by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Higher Education Department announced today that the remediation rate of Arkansas college students continues to drop, with the rate (34.5 percent) at four-year colleges a new low.
The remediation rate represents the percentage of students who score below 19 on the ACT test in math or English. That score is below the national average of 20.6 and 21.1, respectively. So if you chose to be picky and critical, you could say that one in three entrants to four-year schools and three in every four at two-year colleges haven't attained a specified, but still below average, score. (Some editing done here to attempt to clarify my point.)
But the trend line is moving in the direction of more students being prepared for college work. Lower remediation rates should translate into higher graduation rates. Here are a couple of tables prepared by the department.
Remediation rates for college and university students reached its second-lowest point since the Arkansas Department of Higher Education began tracking those figures in 1994 — which had the lowest to date, according to figures released Tuesday by ADHE and to be presented to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board Thursday.
According to officials, students at four-year universities had a remediation rate of only 34.5 percent — the lowest yet — while students at two-year colleges were remediated at a rate of 75.5, on average 49.3 percent. Higher rates of remediation at two-year colleges is directly related to the older average age of students on those a campuses — many of whom are returning students — since students who have been out of high school a longer period of time are more likely to need remedial coursework.
“We’re seeing increases in enrollment and students who are better-prepared academically,” said Shane Broadway, interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. “Several initiatives to further improve preparedness are being planned and implemented, and we hope to see a surge in college degrees awarded in the next few years. This will go a long way toward helping Arkansas double the number of degree holders by 2025 and ensure our workforce is ready to compete for jobs in the new global economy.”
Studies done in Arkansas over the last 18 months have affirmed that student remediation is a contributing factor to low college graduation rates, Broadway said, and a decrease in the remediation rate is an indicator of how initiatives at the K-12 level and more adequate funding is helping to prepare students for the rigors of post-secondary education.
“We’re very pleased to hear about the improvement in remediation rates,” said Arkansas Education Commissioner Dr. Tom W. Kimbrell. “Arkansas students are more college and career ready in part because of the great working relationship between the K-12 education community and the higher education community. We appreciate that the Higher Education Department and the colleges and universities of this state continue to work hard to support public schools throughout Arkansas.”
ADHE data show Arkansas currently has a graduation rate of 19.8 percent for college students and 37.8 percent for those attending universities. The percentage of adults ages 25 and older in Arkansas with an associate’s degree or higher is 25.8 percent, according to U.S. Census data in the 2010 American Community Survey, in an estimated population of 1.92 million in that age group. Nearly 23 percent have some college but no degree.
The ADHE is responsible for carrying out the policy directives of the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board, approving and reviewing college and university academic programs and developing funding recommendations for the state’s 11 public universities and 22 public two-year colleges as well as several other post-secondary entities. In addition, the agency is responsible for distributing approximately $170 million annually from state revenues and lottery funds intended to ease the financial burden of students seeking an education beyond high school. For more information, visit www.adhe.edu.