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College-Level Remedial Education in the Fall of 1989
NCES 91191
May 1991

Highlights

  • Three out of four colleges and universities offered at least one remedial course in fall 1989. Sixty-eight percent offered mathematics, 65 percent writing, and 58 percent reading.
  • Both in institutions with a predominantly minority student body (less than 50 percent white) and institutions with a predominantly nonminority student body (greater than or equal to 50 percent white), 74 percent of the institutions offered at least one remedial course.
  • At least one remedial course was offered in 91 percent of public colleges, 90 percent of 2-year colleges, 64 percent of 4-year colleges, and 58 percent of private colleges.
  • On average, colleges with remedial courses provided two different courses in a given remedial subject; on average, 15 people per college taught one or more remedial courses in fall 1989.
  • Thirty percent of all college freshmen took at least one remedial course in fall 1989. Twenty-one percent took mathematics, 16 percent writing, and 13 percent reading.
  • At institutions with a predominantly minority student body, 55 percent of freshmen enrolled in at least one remedial course; at institutions with a predominantly non minority student body, 27 percent of freshmen enrolled in at least one remedial course.
  • Approximately 17 percent of institutions were unable to provide enrollment data for freshmen in remedial courses. About 30 percent of institutions that provided remedial course enrollment data were unable to provide racial/ethnic breakdowns.
  • Remedial courses were passed by 77 percent of those taking remedial reading, 73 percent taking remedial writing and 67 percent taking remedial mathematics.
  • Approximately one-fourth of institutions were unable to provide passing rates for freshmen in remedial courses, and about one half were unable to provide passing rates by racial/ethnic breakdowns.
  • About 20 percent of colleges offering remedial education had a separate remedial department or division; 98 percent offered at least one support service, such as peer tutoring and counseling; and 97 percent of institutions conducted at least one evaluation of remedial programs, such as reviewing student completion rates of remedial courses.
  • Approximately 20 percent of colleges awarded degree credit for remedial courses. About two-thirds awarded institutional credit, which counted in determining full-time status but not toward degree completion. One-tenth awarded no credit at all for such courses.
  • Remedial courses were required for students not meeting institutional standards in 68 percent of colleges offering remedial writing, 63 percent offering remedial mathematics, and 54 percent offering remedial reading.
  • About 90 percent of institutions providing remedial courses used placement tests to select participants for remedial courses; remedial-course exit skills were based on regular academic course entry skills by 86 percent of institutions for remedial mathematics courses, by 81 percent for remedial writing courses, and by 70 percent for remedial reading courses.
  • One-third of colleges providing remedial education allowed students to take any regular academic courses while taking remedial courses; in only 2 percent could students take no regular academic courses while taking remedial courses.
  • Forty percent of colleges providing remedial courses were not engaged in any activities to reduce the need for remedial education. Fifty-four percent communicated with high schools about skills needed for college work, and 19 percent participated in or organized workshops for high school faculty.
  • Forty-seven percent of institutions were unable to provide retention rates to the second year for freshmen who had enrolled in at least one remedial course, and approximately 66 percent of institutions were unable to provide these rates by race/ethnicity.
  • Eighty-one percent of colleges did not maintain baccalaureate degree graduation rates for entering freshmen who enrolled in at least one remedial course, and 87 percent did not maintain graduation rates by racial/ethnic group for these students.
  • Institutions offering one or more remedial courses in reading, writing, or mathematics decreased from 82 percent in 1983-84 to 74 percent in 1989-90.

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