Community Colleges Revamp Remedial Courses

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Jackson, Miss.

Mississippi community colleges are learning a tough lesson, that courses designed to help students who've fallen behind are not as effective as leaders once thought.
Some take too long to complete and are very costly.

Remedial courses are not for credit. That means they don't count towards graduation.

“The biggest challenges that we faced with a student being in a complete semester of remediation is they lose their interest, their focus," said Jesse Smith, president of Jones County Junior College. "They're easily tripped up my barriers of life.”

The state's 15 community and junior colleges have adopted some changes. They deleted six courses and created four new ones. All the material will still be covered, but in a more streamlined format.

“(I) Think what it will do is make things more efficient for the student," said Sen. John Polk, chair of the Universities and Colleges Committee. "It will do a lot more good for them to ensure that they get their degree which is the whole point of this.”

The new remedial format won't leave students playing catch up with a whole semester of non-credit courses.

“Students with certain underdeveloped skills can be successful in courses that are emerged in the college level but with supporting labs," said Smith, "such as reading labs, writing labs, math labs that are associated with that college level course.”

College presidents say all of the revisions will equal tuition savings for the students.

“The other thing is that we think it will save the state of Mississippi some tax dollars, which is always important,” Polk said.

A student in need of remedial courses could graduate up to a semester sooner when these changes take effect.

All the community colleges have adopted these changes. The individual schools will decide when they are implemented. For some, it will be as early as fall of this year.