Monday, August 07, 2006
Each summer across Minnesota, thousands of high school students take college placement exams and are staggered to discover they need remedial courses, especially in math. Some find the work that earned them A's and B's in high school will not cut it in college. For many, it's the first time they've been told they weren't ready for college.
The problem has hit troubling levels the past few years. Almost half of Minnesota high school graduates enrolling in a state two-year college need remedial classes; at the regional universities, it's more than one in four.
Beyond the embarrassment, remedial work can be expensive for students, who must pay for "developmental" studies, which don't count toward their degree. Many students who get tagged for remedial work drop out. Schools also bear the rising costs of teaching the basics � not just in math and writing but also in classes like "How to Study."
And it's not just a Twin Cities problem. Research by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system shows many suburban and rural high schools are nearly as likely as urban schools to graduate students who need college remedial classes.
Admission to the University of Minnesota and the four-year state universities is becoming more selective. Students who need developmental education may increasingly find they cannot start at a four-year public institution.Hogwash. Declining demographics are causing such headaches for particularly the state universities that we are admitting more students that do not normally meet the entrance requirements just to keep enrollments constant. But if we do not do a good job at remediation then it may be better for those students to enroll at a two-year school first, where remediation has often been part of their mission.