Remedial education rates continue to drop at Missouri colleges and universities

Higher Education (college)

Remedial education rates continue to decline at Missouri’s public colleges and universities, potentially reducing the amount of time and money it takes for many students to earn a degree.

According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development’s (MDHEWD) annual Missouri High School Graduates Report, the number of public high school graduates taking remedial courses in college decreased from 19.8 percent in 2019 to 17.3 percent in 2020. That rate has dropped more than nine percentage points since 2015 and has declined each year since fall 2013.

Groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, such as Black and Hispanic students, have also seen a decline in remedial enrollment in all content areas (math, English, and reading), although rates still exceed the overall state averages.

Students who must complete prerequisite remedial courses before they can enroll in credit-bearing courses often have to spend an extra semester or more in college and are far less likely to graduate. The additional time in school can also increase college costs and result in more student loan debt.

Corequisite courses, on the other hand, allow students to earn credit toward graduation while they complete their remedial coursework. Corequisite courses provide additional academic support which may include tutoring, mentoring, labs, and workshops. Both enrollment and passing rates in corequisite courses have improved in recent years throughout the state.

“We’re pleased to see the efforts Missouri colleges and universities have made to encourage corequisite coursework are yielding tangible results,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Our department looks forward to continuing its close relationship with institutions to help close these gaps for underrepresented students.”

While remedial enrollment decreased, so did total enrollment. The number of public high school graduates who enrolled full-time in a Missouri public institution the following semester decreased by 6.3 percent (approximately 1,300 students) in fall 2020. Some of the decrease in enrollment can likely be attributed to the economic and social strains created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full Missouri High School Graduates Report on the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development website.