Wrong Way on Remediation

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The 50 percent remediation rate in colleges is often cited by critics of public schools, including Accuracy in Academia, as evidence of the failure of these elementary and secondary schools. Nevertheless, lawmakers in Florida have adopted a rather dubious method of addressing the problem—voting it away.

“New students who show up here at Florida State College in Jacksonville have to take placement tests in mathematics, English, and reading,” Katherine Mangan reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education in the September 27, 2013 issue. “About 70 percent end up in one or more remedial courses. For now at least.”

“State lawmakers voted in May to make such courses, which some see as obstacles to progress, optional for most students.”  Students usually wind up in such courses when they get good grades from their high schools but low scores on standardized tests.

“Complete College America, whose leaders testified before the Florida Legislature, estimates that fewer than one in 10 students who start in remedial courses, which educators and state lawmakers also call developmental courses, graduate within three years,” Mangan reported. “Its vice president, Bruce Vandal, says that only about 15 percent of the students whose test scores place them into the courses truly need to be there.”  Could it be that Vandal’s 15 percent overlaps the one in ten that CCA found who need remediation?

“You may be trying to teach someone the five-paragraph essay and they can’t write a complete sentence,” Jacksonville’s interim president, Willis N. Holcombe, told The Chronicle.


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.