When he first announced his retirement last fall,
Hans Brisch said that of all the honors bestowed upon him over the
years, he was most proud of being informally recognized as Oklahoma's
"student success chancellor." And if remediation figures released
today are any indication, that moniker has little chance of disappearing.
During today's regularly scheduled meeting, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education released their annual Student Remediation Report, which showed that remediation rates among new college freshmen continue to improve and that Oklahoma remediation rates are consistent with those in other states.
"The success of Oklahoma's students will always be a priority for the State Regents," Chancellor Brisch said. "I am encouraged by this latest report that shows that our high school students are continuing to improve in their preparations for college. It's this kind of effort - from both our schools and our students - that will help push our great state forward as we enter the 21st century and into a knowledge-based economy."
Brisch added that higher education has a moral obligation to ensure that students coming straight out of high school or returning adult students have the necessary skills and education to succeed in college, noting that colleges in states that require remediation have witnessed improved student retention and success levels.
Remedial courses are non-credit courses required in Oklahoma public colleges and universities for students who do not demonstrate minimum competencies in one or more of four areas: mathematics, English, reading and science. Students who score below 19 on an ACT subject test in those areas must either enroll in a remedial course or undergo additional testing in that subject area.
The study revealed that for first-time freshmen who entered college during the 2000-2001 academic year, 37 percent enrolled in remedial courses, the smallest percentage in five years. A total of 31.9 percent enrolled in remedial math, while 13.7 percent enrolled in remedial English.
The study also showed that between fall 1995 and fall 2000, the percentage of freshmen with ACT scores below 19 in the subject areas of mathematics, English, science and reading declined. English enjoyed the largest decrease - 6.6 percentage points (27.2 to 20.6 percent) while reading saw the smallest decrease - 1.8 percentage points (20.7 to 18.9 percent). Mathematics had the second highest decrease of 6.2 percentage points (33.7 to 27.5 percent) and science a close third at 5 percentage points (21.4 to 16.4 percent).
It was no surprise to Regents that the study showed adults required more remediation than students who enrolled in college directly from high school. During 2000-2001, approximately 51 percent of adult freshmen enrolled in remedial courses compared with 36.6 percent of freshmen direct from high school. The report shows that in the 2000-2001 academic year 35,378 students enrolled in remedial classes, with the majority - approximately 75.8 percent (26,814 students) - taking remedial courses at the two-year colleges.
"Our community colleges continue to provide more remediation courses to students in the State System, which is consistent with their mission and the State Regents' goal of focusing the majority of remediation at the two-year level. In fact, community colleges provide approximately 60 percent of remedial instruction nationwide," State Regents' Chairman Joe Mayer said, noting that State System institutions generated approximately $2.1 million from student-paid remedial course fees.
Students taking remedial courses pay an extra fee for each course they take. The current fees, which cover the direct cost of providing remedial courses, range from $39 for a three-hour course at a state two-year college to $72 for a three-hour course at a comprehensive university.
The report concluded that providing remedial courses benefits those students who need it the most - under-prepared high school students, place-bound returning adult students and students for whom English is a second language - and that the higher education levels ultimately achieved by those students have a direct, positive effect on society and the state's economy as a whole.
State Regents have undertaken several initiatives since 1993 to help students better prepare for college.
Regents have increased the high school core curricular requirements for college admission from 11 courses to 15 and implemented the Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS), which provides eighth and 10th grade students information about how they are progressing academically in core content areas. Approximately 80 percent of all Oklahoma's school districts currently participate in EPAS, which accounts for more than 90 percent of all eighth and tenth graders in the state. Regents have also strengthened teacher preparation by requiring all elementary, special education and early childhood development education majors to complete 12 credit hours in each of four subjects - mathematics, English, science and social sciences. They also added a third option for college admission based solely on a student's GPA in the State Regents' 15-unit high school core curriculum; and most recently began publicly recognizing Oklahoma high schools that demonstrate superior student preparation.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in August 1999. The grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With funds totaling $45.5 million, GEAR UP receives 45 percent of total funding from the federal government and 55 percent from other organizations.