Remedial Instruction, Remedial Programs, School Role, Student Characteristics, Two Year Colleges
Identifiers: ERIC Digests
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