• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


A Multi-Part Question About Florida

Is the remedial policy working?


May 6, 2015

Last year, Florida made remediation optional. Students could be advised that it appeared that they needed remedial or developmental coursework, but they couldn’t be required to take it. They had to be given the option to skip it and start directly with college level work in both math and English.

Since then, I’ve seen literally nothing about the results. I’m hoping that some of my wise and worldly readers -- perhaps especially those in the sunshine state -- can shed some light.

What happened? More specifically:

In percentage terms, how many students chose to take developmental coursework voluntarily?

Of those who went directly into college-level math or English, how did they fare? Were their pass rates comparable to students who “placed” there originally?  

Since the change took place last Fall, how did the Fall-to-Spring retention rates change? Or did they?  

What percentage of students who took the “skip it” option found themselves hopelessly overmatched in college-level classes, and voluntarily switched levels downward?

Florida has such a large community college student population that it makes a great data set, and the intervening variable -- a change in the law -- is really easy to isolate. It’s a potentially valuable test case for the rest of us.

If Florida’s results show strongly that, say, student self-placements are far more accurate than placement tests, that would have implications for placement policies. Alternately, if the sudden influx of low-scoring students into college-level classes resulted in catastrophic attrition, that would be good to know, too.

I know it’s relatively early, and some of the data could be “noisy” for various reasons. But still, we should have a pretty good picture of the first semester’s results by now.  An open question yesterday on Twitter yielded no answers, so I’ll try the longform approach.

Does anybody know? Has anything good been published yet on this?


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