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February 25, 2003 :: State Remediation Inches Up, But Still Lower Than in Previous Years

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Older students attending Oklahoma colleges and universities for the first time due to the poor economy are partially responsible for slightly higher remediation rates in the state. That’s according to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s latest Annual Student Remediation, which was approved by the State Regents recently.

The 11th annual report revealed that during the 2001-2002 academic year, 41.9 percent of adult freshmen 21 years or older enrolled in remedial courses compared with 37.7 percent of freshmen who were under 21. The rate for all first-time freshmen was 38.8 percent.

First-time freshmen direct from Oklahoma high schools had a remediation rate of 36.5 percent, a decrease of 1.8 percentage points since fall 1996 but an increase of 2.4 percentage points from last year, the report showed. The report concluded that the remediation rate for that group may have reached its lowest level last year unless additional efforts are made to improve preparation, such as the new high school graduation requirement of an additional math course beginning with the class of 2003.

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.

“To be successful in college and become a positive contributor in the workforce, students must be sufficiently prepared for the rigors of college-level work when they enter an Oklahoma college or university for the first time,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “Fewer Oklahoma students are requiring remediation, and this trend must continue for our state to successfully compete in the national economy."

Out of the more than 40,000 students enrolled in remedial courses in Oklahoma, 75.2 percent were at the community colleges, 18.9 percent at the four-year regional universities and 5.9 percent at the two comprehensive universities, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.

“The remediation rate in Oklahoma is comparable to the national rates where there has been very little change in the percentage of freshmen enrolled in remedial courses during the last few years, and the majority of those courses are taken at two-year colleges, which is consistent with their mission,” Risser said, also noting that Oklahoma universities are the only public institutions in the Big 12 that charge additional fees for remediation. During the 2001-2002 academic year, Oklahoma public colleges and universities generated $2.4 million from fees charged to offset costs of providing remedial courses.

Students taking remedial courses pay a fee in addition to tuition for each course they take. The fees range from $39 for a three-hour course at a state two-year college to $72 for a three-hour course at OU or OSU.

State Regents have undertaken many initiatives 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 with information about how they are progressing academically in core content areas. More than 80 percent of all Oklahoma’s school districts currently participate in EPAS, which accounts for more than 98 percent of all eighth and tenth graders in the state. The State Regents also provide the school districts with annual reports regarding the ACT scores, college-going rates, remediation rates and first-year college performance of their graduates.

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.

“We have aggressively pursued reducing the remediation rates within the State System,” State Regents’ Chairman Carl Renfro said. “Progress has been made on many fronts, but there is still more work to be done. It is extremely critical that our students come out of high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in higher education and eventually the workplace. If our state is to succeed, students must also succeed. We will continue to pursue preparation initiatives that will make this happen.”