Remediation rates down at university
The number of Colorado Mesa University students who took remedial courses in hopes of catching up in English and math declined year over year in 2012-13, according to the most current data from the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
In fall 2012, 36.2 percent of new students who graduated from a Colorado high school earlier that spring took remedial math, reading or writing courses, down from 40.2 percent in fall 2011. The in-state freshmen class in 2012-13 had 21 fewer students than the freshman class of 2011-12, but 49 fewer remedial students.
Remedial course enrollment also dropped percentage-wise at Western Colorado Community College, where 79.1 percent of new students in 2012 took remedial classes, down 2.6 percentage points from the previous year. The number of remedial students at the community college actually increased from 388 in 2011 to 406 in 2012, but the percentage dropped because the number of new students at the community college increased even more, from 475 in 2011 to 513 the following year.
Students either volunteer for remedial courses or find out they need to take them through testing that determines whether incoming freshmen are ready for college-level work.
One out of five students who graduated from a Colorado high school in 2012 took remedial courses upon arriving at a Colorado four-year school that fall. The remedial percentage was 63.8 percent for recent in-state high school graduates who went to Colorado community colleges.
Remedial courses help a student catch up in the basics and cost the same as regular college courses, but they don’t count toward the pile of college credit hours a student has to acquire to graduate. It cost institutions across the state a total of $18.6 million to offer remedial courses in 2012-13, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education. But the cost was even greater for students — $37.5 million.
Keeping struggling students motivated to stay in school when they aren’t earning full credit but paying full tuition can be a challenge.
Colorado Mesa University retained 58.8 percent of its non-remedial in-state students from freshmen year in 2012 to sophomore year in 2013 but held onto just 51.3 percent of students who had taken remedial courses.
CMU spokeswoman Dana Nunn said the university is trying to improve retention rates by offering tutoring, mentoring and peer support. The school also dropped a three-tiered schedule of remedial courses two years ago in favor of having just one remedial course per subject to get students out of remedial courses sooner.
The single level, called a 90-level course, also is rigorous enough for students to maintain financial aid, she said.
The department of higher education report also lists how many 2012 graduates from public Colorado high schools faced remediation upon enrollment that fall in an in-state school. Sixty-two percent of Garfield School District 16 graduates in 2012 needed remediation that fall at a Colorado school (down from 76 percent in 2011), followed by 51 percent in Garfield Re-2 (up from 48 percent in 2011), 46 percent at Montrose-Olathe Public Schools (up from 42 percent in 2011), 42 percent in Mesa County Valley School District 51 (down from 47 percent in 2011), and 36 percent for Delta County School District 50J students (down from 52 percent in 2011).