Reducing Remedial Classes


Our Efforts:

The New Mexico Higher Education Department continues to work with the Public Education Department to create a robust student longitudinal data system to ensure we have data to inform policy decisions, including those concerning remedial education.

In addition, the Governor has proposed a college preparedness funding initiative, whereby the State would pay to expand Advanced Placement programs to low-income students, pay for every 10th grader to take the Pre-SAT, and provide teachers in grades 4-10 with short-cycle assessment tools that will allow them to identify when a student may be falling behind. NMHED’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) has made impressive progress in increasing college readiness. Data from 2010 reflects two positive trends over the past three years (see graphs): the percentage of high school graduates needing remedial classes has decreased from 50.2% to 46.2%, while the number of students entering New Mexico colleges has increased. In 2011 the Higher Education Department created a new outcome-based funding formula that rewards institutions of higher education for course completion, graduation and closing the achievement gap. Future refinements of the formula will create incentives to further reduce remedial classes by incentivizing student success in remedial education.


Our Goals:

Reducing the need for remediation upon entry into college requires making sure our students receive the education they need in their early childhood years and throughout their schooling, as well as providing them with training and assistance in preparing for the SAT, ACT and other college entry exams.

Currently, incoming freshmen are given placement tests that fail to distinguish between students with severe skill deficiencies who should be in Adult Basic Education, students with moderate deficiencies who do need remedial coursework, and students who only need a brief refresher course and could go straight into college coursework. Diagnostic tests that reveal specific sets of skill deficiencies would reduce the number of students directed to remedial courses, and thus the number of remedial courses taught.

There are several steps HED can take to address this problem; and HED is committed to doing a thorough policy and rule review of this assessment issue in partnership with various stakeholders, including all public higher education institutions in New Mexico, public education leaders, other states’ higher education department, national higher education organizations, and foundations and not-for-profits groups that are involved with studying this issue.


Make a Difference:

What can you do to make a difference?

The public can make a tremendous difference in the area of remedial education. Incoming freshmen need remedial classes because over the course of many years, they have gradually fallen behind in school. In the very long term, reading to preschool children is the first step to reducing the need for remediation. When students leave the third grade unable to read, they fall further behind with each passing year, and it is almost a foregone conclusion that they will need remediation to attend college, if indeed they even manage to graduate high school. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and concerned family friends can make a difference by helping children of all ages to increase their reading proficiency; since literacy is the foundation on which all other learning rests.


New Mexico Data:




Other Data:

NMHED’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) have supported direct student services for the students "nearing proficiency" with the following results:

  • Higher Graduation Rates
    In 2010, all schools statewide saw a 5.8% increase in 4-year cohort graduation rates while GEAR UP NM cohort schools increased graduation by 9.6%.

  • Higher Promotion Rates
    Promotion rates, 10th to 11th grade: State average of 67%, GEAR UP NM 85%.

  • Higher Math & Reading Gains
    On the NMSBA given in the 8th grade, the GEAR UP NM cohort showed gains in math of 6% and gains in reading of 4% or more, compared to the prior year non-GEAR UP cohort.

  • Higher Algebra Pass Rates
    GEAR UP NM cohort 9th graders outperformed the class of 2011 (non-cohort, same schools) in Algebra pass rates by 18%.

  • More Graduates
    Using GEAR UP promotion rates in comparison to statewide data, the effectiveness of program interventions has shown a likely increase in the statewide graduation rate increase of almost 18%, resulting in an additional 4,637 graduates annually or 23,185.