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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Study: Grads Don't Need all that College Remediation

Here's something interesting. It appears that all those High School graduates taking remedial courses their first years in college don't really need it. From the story in Inside Higher Ed:
The research, which analyzed data from a large, urban community college system and a statewide two-year system, found that up to a third of students who placed into remedial classes on the basis of the placement tests could have passed college-level classes with a grade of B or better.
So who told these students they needed remediation? Standardized tests. In particular, the COMPASS and ACCUPLACER exams (from ACT, Inc. and College Board, respectively). According to Inside Higher Ed:
The accuracy of placement tests has been the subject of little research, the researchers said. But the new studies suggest that colleges should reconsider how they use the tests to decide which students need remediation.
What is so troubling is enrollment in remediation courses in college has a significant impact on the student finishing college.
... remedial education is a black hole from which comparatively few students ever emerge. Only 25 percent of students in remedial classes will eventually earn a degree from a community college or transfer to a four-year college, research has found.
Once again, research has demonstrated the limitations of standardized testing. This is why making these things even more high stakes is potentially dangerous. Tests can be quite helpful when used as evaluative tools to improve and direct instruction.

However, extrapolating their results to the extent that it permanently affects students' academic careers or other non-evaluative measures is extremely problematic.

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