Remedial education report shows students still need refreshers

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - For some college-bound students, freshman classes may be looking a lot like high school.

The latest remedial education report for Colorado shows a significant number of 2011 high school grads still need developmental classes their first year in a two or four year college or university.

Across the state, we saw a slight dip in the number of students taking remedial classes. School District 51 is still above the state average, but district officials say it's a number they're working hard to close, and it all starts with helping students at the youngest ages.

Rather than a step back, school officials are looking at remediation as a chance for more development.

"Sometimes a student coming in straight from high school tends to think of it as a step back," Colorado Mesa University director of developmental education Sherry Schreiner said. “We think of [remedial courses as] helping support them to meet their goals and to meet their dreams here."

Remediation was a reality for 40 percent of 2011 Colorado grads their first year in college, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education report released this week.

"To have a remediation rate that's higher than the state average is concerning to us," School District 51 chief academic officer Bill Larsen said.

Locally, the numbers of District 51 grads needing a refresher course was higher at 47 percent. Even still, both Grand Junction High and Palisade High School showed a remediation decrease for their 2011 classes.

“As soon as we start to see a student fall behind, again, not just at high school, but elementary and middle school, that we're catching them up as soon as possible," Larsen said.

To decrease their numbers of students needing one or more remedial courses, district officials say the newly implemented 2013-14 school schedule will offer more opportunities for intervention work. Students will also be pushed to take rigorous classes which will improve their learning and ACT scores, a number which could affect their remediation placement.

"When a student comes in with an ACT score less than 20 or 19 in different subject matters, they're required to take a secondary assessment,” Schreiner said. “Based on their score, we place them in the developmental courses."

Schreiner also noted some college freshman choose to take these redevelopment courses on their own, even though their ACT score may be high. She says this is because some students want need a confidence boost in a particular subject.

At CMU, the most common type of remedial course is math. Those who need help in reading or writing tend to struggle more in their other courses.

This matches the state report findings, as the majority of students needing remedial coursework enrolled in math classes (57%) followed by writing (31%) and reading (18%).

The majority of remedial courses do not count toward a student’s degree, but still cost money to take. The cost associated with remedial classes was close to 58 million dollars for the 2011 school year, but Colorado Mesa University is working to redesign these remedial courses and catch students up faster in the coming year.

"We didn't want to see them incurring debt and not making progress in college," Schreiner said.

And as soon as they can make progress, the hope is those students will be on their ways to getting degrees.

"We take students wherever they come in and provide them with the support they need to achieve their goals," Schreiner said.

This year, the Colorado Department of Higher Education used a different method to calculate remediation rates to include students who need remediation classes and those enrolled in them. The rates for the previous three years have been adjusted. Anything prior to the class of 2009 will be based on the old calculations.

If you're interested in viewing the full report, click on the related link below.

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