I am hoping that I could tap your collective experience to help us with a 
program we are planning to trial in January.

At Morton College, there are two developmental algebra courses (Elementary 
and Intermediate Algebra).  Each course is a semester in length.  Students 
may place into either course (or a lower level Basic Mathematics course).  
Students enrolled in Elementary Algebra who do not pass that course must 
retake the entire course and complete it successfully before enrolling in 
the Intermediate course.  That delays their entry into Intermediate Algebra 
-- and college-level math -- by an entire semester.

For students who did very poorly in Elementary Algebra, retaking the course 
seems to be the appropriate course of action.  However, we believe that some 
students -- those who came "close" to passing -- might succeed in 
Intermediate Algebra if they could take a short remedial course between 
semesters to address the deficiencies that prevented them from passing the 
course in the first place.  If they pass the intersession course, they would 
be able to enroll in Intermediate Algebra during the following semester as 
if they had passed Elementary Algebra in the first place. The intersession 
course would be by invitation only (i.e., instructors would identify 
students who might benefit from this course).  Depending on the number of 
students (we are a relatively small community college), the topics covered 
might even be tailored to specific students' needs rather than follow a 
rigid syllabus.

We are planning to run this course for the first time during the first half 
of January, before the start of the Spring semester.  We would run the 
course again during the first half of August, before the start of the fall 
semester.  I was wondering if any of you have experience with similar ideas, 
comments on this idea, or other ideas that address the same set of issues.  
If you do, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Geoff Krader
Mathematics Instructor
Morton College
Cicero, IL 60804

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