Stuck at Square One

This report and audio podcast discusses how college students are increasingly caught in remedial education classes.
Resource URL:
Author(s): 
Emily Hanford
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
American Public Media
Published: 
2016
Product Type: 
Abstract: 

This article and 51-minute podcast describes the conundrum of remedial education - a system put into place in order to improve college students' chances of being successful in college, but which can cost students time and money, without significant evidence that it works. The report explores the roots and history of remedial education and its disproportionate impact on students of color. The article then delves into alternate systems in place in community colleges around the country including the state of Connecticut and the Community College of Baltimore County. Supplemental resources include a bibliography and full documentary transcript.

What the Experts Say: 

Stuck at Square One provides a valuable overview of the state of developmental education - the challenges, the critiques, and possible ways to fix the current system. Adult educators can use it when considering college readiness programs or partnerships with college educators. It is written in an engaging and accessible style and includes multiple links and a solid research base, and presents a complex picture of the state of developmental education today - the purpose, the problems, and possible solutions. It will be of interest to adult education programs building or modifying transitions programming and to any program collaborating with developmental education colleagues at postsecondary institutions.

This well-documented audio podcast explores the impact of postsecondary placement testing by weaving the educational research with student stories. The podcast’s detailed written transcript includes links to the cited research, examples of placement test questions, graphs of the major research findings, and audio and written student stories.  It also provides examples of successful programs that blend basic skills, developmental education, with college-level course taking. The report could be a centerpiece or a kick-off point for a discussion or study circle of college placement tests, a source of great interest and angst for both adult educators and students in transitioning into postsecondary education. It could also provide a focal point for a state-level workgroup containing adult and developmental educators considering how to best help students successfully enter at college-level courses.

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