Insight News

Feb 11th

Report on remedial education shows gaps in college preparation

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According to a new report—Getting Prepared: A 2010 Report on Recent High School Graduates Who Took Developmental/Remedial Courses, released by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the University of Minnesota—40% of Minnesota's recent public high school graduates who enrolled in public higher education in the state have taken at least one developmental or remedial course within two years after graduation: up slightly from 38%, three years ago.

“This report points out the need for all students to prepare for college,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick. “Parents, teachers, mentors and others should know it is important that all high school students take rigorous courses, particularly in math. Even now, workers should have more than a high school education to get good jobs. In the future, that will be even more true as technology continues to evolve and global competition grows.”

The increase in the percentage of students taking developmental courses does not necessarily mean the college readiness of new high school graduates has worsened. One likely reason for the increase is that more recent high school graduates are attending public colleges and universities.

Enrollment in public higher education institutions within two years of high school graduation has risen from 45% of the class of 2000 to 53% of the class of 2008. Many recent high school graduates who need developmental courses did not anticipate and prepare for college throughout high school. Students who have been out of high school for a year or so also may have lost skills they once had mastered.

Students who take developmental courses are increasingly concentrated in the two-year colleges. Of the 2008 graduates who took developmental courses, 87% attended a two-year college, 12% went to a state university, and 1% attended the University of Minnesota, which is a separate system.

The two-year community and technical colleges are ‘open access’ institutions, meaning anyone with a high school diploma or GED can be admitted. A more selective admissions policy in recent years at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus has continued to shrink the number of their students who take developmental courses.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities now require most first-time students to take placement tests before they enroll in college-level courses. If placement tests indicate they are not ready for college-level work in a subject, they now must take a developmental course.

“Teachers, parents and students should understand that developmental courses do not count toward a certificate, diploma or degree,” said Scott Olson, the system's interim vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “At the same time, the need for developmental education does not necessarily mean college is a poor investment for them and for the state. Many of these students go on to succeed in college. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities also provide other programs and services to help students succeed.”

This legislatively mandated report provides data on public high school students in Minnesota who graduated between 2005 and 2008 and enrolled within two years in a public college or university in the state. The class of 2008 is the most recent class for which data is available for the full two years. The report is available at the MNSCUWebsite.

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