In co-requisite models, under-prepared students are not excluded from college-level courses. Instead, they receive additional support to be successful there.


Co-requisite models are the most powerful models of accelerated developmental education for increasing student completion, and a number of states ave implemented them system-wide, including Tennessee, Colorado, Indiana, and Virginia.

One of the most well-known co-requisite models is the Accelerated Learning Program at the Community College of Baltimore County. Studies of ALP by the Community College Research Center have found dramatic increases in student completion of college English, and a study of four colleges replicating the model found similar results. Across these colleges, completion of college English was 1.6 to 2.3 times higher than in traditional remediation, increasing from 38-50% to 62-78%, with equity gaps for Black and Hispanic students narrowing or disappearing completely.

California colleges have recently begun developing our own local versions of co-requisite models.

Solano College, for example, began offering a co-requisite college English class in Spring 2016. Students placed one-level-below in the traditional sequence are allowed to enroll in special sections of college English with a linked co-requisite course taught by the same instructor (1 lab unit, 3 hours of class time). Students complete regular college English assignments, with just-in-time remediation of foundational skills and increased scaffolding on reading and writing.

In Solano's first semester, 65% of co-requisite students passed college English, a rate comparable to students officially classified "college ready." This is a dramatic improvement over students who took the traditional course one-level-below college at the college, just 43% of whom complete college English within two years.

These gains are typical of co-requisite models. At MiraCosta College, co-requisite students also succeed in college English at rates comparable to students officially considered "college ready." The same was true when the state of Virginia implemented co-requisite models of college English system-wide in 2013.

Issues to Consider

Faculty Development: Faculty need support to teach in co-requisite models, so that they can provide just-in-time remediation in the context of the college-level tasks, rather than expecting students to arrive with foundational skills fully in place. Many colleges are using the CAP instructional design principles as a framework for re-thinking instruction in co-requisite and other accelerated models.

Scalability: Given the huge benefits of co-requisite models, it's best to design with scale in mind. While some co-requisite models involve small class size, this presents both room scheduling and financial challenges that make expansion difficult, particularly given state funding caps for California community colleges. In California, co-requisite models typically involve standard class sizes, and early data show comparable completion gains to other models.

Eligibility Criteria: The research on co-requisite models shows that all students see higher completion in co-requisite models compared to stand-alone remedial courses, including students with low scores on standardized placement tests. Given this, some colleges are making their co-requisite models open to any student who does not meet the placement criteria for a regular college-level courses. But this issue can be politically contentious, so other colleges are limiting access -- e.g., to be eligible, students must be placed one-level-below.

Type of Units: Because of limits on the number of units allowed in Associate Degrees for Transfer, most colleges are not using transferable units for their co-requisite models. Instead, designated sections of the college-level course are hard-linked with a new basic skills course, using a registration mechanism similar to what is used in learning communities. The co-requisite basic skills units can be either lecture or lab units.

Part-Time Faculty Load: In California, part-time faculty can teach a maximum of 10 units per semester in a district. For most faculty, an ideal assignment package is as close as possible to 10 units/term. This is a factor to consider when designing a co-requisite model. If the college-level course is 4 units, a 2-unit co-requisite brings the total to 6 units, and part-time faculty could meet their load with one regular college-level course and one co-requisite model.

Registration/Technical Issues: Traditionally, "college readiness" has been a yes/no binary -- students were either eligible for a college-level course, or blocked from enrolling because they didn't meet the stated pre-requisite. Early implementers of co-requisite models have needed to work closely with their IT colleagues to develop smooth mechanisms for student registration in co-requisite models.

Spotlight on Tennessee

Tennessee Board of Regents

Starting in Fall 2015, Tennessee public colleges and universities stopped offering stand-alone remedial courses in English and Math. Instead, students who don't meet college readiness criteria enroll in college-level courses with additional support.

Read more

At least 20 California community colleges are implementing co-requisite models in 2016 or 2017. In English, early implementers include Skyline, Solano, San Diego Mesa, Sacramento City, and MiraCosta colleges. Early implementers in math: Cuyamaca and Los Medanos colleges.
Georgia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, and Colorado are all seeing dramatic completion gains from replacing traditional remediation with co-requisite models. Learn more

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