Performance in College-Level Courses Among Students Concurrently Enrolled in Remedial Courses: Policy Implications

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Community colleges utilize open-door admission policies to provide educational opportunities for all students, including those who are academically under-prepared in one or more areas. Current approaches to assisting under-prepared students include the targeted delivery of remedial courses in math, English, and reading. This approach typically relies on the use of standardized placement tests to determine whether students have remedial needs. Based on those placement test scores, students may have a remedial need in only one of the core academic areas (e.g., math, English, or reading). In such cases, students may concurrently enroll in required remedial courses and college-level courses unrelated to the area in which they are considered to be academically under-prepared. The research reported in this article evaluated the assumption that a student's under-preparedness is limited to a specific area by assessing the college-level performance of students concurrently enrolled in remedial and college-level courses. The results show that college-level pass rates are much lower among students concurrently enrolled in remedial courses who do not successfully complete one or more of these remedial courses. These students under-perform irrespective of the type of college-level course. In contrast, students who pass their remedial courses are generally successful in their college-level courses. Policy implications in regard to developmental education are discussed.