A clarification on one of the budget’s College Credit Plus provisions

In a recent blog, we cast a critical eye on proposed changes in the budget bill to the College Credit Plus (CCP), a statewide program that provides qualified high school students with the opportunity to complete college coursework. The budget adds an additional eligibility constraint which requires prospective CCP students to be “remediation-free” on a specified assessment or close to remediation free and possessing a high grade point average or letter of reference.

We had concerns with the change because our analysis of current law suggested that only college ready students should be permitted to participate in the program. After all, the law already requires students to meet the college’s established standards for admission and course placement.

Feedback from our loyal Gadfly readers in the trenches suggests that, in reality, many students using CCP aren’t remediation free. While current law may have intended for college readiness to be a deciding factor in admission and course placement, the language is vague enough—especially with open-enrollment colleges—that some more muscle might be necessary to ensure students are qualified.

In previous posts , we’ve emphasized how important it is for the program to permit only college-ready students to enroll. Not only could letting unqualified students into CCP devalue college coursework [link to Checker’s piece] but it could also hurt students. CCP courses are factored into a student’s high school and college GPA—if a student earns a D in a CCP course, that grade appears on their high school and college transcripts.

To be clear, if the law isn’t working as we believe it was intended, we fully support the addition of a “remediation-free” threshold for students. This threshold would ensure that colleges are prohibited from enrolling unprepared students who aren’t ready for the rigor of college level coursework.   

We still have reservations about the provision which allows students who score “within one standard error of measurement below the remediation-free threshold” to be labeled remediation-free. As we mentioned in our prior piece, GPAs and counselor recommendations aren’t necessarily indicative of college readiness. The recommendation provision, in particular, is open to potential gaming.

But we also acknowledge that test scores aren’t always perfectly indicative of college readiness either. So, rather than calling for these provisions to be eliminated from the budget proposal, we instead suggest that the proposal be adopted as written. Once it becomes law, the state should carefully monitor the achievement of students who fall below the threshold but are still permitted to participate. If these students struggle mightily with their coursework or consistently earn poor grades, it may be wise to revise the language. Until there’s hard evidence, though, the remediation-free threshold provision remains the best solution for a very worrisome problem.

Jessica Poiner
Jessica Poiner is an education policy analyst in the Fordham Institute’s Columbus office. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member who worked and taught in Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District.