More Colorado students are entering college unprepared, report says

The number of Colorado students enrolling in college last year unprepared for college-level work increased for the second year in a row, according to a state report published Friday.

The increase was small. Of the high school students who graduated in 2015 and enrolled in college in the 2015-16 year, 36.1 percent had to enroll in remedial courses, up from 35.4 percent the year before, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education report.

The number of Hispanic students enrolling at two-year colleges who needed remedial classes — also known as developmental education classes — increased. The number of African-American students needing the help decreased at both two-year and four-year schools.

Despite the overall increase in remediation rates, the combined cost to the state and to college students enrolled in developmental education courses dropped to $29.6 million, a $9.7 million savings from last year.

The remedial college courses are designed for students who need extra instruction in the basics. The courses do not provide credits toward a degree.

A new policy that the Colorado Commission of Higher Education was set to approve Friday will suggest students be given the chance to enter college-level courses first, with support, and that remedial classes should be a last resort.

Previous state policy suggested that every student should be tested to determine if they need remedial education.

The policy changes also suggest colleges should use multiple measures to determine a student’s need for remedial education, as opposed to one test score commonly used now. It also adds that students should be notified that they have “a legal right to request to test out of a course,” even if they are flagged by a school as having developmental needs.

According to the policy, “National research indicates too many students are unnecessarily placed into developmental education, thus delaying their graduation, raising their debt, and decreasing their persistence.”

Among the high schools with the highest rates of students needing remedial education this year are Jefferson High School in Greeley; Trinidad High School in Trinidad; and Vista Academy, Manual High School and schools on the West High School campus in Denver.

Read the full report here.