Study reveals potential mismatch for college remedial course placement
- A federally-funded study of the University of Alaska reveals a high percentage of students who were placed in remedial courses, despite being adequately prepared for college-level work.
- Remedial placements were based upon SAT, ACT performance, but the study suggests grade point average is a better metric of preparedness.
- More than 30% of first-year students were placed in remedial English, and more than 50 percent in developmental mathematics.
Colleges and universities will need to develop stronger metrics of performance assessment in the coming years, as families become more well-versed in the nuances of higher education costs. Spending time in remedial courses, which often do not count in the credit total required for graduation, can delay students' graduation by a semester or more, meaning more cost pushed down to the students and their families for the additional time. As more campuses develop strategies to reduce the cost of textbooks, to make classes available through MOOCs and open-source learning labs, and are working to reduce credit hours for degree completion, non-credit courses will be a major topic of discussion in the growing conversation about affordability.
Interestingly, this study focuses on the University of Alaska, which could lead to questions about perspectives on the perceived capacity, readiness of Native Alaskan students from admissions and academic officials assessing student skill levels. As colleges begin to digest the recent report from the Office of Civil Rights about persistent disparities in secondary education, particularly in the availability of advanced math, science and English curricula in schools with high minority populations, schools would be well-suited to train staff to understand the rigor of high schools from which they recruit, and to not assume GPA as a skewed standard of achievement potential.