Test prep can prevent remediation

Some community college students who fail placement tests don’t really need remedial classes, researchers say. Colleges should tell students their scores matter and give everyone a practice test, they recommend.

Denver remediates collegebound grads

Denver Public Schools is providing free remedial math and English classes over the summer for collegebound graduates. One summer student failed the placement test at the University of Colorado-Pueblo, despite earning a 3.1 grade-point average in high school.

After dropping out of high school in ninth grade, Krista LeBrun earned a GED at 17 — and kept going till she got a PhD.

Who belongs in remedial courses?

Most colleges use placement tests alone — not high school grades — to determine whether students start in remedial or college-level courses, despite concerns the exams aren’t accurate.

Half of all undergraduates and 70 percent of community college students take at least one remedial course. Most will not go on to complete a credential. Reformers believe the remedial courses are part ofe problem — not poor preparation.

At one community college, high-level remedial writing students are more likely to succeed in English if they’re placed in college-level classes than in remedial courses.

Aid tops tuition for community college students

While the “sticker price” at community colleges is up to $3,130, the average student receives more in grants, tax credits and other aid than tuition, leaving $1,220 for books, transportation and living expenses.

Community colleges are rethinking placement tests and looking for ways to start more students at the college level. About 60 percent of community college students are start in developmental education. Only 25 percent finish a credential in eight years, compared to 40 percent of students who start at the college level.


Rethinking placement tests

Colleges are rethinking or rewriting placement tests to avoid starting students in dead-end remedial courses. Some high schools let juniors take a college placement exam to see what skills they’ll need to improve in 12th grade in order to avoid remedial placement.

Maryland is “accelerating” remediation to get students quickly into college-level, for-credit classes.

Colleges place too many on remedial track

Using unreliable placement tests, community colleges place tens of thousands of  students in remedial classes they don’t need, lowering their odds for success.

Placing poorly prepared students in “learning communities” that share classes and instructors has little long-term benefit, concludes a study at six community colleges.