Ohio’s public universities may be eliminating remedial classes from their course offerings over the next few years.
In accordance with the recent state budget, by Dec. 2012, presidents of public Ohio universities must establish uniform statewide standards in math, science, reading and writing for a student to be considered “remediation-free,” or in other words, college-ready.
Remedial courses are introductory classes used to teach or reemphasize the fundamentals of a subject. In mathematics for example, algebra or algebra II may be considered remedial, depending on the university.
Remedial courses cover material that should have been mastered in high school, according to Kim Norris, director of communications at the Ohio Board of Regents. The board is responsible for annually reporting on the condition of higher education in Ohio as well as advising the chancellor of the board on statewide issues affecting higher education.
Cutting remedial courses would save Ohio universities, taxpayers and students money, Norris said. Ohio universities spend nearly $130 million per year on remediation.
The chancellor of the board of regents, Jim Petro, said he feels there is no place for remedial courses at the college level and that remediation should be taken care of at the K-12 level, Norris said. One suggestion has been to have high school sophomores take a college-readiness test to determine if they’re ready for college-level coursework or if they need more work in certain subjects, according to Norris.
College completion is currently a main focus of Ohio higher education, Norris said.
“Completion for students in Ohio is an issue. Students have access and are going, but many are not completing,” she said.
The hope is that eliminating remedial courses will ensure students’ college readiness before college and lead to fewer students dropping out of college.
“We want students to be successful,” Norris said.
Remedial courses don’t always help students, but rather put them at a disadvantage, according to Norris.
“Students get discouraged and they quit college altogether,” she said.
Miami currently relies on its regional campuses to handle situations where students need remediation, according to Associate Provost and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Michael Dantley.
“Miami has the best of all worlds,” Dantley said.
He added that students who may not be college-ready as first-years have the opportunity to attend Miami’s regional campuses. Students at regional campuses then have the option of earning their degree there or relocating to Miami’s main Oxford campus.
“A public institution needs to have a curriculum broad enough to include as many students as possible,” he said.
First-year student Sara Wehrle was placed in a lower level math class upon enrolling at Miami. Wehrle, who is not currently taking any math classes, said that math has never been a strong subject for her, but that she would be displeased if she wasn’t able to take a lower level class here at Miami.
“I would be kind of upset,” Wehrle said. “I know there are certain concepts you’re supposed to master in high school, but sometimes you need a refresher.”
Dantley also pointed out that Miami strives to provide academic support for all students, for example, tutoring or one-on-one academic intervention.
Students should also receive support from their professors, according to Dantley.
“It becomes the labor of a good professor to meet the students’ needs where they are,” he said.