Focus on reducing remedial courses

Remedial classes are required of college students who fail to meet academic standards set by placement testing. Although the courses are intended to help students prepare for college-level work, they do not always benefit students.

For example, remedial courses are expensive, but they don’t usually grant credits. A report from the state found that students enrolled in remedial courses are less likely to graduate and more likely to be in debt than other students. Additionally, remediation disproportionately impacts low-income students and students of color.

Given these issues, the University of Minnesota group Students for Education Reform is seeking to pass legislation that would establish a co-requisite system of courses to take the place of remedial courses. This would mean students needing extra help could simultaneously take preparatory and college-level courses.

This revision of the current remedial coursework model has promise. However, we would rather that schools and the state focus on getting middle school and high school students ready for college in other ways before remedial courses become necessary.

The University and Minneapolis Public Schools recently announced a partnership in which University honors students will provide tutoring for middle school students.

These and similar programs benefit low-income students and students of color, and they can help eliminate the need for remedial or co-requisite courses later on. Focusing on expanding and improving similar programs may ultimately provide more benefits than reforming the remedial system.