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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at

New Methods Help SD College Students

New methods to help ready incoming college students for important courses appear to be effective. Some of South Dakota’s public universities are using programs that change the way higher ed handles remediation. 

A new math model at South Dakota State University proved so effective in its pilot that SDSU is implementing it. This method uses a combination of assessments to determine where a student’s skills lie and better aligns his or her abilities with the right level of math.

SDSU math department head Kurt Cogswell says the college then chose not to make dozens of students pay for some remedial math credits which don’t count toward their degrees.

"So we used our model, our new placement model, to identify 183 students who would have been placed in remedial mathematics in the fall of 2013 and placed them in a corequisite version of college algebra," Cogswell says. "So it’s important to realize they took college algebra, the same course as any other student placed in it. They sat in the same room, took the same tests, and were held to same standards three days a week. The other two days a week, they were in a corequisite course that provided just in time remediation and healthy dose of study skills."

Cogswell says students who took the corequisite course had the same success rates as the rest of the college algebra class. He says the program saves students money, because they are paying for a regular course plus two credit hours of remediation instead of three.  It also keeps them on track to finish college on time and increases their opportunity of graduating.

Black Hills State University has implemented a similar English remediation program. That program also changes skills assessment for placement and puts students in corequisite writing and English courses. In the pilot stage, 60 percent of students who would have taken remedial classes went directly into English 101. All of those students in the fall class passed the course.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).
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