Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian today released a report highlighting progress since the implementation of PA 12-40: An Act Concerning College Readiness and Completion, which aimed to increase the rate of gateway course completion, speed time to completion, reduce the cost of completion for the developmental student population, and ultimately reduce the success gap between developmental and college-ready students at Connecticut’s community colleges. Since PA 12-40 was fully implemented across all 12 campuses in 2014, gateway course progression rates in both math and English have increased, while progression times have decreased.
“We should be pleased with the success we have achieved toward ensuring students are as prepared as possible for the rigors of a college education,” President Ojakian said. “This progress is real and substantial and should not be overlooked. It is a reminder that successful student success initiatives have real life impacts on the students we serve. At the same time, significant achievement gaps exist, particularly for first generation students and students of color. We must continue to push forward with data driven solutions to our persistent academic challenges, with particular attention to addressing the equity gap.”
The share of developmental math students who enrolled in the gateway course within three years of their first semester increased from 41 percent in 2011-12 to 57 percent in 2016-17; during the same period, the percentage of developmental students who completed their math requirement on time has increased from 21 percent to 33 percent. At the same time, the average time it takes developmental math students to enroll in the gateway course has declined from four terms in 2011-12 to just over two terms in 2016-17. For English students, the share of developmental students enrolling in the gateway course has increased from 56 percent in 2011-12 to 71 percent in 2016-17; the percentage of developmental students who complete gateway English on time has increased from 34 percent to 50 percent.
“The results of PA 12-40 provide evidence of moderate progress toward preparing students for college readiness and eliminating barriers to degree completion,” CSCU Provost Dr. Jane Gates said. “The data also indicates that more pathways need to be explored to meet the state’s workforce needs and enhance lifelong learning.”
PA 12-40 modified the traditional, prerequisite remedial Math and English curricula by placing the lowest achieving students in “transitional” courses, which aimed to raise students’ math or English skills to high school levels at no cost in tuition and financial aid. It also placed the highest-level developmental students in “embedded” courses, which are college-level courses that either incorporate an additional faculty member or require a supplemental workshop to aid borderline college-ready students’ progress towards college readiness. The majority of prerequisite remediation takes place in “intensive” courses – or paid courses that closely resemble the traditional developmental model and are not creditable towards graduation.
On average, developmental students comprise a more vulnerable cross-section of the at-large student population. 57 percent of developmental students identified themselves as first generation students versus 51 percent of the college-ready population. 60 percent of the developmental population are racial or ethnic minorities versus 50 percent of the college ready population. 69 percent of the developmental population qualified for Pell Grants versus 55 percent of the college-ready population.
The report, which was compiled by CSCU’s Office of Research & System Effectiveness, finds that PA 12-40 has had a positive impact on course progression for students of all backgrounds. However, demographic factors retain a significant influence on student progress. Race and ethnicity remain the most important indicator of gateway course progression for developmental students. Students who identify as white, non-Hispanic are 40 percent more likely to enroll in gateway math, 60 percent more likely to complete gateway math, 20 percent more likely to enroll in gateway English, and 30 percent more likely to complete gateway English.
The report made specific recommendations, including ongoing investigation to measure the impact on newer graduation cohorts, further research into the impacts of the different types of instruction models that the community colleges have implemented, and investigation into whether lower-testing students could succeed in an embedded or co-curricular modality.
“The story of PA 12-40 has been one of incremental, yet substantial, improvement,” the report concluded. “With additional research—and support from stakeholders—we can build on these gains.”
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