State of Oklahoma
House of Representatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2012
Rep. Danny Morgan
State Capitol Building Rm. 501
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Rep. Steve Kouplen
State Capitol Building Rm. 546
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Contact: Valorie Owens
Lawmakers Review Remedial Placement in Oklahoma Colleges
OKLAHOMA CITY (September 27, 2012) On Tuesday four state lawmakers hosted an interim study to review criteria for placement in college remediation courses.
Representatives Danny Morgan (D-Prague), Steve Kouplen (D-Beggs), Donnie Condit (D-McAlester) and Curtis McDaniel, (D-Smithville) requested the interim hearing after reviewing two new studies that found that many colleges unnecessarily place students in remedial courses, which is costly and can often derail their college careers.
Almost half of all first-time Oklahoma freshmen are being required to take zero-credit remedial courses before being accepted in a college level course. During the 2010-2011 academic year a total of 54,155 students were enrolled in remedial courses, with the vast majority of these students (79.3%) being remediated at community colleges.
“I know of students who had an outstanding grade point average, but because they did not score well on a college assessment test, they were required to take a remedial course where they paid the same amount in tuition and fees but earned no college credit,” said Rep. Morgan. “I think that the placement tests cast too wide a net, and many students who are labeled as underprepared for a course would do well in a college credit course that provided tutoring support.”
Presenters at the interim hearing included: Tony Hutchinson, Vice-Chancellor of Strategic Planning, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; Dr. Jay Corwin, Senior Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management, University of Central Oklahoma; Dr. Paul Bell, Jr., Dean and Vice Provost for Instruction; University of Oklahoma; Dr. Bradley Walck, Vice President for Student Affairs, Seminole State College; and Tamara Carter, Director of Mathematics, Oklahoma City Community College.
According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE), there is no statewide mandate as to criteria for placement in a remedial course, but most colleges look at a student’s ACT score on the subjects of English, math, science and reading, and if it is 18 or below they require the student to take an assessment test issued by the university. The score on the assessment test then determines if a student will be placed in a remedial or a college-level course.
According to Dr. Corwin of UCO, 45% of first-time freshmen require some form of remediation, with math being the most cited deficiency. He states that UCO has recently taken many steps towards remediation reform, to include decreasing the number of remedial courses one must master before enrolling in college algebra. Previously UCO required those assessed as underprepared for college algebra to pass three courses: pre-algebra, elementary algebra and intermediate algebra. Now UCO requires only two courses, Fundamentals of Algebra I and II, before entering college algebra.
Rep. Condit questioned the validity of the placement tests used to screen for college readiness, as research from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College estimated that one in four students assigned to math remediation could have passed a college-level math course with a grade of B or better and one in three students assigned to English remediation could have passed freshmen composition with a B or better.
“All of us want our students to succeed in college, and I know the goal of these remedial courses is to improve the likelihood of that occurring, but my concern is that many students are incorrectly being branded as unprepared,” said Rep. Condit. “In these instances the students not only incur more debt in tuition and fees for a course in which they’ll receive no college credit, but they also lose valuable time as it delays their graduation date. In some cases, it may deter them from even attempting to attend college.”
Research by Complete College America, a Washington-based national nonprofit organization, shows that just 1 in 10 remedial students graduate from community colleges within three years and a little more than a third complete bachelor’s degrees in six years.
“I think it should be up to the student to determine if they want to try their hand in a college-level course, or accept the recommendation of the college to first attend a remedial course,” said Rep. Morgan. “I think of it as being similar to a walk-on football player, who is given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, and who accepts the risks and consequences involved. I think it is inherently unfair that a student who is paying good money for a course, and is willing to invest their time and energy towards succeeding in that course, is being denied that option.”