Teaching

More in College Taking Remedial Courses, NCES Says

By Sean Cavanagh — December 10, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

More students today are taking at least one year of remedial coursework upon reaching college than five years ago, according to a report from the National Center for Educational Statistics.

“Remedial Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions in Fall 2000,” is available from the National Center for Education Statistics. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Thirty-five percent of students entering two- and four-year public and private colleges took at least a year of remedial courses during 2000, the study says. Five years ago, 28 percent spent that much time in remedial classes, according to the NCES study, “Remedial Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions in Fall 2000.”

“I wish I could tell you remediation isn’t necessary in today’s world, but sadly, it is,” Secretary of Education Rod Paige said of the findings, in a statement. Someday, he said, the United States “wouldn’t need to rely on remediation to do the job that the K-12 system should be doing to academically prepare students.”

The study was based on a survey sent to 1,242 two- and four-year institutions. Despite the apparent growth of remedial work among many students, the NCES found that the numbers of undergraduates taking such courses remained stagnant within several categories of academic subjects and institutions.

While they did not pinpoint the exact cause of that stagnation, NCES researchers noted that remedial services have been cut, or at least held in check, in many states—particularly at four-year colleges.

“Critics contend that remedial education diverts human and financial resources from other academic priorities,” the report concludes, “and uses public funds to pay a second time for training in academic skills that students should have acquired in high school.”

Changing Population?

The report shows that the proportion of institutions offering remediation has stayed consistent. In 2000, 98 percent of public two-year colleges and 80 percent of public four- year institutions offered remedial courses. Five years earlier, those rates were 100 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

Remedial Education on the Rise

A study from the National Center for Education Statistics details the prevalence of remedial coursework taken by students at different types of postsecondary institutions. The chart below shows the percentage of undergraduates who took at least one year of such courses in 2000, the most recent year available in the NCES study, compared with five years earlier.

2000

1995

Public two-year institutions 53% 44%
Private two-year institutions 11 5
Public four-year institutions 35 28
Private four-year institutions 16 14
All institutions
(public and private, two- and four-year)
35 28
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics, “Remedial Education at Degree-Granting Post Secondary Institutions in Fall 2000.”

Robert McCabe, a senior fellow with the League for Innovation in the Community College, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based consortium devoted to improving two-year institutions, said state opposition to expanding remedial education at four-year institutions was likely to grow.

Still, he called the 7-percentage-point rise in students taking at least one year of remediation “a fairly large increase.”

He linked the rising numbers partly to a changing college-bound population, whose ranks today include minorities and those from low-income families who years ago might have been excluded from higher education. Those students may not have had the same access to rigorous coursework as their more privileged peers, he said.

“You have a population that previously did not go on to college,” said Mr. McCabe, the former president of Miami-Dade Community College. “Simply based on that fact, you would expect more people to be deficient when they enter.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
Science K-12 Essentials Forum How To Teach STEM Problem Solving Skills to All K-12 Students
Join experts for a look at how experts are integrating the teaching of problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking into STEM instruction.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Discussing Racist Violence With Students: 4 Best Practices
Teachers are tasked with discussing racism and violence following the Buffalo shooting. Here are best practices for tough conversations.
4 min read
Children walk hand in hand out near the scene of a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, May 15, 2022.
Children walk hand in hand out near the scene of a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
Matt Rourke/AP
Teaching Teachers Struggled to Stem 'Learning Loss' During Pandemic, GAO Finds
A report documents teachers' concerns about students losing academic ground during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 min read
Computer laptop on wooden desk with wireless and application programming and social media icons. Internet networking and wireless technology
Getty
Teaching Opinion One Key Classroom-Management Strategy for Middle Schools
A recent study found something very powerful about the value of praise.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Teaching How U.S. Teachers Are Helping Ukrainian Students 'Half a World Apart'
Teachers at a U.S.-based virtual school share what it's like to teach students in a war-torn country.
4 min read
People look at a crater created by a Russian rocket attack in a school yard in Dobropillya, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, April 28, 2022.
People look at a crater created by a Russian rocket attack in a school yard in Dobropillya, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, in April.
Evgeniy Maloletka/AP