(Gates Foundation Press Release) To aid community colleges in developmental education reform, the foundation announced a commitment of up to $110 million to help research and scale innovative programs. These strategies will help under-prepared students spend less time and money catching up, and will lead to improved retention and completion. About half of the foundation’s commitment has already been given to colleges and programs. The remaining $57 million will be given as grants over the next two years and will be guided by lessons learned through the earlier investments, which are showing that good remedial education contains several key elements:
- It starts early with effective collaboration between middle schools, high schools and colleges that can prevent the need for remediation in the first place. For example, El Paso Community College partners with local school districts and the University of Texas at El Paso, which has dramatically improved graduation rates in just a few short years.
- It is tightly structured blending credit-bearing classes with enhanced academic supports. For example, Washington state’s I-BEST program blends basic academics and career training into a seamless accelerated program.
- It’s flexible and personalized to address specific skill gaps to ensure that students learn what they need. This can be accomplished through technology and other means to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of remedial education. Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, for example, will fund the development of remedial math courses that will be made available for free to colleges. The project aims to reduce the time and cost of remediation through interactive and adaptive multimedia and games.