CHARLESTON, W.Va. – More Mountain State students are succeeding
in college thanks, in part, to an overhaul in the way entry-level courses are
taught. Earlier today during a meeting of the Higher Education Policy
Commission (HEPC), state officials announced that recent efforts to reform
developmental, or “remedial,” education are helping more students pass
first-year math and English courses.
Historically, one in four students at West Virginia’s public
colleges and universities has been required to take developmental math or
English classes because their high school grade point averages (GPAs) or
entrance exam scores were below the threshold at which students are considered
ready for college-level work. These courses, which typically do not count
toward a degree, often lead to students' dropping out of college.
“In the past, developmental education too often has led to
a dead end for students,” Dr. Paul Hill, HEPC Chancellor, said. “It’s
discouraging, because not only are they taking and paying for classes that
don’t count toward their degrees, but they often are being asked to re-learn
information at a snail’s pace. Our new model of administering remediation
allows students to catch up quickly and maintain momentum toward earning a
Working closely with Complete College America, HEPC and the West
Virginia Community and Technical College System (CTCS) have worked with the
state's public colleges and universities to redesign developmental education
using a “co-requisite model.” The new format provides students who have
low GPAs or test scores with extra help, such as required tutoring or extra lab
classes, while simultaneously allowing them to complete college-level
coursework that counts toward their degrees. West Virginia is one of just
five states to implement the model across the entire public higher education system.
Data presented during the HEPC meeting showed that the redesign
has resulted in a major boost for course completion rates. For example, at
Fairmont State University, the number of students completing entry-level math
jumped from 28.1 percent to 81.8 percent after the school switched to providing
co-requisite courses. Similarly, pass rates in English at West Liberty
University jumped from 46.4 percent to 90.7 percent. And institutions across
West Virginia are seeing similarly impressive results.
“Ultimately, we expect this to have a major impact on college
graduation rates,” Dr. Corley Dennison, HEPC’s Vice Chancellor for Academic
Affairs, said. “Instead of completely re-teaching a subject to students who may
only need a bit of extra help, we are able to enroll them in the credit-bearing
class and then pinpoint areas in which their knowledge and skills are lacking.
That saves our students time, money and unnecessary frustration --- and reduces
barriers that may have previously prevented them from earning a degree.”
Dr. Hill said the new model is also a more cost-efficient method
of offering classes.
“Previously, our colleges and universities had to dedicate
faculty, space and class time for an entire semester to conduct
high-school-level courses in order to prepare students for college work,” Dr.
Hill said. “Now we are integrating the developmental work into first-year
college courses and utilizing existing campus services, such as tutoring and
faculty office hours, to offer extra support for the students who need it.”
The CTCS was one of the first higher education systems in the
nation to test the co-requisite model of developmental education. The model is
now nationally recognized as a best
practice in state higher education policy.
Media note: The presentation provided at the HEPC meeting is available
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