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64 anos are community colleges.) She made Hern take out a calculator: even if 80 percent of students make it through each course, if you multiply that by three semesters, you've lost half the students. "Every layer of remediation was guaranteed to reduce the number of students who moved forward," Katie Hern Hern recalls realizing. "By taking students that we thought were not prepared for college and putting layers of noncredit-bearing courses in their path, we were producing worse results for those students, rather than better results." Remediation, they argued in a 2010 paper, wasn't just inefMyra Snell fective; its structure made students less likely to graduate. They founded the California Acceleration Project with the goal of getting California community colleges to radically overhaul their approach to developmental education. CAP stresses three major reforms: first, schools should institute co-requisite course designs, as in Tennessee; second, schools should condense remedial sequences into fewer semesters and better align them with college-level work; third, colleges should simply place fewer students into developmental classes in the first place. Many students who could succeed at collegelevel work-especially students of color-are nevertheless assigned to remediation based on standardized placement tests. To fix that problem, Hern and Snell say colleges should place students based on high school GPA, a more accurate predictor of college success. Unlike in Tennessee, California's community college system is decentralized. That means CAP has been a grassroots, one-at-a-time effort. Hern estimates that about 75 percent of community colleges in the state have adopted at least some of CAP's recommendations so far. She's hoping to bring California colleges to the point where they will naturally approach remediation from the simple yet somehow radical premise of maximizing student success. KATIE HERN and MYRA SNELL California Acceleration Project KAREN STOUT Achieving the Dream One day in 2009, Hern mentioned to Snell that students who took Hern's one-semester remedial English course at Chabot College were, surprisingly, more likely to graduate than those who took the normal, multi-semester remedial sequence. Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College, explained that this was no fluke: it was unintentionally built into the design of remediation. (Chabot and Los Med- As the president of Montgomery County Community College for fourteen years, Stout developed a reputation for the kinds of unsexy institutional reforms that drive student success. She put together an executive team to map out all the points where student attrition happens, from application to graduation. Then she initiated a host of changes to how faculty and staff interact with students, including an over- September/October 2016 Courtesy of Tennessee Board of Regents; Courtesy of California Acceleration Project; Courtesy of California Acceleration Project cally not ready for college-level work), and Denley has had a lot to do with it. He was provost at Austin Peay State University when, in 2007, that school began to test the effectiveness of a co-requisite model: instead of making students complete multiple semesters of developmental math and writing before allowing them into college-level courses, a co-requisite model has students do remedial work in addition to, and at the same time as, credit-bearing classes. (Another pioneer of the approach is Peter Adams, formerly of the Community College of Baltimore County.) The experiment was wildly successful, and a few years later, as vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Tennessee Board of Regents, Denley began applying the approach to Tennessee's community college system. Despite efforts to improve the developmental curriculum, the numbers were abysmal: statewide, 60 percent of incoming community college students were placed in developmental math, English, or both. Only 12 percent of those placed in math remediation finished a credit-bearing math course within an academic year; for English, the number was about Tristan Denley 30 percent. In 2014, the Board of Regents launched a co-requisite pilot program enlisting about 2,000 students in the state's community colleges. The results were so staggering that the very next year, the model was implemented at every community college in the state, for every student in remediation. The expansion has been a wild success. In its first year, 51 percent of co-requisite math students passed their credit-bearing math class in the fall semester-compared to the 12 percent who previously managed that in a full year. In English, the 30 percent number leapt to nearly 60 percent. In fact, more students are now completing credit-bearing classes than previously completed just the remedial courses. And even students who don't pass their first semester end up earning more credits than they would have under the old model. To Denley, that's powerful proof of the role students' mind-set plays in their success or failure. The failure of the old model may have a lot to do with the fact that it told students they didn't belong at college-and they believed it.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2016

Contents
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