Grants Focus on Getting Students Through Remedial Courses



Fifteen community colleges and five states will share $16.5 million in grants meant to support and expand remedial education programs that have already shown promising results.

A major goal of the grants - which will fund a program called the Developmental Educational Initiative - is to show that the remedial education programs work on a larger scale. But the ultimate goal is to help more underprepared students overcome the various academic obstacles that stand in the way of a post-secondary credential or college degree.

"This initiative is about getting more people, a lot more people, successfully through developmental education and into college classes," said Richard Hart, spokesman for MDC, a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based nonprofit that is a partner in the initiative.

Among other things, programs being funded by the grants will help better determine what kind of remedial courses, if any, a student may need to take, and to get students in and out of the classes as quickly as possible, Hart said.

"It's about not having people quit either because they spent all their money on developmental education or they were bored or it was taking too much time," he said.

The grants are from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; $1.6 million is from the Lumina Foundation for Education to help conduct research on the effectiveness of the programs.

The community colleges that will share in the grants will use the money to build upon promising programs developed through Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count, a multi-year initiative meant to increase graduation rates at community colleges.

MDC said more than 133,000 students who take remedial education courses at the colleges selected for the grants will be affected.

The grants also will be used to support efforts by the states of Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia to track the success of their developmental education programs.

So far, statistics show, the percentage of students who moved from developmental education courses to college-level courses increased from 16 to 20 percent through the programs being funded with the grants, according to a statement provided by the Gates Foundation.

Progress in the various states will be compared to learn more about what works and what does not.

These are summaries of the various grants:


Total Funds: $1,786,000

State of Connecticut

$300,000 over three year to phase in common statewide placement standards and align remedial work with credit-bearing courses to accelerate progress toward degree completion.

Housatonic Community College

            $743,000 over three years to expand its self-paced math course offerings; introduce similar self-paced English courses; expand an intensive three-week math review course designed to improve placement test results; and offer college placement tests to incoming high school seniors so they can begin any development work needed during their final year of high school.

Norwalk Community College

$743,000 over three years to align remedial math and English with college-credit courses; expand learning communities, including linkages to a freshman seminar course; assist developmental students in establishing e-portfolios; provide support through the NCC Student Success center.


Total Funds: $1,043,000

State of Florida

$300,000 over three years to collaborate with K-12 to reduce the need for remedial education.

Valencia Community College

$743,000 over three years to create a centralized remedial program to be used across four campuses; align high school, remedial, and college-level standards; expand a student success course, supplemental instruction, and remedial learning communities; and embed reading skills into its remedial math courses.


Total Funds: $743,000

Guilford Technical Community College

$743,000 over three years to provide intensive advising and case management for remedial students; create a new Learning Assistance Center; and expand its student success course, learning communities, peer-led instruction program, and accelerated remedial courses.


Total Funds: $4,015,000

State of Ohio

$300,000 over three years to develop a new performance-based funding system that would reward community colleges for helping students progress through remedial education and subsequent college-level courses.

Cuyahoga Community College

$743,000 over three years to implement Teaching and Learning Integrated Team model, which incorporates mentoring, online and in-person tutoring, supplemental instruction, and collaborative student learning. Provide faculty and staff training to integrate these services into course design.

Jefferson Community College

$743,000 over three years to integrate Adult Basic Education into the remedial education department and redesign remedial math and English courses following the National Center for Academic Transformation model. Expand professional development offerings.

North Central State College

$743,000 over three years to expand several pilot programs, including a self-paced learning lab, a program for adult GED students, an accelerated math boot camp, intensive advising, and the creation of a dedicated remedial education tutoring center. Continue high school outreach through placement test workshops for faculty.

Sinclair Community College

$743,000 over three years to conduct a policy and practice review that will guide programs for remedial students. Expand its Student Success Plan initiative, which offers high school students individual learning plans, coaching, and case management as well as online math modules with diagnostics.

Zane State College

$743,000 over three years to expand its remedial math advising program to all remedial courses, incorporate technology into remedial education courses with a mobile lab, and train faculty on how to further improve the classroom experience.


            Total Funds: $3,272,000

State of Texas

$300,000 over three years to institute performance incentives to reward the state's colleges for helping more students advance through remedial education courses.

Coastal Bend College

$743,000 over three years to focus on improving remedial math programs by providing mandatory case management for students and by aligning remedial and credit-bearing math courses more efficiently.

El Paso Community College

$743,000 over three years to expand to four campuses its College Readiness Initiative, which aligns remedial and college entry and exit standards; provide case management for all remedial education students for 30 credit hours; and expand its "modular math" program.

Houston Community College

$743,000 over three years to align remedial math outcomes with college-level courses; expand "modular math" and learning communities that assign students to a cluster of courses as a group; and provide supplemental instruction in all remedial math courses.

South Texas College

$743,000 over three years to offer its Beacon Mentoring Program to all remedial students and create a task force to ensure courses align with students' career goals and that the curriculum is integrated across all three remedial subjects.


Total Funds: $1,786,000

State of Virginia

$300,000 over three years to commission research to identify obstacles to completion, factors that correlate with student success, and high and low performing institutions to inform statewide goals for community colleges.

Danville Community College

$743,000 over three years to align remedial and college-level entry and exit standards and to form a Remedial Education Advisory Committee, represented by college faculty and staff and key stakeholders outside the college.

Patrick Henry Community College

$743,000 over three years to expand accelerated courses and skill-focused instruction, simultaneous enrollment in remedial and college-level courses, and a math lab requirement. The college will refine a diagnostic tool that identifies risk factors in remedial students and guides placement in appropriate interventions.