Remedial instruction is expensive and students are more likely to drop out of college. Ohio’s response is to stop paying for it.
The annual price tag for remedial education in American colleges and universities is at least $3.6 billion, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national advocacy organization in Washington. It’s also a reason that many college students quit in frustration, contributing to high dropout rates.
In a largely overlooked but precedent-setting move, cash-strapped Ohio has said it’ll soon stop footing the bill for remedial courses. The state’s 2007 budget quietly mandated that the government phase out money for remediation at four-year universities beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, and eliminate such funding altogether by 2020.
The gap between the skills with which students graduate from high school and what colleges expect them to be able to do has come under increased scrutiny, as federal policymakers push states to increase college graduation rates. At least 13 other states, including Florida, Missouri and South Carolina, have tried to slow the spiral of spending on remedial education, typically by restricting funding to colleges and universities that provide a lot of it….
Nationwide, some 44 percent of students at community colleges and 27 percent at four-year institutions had to take at least one remedial course in 2008, the last year for which data are available from the U.S. Department of Education. Even if students pass such remedial classes, research shows they’re less likely to graduate than their peers who start directly in college-level classes.
A high school diploma does not necessarily signify college readiness.
At Kent State— where just more than half of first-year students in 2006 had to take remedial courses in math, English or both — remediation costs more than $750,000 a year, an amount that Provost Robert Frank calls “non-trivial.”
“We are receiving students who successfully graduated from high school who aren’t ready for (college) math, writing and chemistry,” Frank said.
To address the remediation issue Ohio colleges are reaching out to private high schools that tend to produce college-ready students, or partnering with community colleges that offer remedial course. But there was no mention of actually tightening admission requirements to make sure that only qualified students are allowed in. It seems the colleges are happy to take tuition payments from remedial students, but with decreased state funding the only alternative may be to raise prices for all students. And so the higher education bubble continues to grow.