4-year colleges seek move away from developmental courses

By Jeff Jenkins in News
FLATWOODS, W.Va. — The state’s colleges and universities want to eliminate non-credit-earning developmental courses in hopes more students will stay enrolled.

Campus officials met for two days in Flatwoods to discuss an effort being led by the state Higher Education Policy Commission.

The change is happening across the nation with significant success, claimed Corley Dennison, WVHEPC’ vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“Instead of putting students into developmental courses. we put them into college-level credit bearing courses with academic support.”

Students with low scores on college entrance exams, or low high school GPAs, currently must take the developmental courses followed by general education classes. In West Virginia, that’s nearly one in every four students who has to take developmental English and math courses.

“It’s a barrier to the student,” Dennison said. “So the idea then is let’s get this non-credit developmental class out of the way, put them in this co-requisite so they can get college credit which motivates them and then give them the (academic) support they need to succeed.”

The state’s community and technical college system put the changes into place in 2014 and the pass rate of the Gateway, general education course has risen from 14 percent to 62 percent.

The HEPC hopes to have 80 percent of students needing remedial education in co-requisite courses by 2018 and then push that to 100 percent by 2020, Dennison said.

The HEPC has a policy in place to make the changes. Last week’s meeting focused on scheduling changes that must occur at universities along with changes to teaching loads.