The Smarter Move

Somebody sent me this post this morning: it explains how Florida has passed legislation making developmental education in college voluntary (where previously it was mandatory).

I worry for Florida. But more than that, I worry for us–and hope that we (South Carolina) are not heading in this direction.

Here’s (part of the reason) why:

ACT’s most recently published (2010) What Works in Student Retention (WWISR) data for community colleges rates the following as the top three practices making the greatest contribution to retention:

  1. Mandated placement of students in courses based on test courses
  2. Tutoring
  3. Remedial/developmental coursework (required).

Other research supports this, finding developmental education to be a significant predictor of retention. For example, Highbee, Arendale, and Lundell (2005) point to estimates that two million students would drop out of college every year without the benefit of developmental education.

Still other research tells us this:

  1. Passing developmental writing is a predictor of fall-to-fall retention.
  2. Passing a developmental reading class has been shown to be the greatest predictor of retention.
  3. Passing developmental mathematics courses is an indicator of both fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall retention.

When student retention and student success are our goals, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether moving from mandatory to voluntary placement in developmental coursework like Florida is really in students’ best interests…or if revamping developmental education to increase its effectiveness, as we are doing, is really the smarter move.

I’m sure you can guess where I stand on the issue.

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Filed under Community College, Developmental Education, Higher Ed, My Opinion, Ripped from the Headlines

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