Remedial burden falls on community colleges

Robert Channick:

In Illinois’ community colleges, fewer students finish two-year programs in two years, while many flounder in remedial classes before dropping out.
Drawn by low tuition and open admissions, a growing number of students headed back to school at Chicago-area community colleges. For Kyle Perez and thousands of entering freshmen, it may be a little further back than planned.
Coming up short on a standardized math placement exam before beginning classes at Harper College in Palatine, the 18-year-old football player was disappointed to learn he would have to take a full year of remedial algebra and geometry.
“I’m going to be in a high school class, paying the same amount as I would for college,” said Perez, a 2009 Rolling Meadows High School graduate. “I’m not going to be getting any college credits for this. It’s going to slow me down a little.”
An estimated 20 percent of the record number of full-time students enrolled in the state’s 48 community colleges in the spring semester were forced to take remedial courses, officials said.
As a result, students are taking longer to earn two-year degrees and more are getting discouraged and dropping out, prompting efforts in Illinois and around the country to better align the curricula of high schools and community colleges.