When one observes many developmental classrooms, the most striking aspect is the heterogeneity of students. Some are “brush-up” students, who simply need to remember skills they have already learned. Some have been misplaced by placement exams, and similarly need very little additional instruction. Many — almost surely the majority — have failed to learn certain academic skills in many years of K-12 education, for reasons that are hotly debated. Others have learning disabilities or mental health issues, and colleges have no way of either diagnosing or treating such conditions. The result is that the developmental classroom contains many students with different needs, while the instructor has only varying instructional approaches to offer.
In this working paper, Andrew Saultz of Michigan State University inventories the current landscape of technology programs available for middle school math. The working paper is not intended as a “consumers’ guide” to technology programs, and the descriptions of some specific programs are not fully accurate or current.
Chaffey College, a three campus college with approximately 20,000 students located California’s Inland Empire, has become the destination of many community college practitioners from around the country. The reason why? Over the past ten years, the college has become nationally-known as an institution with a “risk tolerant change-oriented culture” and a signature set of student support programs that produce impressive performance outcomes for Chaffey students.
Community colleges provide a substantial array of student support services, designed to help students master basic subjects and to learn “how to be college students.” However, the use of these services by instructors and students varies substantially. Some instructors rarely or never mention the availability of such services; others make the use of some services mandatory. But the largely voluntary nature of student services means that many students do not use these services, for reasons ranging from competing demands for their time to avoidance of stigma or stereotype threat. The result is general consensus that the students who most need support services fail to get them — except where colleges have moved to portray such services as “what all good students do.”
Community colleges are full of innovation in developmental education, and some of these have the promise of changing the “remedial pedagogy” that can be so ineffective. In this working paper the authors review six kinds of innovations: (1) the efforts of individual practitioners, which can be found in many colleges but which reach very few students; (2) the developments in limited numbers of departments that have come together, under particular conditions, to create their own alternative pedagogies; (3) learning communities and linked courses, unfortunately less common than the authors had hoped; (5) reforms following K-12 initiatives, specifically Reading Apprenticeship and the writing process methods of the National Writing Project; (6) the formation of Faculty Interest Groups to stimulate faculty discussions that might in turn lead to reforms.
A previous working paper argued, that, to understand basic skills education, it is necessary to observe classrooms to see what the “instructional triangle” involving the instructor, students, and content is like. This working paper presents the results of observing classes in 13 community colleges. It starts with a conceptualization of instruction, distinguishing behaviorist teaching, constructivist teaching, and hybrid teaching that combines the two (as well as several other dimensions of quality), and provides various reasons why hybrid or constructivist teaching is likely to be more effective than behaviorist teaching.
In a new PACE Working Paper, Luke Dauter and Bruce Fuller, University of California, Berkeley, explore “How Diverse Schools Affect Student Mobility: Charter, Magnet, and Newly Built Campuses in Los Angeles.” Achievement often suffers when families or students change schools. Yet pupil mobility is now encouraged in urban districts like Los Angeles, as mixed-markets of charter, magnet, and pilot schools sprout.
In a new PACE Working Paper, Xiaoxia A. Newton, Rosario Rivero, Bruce Fuller, and Luke Dauter, University of California, Berkeley, investigate the effects of teacher characteristics and school context on the timing of teachers’ decisions to exit schools where they teach. The two-level discrete-time survival analysis framework allows for simultaneous examinations of who exits, when, and under what conditions.
While increases in remedial education (or basic skills instruction or developmental education) have taken place at several levels of the education and training system, there are reasons for thinking that the issue is particularly acute in community colleges. This introductory working paper divides the problem into two. The first is the high proportion — perhaps 60 percent for the country, and 80 percent in California — of students entering colleges who assess into developmental courses. This can be explained by the pattern of dynamic inequality in American education, where inequalities among students increase as they move through the system.
In a new PACE Working Paper, Margaret Bridges and Bruce Fuller from the University of California, Berkeley; Andrew McEachin and Icela Pelayo, from University of Southern California; and Neal Finkelstein from WestEd, San Francisco worked together to inquire about the use of the Quality Education Investment Act funds.