Moving the Needle on Student Completion: Low Success among Students Placed into Remediation

December 2014

With the publication of California’s Student Success Scorecards, community colleges are facing greater pressure than ever to increase student completion. In particular the scorecards spotlight the need to improve outcomes for students classified as “unprepared” for college, those who are required to take remedial coursework in ESL, English, and math. The most recent statewide scorecard shows that just 41% of these students went onto complete a degree, certificate, or transfer-related outcome within six years, compared to 70% of students classified as “college ready.” 

Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to a small number of students. Statewide, more than 70% of incoming students who take an assessment test are required to enroll in remedial courses. This means that in order to improve our overall completion rates, we need to improve our results with these students.

On its face, this is a daunting problem. Community colleges don’t control the preparation students receive in high school, and as open access institutions, we admit all students, regardless their grades, SAT scores, or even whether they graduated. Is it really reasonable to expect us to improve outcomes with underprepared students?

A growing body of evidence says yes. Community colleges across the country are demonstrating that by changing the way they approach incoming students, they can achieve much better results.

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Publication: Board Focus (Community College League of California)
Author(s): Katie Hern

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