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March 21, 2008 :: Fewer College Freshmen Need Remedial Courses

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First-time freshmen direct from Oklahoma high schools are taking fewer remedial courses at Oklahoma's public colleges and universities, according to an annual report presented to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education last week.

Remedial courses are non-credit college classes that bridge academic deficiencies in math, science, reading and English. In Oklahoma, public colleges and universities require students who score below a 19 on an ACT subject test to either enroll in a remedial course or undergo additional testing in that subject area.

The remediation report of the 2006-2007 High School Indicators Project found that 35 percent of Oklahoma's college freshmen needed remediation. This is nearly two percentage points lower than the previous year’s rate of 36.7 percent.

In addition, the remediation rates from the 2006-2007 school year are the second-lowest in 10 years, as they match the 35 percent achieved in 2003.

"We're pleased to see that our ‘prepare for college’ message is reaching our students, and they're taking action," Chancellor Glen D. Johnson said. "Students who challenge themselves in high school with a more rigorous curriculum will likely score higher on the ACT, need less remediation and ultimately, achieve greater success in college."

The report states that students taking remedial courses graduate from college at a lower rate than those who do not require remediation. This could be because remedial courses are non-credit and can slow a student's progress in college, requiring the student to spend valuable time in classes that do not count toward a degree.

Remedial courses also pose a greater cost to students. In Oklahoma, students must pay a fee in addition to the tuition costs for each remedial course they take.

Of the four subject areas monitored in the report, mathematics still requires the most remediation. However, the report shows its rates have dropped to 30.7 percent, a percentage point below the previous year’s rates.

This decrease is the largest single-year decline in math remediation rates since 2001, higher education officials said.

The percentage of students needing English remediation also has declined by nearly a full percentage point to 16.3 percent, down from 17.2 percent in the previous year.

In other subject areas, 4.3 percent of students need remediation in reading; 1.7 percent need remediation in science.

The High School Indicators Project was created in response to a 1989 state law that requires the State Department of Education to provide multiple types of evaluations and notify individual schools, districts and the general public about the "effectiveness" of schools. The project tracks remediation, ACT scores, college-going rates and the first-year performance of college students.

The remediation report and other portions of the High School Indicators Project will soon be available online at www.okhighered.org.