Thursday, July 31, 2008

Remedial College Classes--Are they Worth if For Students

Inside Higher Ed links to a study that indicates that there are mixed results at best. Money quote from the study:
Meanwhile, the likelihood of passing subsequent college-level English composition was slightly lower for reading remedial students while no difference was found in future math course performance for math remedial students. No discernable impact was found in terms of certificate or associate degree completion or transfer to a public four-year college. Overall, the results suggest that remediation might promote early persistence in college, but it does not necessarily help students on the margin of passing the cutoff to make progress toward a degree.
The problem with remedial classes is that for the schools, they are something of a win-win--they can promote a more open admissions policy and still charge full freight for a class that the student will not get credit for. So the students come, unprepared for college, are forced to take (and pay for) a class that may or may not make them ready for full college level courses. Oh then there is the evidence that students who take remedial classes are far more likely to drop out, thereby increasing the revenue potential for "remedial level" students in a college.

Recently, I noted the cynical treatment, saying:
If K-12 institutions are taking a beating for not preparing students for college, colleges and universities, including community colleges, need to be beaten severly about the head and shoulders for their cynical treatment of these less than fully prepared students as little more than profit makers. Incentivize the colleges to push K-12 schools to do better. One such way would be, at least for public colleges and universities, prohibit those institutions from charging full tuition for remedial classes (and take care that schools are fudging the definition of remedial classes) and requiring that schools make available all services given to student athletes be made available to all students, among other actions.
Tuition may be necessary (a case can be made that it is not) for remedial classes, but if the student isn't going to get any credit, they shouldn't have to pay full price. Antoher idea would be to start billing that student's K-12 school system for indemnificaion for failing to do their job. That would be a big financial incentive for K-12 schools to do a better job. Can you imagine that annual bill?

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