Remedial College Classes Need Fixing

 Each year, an estimated 1.7 million U.S. college students are steered to remedial classes to catch them up and prepare them for regular coursework. But a growing body of research shows the courses are eating up time and money, often leading not to degrees, but student loan hangovers.

The expense of remedial courses, which typically cost students the same as regular classes but don’t fulfill degree requirements, run about $3 billion annually, according to new research by Complete College America, a Washington-based national nonprofit working to increase the number of students with a college degree.

The group says the classes are largely failing the nation’s higher education system at a time when student loan debt has become a presidential campaign issue. Meanwhile, lawmakers in at least two states have pushed through changes and numerous institutions are redesigning the courses.

“Simply putting (students) in three levels of remedial math is really taking their money and time with no hope of success,” said Stan Jones, president of Complete College America.

The group’s research shows 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. Yet the classes are widespread, with more than 50 percent of students entering two-year colleges and nearly 20 percent of those entering four-year universities put in at least one remedial course, the report said. (Read more.)

Via Heather Hollingsworth, The Associated Press on Diverse Issues in Higher Ed.

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Career Center Seeks to Erase ‘Vocational’ Stigma

Students get hands-on experience with industrial tools, computers, vehicle repair and lots of other technical skills.

But don’t call the Prosser Career Education Center a vocational school.

The school changed its name and logo earlier this year. But Alan Taylor, director of career and technical education, said the change is more than skin deep.

“For years, there was this idea that if students weren’t going to college that they were going to vocational school,” Taylor said. “It’s not just a plan A or plan B for students. We ask them what they want to do and secondly, what kind of training that will take. I don’t want to beat up on the word vocational, but it just kind of brings stereotypes with it, unfortunately.”

Rather than preparing students for going straight into the workforce with a set of skills, he said Prosser aims to get students a whole set of opportunities. With more than 3,000 college credits and more than 740 industrial certifications awarded last year, he said students have the ability to take their knowledge with them to college.

“We’re about career and technical education,” Taylor said. “We’ve actually placed it in our name. We do think that if we can get people into our facility and experience it, they’ll be surprised at the opportunities we make available to our students.”

Many of the programs at Prosser can earn students college credit free of charge to local universities, such as Purdue University or Vincennes University. (Read more.)

Via Jerod Clapp, AP on

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Report on High Schools: Dramatic Increase in Distance Education, Decrease in Student Employment

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released last week its annual Condition of Education report that examines trends in education. This year’s report focuses on the transformation of high schools in the United States over the last 20 years, and includes several pertinent points for Career Technical Education (CTE).

  • High School Enrollment: Since 1990, the number of enrolled high schools students has risen slowly to 14.9 million, and the report projects that this number will increase by 4 percent over the next decade.
  • Distance Education: Enrollments in distance education have rapidly increased over the last five years. Today, more than half of public school districts have high school students who are enrolled in distance education for a total of more than 1 million students – up from about 200,000 only 5 years ago.
  • Student Employment: Only one in six high school students today are employed, compared to one in three in 1990.
  • STEM: More students are taking courses in science and mathematics. Sixteen percent of 2009 high school graduates took calculus, and 11 percent took statistics. In 1990, only seven percent took calculus courses and one percent took statistics. In 2009, 70 percent of students took chemistry and 36 percent took physics, compared to 49 percent and 21 percent respectively.
  • High School Graduation Rates: Over the last two decades, high school graduation rates have improved slightly and dropout rates have declined. In 1991, 73.7 percent of freshman students graduated in 4 years with a high school diploma. By 2009, the high school graduation rate increased to 75.5 percent. In that time, the percentage of students who dropped out of high school declined from 12 percent to 7 percent.
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: Between 2000 and 2010, undergraduate enrollment increased from 13.2 million to 18.1 million students, with enrollment in 2021 projected to be 20.6 million students.

The entire Condition of Education 2012 report is available on the NCES Web site. A webinar that accompanied the release of the report can be accessed here.

Via Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst, CTE Blog.

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Grants Available to Community Colleges to Start Plus 50 Encore Completion Programs

AACC is offering grants to member community colleges to start a Plus 50 Encore Completion program on their campus. The goal of the program is to help 10,000 students over 50 earn certificates or degrees in the high-demand fields of health care, education, and social services, enabling them to increase their employment competitiveness while improving their communities.

AACC has created a successful model for community colleges to provide effective training and supports for plus 50 students at community colleges. This competitive grant program will enable more colleges to provide supports for students over 50 to succeed.



Contact Mary Sue Vickers, Plus 50 Initiative Program Director, at or 202.728.0200 x248.

Via American Association of Community Colleges.

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Community Colleges Dependent More Than Ever on New Revenues to Stay Afloat

Dwindling revenues are taking a toll on California’s community colleges, and state leaders are worried that greater losses could occur under the governor’s new budget plan if new money isn’t found.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget plan calls for $8 billion in cuts, and twice that amount in new revenues to close the $16 billion deficit, state leaders said Tuesday.

For community colleges, full or empty coffers are dependent on three main revenue sources, California Community College Chancellor Jack Scott and Community College League of California CEO Scott Lay said Tuesday.

Those revenue sources are Brown’s tax measures on the November ballot, revenue from the upcoming Facebook IPO (Initial Public Offering) and Redevelopment Agency funds captured from cities and counties, Scott and Lay said.

The governor’s budget package assumes voters will approve a temporary increase in personal income tax on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers, and also increase sales tax by one-quarter percent for four years.

Without the tax package, more cuts would be required and community colleges would take another $300 million hit, Lay said.

All public schools, including community colleges, would be sliced by $5.5 billion, and the University of California and California State University systems would be cut by $250 million each if the tax measures fail.

“It’s all contingent on the passage of the tax initiative in November,” Napa Valley College Vice President of Business and Finance John Nahlen said. (Read more.)

Via Sarah Rohrs, Times Herald.

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