Missouri has been selected to participate in the 2016 cohort for Complete College America’s Scaling Corequisite Initiative, reflecting the state’s commitment to ensuring that the majority of its post-secondary students have access to corequisite academic support, rather than being channeled into more traditional developmental, or remedial, courses. As Complete College America (CCA) explains, corequisite academic support allows underprepared students to enroll directly into credit-bearing, gateway courses–such as first-year writing (FYW)–while also participating in mandatory, additional class sessions or customized labs that provides “just in time” support for learners (Corequisite Remediation 2).
Missouri’s participation in the Scaling Corequisite Initiative is part of the Missouri Department of Higher Education’s (MDHE) ongoing response to MO House Bill 1042, which was passed in 2012 and mandated that all public, post-secondary institutions in the state “replicate best practices in remediation.” Through its involvement in CCA’s Scaling Corequisite Initiateive, staff at MDHE and other educators in the state will have access to professional facilitators and experts to develop corequisite plans for Missouri public colleges and universities.
Bruce Vandal, Vice President of CCA argues that “remedial education course sequences are a barrier, not a bridge, to college completion.” In Corequisite Remediation: Spanning the Completion Divide, CCA has defined six pillars on which to build corequisite remediation programs in order to help ensure that underprepared students stay on track for degree completion. They include:
• Purpose, not placement.
• Treat all students as college students.
• Deliver academic support as a corequisite.
• All students should complete gateway courses in academic year one.
• Develop multiple math pathways into programs of study.
• Corequisite support is the bridge into programs of study. (Corequistie Remediation 7)
The power of corequisite academic support for writing courses has been well documented, most notably by Peter Adams, former chair of the Conference on Basic Writing, and his colleagues at Baltimore County Community College:
Though corequisite initiatives hold much promise and writing teachers in Missouri are likely to benefit from the state’s involvement with CCA’s “Scaling Corequisite Initiative,” it is important to remember that legislatively mandated programs for developmental education can be problematic. Two-Year College English Association (TYCA) has rightly raised questions about such legislatively mandated programs for developmental education. The TYCA White Paper on Developmental Education Reforms notes that faculty members, including contingent faculty, should be involved in substantive ways in the conceptualization and implementation of new approaches to developmental education; that localized, research-based pilot programs and local assessments should be carefully weighed before state-wide requirements are implemented; and that writing teachers should have access to resources to support their own ongoing professional development.