While Public Act 12 – 40 was passed in 2012, its implementation is only now underway. PA 12-40 seeks to ensure that students entering college are given the support they need to succeed. This support comes in two forms: embedded remedial support and “college readiness programs.” The bill stipulates that through “multiple measures” (one of which is the “the successful completion of the high school mathematics and language arts curricula”) higher education institutions should determine if a student could succeed; if so, the college or university “shall offer such student remedial support that is embedded with the corresponding entry level course in a college level program.” If it is determined that a student is unlikely to do well, the college or university “shall offer such student the opportunity to participate in an intensive college readiness program before the start of the next semester. Such student shall complete such intensive college readiness program prior to receiving embedded remedial support.”
In their summary and rationale for PA 12 – 40, the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (ConnSCU) notes that reconfiguring how the state education system handles remediation is necessary because “Common methods of remedial education are not successful for the majority of students. Only 8% of community college students taking remedial courses earn a credential within three years,” and “African American, Hispanic and low-income students are disproportionately enrolled in remedial and developmental courses (72%, 70%, and 71% respectively, compared to 56% for white students and 29% for non-low-income students)” (Overview of Public Act 12-40).
Initial outcome data on pilot programs implemented at Connecticut’s community and technical colleges suggest a limited, though positive, effect on student persistence and retention. A study conducted by Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) surveyed “available student enrollment, completion and achievement data” and found that “students enrolled in their first semester in intensive and embedded courses in developmental English were… more likely to be enrolled in for-credit English in their second semester than were students enrolled in conventional developmental English.” They also tended to receive grades higher than a C more often than those students who received traditional remedial instruction. These findings are supported by studies elsewhere. At SUNY New Paltz, faculty developed the Supplemental Writing Workshop Program (SWW) in 1996; their internal data (reported in the article Remodeling Basic Writing by Rigolino and Freel) reveals that students enrolled in their program are retained at similar rates to their non-SWW students. This limited effect is in line with national outcomes reported by the non-profit group Complete College America.
The data on intensive summer readiness programs is less clear; a study of Texas students conducted by the National Center for Postsecondary Studies found that students enrolled in summer bridge programs “On average…passed their first college-level …writing courses at higher rates than students in the control group during this period.” However, the study found student persistence was not statistically different from those who were not enrolled in summer bridge programs. No state-wide data is available as yet in Connecticut.