Report on college remediation rates maps challenges for Tennessee schools, colleges and policy makers

Although Tennessee’s college remediation rates have improved, many challenges remain according to information provided to the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday by Mike Krause, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.  Approximately 46 percent of high school students entering the state’s public colleges and universities need remedial math, while 30 percent need help with reading skills. 

The need for remediation is determined by the student’s ACT test.  The test is based on a 36 composite score, with 18 being the cut off point for determining remedial coursework.  The need for remediation varies dramatically among the state’s 300 high schools.  As determined by county, that number ranged from 95 percent to 6 percent in math, and from 95 percent to 2 percent in reading, with students in counties deemed at-risk or distressed being most in need of remedial services.  The statistics in the report do not include students who are not enrolled in college.  The data reflects a decline from over 70 percent who needed remediation in 2011.

Krause said this status also affects whether a student’s likeliness to graduate.  The data shows that there is a stark 13- to 16-point difference in college completion rates for these students as compared to their counterparts.  There is also a 10 percent gap in the drop-out rate for first-year college students who require remediation when contrasted with other students.  

Remediation classes are taken concurrently with the student’s credit-bearing courses to improve success.  Tennessee also has the Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS) program which targets students that have not achieved college readiness benchmarks by introducing college developmental curriculum their senior year of high school.

“Our remediation rate is dropping and if you do need remediation, you are doing better than in the past, but I don’t think that softens the reality of these data points,” Krause added.   “In our recent history of education reform, which is robust, one of the hallmarks of this incredible decade is that we are really good at getting all the parties together.  I think there is a chance for this to be an opportunity to work with our Department of Education and our school districts to do exactly what we have done for the last 10 years, which is look a challenge in the face – understand it does our student no favor to look away from the hard data – and go from there.”

He emphasized the need to share the data with education leaders across Tennessee to focus on measures which can be taken to improve student success.  He also stressed the importance of teacher preparation programs in the state’s colleges and universities. The report is linked here.

Share this Post