August 30, 2006

Schools Causing Increasing Remediation

The Alliance for Excellent Education, a high-school focused think tank, released a report yesterday on the cost of remediation for community colleges. Here are the money grafs:
Of those who enter high school, only about 70 percent will graduate--—one of the lowest rates among industrialized nations (Greene & Winters, 2006). As important, however, is the fact that, of those who do receive a diploma, only half are academically prepared for postsecondary education (Greene & Winters, 2005). A recent study of high school juniors and seniors taking the ACT college entrance exam confirms this; half of the students were ready for college-level reading assignments in core subjects like math, history, science, and English (ACT, 2006).
If these figures are accurate, 30% of students drop out of high school and of those that remain half are unprepared for the rigors of college.
When the increased demand for postsecondary education is coupled with the poor preparation many students receive in high school, it is perhaps not surprising that colleges and universities are being forced to offer, and often require, remedial courses to large numbers of students. These classes have the sole objective of teaching pre-collegiate subject matter. Across the nation, 42 percent of community college freshmen and 20 percent of freshmen in four-year institutions enroll in at least one remedial course (NCES 2004b). That is almost one-third of all freshmen.
Inside Higher Education puts these figures in better context.
Bob Wise, president of the organization, said that the new estimates are probably on the "very conservative"” end because the numbers do not include students who attend four-year public or private colleges, nor older community college students. Additionally, they assume that each student takes only one remedial course.
So at least 1/3 of students are so unprepared that they need to take remedial courses upon entering college. And bear in mind that many high school grads choose not to go to college at all. It is likely that these kids represent the bottom of the academic curve, so its safe to say that they would also require remediation that is likely even more extensive.

And, here's the most important graf:
Research shows that the leading predictor that a student will drop out of college is the need for remedial reading. While 58 percent of students who take no remedial education courses earn a Bachelor'’s degree within eight years, only 17 percent of students who enroll in a remedial reading course receive a BA or BS within the same time period (NCES, 2004a).
It all comes back to elementary school. Kids in need of remediation in college are not being properly prepared in high school. Kids who aren't being prepared in high school are the ones who aren't learning how to read and do basic math in elementary school.

In the elementary years, schools have much more control and influence over students (the peer effect has not yet kicked in) and yet they continue to fail miserably at the task of education.

3 comments:

rightwingprof said...

You might want to consider shooting me an email message so I can send you something.

rightwingprofATrightwingnationDOTcom

rory said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the failure of the elementary schools. They can't even be counted on to teach the gifted children, let alone the average or poor ones. Over at my blog I just posted about how our school district isn't even going to challenge my son who is in the gifted program at his school. Instead of teaching him at a rate that he needs to be taught to ensure he is challenged, they are going to just teach the same low standards as everyone else, but more in depth. As to elementary school education, I can't believe how much time is wasted trying to teach social studies, health and history while they plod on in basic math and reading skills at a snails pace.

Catherine Johnson said...

yup - it's all reading

I've just read two of Hirsch's books in a row & my eyes have been opened