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Community colleges have more remedial students

November 22, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Public Schools graduates who enroll in community colleges are less prepared than their classmates who attend state colleges and universities, according to a state report.

The 2002 Maryland Student Outcome and Achievement Report shows the number of students who need remediation in math, reading and English is higher at community colleges.

The report was based on data collected from state community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. It shows the number of students in the county's graduating class of 2000 who needed remediation when moving from public schools to higher education.

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Boyd Michael, schools executive director of secondary education, said the reason for the disparity is that most who go on to state colleges and universities decide to do so earlier and take more challenging academic courses that better prepare them for college. Students who attend community colleges tend to make that commitment later in their high school careers, he said.

School officials said improvements to programs have been made since the information in the report was compiled.

Those students did not benefit from a reading literacy program that has since extended into high schools, said Bob Brown, the school system's supervisor of testing and accountability programs.

Of the 96 county Class of 2000 students who attended four-year colleges in the state, 1 percent required math, reading and English remediation. Statewide, 13 percent of the students required math remediation, 8 percent required English remediation and 10 percent required reading remediation.

"The kids with a clear focus on college are extremely prepared," Brown said.

Of the 341 county Class of 2000 students who attended community colleges, 70 percent required remediation in math, 57 percent required remediation in English and 34 percent required remediation in reading.

Reading remediation numbers at community colleges were consistent with state figures, but math and English scores were lower than state averages. State numbers indicate 58 percent of students needed remediation in math and 36 percent of students needed remediation in English.

The results track the 39 percent of the graduating class of 2000 students who attended Maryland higher education institutions.

Brown said because community colleges accept students regardless of past coursework, many who attend them have not taken the same rigorous classes as students who go on to four-year institutions.

Michael said the school system encourages students to take math courses beyond those required for high school graduation. He said math requirements often are finished by the end of the students' junior year. A year's lapse in math classes can be reflected on college placement tests, he said.

Hagerstown Community College psychology Professor Vaughn Crowl, chairman of the Learning Community Steering Committee made up of instructional leaders from HCC and the school system, said both education systems are working on a pilot program, to begin in January, in which county students can take the college's math placement test once their high school math requirements are fulfilled.

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