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Higher education advocates call for restructuring of remedial education nationwide

by Silas Allen Published: December 19, 2012

The way American colleges and universities handle low-achieving students is hindering their chances of graduating from college, a group of higher education advocates said last week.

Four organizations released a joint report last Wednesday calling on states to rethink the way their public colleges and universities handle remedial courses.

Such low-level classes, also known as developmental courses, are generally geared toward students who aren't ready for college-level work.

But research has shown students who wind up in these classes are less likely than their peers ever to graduate.

In a 2011 report, nonprofit Complete College America calls developmental courses “the Bermuda Triangle of higher education.”

According to the report, about 35 percent of bachelor's students who take these courses graduate with a degree within six years, compared with 56 percent of the overall student population.

Leaders from those organizations — nonprofits Complete College America, Education Commission for the States and Jobs for the Future, as well as Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin — spoke in a conference call with members of the news media Thursday.

The group cited a 2009 study from the journal “New Directions for Community Colleges” that said only about a quarter of all students who take remedial courses go on to graduate.

However, many of those students could start in normal, credit-bearing courses if given proper support, said Stan Jones, president of Complete College America.

“This remediation, as currently structured, simply does not work,” he said.

The group called for a state-level overhaul of how remedial courses are offered, including emphasizing the completion of a set of gateway courses for a program of study, aligning those courses with those programs of study and offering more academic support along with those courses.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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This remediation, as currently structured, simply does not work.”

Stan Jones,
President of Complete College America


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