A strong start is crucial to college success, and the first academic milestone on the path to a degree is passing gateway courses in math and English. However, nationally, only 16% of community college students complete gateway courses in both math and English in the first year. This statistic is even more disheartening in Kentucky, where only 5% of first-time students completed these courses by May 2021.
Early momentum matters because student progress in the first year predicts relation and completion. Students who complete gateway math and English courses have a higher chance of graduating in three years. In contrast, those who do not complete these courses have a lower chance of graduating in the same time frame.
All students can succeed, even those who are academically underprepared in math and/or English. Institutions that focus on being “student-ready” will be best prepared to provide the necessary support for all students admitted to their programs.
Corequisite models, which provide structured academic support, increase gateway course success and shrink institutional performance gaps across student groups. Institutions that prioritize gateway course success should focus on effective pedagogy, including culturally responsive and just-in-time teaching. Students who feel a sense of belonging on campus and receive support for basic needs are also more likely to succeed in gateway courses.
Improving gateway course success and closing equity gaps is essential to achieving Kentucky’s educational attainment goal of 60% of the population with a postsecondary credential or degree by 2030. The state is already taking steps in the right direction by updating its admissions and placement regulation and offering corequisite courses for underprepared students. By prioritizing gateway course success, institutions can ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in college.
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative