Putting achievement within reach through the corequisite model for redesign

For decades, educators and policymakers have been looking for ways to to remedy the epidemic of incoming freshman  who require extra preparation for college level coursework yet end up languishing in courses that don’t earn them college credit.

The number of students placed into non-credit bearing “prerequisite” courses who fail to ever enter — let alone pass — a credit-bearing course is staggering. Ninety-six percent of colleges enrolled students who required remediation during the 2014-2015 academic year, and more than 200 schools placed more than half of their incoming students into at least one remedial course.

But less than one in four students in remediation at 2-year colleges ever make it to a credit-bearing course. This comes at a cost to taxpayers of $7 billion annually.

To address this challenge, colleges and universities have increasingly turned to “redesign,” a shorthand term for the process by which they reconceive instruction for an entire course area to improve student outcomes and cut down on costs for students.

There are many configurations of redesign. While all have led to some level of student gains, the corequisite model has produced results that merit closer attention.

Corequisites: An overview

The corequisite model dispenses with prerequisite courses and replaces them with college-level courses that include “just-in-time” support for students who require it. By providing extra support within the framework of a college-level course, the corequisite model promises to accelerate students’ progress and increases their chances of success.

In Georgia, a state that had used a traditional, prerequisite model, only 21% of developmental-level students went on to complete the related, college-level math course. After transitioning to corequisites, that number leapt to 64%. The results were even more dramatic in Tennessee, where the number of students requiring remediation in math who went on to complete a credit-bearing course exploded, going from 12% to 63%.

More states are dipping their toes into corequisite waters. This past June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that the state’s public colleges and universities must enroll 75% of their developmental-level students in a corequisite course by 2020. In the parlance of the tech community, that’s a big lift.

Personalizing corequisite instruction with Knewton’s adaptive technology

For states and institutions seeking to give students who require extra support the skills they need while keeping them on pace to earn their degree on time, the corequisite model of redesign shows promise. But still, corequisites present a challenge: providing personalized instruction to students whose skill levels may vary greatly at the start of the course.

Looking to power their corequisite redesign efforts with adaptive technology, colleges are making Knewton a key part of their corequisite courses.

Knewton, which provides all students with an adaptive, personalized path to mastery and offers “just in time” support when needed, is a perfect fit for corequisite courses, which must achieve dual goals: providing developmental-level students with prerequisite skills while helping all students achieve the learning objectives of a college-level course.

And at $44 for two years of access, Knewton’s alta is in line with one of the goals of corequisites: making college more affordable.

While Knewton fits perfectly within any college-level course that includes both well-prepared and underprepared students, we’ve created corequisite versions of some courses to reflect their unique structure, which varies based on approach. Our corequisite courses support a blended approach with “just in time” support, a targeted approach with developmental math review available to be assigned at the beginning of every chapter, and a compressed approach that includes four weeks of developmental math and 8 weeks of college-level material.

Looking ahead

New approaches to redesign and corequisites are constantly emerging. Because of how our content and technology is built, we’re ready to help institutions and instructors seize opportunities to help students succeed by quickly designing solutions that meet their needs.

And because corequisites are rapidly expanding into new course areas, we’re constantly adding to our roster of courses that include developmental support. By 2018, we will offer corequisite versions of the following courses:

We’re excited by Knewton’s ability to support the corequisite model of redesign and to bring you the results of Knewton implementations in corequisite courses. In the meantime, we’ll be working hard to put achievement in reach for all learners by making more corequisite courses available.