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It is one thing to get into a community college. It is another to get credits for courses. Many students are ill-prepared. They may not be ready for college-level work. They must take remedial courses. Most remedial courses are for reading or math. The problem is that remedial courses cost money and take time. Students often feel like they are "treading water." Some feel the remedial courses are not "real" college classes. The dropout rates are high. University of New York (CUNY) wanted to do something to reduce the dropout rate. The school looked at the results of the entry test. Some of the students had been out of school for several years. It focused on those students who almost passed. CUNY is letting those students who almost passed retake the test. About half pass on the second try. Was the test doing a good job of finding students who needed more help? CUNY decided that the answer was no. It put a new test in place. The steps for moving from remedial to credit classes is also changing. Before, students had to pass a test at the end of the remedial course. Now, they just must pass the course. They still take the test, but it is a factor for only 35 percent of the final grade. It may also start looking at how students did in certain high school classes. Algebra was a required part of the math entry exam. Now students can take an alternative course such as statistics. CUNY has taken one more step to make life better for students. While students are taking a remedial math course, they can take another course. This course will be a credit course. They call it a "co-requisite" course. The remedial course will help them pass the regular course. Community colleges in Tennessee have had good results with this approach. Everyone knows tests are important. But experts say tests should not be the only thing that matters. It makes good sense to move student ahead.
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