College Readiness

Accelerate entry into college-level courses by redesigning and redefining approaches for addressing college readiness. Support implementation of evidence-based approaches for determining college readiness and efficiently resolving critical deficiencies.

Recommendation 8

College Readiness

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Placing college students into traditional remedial courses dramatically decreases their chances of completing college-level courses and attaining postsecondary credentials valued in the labor market. Fortunately, there is mounting evidence that supports the use of alternative methods to assess whether students are ready for college and to remediate gaps in academic skills, thereby reducing the need for developmental education.

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JFF calls on states to change the way students are deemed college ready, reconsider what math classes are required for graduation, and redesign the ways in which colleges address students’ academic needs. States should encourage colleges to use multiple measures to assess college readiness. For example, instead of relying solely on scores on high-stakes tests, colleges could evaluate students’ high school coursework, grades, and grade point averages. Assessments that take a range of factors into account have been shown to reduce unnecessary placements into remedial courses.

Moreover, states should encourage community colleges and universities to set different math requirements for STEM and non-STEM programs of study, so students who won’t need calculus in their careers won’t have to face the hurdle of completing default algebra prerequisites, when taking statistics or quantitative reasoning may be more suitable. In addition, states should support implementation of high school English and math transition courses that, upon successful completion, enable students to begin college-level work. States also should push for wider use of co-requisite and integrated education and training models, which can decrease the time it takes to remediate students’ academic shortcomings.