Is All That Remediation Really Necessary?

By Paul Bradley, Editor, Community College Week

Some people call remedial education a dead end. Others prefer to label it as a back hole. The more creative among us call it the Bermuda Triangle – the place where students go in but never come out.

Now, a pair of studies by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University is suggesting that the remedial classes that so characterize community colleges are, in many cases, are needless. The studies – one looked at a statewide system, the other examined a large urban system – found that as many as a third of students required to take remedial classes could prosper academically without them.

For community colleges, it’s a critically important issue. Better than 60 percent of all entering community college students are required to take remedial classes, most often in math and English. They spend time and money reviewing material like basic algebra — remedial math, in fact, is offered more often than any other community college course — but earn no academic credit for their work. Two-thirds of students who take remedial courses never make it to graduation. Community colleges spend more than $2.5 billion a year on remedial courses.

Better than 90 percent of community colleges rely one of two standardized tests – the College Board’s AccuPlacer and ACT’s COMPASS – to help determine which students need remediation. But administration of the tests is deeply flawed, the studies found. Students rarely understand what is at stake or brush up on their skills prior to taking the tests, the studies found, leading to tens of thousands of unnecessary placements. Moreover, the tests are poor predictors of student success.

Researchers found that high-school grade-point averages are far better gauges of preparedness for college-level work. If high school transcripts were taken into account, the number of number of students assigned to remedial courses would be reduced by somewhere between 15 and 50 percent..

The studies can be found at http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/Home.asp.

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About ccweekblogger

Covering All Things Community College
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2 Responses to Is All That Remediation Really Necessary?

  1. Pingback: Community Colleges Should Require Student Success Courses | ResearchNetwork.Pearson.com

  2. “Researchers found that high-school grade-point averages are far better gauges of preparedness for college-level work.”
    Hmmm, all of our students who are placed in Remedial courses did not have or did not pass these courses in High School.
    “If high school transcripts were taken into account, the number of number of students assigned to remedial courses would be reduced by somewhere between 15 and 50 percent..”
    Yes, but they will fail college level Math courses because nearly all High School grades on their transcripts are inflated.
    The placement tests accurately measure student preparedness for College level Mathematics courses. With no placement exam would you really let a student enter Pre-Calculus?

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