The Exit Point Issue: Addressing Basic Skills Completion

The Exit Point Issue:
Addressing Basic Skills Completion
Diana Chiabotti, Napa Valley College
David Morse, Long Beach City College
Definitions and Context
• What do we mean by basic
skills/developmental/remedial classes?
• What do we mean by “exit points”?
• What do we mean by “acceleration”?
The Issue
“Of those students who did enroll in a remediation
course, many—29 percent of all students referred to
math and 16 percent of those referred to reading—
exited their sequences after failing or withdrawing
from one of their courses. But a substantial
number—11 percent for math and 8 percent for
reading—exited their sequence never having failed a
course. That is, they successfully completed one or
more developmental courses and failed to show up
for the next course in their sequence.”
--Bailey, Thomas, Dong Wook Jeong, and Sung-Woo Cho. “Referral, Enrollment,
and Completion in Developmental Education Sequences in Community Colleges.”
Economics of Education Review 29 (2010): 255–270.
The Problem
• While Bailey, Jeong, and Cho may identify an
issue, they do not examine the causes of the
• Others jump to the conclusion that the length of
the sequence (number of exit points) is the
• Bailey, Jeong, and Cho acknowledge that students
who do finish their sequences go on to do very
well in later classes, so the system is not entirely
Possible Causes
Discussion: What factors or reasons might
lead students to drop out in the middle of a
basic skills sequence, even if they are passing?
What We Do Not Want
• A one-size fits all solution that ignores differences
in student populations and local needs.
• Solutions driven by reaction rather than data or
• Solutions driven by economics or budget rather
than sound instruction.
• Solutions that ignore discipline faculty expertise.
• Lower standards.
Strategies for Improvement
Discussion: What strategies or changes might
local colleges employ to improve basic skills
completion rates?
• Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in
California Community Colleges.
• Basic Skills Initiative Effective Practices Database
• Edgecombe, Nikki. “Accelerating the Academic
Achievement of Students Referred to Developmental
Education.” CCRC Brief 55 (May 2011).