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Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015

Remediation still needed for many students

Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2012, at 4:35 PM

Imagine being accepted to a college or university only to find out that many of your first classes will not count toward your degree.

This scenario happens to at least 30 percent of college freshmen in Arkansas every year when ACT scores reveal the need for further instruction in basic subjects such as reading and math.

Remedial classes are taken on a college campus but are below college-level. Students pay tuition and can use financial aid, but they do not receive college credit.

This detour from college-level courses can be costly in terms of both time and money. It often can mean the end of the college road for the students. In Arkansas, there is a 30 percent gap in graduation rates for students who take remedial classes and those who do not.

But recently, we heard news of positive progress when it comes to remediation in Arkansas.

The Department of Higher Education made a presentation to the Education Committee which showed the state spent $1 million less on remediation this year than it did in 2011. That equals a 3.79 percent decline.

"Students are coming in more prepared," said Higher Education Interim Director Shane Broadway.

Improvements in K-12 education in the state are being attributed to the progress. But recent legislation gives colleges and universities a reason to believe we could see less need for remediation in the future. A bill passed in 2011 gives colleges the authority to consider other factors than ACT scores when considering the placement of a student in remediation. The other requires the institutions to develop a plan for those who score below a 15 on the ACT, most are requiring them to enroll in Adult Education to get up to speed before they will enroll.

Even with continued improvements in K-12 education, we expect there will always be some need for remedial classes. Non-traditional students who have been out of high school a longer period of time are more likely to need remedial coursework.

So while higher education leaders recognize remedial classes will never be eliminated, they are constantly working to implement preventative strategies and innovative programs.

Visit the Arkansas Department of Higher Education website to learn more www.adhe.edu

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Mike Patterson (D) of Piggott serves in the Arkansas State House of Representatives.