728 x 90
728 x 90
728 x 90
728 x 90
728 x 90

Cutting Back on Catching Up: Reducing the Need for Remediation in Colorado Higher Education

IP-11-2003 (December 2003)
Author: Marya DeGrow

PDF of full Issue Paper
Scribd version of full Issue Paper

Executive Summary

A recent study by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education reveals that 26.6% of Colorado public high school graduates entering Colorado public higher education in 2002-2003 were assigned to remediation, and of those:

  • 45.1% were assigned to remediation in reading
  • 44.1% were assigned to remediation in writing
  • 85.3% were assigned to remediation in math
  • 25% were assigned to remediation in all three subjects1

Remediation in college for high school graduates cost the state an estimated $18.9 million, at least, in the 2002-2003 school year. This was roughly 55.1% of the total cost of educating remedial students. The other 44.9% ($15.4 million) was expected to come from student tuition. However, because some student tuition was generated by state grants and scholarships, the state also absorbed some of the $15.4 million tuition bill. The state and students combined paid an estimated $34.3 million for remedial education in 2002-2003.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education has approved a policy that requires most high school students graduating in the spring of 2008 to complete a core curriculum consisting of English, math, social science, natural science, and academic electives before entering Colorado public four-year colleges. Additional requirements will apply to 2010 high school graduates.

The new standards are important for all students who desire to attend college because a challenging high school core curriculum has been shown to be “the single most significant factor in determining a student’s success in college,” even overcoming racial gaps and socio-economic circumstances. A strong core curriculum can reduce remedial rates in higher education and prepare students for success after high school.

In addition to seeing that students receive a solid foundation in the basics starting in kindergarten, the following changes must occur in order to reduce the need for remedial classes among Colorado’s recent public high school graduates:

  • The Colorado legislature must pass legislation that requires school districts to notify parents of the college admissions standards before students register for 9th grade
  • Middle and high school counselors and teachers must encourage potentially college-bound students to take the classes that will prepare them for college- level work
  • Schools must ensure that students have access to core curriculum classes
  • Students must rise to the challenge of more rigorous high school classes