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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Nearly 52 percent of community college students in the United States begin their freshman year in at least one remedial class. These courses, which help students acquire knowledge and skills they should have acquired in high school, do not count toward their degree requirements. As a result, students are taking longer than ever to obtain their degree, if they obtain one at all.
Each year students and colleges in the United States spend about $3 billion on remediation. Remedial courses, or college prep courses as they are known at some institutions, are required for students who do not meet pre-determined performance standards for admittance into a college-level course. Most often, community college students who require remediation need it in English or math, or both.
The most recent statistics on the matter are sobering: About half of all community college students are placed in remedial courses, which 40 percent of students never complete. Nearly 70 percent of these students never make it to a college-level math class either. Further compounding the problem is that adjunct faculty members, who typically have the least experience teaching needy populations and often suffer from a general lack of institutional support, teach approximately 75 percent of remedial courses offered at community colleges.
This is a problem seen nationwide. Over 46 percent of college-bound students in Maryland need some form of remediation. In California, the need for remediation lengthens the time students need to attain an associate’s degree by one full year and adds 20 credits to their coursework. In Virginia, 77 percent of students in the state’s community college system that are referred to remedial math courses do not complete them within three years. All this added coursework causes budgetary concerns for colleges that have to add more and more sections of non-credit courses, and worries employers who
We examine how many community colleges are tackling the issue of remedial math to get students the help they need without compromising completion rates, as many remedial courses tend to do.
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
Although many students need some remedial education before beginning college coursework, statistics show dismal completion rates for those who begin in remedial classes. We take a closer look at the problem, as well as some of the ways colleges are tackling it.
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
Two recent studies have found thousands of students may be placed in remedial community college courses that don’t really need them. Are you one of these students?
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
Learn about the strong need for remedial education at community colleges nationwide, whether the programs really help students succeed, and how some community colleges are addressing the remedial education problem in light of recent budget cuts.
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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