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Central Wyoming College to trim remedial course offerings

Aug 14, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Eventually, CWC might eliminate such classes altogether.

Community colleges throughout the United States have been given a new challenge when it comes to student success, Central Wyoming College president Jo Anne McFarland said.

In addition to their goal of providing access to education for people of all backgrounds, McFarland said community colleges now are being asked to focus more on getting students to reach their educational goals.

"That's a real challenge," McFarland told the CWC Board of Trustees at their July meeting. "No longer are we going to have the luxury of allowing students to pile on course after course that might be interesting, but that may not relate to a focus or educational pathway."

In the future, she said, funding for community colleges will be based on measurable accomplishments by students. As a result, McFarland said CWC is working to develop a "culture of evidence" when recording student success rates at the school.

"We (currently) fall far short of having strictly measurable outcomes," McFarland said. "That's something we want to improve in this coming year."

Eliminate remedial ed

One key to improving student success has to do with college readiness, McFarland said. She would like to reduce the time students spend in developmental or remedial courses when they come to CWC.

"We want to cut the time (it takes to earn) the degree," McFarland said. "We need to ... ideally eliminate the need for developmental education altogether."

Trustees seemed skeptical that it would be possible to completely do away with remedial classes.

"That's an interesting statement, but wow, I don't know how you'll do that," Trustee Colton Crane said. "The percentage of students doing these catch-up courses (is) not going down -- it's going up a bit."

Trustee Roger Gose asked whether a timeline existed for eliminating developmental education at CWC.

"I mean, I like that statement," Gose said. "I just wondered how far along we are in that."

Jason Wood, CWC's executive vice president for student and academic services, described the goal to eliminate remedial courses as "a bold strategic statement we're going to work toward."

"There isn't a timeline," Wood said. "(But) it's a possibility. ... We're not going to sell ourselves short in the vision we have up front."

He talked about CWC's new transitional alignment task force through which college and public school teachers have been working together to improve college readiness for students in Fremont County.

Wood also mentioned additional tutoring and a potential increase in co-requisite courses. He said several classes at CWC are being offered as co-requisites this fall, meaning students are required to take one class in conjunction with another, perhaps more remedial, section.

"Have them earn college-level credits while they get support," Wood said.

He said several community colleges have "drastically reduced" the number of students in developmental courses by introducing co-requisite classes instead.

CWC will begin by whittling down the number of remedial classes it offers, he said, anticipating that 90 percent of the developmental courses offered through the math department will go away in the near future, for example.

"We're not going to continue to have five different options," he said. "(One class) will be the option if students need developmental (work), and it will be accelerated."

Another idea is to include a "refresher" section in some course curricula.

"The first two weeks (could be) review and remediation," Wood said. "There are system-wide solutions that can go to scale that will affect all of our students."

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Central Wyoming College