New report sheds light on remediation costs for colleges


How good are the nation’s K-12 schools?

A new report attempts to measure that by looking at the number of incoming college students in need of remedial work as a result of poor skills and knowledge. Shockingly, it finds that colleges spend from $2.3 billion to $2.9 billion annually on remediation classes for the approximately 1/3 of college entrants in need of more work on basic skills.

From the AP report:

Analyzing federal data, the report estimates 43 percent of community
college students require remediation, as do 29 percent of students at
public four-year universities, with higher numbers in some places. For
instance, four in five Oklahoma community college students need
remedial coursework, and three in five in the giant California State
university system need help in English, math or both.

The cost per student runs to as much as $2,000 per student in community colleges and $2,500 in four-year universities.

What is the takeaway? As we work at trying to contain our high K-12 per-pupil spending, we need to look, as this report does, at the added costs of that system’s failure to adequately prepare students for college.  Add to that the costs of the high school dropouts who never even finish school, and our actual per-pupil spending far exceeds what we typically measure.

There are costs, heavy ones, for the failure of our schools.