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Robin Hood Prize Webinar:

An Overview of the National Picture of Remedial Education, with Thomas Bailey (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Remedial Education at CUNY with David Crook (CUNY)



1.     What is the advisor:student ratio at CUNY at-large vs ASAP program?    

The advisor: student ratio is difficult to compute for a college because advisement is delivered by a central advising office, by faculty in the departments, and by special programs in addition to ASAP, such as College Discovery.  Nevertheless, a recent survey of advisement at CUNY estimated advising ratios and found a range from a low of 1:150 at Guttman to a high of 1:906 at BMCC, with an unweighted mean of just under 1:500.  The mean for ASAP is 1:140. 

2.     Does CUNY have any programs that address the issue of building academic identities?

To our knowledge there are no such programs at CUNY.  Outside of CUNY, the Mathways Project designed by the Dana Center at UT Austin has some components of academic identity building.

3.     What kind of software systems does CUNY use with wide adoption/reach across CUNY (outside of Blackboard)?

CUNY is in the final year of a system-wide installation of Peoplesoft administrative software. The local name for this project is CUNY First.  In addition, the Degree Works degree audit system is in place at all CUNY campuses.  This system allows students and advisors to view remaining degree requirements, given the course work the student has already completed.   The University employs Hobsons’ Connect to communicate with prospective students and Hobsons Retain to communicate with enrolled students.  The latter product is in use at a subset of CUNY campuses.  Finally, CUNY holds site licenses for a variety of software products.   

4.     Given the larger need in math (vs. reading and writing), do you think that math applications/programs will have a leg up in the competition?

We don’t necessarily privilege math applications because there are a lot of changes happening in math content, which also changes by the environment. Also, reading and writing skills are probably more important for success in other (non-math) college-level courses.

There are many community colleges that are making good strides on improving student persistence. A great resource on these colleges is the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program -

6. We have test prep for SAT and ACTs why are there so little promotion of test prep prior to going to community and state colleges? 

Community College Research Center did a study on developmental education test prep, which you can find here:  There is a general philosophy among some people that students should not be prepped (similar to the old philosophy regarding SATs). On the other hand, there is a growing number of boot camp or short prep courses. The High School Early Assessment Programs attempt to test students in high school so that students know early on whether they are on track to end up in developmental education. The best known of these programs is the California EAP. Michal Kurlaender at UC Davis has done an analysis of this program, which has shown modest positive benefits. Another student conducted by CCRC on summer bridge programs designed to help students who are tested in their senior year and are found to have low scores can be found here:

7.     What math content areas are the most critical and difficult for students - statistics, algebra, number sense, geometry, calculus?

Many students never get to calculus. Intermediate algebra is usually pointed to as the major barrier for students. And programs like Statway and Mathway are designed to prepare students for college-level math that does not involve calculus and that therefore does not require college-level algebra as a prerequisite. Students are prepared for college-level statistics or quantitative reasoning rather than for algebra and calculus.  

In fall 2012 CUNY introduced a common departmental final in its top-level remedial math course, elementary algebra.  The exam, which students must pass to pass the course, covers 25 topics in elementary algebra.  The following table shows the proportion of correct answers for the test items in each topic. 

More Information about the Panelists:
Thomas Bailey is the Director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, where he has led extensive research on remedial education, including studies of progression through remediation; effectiveness; assessment; statewide redesign of remediation; implementation and faculty engagement; and specific reforms such as learning communities, summer bridge programs, accelerated remediation, compressed formats, co-requisites, and pedagogic reform.
David Crook currently serves as the University Dean of Institutional Research and Assessment at The City University of New York (CUNY), where his office is responsible for institutional research, assessment, and testing and providing decision support for academic planning, student development, enrollment management, university relations, and legal affairs. In addition to supervising the Office of Institutional Research, the Office of Policy Research, and the Office of Assessment, Dean Crook is a member of the Steering Committee of the New York State P-16 Data Project and the Gates Foundation-supported GraduateNYC collaboration with the city's Department of Education.  He was also a lead staffer of the Workforce and Economic Development Committee of the New York State Commission of Higher Education.

For more information on the behavioral components of low graduation rates among students enrolled in remedial courses, as well as potential solutions to this challenge, see the Robin Hood Prize Behavioral Brief.


Community College Research Center
Developmental Education and Adult Basic Skills

Heather Hollingsworth/Yahoo News (2012)
Experts: Remedial college classes need fixing      

Ann Hulbert/ The Atlantic (2013)
How to Escape the Community-College Trap       

The Joyce Foundation
Joyce Announces College Pipeline Commitment at The White House   

Sophie Quinton/ The Atlantic (2013)
The Technology That Could Help More Community College Students Graduate         

Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow and Emily Schneider/ MDRC (2011)
Unlocking the gate: What we know about improving developmental education          


Remediation and Completion Programs at CUNY:

Accelerated Study In Associate Programs (ASAP)

CUNY Start
Fall 2013 CUNY Start Study

Remedial Needs Data from CUNY