College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor

Aligned Curricula Outpace Remediation

April 03, 2013 1 min read
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To the Editor:

We read with great interest the article “Remedial Placements Found to Be Overused” (Feb. 20, 2013) on the overuse of remediation, and we couldn’t agree more.

Our experience with thousands of faculty members over the past 15 years indicates that there is a vast disconnect between high school and higher education curricula. Teachers are often unaware of this disconnect, but once aware and given the opportunity to vertically align curricula, they find their students succeed in college-level courses regardless of what the students’ placement tests might have indicated.

Our data over time and across demographics show that this works. The Institute for Evidence-Based Change, or IEBC, launched a pilot program with faculty from a high school district and a community college that tested this.

Faculty members met regularly in facilitated intersegmental councils to align English-composition curricula across the segments. After the curriculum had been incorporated in the high school for several years and students immersed in it throughout their high school education, those who made A’s or B’s were allowed to waive placement-test results and enroll directly in college-level English-composition courses.

By the second year, the success rate (86 percent) for those students surpassed the success rate (66 percent) for those students who had placed in the courses via tests.

However, if test results had been used for course placement, 74 percent of our pilot-group students would have been enrolled in remedial courses that they clearly did not need.

By aligning curricula, students and institutions save both time and money. Student persistence and completion increase, and colleges are able to put more resources into teaching college-level courses.

No one benefits when resources are mistakenly directed toward remediating students who do not need it.

Shelly Valdez

Director of Educational Collaboration

Institute for Evidence-Based Change

San Diego, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the April 03, 2013 edition of Education Week as Aligned Curricula Outpace Remediation


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