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August 16, 2011 4:55 PM Fixing Remediation

By Daniel Luzer

About 1 out of 3 American college students get tracked into remediation, college courses for which they do not receive credit. That’s a problem, especially given the Obama administration’s push to put more people into higher education.

According to an Associated Press article in the Washington Post, different colleges and states are trying out different tactics to try and address remedial education.

An analysis by the American Institute for Research… shows that states spent more than $1.4 billion and the federal government more than $1.5 billion on educational grants to students who did not return to college for a second year between 2003 and 2008.
….Reformers have set their sights on better aligning high school and college coursework to eliminate the need for remediation altogether. At South Texas College, with campuses throughout largely Hispanic Hidalgo and Starr counties near the Mexico border, about 3,000 new students register each fall. Of those, about half require one or more “developmental courses” covering basic skills, said Juan Mejia, the vice president of academic affairs.
So the college decided to partner with every public school district in its area to offer dual enrollment in high schools, a practice with momentum around Texas and across the country but more often involving high achievers looking to score early college credit.

Other options include encouraging high school students to take a commonly used remediation test, called Accuplacer, while still in high school.

Still, no one knows yet how well any of these tactics will work. A more effective strategy might be to just place students in regular, credit bearing courses and offer extra help, as many vocational schools already do. A more direct, if harsh, strategy would be to simply not admit unprepared students into tertiary education.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • Texas Aggie on August 17, 2011 1:05 PM:

    I would go for a combination of the three. Not admitting unprepared students has its place when the facilities for helping them don't exist or are inadequate. Offering extra help in regular courses is something that is common and seems to work well. As a graduate student, I used to tutor students with problems in their course work. Sometimes it helped and sometimes it didn't. Then offering remediation courses like ESL for foreign students who don't quite have the English or the same thing for US students who don't have the math and/or writing skills also has its place.