Inside Higher Ed today has a piece about a new paper published by the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research. I haven’t yet read the paper, but its conclusion passes my sniff test: “The results suggest that the costs of remediation should be given careful consideration in light of the limited benefits.”
If you take a student whose language and math skills have been largely ignored for twelve years and put him in a remedial English or math course, is it possible to make up for the years of neglect in a semester so that he’s ready for “real college work”? Probably in a few cases, but in many others, no. Back in my own teaching days, I had students who had been through the remedial classes and who still had the reading and writing ability of fourth graders.