Louisiana Policy Closes Opportunities for Applicants Needing Remedial Work

Beginning last fall, under a policy approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents in 2010, students in need of remedial classes were barred from state universities, reports The Hechinger Report.

Iris Palmer, a senior policy analyst at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy organization based in Washington D.C., told the Hechinger Report that state policymakers increasingly hold a belief that "four-year universities should exclusively be places for students who are prepared to go straight into college-level work."

Many argue that it is more cost-efficient to have community colleges focus on remedial education. But opponents raise equity concerns, particularly that such policies make it difficult for low-income students to earn four-year degrees.

The Louisiana Board of Regents has offered institutions like Southern University of New Orleans a temporary reprieve from the new policy, said Karen Denby, associate commissioner for academic affairs. Some four-year institutions will be permitted until 2017 to enroll students who need just one remedial course. "But unless they demonstrate in that time period that they can better serve and retain those students, the ban will resume in two years," she told Hechinger Report.  

In Louisiana, a student's need for remedial work is determined by their ACT score. Those who score below an 18 in English or a 19 in math are routed into remedial courses. The national averages are 20.1 and 20.9, respectively; in Louisiana, they're 19.4 and 19.2. Last year, the average composite ACT score for New Orleans public school students was 18.4, meaning hundreds of them are eligible only for admission to a community college and not a four-year university.

Louisiana is one of several states to push remediation to the community colleges, reported the Hechinger Report. Others include Ohio, Colorado, South Caroline and Tennessee.


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The Hechinger Report