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Remedial rates up in college

October 08, 2000

Remedial rates up in college



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Fifty-seven percent of Washington County graduates who didn't take college preparatory classes needed remediation in college math in 1998 - higher than all the school systems in the state except Baltimore City and Allegany County, according to the recently released Maryland Student Outcome and Achievement Report.

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Forty-four percent needed remedial classes in English, second only to Baltimore City.

Both of the percentages were up from the 1997 results, in which 53 percent needed remediation in math and 33 percent needed remediation in English.

Both of the 1998 percentages are also well above state averages. The state average was 41 percent in math and 28 percent in English.

The report distinguished between "core" and "non-core" graduates, depending on the preparatory classes they took in high school. To be included in the core group, students had to take at least four years of English, three years of math, three years of social science or history, two years of science and two years of a foreign language. Core students are those who took college prep in high school. The non-core students are those who didn't take college prep.

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The students who took college prep fared better than the non-core graduates, as 28 percent needed remedial courses in math and 22 percent needed help in English. Both the core and non-core groups, however, needed less help in reading, with 13 percent of the core graduates needing remedial courses and 22 percent of non-core graduates.

The report does not include graduates who went to college outside of Maryland.

According to the report, 416 of the 1,125 Washington County graduates in 1998 went on to Maryland colleges.

Linda Fernandez, the Board of Education's director of curriculum, said the report might not give an accurate account of how many non-core students actually needed remedial help, because it counts the students who opted into remedial courses.

"For example, if I had entered as a freshman but needed more confidence in math, and the college said I was OK without extra help, I could enroll in a remedial course and still be counted in the report," she said.

She also said the percentage of non-core students who needed extra help in math and English could be elevated because some of those students enter high school without the intention of going to college but decide after they graduate to attend.

"There are a great number of students who go through their freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years without thinking of going to college," she said. "So they really haven't prepared themselves for going to college."

Fernandez also said other school systems in the state could have either more or less graduates entering Maryland colleges, which could also make Washington County's percentages look higher than others.

But while the Board of Education is glad that non-core students decide to go to college, she said the school system is working on lowering the percentages of graduates who need remedial help.

She said the board has several intervention strategies in place and is developing more strategies that could boost a non-core students' chances of being adequately prepared for college. Those strategies include career programs for students and learning groups, she said.

"It's wonderful that non-core students have made a decision to go to college," Fernandez said. "That's good rather than bad."

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