Twenty percent of incoming freshmen need remediation once in college

Remediation interventions don’t end after high school for one in five graduates entering public four-year colleges in Colorado.

The rate is higher for District 51 graduates. Last fall, 38.7 percent of recent high school graduates entering college in Colorado were assigned to remediation.

District 51 graduates are showing improvement, though. The remediation rate for graduates entering college in Colorado was 40.3 percent in fall 2008 and 41.7 percent in fall 2007.

The 2008 passage of the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids placed an emphasis on the importance of preparing high school students for the workforce and college. The goal is to eventually have all high school graduates prepared to the point that they don’t require remedial classes, said District 51 Director of High Schools Bill Larsen.

To work toward that goal, the district has partnered with Mesa State College in recent years so the district can offer Mesa State’s remediation classes at Central High School and Fruita Monument High School. High school seniors who did not perform well on the ACT test during their junior year can take the courses for free.

The program appears to be helping. The District 51 class of 2009 sent 384 students to Mesa State College. Nearly 40 percent, or 153 students, needed remediation at the college. That’s down about 7 percentage points from the year before.

“We are definitely helping our students prepare for college,” Larsen said.

When it comes to students enrolling at any college in Colorado, 57.4 percent of Palisade High School graduates needed remedial courses last fall. Nearly 40 percent of recent Central High School graduates, 39 percent of Grand Junction High School graduates, and 32.4 percent of Fruita Monument High School graduates also needed remediation at a Colorado college, according to a remediation report from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Gateway School and R-5 High School graduate numbers are too small to include in the report, which lists schools with 25 graduates headed to college in the state.

Last school year, 48.8 percent of recent high school graduates needed remediation classes in math, reading and/or writing at Mesa State College. That’s a drop from the previous year, when 55.3 percent of 17- to 19-year-olds entering Mesa State needed remediation.

Adams State had the most recent high school graduates in remediation classes, 60.5 percent, while the University of Colorado-Boulder had the smallest percentage, 0.8 percent.

Undergraduates new to a college are sent to math, writing or reading classes to catch up to their peers if they enter school with ACT, SAT or Accuplacer test scores that are about half or less of the possible score on any of those tests. Remedial courses must be complete by the time a student earns 30 credits at the college.

Being assigned to remedial courses doesn’t appear to be much of a deterrent to a college education. Fifty-four percent of students who took remedial courses in 2007–08 came back to Mesa State the next year. That figure is similar to the 59 percent of all first-time students in 2007–08, whether assigned to remediation or not, that returned to the school in 2008–09.


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