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Remedial Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions in Fall 2000
NCES 2004010
November 2003

Participation in Remedial Education

In fall 1995 and 2000, postsecondary institutions were asked about student participation in remedial courses, including freshman enrollment in remedial courses and the average length of time that students spent in remedial courses.19

Freshman Enrollment in Remedial Courses

In fall 2000, institutions that offered remedial reading, writing, or mathematics courses were asked about the percentage of entering freshmen that enrolled in any remedial course in one or more of these subject areas, and the percentage that enrolled in remedial courses in each subject area. This information was used with enrollment data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2000 Fall Enrollment file to calculate the number of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education courses at each institution, and the percentage across institutions.20

Freshman Enrollment in Remediation: Overall

Twenty-eight percent of entering freshmen enrolled in at least one remedial reading, writing, or mathematics course in fall 2000 (table 4). Freshman remedial enrollments differed by institutional type. The proportion of freshmen enrolling in at least one remedial reading, writing, or mathematics course was higher at public 2-year colleges than it was for all other types of institutions; 42 percent of freshmen at public 2-year colleges compared with 12 to 24 percent of freshmen at other types of institutions enrolled in such courses. In addition, public 4-year institutions had a higher proportion of freshmen enrolling in at least one remedial reading, writing, or mathematics course than did private 4-year institutions; 20 percent of freshmen at public 4-year institutions and 12 percent at private 4-year institutions enrolled in such courses in 2000. Between 1995 and 2000, no difference was detected in the overall proportion of entering freshmen who were enrolled in at least one remedial reading, writing, or mathematics course (table 4).

Freshman Enrollment in Remediation by Subject Area

In fall 2000, the proportion of entering freshmen who were enrolled in remedial courses was larger for mathematics than writing (22 vs. 14 percent), and it was smallest for reading courses (11 percent) (table 4).

Differences in remedial enrollments by institutional type were also observed for each of the subject areas examined in the survey (table 4). Among institutions that enrolled freshmen in fall 2000, remedial enrollments for reading and mathematics were higher in public 2-year colleges than in all other types of institutions; for example, 35 percent of freshmen at public 2-year colleges enrolled in remedial mathematics compared with 8 to 18 percent of freshmen who enrolled in such courses at other types of institutions. Remedial enrollments for writing were higher at public 2- year colleges than at public and private 4-year institutions in 2000 (23 percent vs. 9 and 7 percent, respectively).

Between 1995 and 2000, no differences were detected in the proportion of freshmen who were enrolled in remedial reading or mathematics, although the proportion of freshmen enrolled in remedial writing declined from 16 to 14 percent (table 4).

Average Length of Time in Remedial Education

In fall 1995 and 2000, institutions that offered remedial courses were asked to indicate about how long, on average, a student takes remedial coursesóless than 1 year, 1 year, or more than 1 year.

The majority of institutions reported that students spent 1 year or less in remediation, on average (table 5). Of the institutions that offered remedial courses in fall 2000, 60 percent indicated that their students spent an average time of less than 1 year on remedial courses, 35 percent reported that their students spent an average of 1 year on such courses, and 5 percent reported an average time of more than 1 year in remediation. Time spent in remediation was generally longer at public 2-year colleges than at other types of institutions (table 5). In fall 2000, public 2-year colleges were more likely than public 4-year institutions to report that students spent an average of more than 1 year on remedial courses (10 vs. 3 percent). In addition, public 2-year colleges were more likely than public or private 4-year institutions to indicate that students spent an average of 1 year on remedial courses (53 percent vs. 35 and 16 percent, respectively). Time spent in remediation was also longer at public 4-year than private 4-year institutions; 35 percent of public 4-year institutions and 16 percent of private 4-year institutions reported that students spent an average of 1 year in remediation.

Data on the reported time spent in remediation suggest an increase in the average length of time overall that students spent in remedial education courses. Between 1995 and 2000, the proportion of institutions that reported an average of 1 year of remediation for students increased from 28 percent to 35 percent, while the proportion indicating an average of less than 1 year of remediation for students decreased from 67 percent to 60 percent (table 5).


19 Institutions reported the percentage of entering freshmen who enrolled in remedial reading, writing, or mathematics courses. Data on the length of time spent in remediation were based on institutional reporting of the average length of time a student took remedial courses. The data are presented by institutional type: public 2-year, private 2-year, public 4-year, and private 4-year.

20 The PEQIS surveys asked institutions about the percentage of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education. The percentages were used with information from the IPEDS 2000 Fall Enrollment file about the total number of first-time freshmen (both full and part time) enrolled at the institution. The IPEDS information about the total number of first-time freshmen was used (a) to convert the PEQIS questionnaire data on the percentage of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education to the number of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education at each institution, and (b) as a denominator to calculate the percentage of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education across all institutions that enrolled freshmen. Thus, national estimates for the percentage of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education were obtained by dividing the sum of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education across all institutions by the sum of all first-time freshman enrollments across all institutions. To maintain comparability with previous estimates of freshman enrollment in remedial education, the information from IPEDS used in this calculation included only first-time, first-year students; other first-year students were not included. It is possible that institutions may have included both types of first-year students in their estimates of entering freshmen enrolled in remedial education.

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