First-Year Undergraduate Remedial Coursetaking: 1999–2000, 2003–04, and 2007–08

Dinah Sparks and Nat Malkus

College readiness has received renewed attention as part of the Obama administration’s focus on education and is a key component of the U.S. Department of Education’s Blueprint for Reform. Historically, remedial coursetaking has been an indicator of college readiness. First-Year Undergraduate Remedial Coursetaking: 1999–2000, 2003–04, and 2007–08, adds to the evidence on remediation. The brief uses data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) to measure changes in the frequency of remedial coursetaking in U.S. postsecondary institutions.

The results show significant drops in remediation along nearly every institutional and student characteristic from 1999–2000 to 2003–04, but they also show small increases from 2003–04 to 2007–08 for many of the characteristics that had previously experienced a drop. For example, compared to 1999–2000, student-reported enrollment percentages in remedial coursework were smaller at both 2-year and 4-year public institutions in 2003–04; however, by 2007–08, a larger percentage of students in four-year public institutions reported enrollment in remedial coursework than in 2003–04. Nonetheless, over the entire time span, 1999–2000 to 2007–08, there was a net drop in remedial coursetaking overall and by most institutional and student characteristics. This report was released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.