Redesigning Developmental Math
More than half of students coming to Virginia’s Community Colleges place into developmental mathematics courses. But once there, it’s difficult to get out – and fewer than one-third of developmental math students ever graduate or transfer.
That wasn’t good enough for Chancellor Glenn DuBois, so when the VCCS began to rethink ways it does business, redesigning developmental math — and all of developmental education – was at the top of the list.
“While other community colleges have taken a similar approach to revamping developmental education,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last summer, “None have attempted to do it at the speed and scale of the Virginia system.”
What is it?
Developmental math redesign is the culmination of the work of several broad based task forces (Read the original Developmental Math Redesign group report.) that concluded that shorter modules of math curricula, focused on an individual’s specific math needs, would better serve students. That way, students who don’t need a 16 week semester of math can brush up on the skills they need at their own speed – and be ready for college-level coursework much quicker.
All 23 community colleges implemented the module system this spring, although not all implementations are exactly the same. Most are largely computer-lab based, although faculty are there to help students having trouble.
Who is it helping?
Reducing the need for, and success of, developmental education helps students, community colleges and taxpayers. Students will spend less time and money in developmental modules tailored to their needs while colleges, and the taxpayers who support them, will be able to focus more resources on college-level classes and better student success numbers.
What is it’s future?
Evaluation efforts are under way this spring as each college begins offering the new module-based developmental math program. Teams are visiting every college to discuss how it’s going on the local level. Tweaks may be necessary. But the gain is huge: having Virginia Community College students lead the way in meeting the college completion goals of Governor Robert McDonnell and President Barack Obama. Concluded an expert quoted in the Chronicle article,
”There is a risk. But there is also power in being that bold.”