Analysis: Michigan’s College Remediation Rates in Poor Districts More Than Double the Rate of Wealthier Districts

Without additional funding and supports, COVID-19 crisis may exacerbate troubling trends

By Riley Stone, data and policy analyst

Before the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring all Michigan students were college- and career-ready was already a challenge. For some high school students, especially those preparing to transition to postsecondary education, disruptions to learning due to the pandemic may be disproportionately harmful – and expensive.

A new analysis by The Education Trust-Midwest shows that vulnerable student groups, including students of color, students from low-income families and students in rural and urban districts, were more likely to be enrolled in college remediation classes – even before the pandemic caused abrupt school closures across the state.

The risk of exacerbating inequities is even greater due to the recent disruptions to learning. Therefore  structural barriers, such as unequal access to quality virtual instruction or unequal enrollment in college remediation courses, are more likely to impact vulnerable student groups than ever before.

When students begin postsecondary degree programs without the necessary fundamental skills, they are often required to take – and thus pay for – remediation courses that will support them in building skills that should have been developed during K-12 education. Remedial courses are not credit-bearing, meaning they do not count toward a degree. This can result in additional costs for students, more time to complete a degree, and a higher likelihood of dropping out before graduation.

According to the most recent data, 24 percent of Michigan high school graduates that enrolled in one of Michigan’s two- or four-year postsecondary programs were required to take at least one remediation course during the 2017-18 academic year. This means nearly one in four Michigan students were paying for additional instruction in college due to Michigan’s troubled K-12 education system.

Remediation rates were even more startling for historically underserved subgroups, according to the  analysis, which examined college remediation rates according to socioeconomic status, racial demographics, and geography.

This analysis is part of a periodic series examining the six recommendations in our recent 2020 State of Michigan Education Report, a Marshall Plan: Reimagining Michigan Public Education. Today, we’re exploring the recommendation on transition to postsecondary opportunities.

Read the full analysis here.


The Education Trust-Midwest welcomes new Director of Policy and Research

The Education Trust-Midwest is pleased to welcome Dr. Tabitha Bentley to the Education Trust-Midwest as our new Director of Policy and Research. A passionate leader about systematic change in education, Dr. Bentley is dedicated to creating the best conditions for educational success for students of color and students living in poverty.

Dr. Bentley is an executive strategist and applied research and policy practitioner. She has extensive experience in research on educator and collective commitment, race in education, and the use of multi-sector partnerships towards educational change.

She recently worked as a Senior Researcher for Basis Policy Research, where she was responsible for designing and conducting studies of K-12 education policies and programs and leading research and evaluation projects through all phases of the applied research process.

Previously she served in a dual role as Strategy Director for Washtenaw County My Brother’s Keeper (WMBK) and Research and Strategy Facilitator for Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) where she directed WMBK’s collective partnerships and strategic plans for supporting boys of color, as well as developed, implemented, and managed WISD’s multi-level research and strategic initiatives.

Before her education leadership roles, she served as an 8th grade teacher in multiple large urban districts; a college counselor at Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men; a human capital recruitment coordinator for Chicago-based Civitas Education Partners; and an Education Pioneers Fellow working within Chicago Public Schools to investigate, analyze, and create a comprehensive strategy to equitably serve students with more severe special needs.

Dr. Bentley holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Policy from Northwestern University, as well as a master’s degree in Public Policy and PhD in Education Administration and Policy from the University of Michigan. She’s also an accomplished musician and continues to teach and perform as a pianist and violinist.


Capital Update

The House Judiciary Committee met this morning at 8:15 in Room 519 of the House Office Building. The agenda included consideration of House Bill 5855 (Brann, R), eliminating mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain violations of the revised school code.  

The House Judiciary Committee met yesterday, September 8, and considered House Bills 5038 and 5040-5042 regarding various school bus regulations. 

The Board of Education met yesterday, September 8. The agenda included updates related to COVID-19, the Top 10 Strategic Education Plan and an update on devices and connectivity. 

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