Assessment and course placement reforms in Oklahoma public higher education are moving the needle to decrease remediation rates in our state.
Of the fall 2019 first-time freshmen, 26.8% enrolled in one or more developmental courses, a 7.8 percentage point decrease from the previous year and a 15.7 percentage point decrease from 2011-12.
“The State Regents and our public colleges and universities continue collaborating to implement reforms and various strategies to decrease remediation rates, and these changes to system-level policies and institutional practices have contributed to improving students’ learning and academic success,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Remediation rates in three of four individual subject areas have decreased from the previous year, with a 6.3 percentage point drop in math, 2.0 in English, and 2.5 in reading.”
Assessing students’ college readiness and placing students with skills below the college level into sequential developmental reading, writing, and math courses has been standard practice at broad access two-year colleges and four-year universities for decades. Since 2015, Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have incorporated additional college readiness measures, such as students’ high school grade point average (GPA) and secondary placement testing, rather than depending solely on national standardized test scores.
Students with developmental needs can now enroll directly in college-level courses with supplemental supports instead of taking multiple semesters of prerequisite remedial courses. Co-requisite course interventions place students directly into a gateway college-level course with additional academic support. Additionally, some colleges have created co-requisite English courses or integrated reading and writing courses that combine two traditionally separate courses into one.
In addition to revising assessment and placement policies and practices, Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities have created gateway college-level mathematics courses that align to specific degrees of study. These diversified math pathways are aligned with students’ intended majors; a student’s major or career field is considered in course placement decisions. Students are placed into different college-level mathematics courses based upon what is required or used in their future careers. Gateway college-level courses include Quantitative Reasoning, Functions and Modeling, Statistics, and Pre-Calculus (formerly known as College Algebra) for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
In November 2015, the Charles A. Dana Center of the University of Texas invited Oklahoma to join five other states to receive support and consultation in pursuing math pathways for the state system through the Math Pathways to Completion grant project. With a designated Dana Center liaison and structured assistance, the Oklahoma Math Pathways Task Force reviewed state data, trends and opportunities related to math pathways. Oklahoma completed the project in November 2018 with the development of four gateway mathematics courses, co-requisite course models, reformation of assessment and placement policies, and initial steps toward the development of coherent mathematics pathways across postsecondary institutions.