Cost of Remedial Education

It is estimated that Texas spends more than $88 million a year to provide community college remediation education for high school graduates who did not acquire the basic skills to succeed in college or at work. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports the data comes from the Alliance for Excellent Education.

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It's a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to having every child graduate from high school ready for college or the work place. Former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise is the group's president. He says remedial education is needed when a high school graduate can't handle college level work and has to take high school level course in a community college.

"We look at it as taxpayers having to pay for the same teaching twice. And, it's wasted time for the student because the student also has to spend time catching up what he or she should have been able to get in high school. It is a glaring problem in this country."

The Alliance for Excellent Education report is called "Paying Double: Inadequate High Schools and Community College Remediation." Gov. Wise says other institutions of higher learning also face the problem of remedial education but this study focused on community colleges because they fece the brunt of the problem: more than 40-percent of students entering community colleges take at least one remedial course.

The needed for a remedial course is also an indicator of one's potential for success in life.

"Remedial reading students are much more likely to drop out of college without a degree, thus they reduce their earning potential by almost $20,000."

He says that costs Texas about $194 million a year in lost wages.

"There's a practical dollars and cents impact on not having quality high school curriculum."

The solution, says Gov. Wise, begins with the basics.

"To improve the curriculum and the level of courses taught in high school, to develop a personal graduation plan for every student so that we recognize early on what their particular needs are and meet those needs, and we recognize that if we don't do it right the first time we are going to end up paying for it the second time."

To get it right the first time the Alliance for Excellent Education report says states need to set statewide performance standards for college admission which would enable educators to assess student progress toward readiness for college. It also says those standards would convey clear expectations to students, teachers, parents and high schools regarding student performance. Gov. Wise says standardize testing may or may not be helpful.

"As somebody once said to me, you can weigh the pig everyday but that doesn't automatically fatten it."

You'll find a link to the Alliance's report at kuhf-dot-org.

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