Remedial Education

60% of community college students need remedial courses. This section covers the classes and new developments to help students who need remedial coursework. Learn why the gap exists, how schools are combatting it and what you can do to avoid remedial classes. Get tips on mastering college math, learn what you can do to prevent repeating a class and hear what the experts have to say about remedial class placement.
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As community colleges across the United States strive to improve dismal completion rates, one factor stands out as a stark obstacle for degree-seeking students – remedial math. Many students find they need remedial math classes after taking placement tests for community college. However, semesters of remedial math prove to be costly and time-consuming for those students. Sadly, many community college careers both start and end with remedial math. Fortunately, schools across the country are devising new systems to give students the math instruction they need without jeopardizing their ability to earn the degree they want.

New Math Pathways Match Instruction to Needs
 
In California, community colleges are trying a whole new approach to remedial math classes. Instead of requiring students to take courses in subjects they may never need or use, math classes are customized to a student’s specific major and area of interest. For example, aspiring engineers may need remedial algebra if they are to properly prepare for the math required in their degree program. However, English or history majors might be just as well suited to a class in statistics that teaches basic math concepts quickly and effectively.
 
According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, at least 16 community colleges across the state have adopted this approach to remedial math – so far with great success. The publication reports that students in the new pathways program are completing math classes at a rate two to four times higher than traditional curriculum. Similar models are...
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Remedial education is a core component of community colleges today, as more students enter the world of higher education unprepared for the rigors of a college-level curriculum. However, remedial education has been linked to a low completion rate at some schools, where hours of class time in unrelated, remedial courses interfere with a student’s ability to earn a degree in a reasonable amount of time. With many factors weighing on a college’s ability to offer efficient remedial education, some schools are taking innovative approaches to the idea of preparing students for the rigors of higher education.

The Prevalence of Remedial Education
 
An article at the Hartford Courant suggests that too many incoming freshmen are getting placed in remedial classes before they can take actual college coursework. The Courant reports that as many as 60 percent of all students entering community college must take at least one refresher course in math or English. What is even more unsettling is that only about one-quarter of these students go on to actually complete their degree program.
 
The publication also cites statistics from the Community College Research Center that show one-third of these students could pass a regular college course with a grade of a “B” or better, even without the remedial coursework under their belts. These numbers certainly seem to suggest that students are getting placed in remedial classes more often than is necessary. Statistics also point to the fact that lengthy and expensive remedial classes seem to thwart a student’s...
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New studies on incoming community college students found that as many as one-quarter of all students entering schools may be assigned to remedial courses they don’t really need. The studies, conducted by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, discovered that although students are assigned to these remedial courses based on placement test scores, many would have been able to earn a “B” or better heading directly into college courses. The findings are significant because the large majority of students who take remedial course in community college do not end up finishing their program and earning their degree.

About the Placement Tests
 
Many community colleges require incoming students to take placement exams before they can register for courses. The purpose of the examinations is to identify students who might need remedial help to ensure their success in college-level courses. The most common tests used by schools today are the ACT’s Compass or the College Board’s Accuplacer. Tests are designed to show academic deficiencies so students can be brought up to par before they are introduced to the rigors of a college curriculum.
 
However, the New York Times reports that while examinations have been used extensively since the 1980s, students often do not realize the importance of the scores they earn. Students are rarely encouraged to prepare for these examinations like they would for the ACT or SAT. Some students are told not to worry about the tests because they are simply used for placement.
 
The Importance of Multiple...
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Remedial education has become an integral part of the community college experience for many schools across the country. Students who need additional help in core curriculum like reading, writing and math can get the help they need to succeed in a college program and get a higher paying job once their degree is complete. However, remedial education is not without its share of controversy in circles of higher education. Some question the need for such courses and believe the money spent on remedial education could effectively be allocated elsewhere.

 Who Owns the Problem?
 
The first question regarding remedial education is who really owns the problem of high school graduates that are not adequately prepared for postsecondary education. Many believe it is the job of high schools to ensure students are college-ready when they graduate. However, a recent report at Inside Higher Ed explains that at this time, a standardized platform for college readiness simply does not exist. The article states, “Because colleges have not clearly articulated the skills that students must possess to be college-ready, students are blindsided when they are placed into remedial courses, and high schools don’t have a clear benchmark for preparing students for success.”
 
If high schools do not know what the college-readiness standards are, it can be nearly impossible for them to adequately prepare students for the academic rigors of postsecondary education. While the author of the article acknowledges that setting college standards across the country would not be easy, he does...
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Community colleges have always been safe havens where struggling students can bring themselves up to academic par before transferring to a four-year university. In some cases, this might mean repeating a course a number of times before getting the required grade to advance to the next level. However, budget constrictions are impacting repeat classes for students across the country, with some left wondering how they will complete their community college program. We will take a look at both sides of this issue to find out how institutions are struggling to balance their commitment to student achievement with their bottom line.
 
California Setting Limits
 
California is one of the first to look into setting limits on repeat courses at community colleges across the state. According to a report at Inside Higher Ed, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office is looking into the feasibility of limiting the number of times students can repeat courses within their college system. Currently, a small number of California community college students may repeat a class as many as five times or more during their college career.
 
A spokesman for the chancellor's office, Terri Carbaugh, told Inside Higher Ed that the office was looking into the feasibility of a regulation limiting the number of times students can retake courses to save taxpayer dollars. The office would like to set a limit of four retakes, and then community colleges would have to find their own source of funding for additional classes – without using any taxpayer...
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REMEDIAL EDUCATION