Assessing the Remediation Needs of Small Communities

High school is failing a lot of people in smaller communities – which may or may not get the same attention to detail and school spending as larger communities get. If the small community has a low income median or is made up of African American or Hispanic residents, they’re in for a landslide when they try to attend college.

A recent study of what makes remediation a bridge to nowhere for many of those who are required to take remediation courses has found some surprising statistics. For example, the study found that of those enrolled in a two year college had a lot of people headed for remediation – 51.7% of all students enrolled. Of the African American and Hispanic students, the numbers of those who would go into remediation and most likely hit the dead end were astonishing. The numbers were 67.7% and 58.3% respectively. On the other hand, those that entered a four year college were much less likely to need remediation. Of the 19.9% of students headed for remediation, 39.1% of African Americans and 20.6% of Hispanic students hit the dead end in fall 2006.

On the other hand, if a student does get through remedial courses, these courses may have been a complete waste of time. Often the courses bear no college credit. One example of where these credit-less courses being a waste of time is an example of a challenged learner. This student was able to complete high school geometry, but did not do well in higher math classes. When he was admitted to Hofstra University, he was put into two remedial math classes. Upon finishing these, he found them useless since the math course he took for credit was much easier than the remedial courses, and high school in general.

There are two ways to really remedy the remediation issue. One, suggested by the study mentioned earlier, is to have the students simply enroll in the credit bearing course – with a small twist. The courses would have integrated tutoring on the days that the class wouldn’t normally meet for those who needed it. For those really struggling, courses could be done over two semesters instead of one.

Another is one already in place. A large, abandoned JC Penny’s store was turned into a classroom. Clusters of 25 computers were created in the large building – as were three classrooms and 15 study rooms. The clusters are described as “25 classrooms of one student each” – and allow students to complete remedial work on their own time and at their own pace. The students can even skip work they don’t need to review.

Small communities may invest in either solution and still save money. Students will be incredibly happy with it and they may not even need to stay in remediation as long.