Putting Education Reform To The Test

Why The Florida Senate Wants To Change College Remedial Course Requirements

Sagette Van Embden / Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

A bill approved by the Florida Senate might make remedial college courses less daunting for students like Shakira Lockett.

Shakira Lockett always got pretty good grades in school. That’s why she was surprised to find out she had failed her college placement exam at Miami Dade College.

Lockett spent a year a half taking remedial classes in reading, writing and math before she could start earning credits toward a degree. She finished her studies — but Lockett’s a rare case for students who end up in remedial courses.

National statistics show just 1 in 10 community college students forced to take a remedial course finish their studies within three years.

The Florida Senate is trying to address that problem, approving a bill that ends requiring students to take remedial classes for no credit. Instead, students would take “co-requisite classes” — taking regular college work while receiving basic instruction at the same time. Those co-requisite courses might span two semesters or require lab work.

The bill, SB 1720, also asks the State Board of Education and the State University System Board of Governors to group majors by shared skills or knowledge, and then identify which courses should be required as a foundation for those majors.

A handful of Democrats voted against the bill, worried that it could make it more difficult for minorities or older students returning to school after a break.

For more on the challenges of remedial education and what colleges and education leaders are doing to help more students finish college, check out “13th Grade,” our series with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.


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