The California State University system will no longer require less-prepared students to take remedial courses, the Chancellor’s office announced last week.

Rosanna Xia explains in the L.A. Times:

Under the new system, all Cal State students will be allowed to take courses that count toward their degrees beginning on Day 1.

Students who need additional support in math or English, for example, could be placed in “stretch” courses that simultaneously provide remedial help and allow them to complete the general math and English credits required for graduation.

Faculty are also being encouraged to explore other innovative ways to embed additional academic support in college-level courses.

Earlier this year, EdNext published an evaluation of an experimental program at three community colleges in New York that was also aimed at changing the way remediation works. As the authors explained

Colleges across the country are also experimenting with interventions such as mainstreaming, whereby students assessed as needing remediation are placed directly into a college-level course, sometimes with additional academic support. Although prior studies of mainstreaming have produced mixed results, none have used experimental methods to gain a clear picture of its effectiveness.

Here we present new results from a randomized controlled trial of mainstreaming at three community colleges at the City University of New York (CUNY). Some entering students who ordinarily would have been assigned to a remedial elementary-algebra class were placed instead in a college-level statistics course and provided with extra academic support. We find that the students placed directly in college-level statistics did far better than their counterparts in remedial classes, even when students in remedial classes were also given extra support. They were more likely to pass their initial math course and, three semesters after the experiment, had completed more college credits overall. In short, our study suggests that many students consigned to remediation can pass credit-bearing quantitative courses right away.

— Education Next

Last updated August 8, 2017