Building Student Success Through Gateway Courses

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Education is an important topic in the United States as our future will rely on them. As states look to better their education system there are many different ideas involved. In the State of Kentucky, the concept that has been followed is called a gateway course and is part of the state’s corequisite.

A gateway course is one of the first course a college student may take. The state has found that taking a gateway course in Math and English can be marked as the first milestone towards their degree. By May of 2021 it was found that 35% of enrolled students in Kentucky had taken both gateway courses.

The Impactfulness Of Gateway Courses

These gateway courses offer very positive statistics that visualize their impactfulness. Of those students enrolled in a community college 45% of those who took Math and English gateway courses graduated in three years.

While only 20% of the students who do not take these gateway courses graduate in three years. These statistics has helped the state draw the conclusion that by students taking gateway courses there is better retention.

Kentucky uses a corequisite curriculum of education. This model looks at gateway course success while shrinking gaps in performances based on student groups. In the state of Kentucky any student who falls below academic readiness is required to take corequisite courses.

When requiring these students who fall below academic readiness to take these courses the statistics show their success in gateway courses. From 2015 to 2016 the completion of gateway courses in English jumped by 9%. In Algebra the completion rate went from 18% to 52%.

Gateway courses have three big priorities; a student’s placement, the pedagogy, and the faculty. These courses look at student placement across multiple measures. This consists of their high school coursework, GPA, and non-cognitive factors. These courses also measure its pedagogy by recognizing the gateway courses with the most success have two factors.

The first being the same instructor for both the corequisite and college-level course. The second is two contact hours of support. The last priority is the faculty, and ensuring those faculty members are there to support, review, reflect, and build student confidence.

Gateway courses have also been found as a way to challenge the equity issue involved with higher education. Institutional performance gaps exist between socioeconomic groups such as race, income, and age.

By looking for ways to close these equity gaps Kentucky is aiming for a future with more of its residents holding a higher education. This comes from the State’s 60 by 30 goal. This goal is geared toward ensuring that within the state 60% of its residents hold a higher education degree or accreditation by year 2030.

Gateway Courses Infographic

Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative