Interesting AJC Sunday story by AJC higher ed reporter Laura Diamond on the state’s crackdown on remedial classes in its public colleges.
The story notes that the technical and university systems devote about $55 million of their budgets each year to remedial education. More than 70,000 public college students took remedial classes last year.
Few succeed, according to the story.
About 1 in 4 students who take a remedial class earn a four-year degree within six years. The rate drops to 15 percent for the under-prepared students who need remediation in reading, writing and math.
Diamond reports that 29 percent of the students requiring remediation are under the age of 21; 26 percent are age 36 or older.
Here is an excerpt of her Sunday piece:
“The numbers are dismal, no matter how you look at it, ” said Joe Dan Banker, executive director of academic affairs for the technical system. “The goal is to get to the point where we don’t have as many people needing this help. The problem we have at this moment is just how many students need it.”
Students need remedial classes when the lessons they learned to earn a high school diploma don’t match the skills they need to succeed in college. Some never grasped basic material in high school. Others need a refresher because they’ve been out of school for years.
Remedial courses lengthen the time students spend in school, because they must pass them before they can take college-level classes that count toward a degree. Students must pay for remedial classes, so it drives up their college costs.
The university system’s new rules give students two tries to pass English and reading and three tries at math before they must sit out for a year. Previously, they had up to four tries for English and five for math and had to sit out for up to three years.
Thousands are expected to be affected by the new rules. For example, if students test into all three areas of remedial education — English, math and reading — they are barred from attending college. Had this policy been in effect last year, 2,577 freshmen would have been denied.
“This is an honest policy for students, ” said Lynne Weisenbach, a vice chancellor for the system. “Not admitting those individuals who we know from data have a very low chance of graduation reflects a commitment to honestly advising, serving and preparing students.”
These new attempts by colleges address only one part of the remedial conundrum. Another key element requires public schools to graduate students better-prepared for college.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog