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Reports from Policy Analysts

Center for American Progress Report on Remedial Education

Submitted On: Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Analyst: Melzer, Dan

The Center for American Progress has published the report Remedial Education: The Cost of Catching Up. The report outlines concerns with remedial college education in math and English and proposes solutions for ending the need for remediation. The report claims that 40-60% of students require remediation in English or math, with low-income students and students of color having higher remediation rates than white and higher income peers.

The report cites research that shows that students who take remedial college classes are less likely to graduate, with on-time completion rates of less than 10% and less than 50% of students persisting past their remedial courses. The report argues that we can eliminate the need for remediation by ensuring high schools raise standards and by doing a better job of aligning high school and college expectations. The report uses the example of the Common Core Standards as a move in this direction.

Although the report acknowledges socioeconomic factors in the tracking of students into remedial courses that may negatively affect their persistence, rather than confront issues of socioeconomic barriers to access, the report focuses on criticizing K-12 curriculum. The report argues that raising standards, rather than confronting deeper structures of socioeconomic and racial inequality, will ultimately end the need for remediation. The report also fails to cite the research in Basic Writing that has considered the tensions between standards and access in more sophisticated ways than simply arguing for higher standards as the solution to remediation (Fox, Soliday, Stanley) and that has offered critiques of the kind of reductive attempts to eliminate the need for remediation that are presented in the report (Adler-Kassner, Mutnick, Rose).

The full report can be found at:

Academic Level

Higher Education



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