TBR sees success rates for unprepared students soar; Approves new programs, fees and naming opportunities

A program to help students who need remedial support for college math and writing courses implemented across all Tennessee Board of Regents community colleges and universities last fall has proven so successful it has become a national model.

That was just one of the student success stories members of the Tennessee Board of Regents heard at their quarterly meeting today at Columbia State’s new Williamson Campus.

Among students who arrived unprepared for college-level math, 51 percent passed the college credit-bearing course in Fall 2015, compared to only 12.3 percent under the old remediation program. The pass rates for students in writing classes nearly doubled as well.

“Ours is the only model in the country where this program has been implemented across the entire system, and we’ve still recorded dramatic improvements,” said Tristan Denley, TBR’s vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “The results are more than encouraging; they show that learning gains among students were achieved across the spectrum for students with every level of ACT scores.”

SEE THE TBR REPORT HERE: PDF icon TBR CoRequisite Study - Update Spring 2016[1].pdf

The co-requisite remediation program places under-prepared students directly into the college-level course, but requires learning support systems to help the student master the material and earn college credit in the same semester. The old model required students to pass a remedial course without credit before enrolling in the college-level course the next semester.

After piloting the program successfully in nine colleges last year, TBR scaled the co-requisite model across all of its degree-granting institutions last fall. The results were so impressive, national organizations like Complete College America, the Community College Research Center, major higher education news journals, and others, have all highlighted Tennessee’s success with the program as a best practice.

“In order to reach the goals set for us by Governor Haslam and other state leaders, we have to do more than just help students get into college,” said David Gregory, TBR’s acting chancellor. “We have to make sure they’re learning in the courses, that they earn the credits they deserve, and that they stay enrolled and finish their degrees.

“With more than 60 percent of our students coming to us unprepared, that was a challenge. We’re proud of the remarkable success we’re seeing here, and we’re excited to see the improvements that will continue as faculty around the state continue to embrace and enhance this program further.”

Not only did the program provide impressive results among all students, Denley was happy to see results even higher for adults, underrepresented minorities and low income students. The pilot students did more than just pass the courses at a higher rate; their fall-to-spring retention rates jumped 45 percent, and those students earned more college credit hours than their counterparts. The colleges’ instructional costs per successful student also decreased by about 50 percent.


In other action, the Board approved five new academic programs at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, a new Associate of Applied Science degree in Aviation Maintenance at Northeast State Community College, and new Master of Science program in Human Services at East Tennessee State University.

New TCAT programs include

  • HVAC program at TCAT-Hartsville’s Wilson County campus;
  • Machine Tool Technology at TCAT-Memphis’ Bartlett High School campus;
  • Computer Information Technology at TCAT-Memphis’ Kingsbury Center;
  • Manufacturing Technician Program at TCAT-Ripley; and
  • Industrial Maintenance Technology at TCAT-Chattanooga’s Kimball site.

The Board also approved meeting minutes that included recommendations from the Finance and Business Operations Committee on a number of mandatory and incidental fee requests at community colleges and universities that will take effect this fall.

Columbia State Community College received approval to name the Arts and Humanities building at the new Williamson Campus the Charles M. Sargent Building, for the state representative and college supporter who has been instrumental in the development of the campus project. Austin Peay State University received approval to name its campus stadium the Fortera Stadium in honor of the credit union’s 25-year sponsorship.

A number of policy revisions and other meeting minutes were approved during the meeting. A full agenda and meeting materials are available online at https://www.tbr.edu/board/march-2016-quarterly-board-meeting.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.