The Root Cause Blog
23 Apr

PPE Blog Series: How Can We Keep Students Out Of Remedial Courses?

Written by: Anne Radday, Senior Manager, Research and Assessments 

Students who enroll in college unprepared and therefore need remedial courses have slim chances of graduating. In fact, students at four-year colleges who take a remedial course are 20% less likely to graduate than their peers that do not take any remedial courses. Much research and effort is being put into figuring out how to stem the loss of students who need remediation by colleges and universities. However, the recent analysis of the 15 college access and college persistence nonprofits that are members of Root Cause’s Peer Performance Exchange (PPE), showed that nonprofits could do more:

  • Only 10% of the college access programs* help students avoid being placed in remedial courses byproviding prep for the ACCUPLACER test, the most commonly used placement test.
  • Only half of the persistence programs** help participants in remedial courses connect with the support that they need to complete them.

Uncovering this common need across multiple organizations highlights the power of rigorous assessments based on standardized best practices in the field. If each organization had been evaluated on its own, the need to bolster how they deal with remediation may not have come up. Almost all of the PPE members were surprised by this need, but now understand the importance of addressing it within their programs.

Over the next several months, we will work with these organizations individually and collectively to connect them with resources that will allow them to help their students overcome the challenges of remedial coursework. Stay tuned – I’ll keep you posted about what we learn, what these organizations try, and what works!

*College access programs assist students to get into college, prepared to be there.
**College persistence programs assist college students to remain in college and graduate.

For more information on the Peer Performance Exchange, visit our page or email Anne Radday at