One State’s Shakeup in Remedial Education Brings a Slew of Headaches

Enrollments in remedial courses dropped by half at many of Florida’s community and state colleges this fall, but not everyone is cheering. Just as many poorly prepared students are showing up, but thanks to a new state law, many are jumping straight into college-credit classes.

The optional-remediation law is forcing professors in college-level composition classes to spend time on basic sentence structure, while mathematics teachers who were ready to plunge into algebra are going over fractions. It’s also raising questions about how the dwindling number of students who do sign up for remedial classes here will perform when those catch-up lessons in math, reading, and writing are compressed, embedded into credit courses, or offered alongside them.

The shakeup in remedial education, also known as developmental education, is badly needed, most educators in Florida concur. But that’s about all they agree on as they begin to assess the impact in its first year.

Alarmed by the high dropout and failure rates for college students who start out in remedial classes, Florida lawmakers voted last year to make such courses, and even the related placement tests, optional for anyone who entered a Florida public school as a ninth-grader in 2003 or later and earned a diploma. Students who are actively serving in the military can also opt out. <Read more.>

Via Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education.