For college acceptance, some return to high school material

The report, published by Education Reform Now and Education Post, said more than half a million incoming first-years are required to take remedial coursework in college — costing them around $1.5 billion annually — that doesn’t count for credit.

“This is a problem that’s impacting students from all income backgrounds at all types of colleges,” said Mary Nguyen Barry, co-author of the report. “A lot of discussion on remedial education has been focused on low-income students at community colleges, but the problem is much more widespread than that.”

But many UNC-system schools do not follow this model, instead sending students elsewhere to receive further preparation.

“A lot of students, if they’re not admitted, they start off at a community college and are placed in remedial courses,” said Josh Artrip, senior assistant director of admissions at UNC-Greensboro. “But we don’t require them to necessarily take those courses to be admitted.”

He said the university used to offer remedial courses, but most of them were taken off of the bulletin years ago.

“There are some UNC-system schools that will offer conditional acceptance if students take those remedial courses,” Artrip said. “You typically tend to see it at the (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).”

UNC-Pembroke — a historically American Indian university — used to have these remedial courses, but this is no longer the case.

“We don’t have provisional admission,” said Lela Clark, director of admissions at UNC-P. “Several years ago (the school) did have student placement testing, and sometimes (students) would place into a remedial course.”

The education report stated that 43 percent of students enrolled in remedial courses were at traditional public and private two- to four-year colleges and universities, while 57 percent were enrolled in community colleges.

Within the UNC system, though, students with inadequate credentials are less often given provisional admission to the school. Instead, they take remedial classes at community colleges with an intent to transfer.

Prior to fall 2012, more than 70 percent of incoming students placed into at least one developmental English or reading course, and 75 percent placed into developmental math courses at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, according to spokesperson Kathy Rummage.

But these numbers have decreased significantly due to statewide reforms and new diagnostic tests, Rummage said in an email. Now, only 35 percent enroll in a developmental math course and 19 percent enroll in a developmental English/reading course.

And Barry said that nationally, students are having to take these remedial courses largely due to insufficient high school preparation.

“By and large, high schools are not rigorous enough, and essentially a public system of high school education has been transferred to a privatized higher education market — where students and families are being forced to foot the bill for something that the public high school system should have covered,” Barry said.

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