Tunxis Community College
Housatonic Community College

The number of Connecticut high school graduates enrolled in remedial courses at Connecticut’s regional universities or community colleges dropped steadily from 2010 to 2016, according to a recent report released by the state department of education.

In 2016, of the 13,500 graduates who enrolled in one of the Connecticut state colleges and universities, just over 41% enrolled in remediation courses within the first two years of attending — down from nearly 50% in 2010.

The rate has been dropping fairly steadily since 2013, according to the data. A report released in 2018 that showed nearly half of those from the class of 2012 enrolled in the state’s public colleges needed remedial courses.

“We’ve continued to run [the report] because it provides a consistent long-term picture of college going, college credit attainment, and remediation patterns that are now beginning to produce long-term descriptive data on how policy changes like Common Core and PA12-40 may be playing into the trends,” Peter Yazbak, spokesperson for the department of education, said in an email. “Taken together, that helps us provide students with comprehensive support in this area.”

Although the report shows that there’s an overall decline since 2010, Black and Hispanic students enrolled at CSCU were more likely than white or Asian students in the system to take remedial courses.

English learners, students with disabilities and students in low-income households were also significantly more likely to take remedial courses after high school than other students — for example, 68.6% of students with disabilities and 38.8% of their peers in the class of 2016 enrolled in these courses.

Connecticut tracks only the students who enrolled in remedial courses at the 12 community colleges and four regional state universities. The state does not track students taking these courses when they enroll in a private Connecticut college, out-of-state college, or at the University of Connecticut, because some don’t collect data on remediation (UConn) or they have placement exams that determine the academic proficiency of incoming students.

What changed and what’s next?

The report notes that this decline in students taking remedial coursework can, in part, be attributed to policies and initiatives implemented throughout the last 10 years, such as the state Board of Education adopting Common Core State Standards in 2010 and students being offered more pre-college and dual enrollment opportunities.

The report also takes into consideration legislation passed in 2012 aimed at overhauling how the college system handles students who show up each year academically unprepared for college-level courses.

The law limits remedial enrollment to one semester and requires more than a standardized entrance exam to determine who must take these non-credit courses. Colleges are required to provide students with short, non-credit courses to catch them up before they are allowed to enroll in courses for credit with an array of supports, like tutors, so they don’t fall behind.

CSCU leaders are looking to expand on that 2012 legislation by scaling up co-requisite courses, which engage students in supports associated with the courses they’re in.

The Alignment and Completion of Math and English model, or ACME, would expand supports from 4,000 to about 20,000 students, according to Greg DeSantis, CSCU vice president of student success and academic initiatives.

“About 30% of our students were in [co-requisites], thanks to PA12-40, and it worked for those students — they were twice as likely to succeed as the students in [pre-requisites],” DeSantis said. “We haven’t scaled it to all students yet. Now that we’re going to scale it to all students, that’s the policy that the board is considering at this point … if that’s approved, we’re expecting to see similar success stories for all those other students that weren’t included in the co-req model before.”

DeSantis said the policy will be presented to the CSCU Academic and Student Affairs Committee on Friday, and from there, if it passes out of the committee, could go to the Board of Regents on May 20.

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Adria was CT Mirror's Education and Community Reporter. She grew up in Oakland, graduated from Sacramento State where she was co-news editor of the student newspaper, and worked as a part-time reporter at CalMatters. Most recently Adria interned at The Marshall Project, a national nonprofit news organization that reports on criminal justice issues. Adria was one of CT Mirror’s Report For America Corps Members.

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