Rethinking remedials; college removes developmental courses

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By JEREMY STITSWORTH, Staff Reporter |

Amarillo College is charting a new course in its approach to developmental education. Instead of taking remedial classes before beginning college-level studies, underprepared students will receive special assistance through concurrent classes, supplemental instruction or extra tutoring. 

What are now developmental courses will become co-requisite classes at the start of the fall 2019 semester. Classes such as intermediate algebra and basic reading and writing will now be fully integrated into college-level courses such as college algebra and general psychology.

Dr. Elizabeth Rodriguez, a psychology professor, has taught classes that use the co-requisite approach and says it has been wildly successful. “So, what happens is they take my book for my psychology class and use it in the course, and they go through it and we teach them how to identify the main idea of the text, what is important to look for and how to comprehend what they read,” she said.

Rodriguez also said that she has been teaching classes this way for a few years, even before this decision was made. “I’ve been teaching these classes for about seven years now and I can tell you that it really makes an impact on getting your degree faster,” she said.

Dr. Edythe Carter, a math professor and dean of academic success, says there are many benefits that come from this change. 

“Students can start earning credits right away and with classes being integrated together, it’s like you get two for one, which saves money as well,” she said. Carter added that the courses could also benefit students who have graduated high school but didn’t go straight into college since they can serve as good refreshers.

Carter said that the math classes will be offered all year to further accelerate the process of attaining a degree. 

“The classes are eight weeks long and are offered in the fall and spring. We’ll also have them in the summer, but they will be six weeks instead of eight,” she said

The change will mean that students who in the past would have had to take several semesters of developmental classes before beginning academic credit classes will now start immediately in college-level classes in their majors. 

“I wish they would’ve done that when I was taking math,” said A.J. Ward, a social studies major. “I could have graduated by now.” 

The move to adopt this new approach began in 2017, when the Texas legislature passed a law requiring colleges to gradually increase the number of co-requisite classes. Similar changes in remedial education are taking place in other states.

Rodriguez said in addition to saving money, this approach also boosts the self-esteem of students. 

“I see students in my psychology class who are in the co-requisite class and they are excited. Excited that they are learning and reading from a college course book just makes them feel like they are achieving something worthwhile,” she said. “Just to be a part of that and seeing them advance and grow is something really special.”

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Infographic by STEVI BRESHEARS | The Ranger

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