When College Students Aren’t College-Ready

Thousands of students struggle at Chicago’s two-year colleges. Is an overhaul of developmental ed. programs enough to help?
(EWA Radio: Episode 231)

Patricia Nabong for WBEZ


In Chicago, thousands of students are earning high school diplomas but showing up at the city’s two-year colleges unprepared for the next step in their academic journeys. In a new project, Kate McGee of WBEZ looked at efforts to buck that trend, including an innovative program developed not by outside experts but the system’s own faculty.  Along the way, she explored a number of questions: Do students benefit more from remedial classes that re-teach them material they were supposed to master in high school, or from being placed directly into college classes with additional support like tutoring. What are the non-academic challenges contributing to low graduation rate among City Colleges’ students who need remedial classes, with just 11% earning degrees within three years? How did McGee, an EWA Reporting Fellow, handle access challenges when the City Colleges system denied her request to observe teachers and students in the classroom? And what are some story ideas for local reporters looking at developmental education — and its alternatives — at their local colleges?

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