Complete College Georgia: Transforming Remediation

October 7, 2013

By Josh Delaney and Pascael Beaudette

In 2011, Governor Nathan Deal announced his plans for the Complete College Georgia Initiative, designed to improve college access and completion in Georgia. The Complete College Georgia Initiative, funded in part by a $1 million grant from Complete College America, is a set of policies and supporting action plans to address Georgia’s higher education challenges and future employment needs. In December 2011, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement released an education update summarizing the need for Complete College Georgia and the Governor’s strategies to improve college completion.  This month’s education update highlights how Complete College Georgia has transformed remedial education at four pilot institutions in the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

Transforming Remediation through Complete College Georgia

By 2020, more than 60% of job openings in Georgia will require a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree.[1]  Currently, only 42% of young adults in Georgia possess one of those credentials.[2]  Complete College Georgia is designed to increase the number of students with the qualifications needed in Georgia’s workforce. 

One key to improving college completion is addressing remediation, also known as learning support, for incoming students. Roughly half of incoming USG students and 26% of TCSG first-time students need remediation upon entering college.[3]  Only 24% of USG students receiving remedial education earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, and only 7% of students requiring remediation in associate’s degree programs at USG and TCSG complete the degree within three years.[4]  Data show that students are less likely to complete college the longer they spend in remedial classes.[5]  Thus, by accelerating remedial programs and tailoring them to students’ specific needs, TCSG and USG can improve college completion rates in Georgia.

The Complete College Georgia plan outlines the following recommendations to improve remediation outcomes:

Complete College Georgia Recommendations To Improve Remediation[6]

  • Define college readiness and take appropriate actions in K-12 to ensure that graduates are college-ready
  • Change assessment and placement policies and practices for college applicants to define readiness for success in the first year of college
  • Develop alternative pathways for students who are significantly behind
  • Restructure traditional remediation using customized pedagogical approaches

TCSG and USG implemented these recommendations in pilot programs at two TCSG institutions—Athens Technical College and Georgia Piedmont Technical College—and two USG institutions—College of Coastal Georgia and Georgia Gwinnett College.[7]

TCSG Improving Remediation

Starting in fall 2011, TCSG redesigned remedial English, mathematics, and reading at Athens Technical College (ATC) and Georgia Piedmont Technical College.  TCSG developed content modules to allow students to progress at their own pace.  Previously, TCSG treated remediation as a program in leveled steps.  Students’ scores on the Compass test, a college placement test administered by the ACT, determined placement in various levels of required remediation.  Students had to progress through each subsequent level of remediation before beginning credited coursework.  In the new modular approach, TCSG uses the Compass score to select additional diagnostic tools to discover which targeted areas of learning support each student needs and places him/her in only those classes.  TCSG coupled the modular approach with co-requisite courses, allowing students to move into credited learning faster.  

Early Indicators of Success at Athens Technical College Pilot[8]

  • 22% of students who enrolled in redesigned remedial mathematics progressed through learning support classes and successfully completed their college-level mathematics, compared to 7% in the traditionally formatted classes.
  • 78% of students in the redesigned remedial program passed both the remedial and college-level courses.  Before the pilot program, the 3-year average pass rate was 66%.
  • Students needing remediation are now succeeding in college-level courses at rates similar to the overall student body.

TCSG Next Steps

Applying the lessons from the pilots, TCSG has redesigned remedial courses at all of its colleges.  After one year of implementation, other colleges are showing signs of early success.  North Georgia and South Georgia Technical Colleges saw increased success rates in all remedial subjects, ranging from 7 to 28 percentage points.[9]

USG Improving Remediation

In the traditional remediation format, students requiring remediation take those courses before moving on to college-level coursework.  Because remedial courses do not count toward a degree, students in remediation must spend more time in college to obtain a degree.  In fall 2011, the pilot USG colleges redesigned all remedial courses to improve outcomes.  In the newly-designed co-requisite model, remediation is aligned and taken concurrently with college-level courses.  Students are not enrolled in separate remediation courses, thereby shortening the time required to complete a degree.  For example, students requiring remediation in English at Gwinnett Georgia College (GGC) and College of Coastal Georgia (CCGA) attend  college-level English classes and then meet with their remedial classes.  The remedial classes provide students with opportunities for additional questions, discussion, and help from instructors.[10]

The colleges also employed modular models, which allow students to start at the appropriate module as determined by diagnostic testing.  GGC uses timed essays and writing portfolios in the remedial English program and in-class tests and final exams in the remedial math program to identify in which areas students require additional help.  Students then focus their learning on these areas. 

As shown below, the redesigned remedial programs at CCGA and GGC have shown early success:

Early Success at the College of Coastal Georgia[11]

  • 77.8% of students in the remedial English program received a “C” or higher in the college-level English course, compared to 70.0% of non-remedial students.
  • 77.8% of students in the redesigned remedial English program completed the program, compared to 51.7% in the traditional program.

Early Success at Georgia Gwinnett College[12]

  • 79.4% of students in the remedial English program received a “C” or higher in the college-level English course, compared to 80.0% of non-remedial students.
  • 84.1% of students in the redesigned remedial English program completed the program, compared to 62.5% in the traditional program.
  • 80.9% of students in remedial math received a “C” or higher in the college-level math course, compared to 65.7% of non-remedial students.
  • 89.6% of remedial math students successfully completed the program, compared to 44.9% in the traditional program.

USG Next Steps

Using evidence of success from the pilot programs, nearly all USG institutions have changed the delivery of remediation.  Many of them employ the co-requisite model similar to the one used in the pilot institutions.  USG is currently implementing a system-wide strategy of transforming remediation.

Summary

Georgia is taking bold steps to increase the number of graduates each year.  Improving remediation is just one of many Complete College Georgia strategies that place Georgia on the right track toward ensuring that it has the talented and educated workforce to fill jobs requiring a certificate or degree.  The pilot programs have produced promising results for TCSG and USG students, and as these programs are expanded and revised, the positive results should extend across the state.  

“The current model of remediation does not promote credit accumulation or college completion. Both state policymakers and postsecondary education leaders should explore these innovative course models for improving remediation, improving course completion, and putting these students on a steadier path to college completion. States, institutions, and students may realize significant cost savings, and possibly additional revenues from increased earnings, that can be reinvested in replicating this and other strategies for improving college completion.” – 2012 Complete College America Report on Remediation

For more information on TCSG’s College Complete Georgia program, contact Joe Dan Banker or Dr. Josephine Reed-Taylor.

For more information on USG’s College Complete Georgia program, contact Dr. Houston Davis or Dr. Lynne Weisenbach.

 

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Both USG and TCSG are internally evaluating program effectiveness to determine which aspects of the pilot programs should be replicated.  The numbers presented in this education update are preliminary.

[8] Numbers provided by TCSG.  ATC began its Remediation Redesign Fall 2011 with 58 students.  In Fall 2012, 735 students were enrolled in Remediation Redesign.  Specific data for Georgia Piedmont Technical College were not available at the time of publication.

[9] Numbers provided by TCSG.  Success rates represent the percentage of students in the remedial class who earn a “C” or better and are thus able to move on to college-level courses.

[10]  CCGA has used a co-requisite approach for remediating English since Fall 2011 but will just be initiating use of the co-requisite approach in mathematics in Fall 2013.

[11] Data provided by CCGA and are for calendar year 2012.

[12] Data provided by GGC and are for the 2012-2013 academic year.