I just read an article in the Hamilton Journal-News that by 2015
nearly all remedial (also called developmental level) courses would be
eliminated at public four-year colleges in Ohio. "The nearly 40
percent of college freshmen in Ohio who are not ready for
college-level work will take most of their remedial courses at
community colleges under a statewide plan that dramatically changes
how four-year schools provide instruction to those needing extra
help." The newspaper reporter stated, "Ohio is following a national
trend that critics say could limit access to the four-year degrees
many need for high-paying jobs. Some fear it may discourage some
students from attending college at all." State education leaders, at
least those at the four-year institutions, said the long-term solution
was for elementary and secondary education to do a better job. "By the
end of 2012, university and college presidents must develop standards
of what it means for a student to be “remediation free.” Critics of
the plan said “A lot of the students who need remediation are the same
students who have already been marginalized by the system because they
attended the worst high schools and are the least prepared,” said Tara
L. Parker, a University of Massachusetts professor who studies
developmental education. “There is no evidence community colleges do
remedial courses any better or cheaper.”

The "Ohio Solution" is the same one that has been talked about since
the mid 1970s with the "Nation At Risk" report. Elementary and
secondary education must do a better job. Better articulation
agreements need to be developed between secondary and postsecondary
education. An endless number of education commissions made up of
leaders from K-12 education, postsecondary education, corporate world,
public advocacy groups, and the rest have been talking and
experimenting for years to make "this problem" go away.

It appears the intense fiscal pressures facing public four-year
colleges due to decreasing financial support from state government has
renewed the desire to "save costs" and eliminate remedial or
developmental-level courses. State officials claim offering these
courses at the four-year public four-year colleges costs $130 million
annually. While to the average taxpayer this seems considerable, what
is the combined budget for these public colleges? National studies on
this issue report the funds devoted to offering these courses is
between one and five percent. Most faculty who teach these courses are
part-time and paid considerably less than full-time and especially
tenured faculty members at the same four-year institution.

The "Ohio Solution" has been implemented previously in many other
places. They all share the same problems with achieving their stated
goals. Here are just a few quick thoughts on the matter. Many more
could be added by others.
1. Changing K-12 education curriculum does nothing to meet the needs
of returning adults to education. While their exit from high school
might have given them adequate skills for immediate entry to college,
the long period out of school has led to atrophy of their skills and
need for basic level instruction to bring them back to
2. Even if a school district wanted to change its curriculum, if it
has less economic resources, how can it be expected to do the same
level of quality as the better-funded suburban schools?
3. Changing K-12 education curriculum does nothing for the students
who are not enrolled in rigorous college-bound curriculum. Some
students and their parents have other future plans that initially do
not include college. Maybe they plan to begin a family. Maybe attend a
trade school or continue in the family business. Do we want to only
have one track choice for students in high school?
4. Changing K-12 education curriculum does nothing for the students
who do not fully focus on their classes, read their textbooks with
great intensity, and complete all homework to perfection. If everyone
earned A's in their classes, achieved to highest level of proficiency
with all high risks tests, and in general, were "on task" all the
time, they might not need the developmental-level courses. Assuming
that they immediately enter postsecondary education immediately after
successful completion of high school. With skyrocketing tuition costs,
family members out of work or working low-wage jobs, and difficulty
for high-school students to earn much at part-time jobs that now are
sought by the out-of-work adults, it is not so easy to immediately
attend college. Some have to earn some money first.

A wise person once said, "complex problems require complex solutions."
The "Ohio Solution" fails on this account. So much more could be said
about this issue. Could some of our Ohio LRNASST members share more
about this? (My regrets if this has already been discussed recently on

Take care,

David Arendale, Associate Professor, History & Higher Education and
Co-Director, Jandris Center for Innovative Higher Education. Author of
"Access at the Crossroads: Learning Assistance in Higher Education",

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, College of Education and Human
Development, Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, Burton
Hall 225, 178 Pillsbury Drive, SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455; (work)
612-625-2928; (cell) 612-812-0032; [log in to unmask]

To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your
subscription options (including subscribe/unsubscribe), point your web browser to

To contact the LRNASST-L owner, email [log in to unmask]