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April 15, 2010 10:00 AM Good Remediation

By Daniel Luzer

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The College Guide has looked at remediation, the non-credit-bearing classes college students have to take to be prepared for college, in previous posts. The trouble is that remediation doesn’t really work, or doesn’t work for much other than a metaphor for how unprepared students are for college. Just taking a remedial course makes a student unlikely to ever graduate from college.

Well now six states - Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia - are working to change that. According to an article by David Moltz in Inside Higher Ed:

The Developmental Education Initiative…. recently unveiled the state policy framework and strategies that its six participating state partners plan to implement so that they can dramatically increase the number of students who complete college preparatory work and move on to complete college-level work. The six states… were selected for this project because of their prior commitment to community college reform; institutions from these states were first-round participants in Achieving the Dream, a multi-year and -state initiative to increase the success of two-year college students.

The framework (available here) focuses on delivery, specifically urging states to create:

A data-driven improvement process that ensures the right conditions for institutional innovation; a state-level innovation investment strategy that provides incentives for the development, testing, and scaling up of effective models; and policy supports that facilitate the implementation of new models and encourage the spread of successful practices.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation for Education, the new framework looks promising. As the article points out, states have odd barriers to success built into current remediation strategies: “most states fund courses for a 16-week or semester-long model, those remedial courses or methods that do not fit such a model do not receive money.”

This may not go far enough, however. “Successful practices” might well eliminate remediation altogether. Just put students in regular courses and provide unprepared students with extra supports. That’s what seems to be most effective.[Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer