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Study Finds Most Colleges in South Offer Remediation

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A vast majority of the colleges and universities in the South offer at least one remedial course in reading, writing, or mathematics, according to a new study, but few of those courses are available for credit toward graduation.

The Southern Regional Education Board surveyed 606 public and private institutions over a two-year period and found that, on average, Southern colleges offer about three remedial courses in mathematics and two each in reading and writing.

Over all, about 85 percent of the institutions in S.R.E.B. states offer at least one remedial course. However, only about 2 percent of the institutions surveyed continue to award credit for those courses.

The report, "College Remedial Studies: Institutional Practices in the S.R.E.B. States,'' is the second by the board to examine college-level remedial education in the region.

The first, "They Came to College?: A Remedial-Developmental Profile of First-Time Freshmen in S.R.E.B. States,'' indicated that about one-third of all first-time entering college students sought remedial assistance in reading, writing, or mathematics.

Ansley A. Abraham, who wrote the study, said the results of the two surveys "make it imperative that educators and state policymakers become more knowledgeable about these remedial programs and whether they are working.''

He also said that institutions that provide remedial courses should not neglect the students who take them. Mr. Abraham recommended that states and institutions evaluate remedial programs, and that exit criteria for students taking remedial courses be established.

The study also noted, among other findings, that only about one-half of the institutions were able to report retention data. Based on those that did, about 55 percent of the students who took at least one remedial course enrolled for a second year, compared with a 65 percent retention rate for all students who did not take remediation courses.

Copies of the two reports are available from the Southern Regional Education Board Information Office, 592 10th St., N.W., Atlanta, Ga. 30318-5790; telephone: (404) 875-9211.--M.P.

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