State looking at future of remedial courses

Heather Scarlett

If Gov. Bob Taft’s Ohio Core plan passes, high school students may not be able to attend college as early as they would like.

The plan would eliminate remedial courses at major universities, and students whose GPA is lower than Kent State’s minimum of 2.5 might have to take these courses at a community college or a branch campus of the university.

Darrell Glenn, director of performance reporting for the Ohio Board of Regents, said the bill is now being debated by the Ohio General Assembly.

“One (part of the bill) will try to improve the courses that students take in high school,” Glenn said.

The Ohio Core plan would also change high school graduation requirements in an attempt to better prepare high school students for college-level work.

Mark Ledoux, associate director of admissions, said incoming freshmen at Kent State go through the PASS program and take a placement exam called COMPASS.

Three combined factors determine whether students are placed in the remedial classes: high school curriculum and GPA, college entrance exam scores from the ACT or SAT and COMPASS exam scores, he said.

With changes in course curriculums, it is possible that remedial classes wouldn’t be counted as college credits and would not help students toward their college degrees, Glenn said.

“Technically, they do not count for degree requirements in any academic program at Kent State,” Gary Padak, dean of undergraduate studies, said in an e-mail. “However, students whose skill levels require them to take these courses must complete them successfully in order to graduate — so in this sense these courses count towards the degree requirements for these students.”

Padak said remedial courses at Kent State are graded and count for financial aid, residence hall status and athletic eligibility among other factors.

“The average time for graduation is currently about 5 years, so students are already taking extra semesters to graduate whether or not they are required to take remedial/developmental courses,” he said. “If a student is required to take nine to 12 credit hours of remedial/developmental courses, it might take them one extra semester to graduate.”

If the bill passes, the university could lose the part of the $30 million it receives from Ohio’s higher education budget that goes toward remedial education.

“State dollars are spent on the remedial classes,” Glenn said.

If Kent State’s enrollment falls, and it didn’t need the money for remedial classes, the university wouldn’t receive the money, he said.

“If this bill is passed, we will still be able to offer the courses on our seven regional campuses,” Padak said. “Since students can register for classes at more than one Kent State campus, we would need to be creative in ensuring that students whose skills require them to take remedial/developmental courses could do so while maintaining their preponderant enrollment at the Kent campus.

“Ethically, we can’t accept their tuition dollars knowing their chance for academic failure is greater if we do not provide them with these remedial/developmental courses or an equivalent form of academic support.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected].