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Subject:

Can Community Colleges Protect Both Access and Standards? The Problem of Remediation & Student Engagement: A Missing Link in Improving High Schools

From:

Dan Kern <[log in to unmask]>

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[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 21 May 2008 11:25:49 -0500

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Can Community Colleges Protect Both Access and Standards? The Problem of
Remediation


by Dolores Perin <http://www.tcrecord.org/AuthorDisplay.asp?aid=17421>  -
2006

A large number of community college students have difficulty with
postsecondary-level reading, writing, and math demands, necessitating
remedial education. A qualitative case study was conducted to investigate
state and institutional practices for remediation in 15 community colleges
selected for region, size, and urbanicity. The six states in which the
colleges were located varied on the level of regulation of institutional
remedial policy and were placed on a spectrum ranging from laissez-faire to
micromanagement. Most of the states and all the institutions in the study
required the assessment of students' academic skills, and the institutions
mandated assessment even when the states did not require it. The types of
assessment instruments varied, and subjective measures such as institutional
tests, course grades, and student self-report played an important role in
placement decisions. The colleges tended to require that low-scoring
students attend remedial courses even in the absence of a state mandate. A
wide variety of practices were used to determine student readiness to
advance in or exit from remediation. Many of the institutions had procedures
designed to require remediation early in the student's program, but both
assessment and placement mandates appeared to be softened either at the
state or institutional level, with the effect of reducing the number of
students who were required to enroll in remedial courses. This trend is
discussed as a struggle between the access mission of the traditionally
open-door community college, and the drive to protect educational standards.


Although they have completed secondary education, a large number of college
students lack the literacy and mathematics skills needed to learn at the
postsecondary level (Spann, 2000). Many of these academically under-prepared
students attend community colleges. There they receive remediation (also
called developmental education), which has been defined as "a class or
activity intended to meet the needs of students who initially do not have
the skills, experience or orientation necessary to perform at a level that
the institutions or instructors recognize as 'regular' for those students"
(Grubb et al., 1999, p. 174). Developmental education programs typically
provide reading, writing, and math courses, and tutoring and counseling, all
designed to prepare students to participate fully in a postsecondary-level
learning experience (Casazza, 1999).

 

All publicly funded community colleges offer developmental education
programs (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003), and almost half
provide contracted remedial courses to business and industry (Shults, 2000).
Developmental education enrollments are often used to measure the extent of
academic difficulty. At least half of community college students need such
courses (Jenkins & Boswell, 2002), up to 80% enroll in at least one remedial
course, and in urban institutions, over one quarter of students enroll in
remedial courses (Shults). Because developmental education enrollments
appear to underestimate students' difficulty with college-level reading,
writing, and math (Perin & Charron, in press), the number of academically
underprepared students may be even higher.

 

Developmental education is central to the community college mission (Howard
& Obetz, 1996) and has been seen not only as an illustration of a commitment
to educational access (Grubb et al., 1999) but also as a benefit to
democratic society in general (McCabe, 2000). Nevertheless, community
colleges have been criticized for being overly involved in remediation at
the expense of baccalaureate transfer (Nora, n.d.; Rhoads & Valadez, 1996)
and for duplicating K-12 education (see Oudenhoven, 2002). A survey
conducted by Immerwahr (1999) found that college, business, and government
personnel felt that the largest problem facing colleges is that "too many
new students need remediation" (p. 28). However, remediation is integral to
the open admission policy of community colleges (McGrath & Spear, 1991) and
is a necessary service if the community college door is to be kept open
(Zeitlin & Markus, 1996).

 

Continue print version:
http://www.tcrecord.org/PrintContent.asp?ContentID=12328

 

Source:  http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=12328

 

 


Student Engagement: A Missing Link in Improving High Schools


by Martha McCarthy <http://www.tcrecord.org/AuthorDisplay.asp?aid=18958>  &
George D. <http://www.tcrecord.org/AuthorDisplay.asp?aid=18959>  Kuh -
September 09, 2005

In addition to knowing if students are taking the right courses in high
school and performing at acceptable levels on college entrance exams, we
also need to know whether they engage in the kinds of educationally
purposeful activities that will help them develop the habits of the mind and
acquire the skills and competencies they need to succeed in college and
beyond. In short, are high school students doing enough studying, reading,
and writing to prepare them for what to expect in college? 

High schools are under more scrutiny today than at any other time in recent
memory, and the stakes are extremely high for all concerned (Armstrong,
2005). University faculty and employers lament that high school graduates do
not have the knowledge and practical competencies to perform adequately in
college or work environments. The senior year in particular is often viewed
as an educationally unproductive wasteland (Conley, 2001).

 

Continue print version of the missing link:
http://www.tcrecord.org/PrintContent.asp?ContentID=12162

 

Source:  http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=12162

 

 


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