Although the new model is only two years old, it already appears to be paying dividends. One semester after the program was implemented, the department saw a sharp increase in the student success rate, climbing from 42 percent in the spring 2010 semester to 55 percent the following fall. That figure has continued to climb, reaching 62 percent in fall 2011.
Fewer students are withdrawing from the course, as well. During the fall 2011 semester, the course's withdraw rate was 12 percent, a sharp drop from the 25 percent withdraw rate the program saw during the spring semester of 2010.
Statewide, about 42 percent of public college students enrolled in at least one remediation course during the 2010-2011 academic year. Of that total, 79 percent were community college students.
Tony Hutchison, the Oklahoma System of Higher Education's vice chancellor for strategic planning and analysis, said that trend is at least partly the result of a conscious effort to push remedial course offerings to community colleges.
Because community colleges cost less, students who take development courses at community colleges tend to use up less of their financial aid packages taking those courses than they would if they took them at a four-year school.
Efforts to curb the statewide remediation rate appear to be paying off. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Oklahoma saw a drop over the previous year in first-time freshmen enrolling in remediation courses.
That drop was sharpest among students coming directly from high school — 35.7 percent of those students enrolled in remediation courses in 2010, down from 40.3 percent in 2009.
Range of efforts
That drop is at least partially the result of a range of efforts on the state level to keep students out of those courses to begin with, said Cindy Brown. One of the key tools at the system's disposal is the Oklahoma Educational Planning and Assessment System, the system's director for student preparation.
The system provides students and parents with reports that show how the student is doing in specific areas, based on how he or she performed on tests. The reports allow students and parents to identify areas where the student needs to improve, so he or she can focus on those topics, Brown said.
It also gives teachers similar reports that show how their classes perform on tests. If an entire class answers a certain type of question incorrectly, Brown said, the teacher can adjust his or her instruction to help students understand the topic better.
Although the process is ongoing, Brown said students' test scores are showing progress, and she expects the upward trend to continue.
“It's slow and steady,” she said. “But that's how education is.”