BATON ROUGE, La. ― The Louisiana Board of Regents has extended a study of remedial education in community colleges and universities.
The board set up a one-year study of 700 students at 15 institutions. State Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell told The Advocate the study is “inconclusive,” saying as many as two years’ more worth of data is needed.
Many Louisiana universities have traditionally accepted students who are otherwise qualified for college-level courses, but are a weak in math, science, reading or English.
Some people want to send students who need such developmental courses to community colleges. Neil Matkin, executive vice president with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said the issue is about serving students, many of whom start school with financial troubles. He said community colleges can best do that.
“Why would you want to take the most at-risk students and put them on a university campus where they have to pay university prices to take developmental courses?” Matkin asked. “We want to prepare students for success. For the students who are not quite college-ready, why send them to a higher cost environment?”
Others want them to be able to enroll in universities and take remedial courses alongside college-level courses. University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley said she’s concerned community colleges focus on training for mid-skill jobs such as paralegals and medical assistants, and don’t offer students support services needed to complete remedial courses and transfer to a four-year campus.
Purcell says students who spend less time in college are more likely to graduate.
“The information we have now says, the less time they spend in college, the better their completion rate,” Purcell said. “We need to accelerate the education process.”
Woodley also said the remedial pilot study should be expanded to touch as many students as possible.
The study includes community colleges and regional universities. Excluded are Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of New Orleans all classified as “statewide” schools.
Woodley said thousands of students in New Orleans could benefit if UNO were allowed to participate.