Only 31 percent of students placed into remedial math ever move beyond it, according to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, meaning the students never even get to college-level work, much less graduate. The prospects are especially bleak for students who test into the lowest level of a remedial-math course sequence, where they’re asked to add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, fractions, mixed numbers, and decimals. Remedial math is the biggest obstacle to graduation at a time when President Obama wants community colleges to produce five million more graduates by 2020. Nationally, less than 25 percent of community-college students who take remedial—also known as developmental courses—earn a degree within eight years, and another 14 percent transfer to a four-year college without completing an associate degree or certificate. By way of comparison, about 40 percent of community-college students who did not enroll in a remedial-education class complete a degree in eight years, and 14 percent transfer without the degree or certificate. Poor graduation rates are one reason that community colleges nationwide are rethinking their approach to developmental education, trying a wide variety of strategies to move students more quickly through remedial courses and on to college-level work.
Source: Carnegie Foundation