March 29, 2018
On February 26th, 2018, speakers from diverse perspectives convened to provide a Congressional briefing entitled “Advances in Educating Underprepared College Students: Knowledge, Policy and Practice.” The briefing was organized by the Friends of the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), a coalition of associations and institutions whose mission is advancing the objectives of IES, of which FABBS is a member. The American Educational Research Association (AERA) leads the Friends of IES coalition. FABBS co-sponsored the briefing.
The briefing focused on the placement of students into remediation between high school and college and its relation to graduation outcomes. Remediation usually entails additional developmental courses to prepare students for traditional courses of studies in math and english. The research has shown that overplacement of students into remediation costs state community college systems large amount of money and resources. Scott Ralls, president of NOVA Community College and former president of North Carolina Community College, pointed to research from the Community College Resource Center (CCRC) which said that overplacement led to an average of two years of extra coursework, calling it “educational malpractice.” The extra coursework and time often had the opposite effect of lowering graduation rates.
Through his work with the The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) and the CCRC, Thomas Bailey found that high school GPA was a far more accurate indicator of college readiness than standardized test scores, which are currently the norm. Michelle Hodara, who leads a Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest research-practice partnership discussed findings from Alaska, where GPA was found to be more predictive than test scores, as it includes non-cognitive skills, such as executive function and overall drive to learn.
The panelists agreed that we must rethink the available pathways for students in order to increase graduation rates and entry into the workforce. “We’re not all going to take calculus” and so not all developmental education paths need to lead there, Bailey said. Ralls also pointed to initiatives in North Carolina which allowed the money saved from reducing student placement in remediation to be instead placed into training geared towards in-demand industries.
Juliane Baron, Director of Government Relations for AERA and Chair of the Friends of IES, opened the briefing. Joanna Gorin of the Educational Testing Service moderated the briefing.