Kansas education officials say remedial education courses not working for most students


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LAWRENCE, Kansas — Kansas education officials are considering changes to the state's remedial education program, which offers students a chance to improve their math, English and reading skills before taking college-level courses.

A Developmental Education report said 42 percent of the first-time students in two-year colleges and 16 percent in public, four-year colleges take at least one remedial course and most of those students don't go on to graduate, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1z2k0U6 ).

"We need to do things differently," said Susan Fish, state director of adult education at the Kansas Board of Regents.

The educators and administrators who compiled the report recommended funding of $2.8 million to $3.3 million for a three-year project to help institutions develop better procedures for offering the remedial courses.

"We are spending billions of dollars in our K-12 system and these kids ought to be able to meet these standards. We need to be more honest with ourselves," said Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Kenny Wilk.

Fish said the state first should work to keep students out of remedial education by communicating more clearly with high schools about what skills students need in college. Schools also should identify students in the 11th grade who are deficient in math or English and develop refresher courses for them.

Students also should be allowed to take college-level and remedial courses at the same time, with the remedial course focusing on the students' specific need in a subject, Fish said.

Ingrid Peterson, director of the Kansas Algebra Program at the University of Kansas, said a top finding of the group that compiled the study was that several different interests need to address the issue.

"People with the power to act either through policy or funding need to come together and work toward a common goal and not just pass it off to someone else," Peterson said. "A piece of it belongs to everyone; K-12, the regents, the Legislature, we all have a part."

Regent Shane Bangerter said he believes families need to understand that their children must take certain tracks to get into college. "It has got to start way early on," he said.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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