Equitable outcomes in an eight-week college algebra corequisite model for academically underprepared community college students



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In spite of sharp enrollment declines due to COVID-19, community colleges in America serve approximately a third of the nation’s total undergraduate enrollment across all institutional sectors. Disadvantaged minority students with low-socioeconomic and first-generation status are disproportionally represented among community college students. A significant percentage of these disadvantaged minority students are deemed not ready for college-level coursework, according to state-approved standardized assessments. As a result, they are often placed in traditional prerequisite developmental education pathways designed to build academic skills in reading, writing, and/or mathematics to support successful matriculation into college-level coursework. However, developmental education students, especially those who are the least academically prepared, historically have struggled to complete the pathway, contributing to the alarmingly low graduation and high attrition rates at community colleges. Numerous equity-based developmental education reforms have been implemented to address poor academic outcomes, one of which is the corequisite model that is designed to mainstream students by placing them in college-level courses with academic supports in lieu of the traditional pathway. This model has been promoted by education advocacy groups and implemented across statewide community college systems due to early findings that students generally are more successful in this model. However, the corequisite model may not be effective in achieving equitable outcomes for students based on level of academic preparation, socioeconomic and first-generation status, age, gender, and race/ethnicity. This quantitative study, with an ex post factor research design utilizing binomial logistic regression, assessed the equitable outcomes of a college algebra corequisite model implemented at 100% scale, as a one-size-fits-all answer to help students who are not college ready, to be successful at a medium-sized community college in the southwest. Two years of course outcome data (2019-2021) for students who enrolled in the corequisite model for college algebra for non-STEM majors were analyzed, across the aforementioned student characteristics, to determine whether the model is equitable in terms of course success outcomes. Results demonstrated that Black students and students in the 20-24 group underperformed compared to the White students and the ≤19 group. A Pearson Chi-Square test determined a statistically significant association between the variables. A binomial logistic regression determined that the only independent variable that was statistically significant in predicting the target outcome was basic level of academic preparedness in math. This group was significantly less likely to achieve a positive course outcome in the college algebra corequisite model for non-STEM majors.

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Developmental Education, Corequisite Model, College Algebra, Course Success, Equity, Logistic Regression