CCRI committed to building skills students need
To the Editor:
A recent interview with Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Ken Wagner included statements about CCRI’s remedial programs that do not reflect aggressive interventions we have taken to address the need for remedial education at our college. Our response is designed to provide your readers with an accurate picture of the focused work happening at CCRI.
When President Hughes assumed office in February 2016, we knew that too many Rhode Island high school graduates were arriving at our doors without the foundations they need for college English and math. Many arrive struggling with the ability to complete work related to fractions, basic multiplication and division, and CCRI is responsible for addressing these gaps. We are deeply committed to supporting our students in building the skills they need to be successful in their education and careers. Employers across Rhode Island, and our sister institutions, RIC and URI, have told us that college-level English and math are fundamental to our students’ success as they pursue four-year degrees and quality employment. We are committed to providing our students with what we know they need.
So what have we done? Over the past 16 months, we have implemented several national best practices designed to reduce the number of students placed in developmental courses and to accelerate students’ progress through developmental coursework when it is needed.
We worked with the K-12 system and built a CCRI-led pilot project in Central Falls High School. The pilot brings together our faculty with the high school math faculty to identify how the high school curriculum can align with CCRI’s curriculum so that fewer students arrive at CCRI needing developmental math. Our goal with this project is to study what works and then scale it across Rhode Island.
We launched “Multiple Measures,” a program that utilizes high school transcripts and test scores in concert with the college’s placement test to more accurately place incoming students. In fall 2016, more than 300 students who otherwise would have been placed in developmental courses were instead enrolled in college credit-bearing courses. While we still have more to learn, the early data shows that the majority of these students were successful in the credit-bearing classes.
We have also expanded our Prior Learning Assessment work, which awards a student college credit for previous learning, work or military experience, allowing a student to gain college credits and graduate more quickly.
We are scaling co-requisite math and English offerings that allow students to take developmental and credit-bearing courses simultaneously, and our data proves it’s working. This model accelerates the time to graduation.
Finally, we made the decision to suspend the math lab program for the 2017-2018 academic year. Based on five years of student outcome data that shows students participating in our math lab are far less likely to succeed compared to their peers in math lecture, we could not enroll students in a model that was failing them. Over the next year, our math faculty will engage national experts to identify innovative teaching models to incorporate into our math curriculum, with the intent of launching a new mode of delivery by the fall of 2018.
We will continue to listen to the needs of our students, our state’s four-year institutions and employers as we build upon these best practices. Our students invest significant time, money and energy in their education. At CCRI, we are steadfastly committed to ensuring that they receive a return on their investment.
President of Community College of Rhode Island
Chair of Council on