Highlights from College Completion Annual Conference: Game Changers

The College Completion Annual Conference was this week.   <Read the entire report on the Chonicle of Higher Education webpage.>  Much of Monday's discussion centered on what Complete College America calls the "game changers"—strategies that it says can double the number of remedial students passing college-level courses, triple the graduation rates for students transferring with associate degrees to four-year colleges, and quadruple completion of career certificate programs.  Those include tying state appropriations to student performance; making introductory college-level courses, rather than remedial courses, the default placement for almost all students; and offering co-requisite remediation, which is offered alongside college-level courses, to those who need it.

Speakers also argued that too many students are placed directly in remedial courses on the basis of a single placement test, dooming many to a semester or more of courses they pay for but don't get credit for.  Mathematics educators described accelerated math pathways, like Statway and Quantway, that they say are more relevant to most students than the traditional sequences that trip up many learners  The approach, which was developed with the University of Texas at Austin's Charles A. Dana Center, is being used this fall across all of Texas' 50 community-college districts.

The group also heard from students. Kierra Brocks said that when she enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College, in Indiana, she missed the cutoff in math by two points and ended up in a remedial class that didn't challenge her. "It wasn't only money wasted but time wasted," she said. "It doesn't give you motivation to continue."