Students Assigned to Remedial Courses May Have Succeeded in Entry-Level College Courses, Studies Show

New studies from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at the Columbia University Teachers College suggest that many students assigned to remedial courses based on placement test scores alone could have succeeded if instead enrolled in entry-level community college courses.

Concerns about preparing students who are college and career ready have been on the rise, in part because of a national agenda to increase the number of college graduates in the United States. Experts have noted that too many students who enter postsecondary institutions, particularly community colleges, do not graduate with a certificate or degree.

Many of these beginning community college students are placed into remedial courses for which students pay but receive no credit. According to a New York Times article on the subject, less than a quarter of students placed in remedial courses ever complete a two-year degree or transfer to a four-year university. But the CCRC studies indicate that many students who are placed in remedial classes, based solely on their placement test scores, may have earned a grade of “B” or higher in an entry-level college courses had alternate placement measures been used.

Instead of only using college placement tests, the authors suggest considering additional factors – such as high school grade point averages – when making decisions about whether or not a student requires remediation.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

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