Is the community college remedial system really working?

“… Recent research fails to find evidence that placement into remediation improves student outcomes. … While this has spurred debate about the content and delivery of remedial coursework, another possibility is that the assessment process itself may be broken.”

— The authors of Assessing Developmental Assessment in Community Colleges, cited by Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews, who says students “are further deceived” by guidance they get telling them they can’t really fail placement tests.

The report comes as a hit to a $1billion system that can’t seem to take unprepared high school grads and turn them into college material.

In its own take, Education News summarizes a few of the report’s conclusions:

•     Assessments appear to be more successful in placing academically prepared students than in placing academically underprepared students.

•     Students who narrowly miss an assessment “cutoff” score and who complete remedial courses are no more likely to complete credit coursework than students with similar scores who continue straight to credit coursework without taking remedial classes first.

•     Multiple measures for placement, such as high school transcripts and written essays in addition to assessments, may improve placement accuracy, as might the use of more diagnostic and affective assessments.