Tennessee Board of Regents Co-Requisite Remediation Model Produces an Increase in Student Success in English at Southwest Tennessee Community College

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Robert Miller

A new approach to remediation is increasing the number of students successfully completing their first college-level English and math courses at many colleges and universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system. Known as a "co-requisite" approach, the new model places students in supplemental learning support classes while also enrolling them in their first credit-bearing college-level courses. A 2014 pilot program was conducted at nine of the state's 13 community colleges but initially Southwest's involvement with the pilot was minimal.

Many in higher education have noted that a new strategy for remediation was sorely needed. Numerous freshmen arrive for their first semesters of college unprepared for college-level work and need to enhance their skills to be successful in college. Traditionally, those students were placed in remedial classes – which are not credit-bearing – and are required to complete those courses before being allowed to start earning college credits. As a result, it could take an entire year for a student to earn their first college credits, and many would never make it to their first credit-bearing course at all.

"What we often find is that the longer it takes to get to credit-bearing courses, the more likely life will get in the way and interrupt their progress toward a degree," said Tristan Denley, vice chancellor of Academic Affairs for TBR. "Not to mention, many of these students arrive excited about going to college only to be told they aren't really college material. It can be a bit defeating and easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

After the pilot's success, TBR took the co-requisite model system-wide, implementing it at all 13 community colleges and six universities. At Southwest Tennessee Community College, the completion rate for the co-requisite college-level English was 61 percent exceeding the state-level completion rate by more than two percent reflecting the fall 2015 semester timeframe. Southwest had 923 students in the English sections.

Besides helping students be successful in their studies, the new model may lead to better student retention, which means more students would ultimately earn degrees. They gain the confidence that they can perform at a college level and build momentum as they continue in their studies.