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March 19, 2018

Remedial education rates continue to drop at Missouri colleges and universities
Decline could help reduce achievement gap for African American, Hispanic students

Remedial education rates continue to decline at Missouri’s public colleges and universities, potentially reducing the amount of time and money it takes for many students to earn a degree.

A new report from the Missouri Department of Higher Education shows the total number of public high school graduates taking remedial courses in college decreased from 26.8 percent in 2016 to 22.8 percent in 2017. The rate has dropped nearly 13 percentage points since 2013.

The rate for African American students has declined by nearly 20 percentage points during the past five years – from 65.6 percent in 2013 to 46 percent in 2017. For Hispanic students, the rate dropped from 43.8 percent in 2013 to 27.2 percent in 2017.

Because college credit is not awarded for remedial education classes, students who must complete the classes before they can enroll in credit-bearing courses often have to spend an extra semester or more in college. The additional time in school can increase college costs and result in more student loan debt.

Research shows that students taking remedial education classes are also far less likely to graduate.

“The drop in remedial education rates means more students are starting off college in credit-bearing courses that count toward a certificate or degree,” said Rusty Monhollon, assistant commissioner for academic affairs at the Missouri Department of Higher Education. “Reducing remedial education rates will help increase college completion and narrow the achievement gap for minority students.”

The Department of Higher Education has focused on working with Missouri’s public higher education institutions to reduce remedial education rates for the past five years.

A majority of public colleges and universities now offer credit-bearing “corequisite” courses in math and English for students who would otherwise be required to take remedial classes. The corequisite courses provide additional academic support – including tutoring, mentoring, labs and workshops – to help students master the subject matter and succeed in the course.

Most of Missouri’s higher education institutions also have begun using multiple measures to place students in courses. Instead of looking only at students’ ACT or SAT score, schools are considering the classes students complete in high school and their grade point average to determine whether or not they need to take remedial classes before they can enroll in college-level courses.

Reducing remedial education rates is one strategy in Missouri’s Blueprint for Higher Education, the state’s coordinated plan for higher education. Adopted by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in December 2015, the Blueprint focuses on increasing the percentage of working-age adults in Missouri with a two- or four-year degree or professional certificate to 60 percent by 2025.

For more information about Missouri’s work to reduce remedial education rates, visit https://dhe.mo.gov/cbhe/boardbook/documents/tabv0318.pdf.