Tutoring program offers college enrollment aid
By Marsha Sills
September 27, 2012
LAFAYETTE — South Louisiana Community College launched a new program this semester to help students who didn’t quite meet requirements for college-level math and English courses.
At least 10 students are participating in SLCC’s program, which enables students to enroll in an introductory college-level course in either math or English if they commit to tutoring sessions, said Courtney Schoolmaster, an SLCC English instructor coordinating the pilot program.
Students will receive credit for both the developmental course and the college-level course, if they make at least a C in the college-level course, she said.
“Studies show that students are more successful if integrated right into college-level courses,” Schoolmaster said. “It increases their level of confidence and they tend to outperform other college-level students because they’re getting this little boost.”
The boost: Mandated tutoring sessions. The students in the pilot must spend at least two hours a week in the college’s Academic Success Center for tutoring.
Schoolmaster said the requirement encourages students to set up an established time to do their homework and to seek out help when needed.
The program is part of a statewide endeavor to re-examine developmental or remedial education. This fall, at least four universities — University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LSU, UNO and Louisiana Tech — raised their academic standards to exclude those students who need remedial work. By 2014, the Louisiana Community and Technical College system colleges will be the sole provider of developmental courses.
Because of the changing academic standards, the Louisiana Board of Regents invited colleges to test programs that target developmental students.
Last year, a Remedial Education Commission was created by legislation to review remedial education and made recommendations for both K-12 and postsecondary education systems.
In 2006, 30 percent of Louisiana’s first-time college students in the fall semester enrolled in at least one developmental course. Two years later, only 24 percent of them had completed the college-level course in the same subject, according to a report the Louisiana Remedial Education Commission released last year.
Among two-year college students, a greater percentage, 63 percent, needed remedial work in the fall, but only 14 percent of them had completed the college-level course in the same subject, the report stated.
Retention statistics for developmental students at SLCC were not readily available late last week.
Without the new program, SLCC freshman Lauren Cormier said she’d be stuck in a developmental math course because her ACT scores are not a true reflection of her math knowledge.
“I’m not really good at taking standardized tests, and because of that, I was in the developmental math class,” she said. “I really feel like I would have been held back in Math 92.”
Instead, she was able to enroll in a college-level math course, Math 1100, which enabled her to take biology earlier than expected, she said.
She plans to eventually transfer to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to study nursing.
While students who might need developmental courses in English might not be delayed in taking other courses, students who need developmental math are in a holding pattern if they want to take classes in the sciences, Schoolmaster said.
“On the math side, it was stopping some students from taking the courses they wanted, and we had two students who were able to register for biology classes,” she said.
This semester, those students who had ACT scores of 16 or 17 in the subjects were admitted into the pilot, Schoolmaster said. She said the college will review the program to determine how to structure it next year and how to expand the option to more students.
“We have a lot of developmental students and we have a lot of unsuccessful first semester developmental students,” she said. “We’re losing them and they’re disappearing from the system. We don’t want that to happen. We want to see our attrition rates go up and we want to see them graduate and walk out with an associate’s degree.”