Data Center

Data center: Remediation rates by school

UpdatedClick here to go to EdNews’ most recent remediation database.

For five years, the number of Colorado public high school graduates required to take at least one remedial class in college has held fast at 32 percent.

Peel back the statewide numbers, though, and fluctuations emerge in districts and in schools.

Nearly nine out of ten graduates of one Denver high school needed remedial help when they enrolled in a state college or university. In another Denver high school, it was fewer than one in ten.

Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, has cut its remediation rate by nearly 5 percentage points in five years. Aurora’s remediation rate has grown by more than twice that figure since 2004.

“We’re serious about it because it’s in our vision,” said Aurora Superintendent John Barry, referring to the district’s vision statement, which reads “To graduate every student with the choice to attend college without remediation.”

“This data is going to go a long way to help us,” Barry said Monday. “We’ll be in the process of working with each one of the universities to find out what is it specifically that each one of our kids need to work on.”

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The state’s public colleges and universities use a variety of measures, including the ACT college entrance exam and the Accuplacer, to determine whether incoming freshmen are ready for college-level reading, writing and math.

For graduates of Aurora Public Schools, as is true statewide and in national studies, the most common deficiency is in math. In Colorado, only 30 percent of 10th graders achieved proficiency on the state’s 2009 math exam.

Denver Public Schools, like Aurora, has recently reported gains in student achievement and indicators such as student retention through grade 12. But the DPS remediation rate is up nearly 6 percentage points in five years and the APS rate is up 11 points.

“No,” was the flat response of Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg when asked if the push to raise graduation rates has resulted in less-prepared students.

“This is the urgency of the reform effort,” Boasberg said. “We are making progress, making improvements in a number of areas, but we aren’t anywhere near where we need to be in the critical issue of, are our kids graduating prepared for college or career?”

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Barry pointed out the remediation rates are a “trailing indicator,” meaning they lag in time and may not yet reflect the growth made in other areas. The most recent 2009 report, for example, is for incoming freshman in 2008.

That’s so the Colorado Commissioner on Higher Education, which prepares the annual reports for state lawmakers, can gauge whether students are passing or failing in their remedial courses.

The CCHE’s 2009 report, released this month, lists a passing rate of 62 percent for remedial courses taken in fall 2008 and spring 2009.

It also shows a state general fund cost of $13.1 million to offer the classes, plus another $11.7 million in tuition paid by students.

Ed News Colorado’s analysis of five years’ worth of remediation rates stripped out any students not directly linked to a state public high school – the CCHE reports typically fold in some out-of-state students and private school grads.

The analysis also removed any schools with fewer than 25 graduates attending a Colorado college or university because the CCHE, apparently seeking to protect student privacy, declines to publicly list their remediation rates.

On average, Colorado public high schools produce 19,000 to 20,000 graduates annually who attend a state college or university. More than 6,000 students each year has needed remediation in at least one subject.

Between 75 and 83 percent of those taking remedial classes in each of the past five years needed math help.

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One school, Jeffco’s D’Evelyn High School, has achieved the lowest required remediation rate for four of the past five years, with rates hovering between 1 and 6 percent.

Another school, Denver’s West High School, has had the state’s highest remediation rates for the past two years. West’s most recent remediation rate was 86.8 percent, the highest reported by any Colorado high school in the past five years.

Since 2004, West’s remediation rate has increased by 20 percentage points.

“Thank you for asking about West because West is the forgotten school,” said DPS board member Arturo Jimenez, who represents the area.

Jimenez said district changes, from allowing the Center for International Studies to move out of West in 2006 and shifting a program for English language learners away last year, have “devastated” its enrollment and resources.

West’s enrollment has dropped by nearly 600 students in the past five years, hitting below 800 this past fall.

Boasberg said DPS is focused on West, which is rated as “on probation” or “red” under the district’s school rating system.

“It’s not just one school, it’s an entire feeder pattern question,” he said. “This is the data that highlights the importance to us of the changes we need.”

Click here to see the remediation reports prepared by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

How do Colorado’s remediation rates compare nationally?

There are similar patterns – more students are assigned to math remediation than any other subject nationally and far more students nationally attending 2-year community colleges need remediation than those at 4-year universities.

In Colorado, for 2008-09, 20 percent of students enrolled at state 4-year schools needed remediation compared to 53 percent at 2-year programs. These numbers include out-of-state and private school graduates.

National numbers tend to be old and are disputed. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 20 percent of incoming freshmen at 4-year schools in 1995 and 2000 needed remediation as did 42 percent of those at community colleges.

But some believe the true figures are much higher. In a November 2009 report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, co-author Michael W. Kirst cites a 1999 study of transcripts to support his belief that 60 percent of new community college students require remedial help.

Colorado’s findings, and national research, point to the same result — students who need remedial help in college, whether in 2-year or 4-year programs, are less likely to complete their degrees.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at or 303-478-4573.

***Some notes about the data: “Total students” refers to the total number of a school’s or district’s graduates who enrolled in a Colorado college or university and were therefore counted in the CCHE reports. “Remediation rate” refers to the percentage of the total who were assigned to remediation in at least one class. “Poverty rate” refers to the percentage of students in a school who quality for federal lunch assistance.


¿Cuantos niños en su escuela son inmunizados?

Monserrat Cholico, 8, en la Crawford Kids Clinic en Aurora en 2015 (Denver Post).

Chalkbeat recolectó datos para ayudar a los padres a entender si las escuelas de sus hijos están protegidos de enfermedades. Busque su escuela en nuestra base de datos.

“Immunization rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están totalmente inmunizados.

“Exemption rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes cuyos padres optaron por no vacunar a sus hijos.

“Compliance rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están siguiendo la ley de Colorado. La ley dice que los estudiantes deben obtener vacunas o firmar formularios de exención.

Choosing college

State’s college attendance rate shows slight turnaround

PHOTO: Oliver Morrison

The percentage of Colorado high school students enrolling in college right after graduation increased slightly in 2014, according to a new report from the Department of Higher Education.

Of 2014’s 53,771 graduates, 55.8 percent went on to college immediately, up from the 2013 rate but three percentage points below the record in 2009, according to the Report on the Postsecondary Progress and Success of High School Graduates (full copy at bottom of this article).

In the recession year of 2009, when the state started compiling the report, 58.8 percent of high school grads went to college.

“The most recent, 2014, is the first cohort whose enrollment rate increased from the previous year,” the report noted. “Previously, all graduating classes included in this report had a lower enrollment rate than their previous year.”

The report “is good news because so many of the jobs in our technology and information based economy require post-secondary credentials,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who’s also executive director of the department. “However, the report also reveals that we have continuing and significant gaps in post-secondary outcomes and that students from certain demographic groups are doing much better than others. If we are to meet our education and workforce goals, we must do a better job of supporting low income, rural, and minority students so that they graduate with a credential that will lead to a living wage job.”

Overall college enrollment tends to rise when the economy is weak and drop when times improve. Fall enrollment in 2014 was 251,778, down from the recent high of 284,405 in 2011.

The report details continuing disparities between demographic groups in college attendance and success. Postsecondary enrollment for Latino students is nearly 20 percentage points below white students, and, after their first year of college, African-American students on average earn nearly 10 fewer credits than white students, it said.

“As Colorado’s demographics continue to change and labor markets increasingly demand quality postsecondary credentials, ensuring the state’s future economic prosperity requires that these educational gaps be highlighted and strategically addressed,” the report said.

The report also breaks out college-going rates for individual districts. The district with the highest college attendance rate was Limon, with 84.4 percent of its 32 2014 graduates going on to higher education.

Larger districts in the top 10 included Cheyenne Mountain, Douglas County, Lewis-Palmer and Littleton.

The Plateau Valley district in eastern Mesa County had the lowest rate, 16 percent. Metro-area districts in the bottom 10 included Adams 14, Englewood, Sheridan and Westminster.

Some 76 percent of 2014 grads attended Colorado colleges, and 74 percent of those students attended four-year schools. The most popular schools were Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. Front Range Community College attracted the largest number of students enrolling in two-year schools.

The annual study examines not only college-going rates but also grade point averages, credits earned, persistence and graduation rates going back to the class of 2009.

Members of the high school class of 2014 who attended Colorado colleges had an average grade point average of 2.78 during their freshman year. Those students completed an average of 30 credits by the end of 2014-15.

Search for your district’s college-going rates here:

And read the Department of Higher Education’s report here: