Author: Brandon Protas Ed.D., Assistant Vice President for Alliance Engagement at Complete College America
Complete College America has been a champion of corequisite support for more than a decade. This is based on the overwhelming and consistent evidence that it is a better model than traditional prerequisite remediation for students to pass their gateway math and English courses. The corequisite model has also been shown to be an effective equity strategy to eliminate institutional performance gaps for racially minoritized students. I often frame corequisite pedagogical practices through the following five components.
- Review of material that students need to know now for the parent course.
- Preview of upcoming material that will be taught in the parent course.
- Multiple opportunities to practice the content.
- Metacognition of students’ learning journeys.
- Active learning and culturally relevant instruction.
Complete College America recently developed the Measuring Corequisite Support Toolkit, with support from Strong Start to Finish, to help colleges better understand how to evaluate the success of corequisite courses. As we were providing technical assistance around corequisite implementation overall and specifically this new toolkit, I recognized that the pedagogical elements just referenced could be applied to the process of corequisite course assessment itself. After realizing this, I used these five pedagogical practices to help individuals and teams understand and apply their learning about corequisite supports:
During the case-making phase of our technical assistance, we review the shortcomings of traditional prerequisite remediation. Specifically, we share both a hypothetical model and actual college data that show how attrition combined with pass rates in prerequisite remedial courses can lead to single digit pass rates in the college-level gateway course. This background understanding is vital to create the urgency to change a model of development education that has been in place for decades.
As we move into the corequisite model, we preview how colleges, systems and states should measure success of this reform; namely how pass rates of college-level courses should not be conflated
with corequisite success because it does not account for students who never make it to the college-level course. We discuss the idea of throughput to measure the pass rate in the college-level course that considers the students who were placed into traditional prerequisite remediation compared to those placed into corequisite support. We explicitly warn about false comparisons because we know that this is an easy mistake to make.
Similar to a classroom setting, just because you teach something once, this does not mean the new information will stick, particularly if it is a new concept. It’s necessary to give lots of opportunities to practice the new lesson. In a check-in call, someone from a college we were working with fell into a common pitfall by expressing concern that the pass rate in the college-level course had stayed the same or even decreased and wondered if this meant that the corequisite model was not working. This was a key piece of information that we needed to provide additional support and create opportunities to make the correct analysis through guided practice.
As a result, Complete College America developed the Measuring Corequisite Support Toolkit, which we share with colleges, systems and states through facilitated support. One of the key features is that it includes fillable spreadsheets with clear definitions that generate accurate comparisons between prerequisite and corequisite support models. Colleges use this tool to practice assessing the effectiveness of this reform with their own data.
We recognize that we are all learners, including those of us who serve as educators. As we fast-forward six months beyond when the initial comment was made, Complete College America introduced the Measuring Corequisite Support Toolkit to the very people who helped inspire it. We did this through a session that focused on the intersection of how we know if the corequisite model is working and how we tell the story of its success. We wanted to look at how this model increased completion rates in the college-level course, better prepared students, and improved the student experience in the developmental education process as well as for the college overall.
By thinking about how we define success, we combined both a qualitative approach that incorporates student voice with quantitative data as described through a common metric of student success based on throughput. This reflection piece moves faculty, staff and administrators out of the logistical side of the work to a deeper understanding of the impact of the institutional transformation they are leading.
Active Learning and Culturally Relevant Instruction
The work of scaling corequisite success is not a one-and-done proposition, but rather a process that Complete College America continues to support through implementation. As a result, we developed communities of practice to support state implementation of corequisite supports. In these groups, representatives of each college go through the toolkit with their own campus data and share their lessons learned with peers.
Complete College America is an equity-focused organization which means this is the lens we use to center all our work. As such, we need to know which students are or are not seeing success through the corequisite support model. The embedded, interactive charts in the toolkit look at overall success and disaggregate by race, Pell-eligibility, first-generation status and by adult learners.
The five steps outlined in the corequisite model are not unique only to how we teach about corequisite courses. It is a solid framework for teaching all learners — whether students or educators — regardless of content. If you would like to learn more about our toolkit, please contact Complete College America at firstname.lastname@example.org.