The Middle Leadership Academy included presentations of findings from other states and colleges that have undertaken reforms of developmental math. German Vargas, assistant vice president for academic student engagement and math professor in the University System of Georgia, and Myra Snell, co-founder of the California Acceleration Project and math professor at Los Medanos College, both shared research about the barriers that traditional remediation models can pose for students. They also shared experiences of colleges and university systems that have adopted: (1) multiple measures, including high school grades, to assess student readiness for college; and (2) redesigns of entry-level credit-bearing courses to embed additional student supports within the course structure for those students who are underprepared.
These course redesigns typically include either co-requisite or stretch models. Co-requisite courses assign underprepared students to two courses simultaneously during one semester, with one course providing academic supports specifically for the primary course. Stretch courses extend their learning outcomes over two semesters, providing underprepared students with more time and support in mastering the material.
Vargas spoke of the experiences and student outcomes for the University System of Georgia’s statewide reform of remedial mathematics. He was part of a task force that first proposed a way to “dramatically improve success rates…without compromising the quality of mathematical content,” and chaired the steering committee that undertook the effort.
Snell shared the results of Cuyamaca College, a community college in San Diego County that reformed its math placement policies in 2016-17 by using students’ high school GPA and math coursework and differentiating placement based on the student’s chosen pathway (i.e., general education, STEM, business, education, or technical training). The college also began providing two options for all entry college-level math courses: those with or those without an attached co-requisite course (two units) that provides support.