oversight

Student Financial Aid: Federal Aid Awarded to Students Taking Remedial Courses

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-08-21.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to the Ranking Minority Member,
                  Subcommittee on Postsecondary
                  Education, Training, and Life-Long
                  Learning, Committee on Education and
                  the Workforce, House of Representatives
August 1997
                  STUDENT FINANCIAL
                  AID
                  Federal Aid Awarded to
                  Students Taking
                  Remedial Courses




GAO/HEHS-97-142
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Health, Education, and
      Human Services Division

      B-271705

      August 21, 1997

      The Honorable Dale E. Kildee
      Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on
        Postsecondary Education, Training,
        and Life-Long Learning
      Committee on Education and the Workforce
      House of Representatives

      Dear Mr. Kildee:

      Colleges commonly offer remedial instruction designed to raise students’
      proficiency in reading, writing, or mathematics to levels expected to be
      achieved in high school. Recent studies have documented the prevalence
      of these courses at postsecondary institutions. The American Council on
      Education found that 13 percent of all undergraduates completed at least
      one remedial course in the 1992-93 academic year.1 In addition, the
      Department of Education reported that all 2-year and 81 percent of 4-year
      degree-granting colleges offered remedial education courses in the fall
      1995 term.2 This apparently widespread need for college remediation has
      raised concern about possible effects on appropriations earmarked for
      postsecondary education.

      Some Congress members disapprove of allowing college students to use
      title IV funds (federal student financial aid3 provided under the Higher
      Education Act of 1965 as amended) to help finance remedial education.
      Federal policymakers who take this position often share some common
      beliefs about the relationship between college remediation and financial
      aid. For example, these policymakers typically believe a large portion of
      financial aid (1) is awarded to students enrolled in remedial education
      courses and (2) pays for remedial education courses. They therefore
      believe granting financial aid to students needing such courses may be
      compromising title IV’s primary public policy objective: funding
      postsecondary education.




      1
        Remedial Education: An Undergraduate Student Profile, American Council on Education
      (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 1996).
      2
        Remedial Education at Higher Education Institutions in Fall 1995, National Center for Education
      Statistics, NCES 97-584 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 1996).
      3
       For the rest of the report, we refer to federal student financial aid as “financial aid,” unless otherwise
      noted.



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Because the extent that title IV funds support students taking remedial
education was unknown, you asked us to examine remedial education4
among college freshman and sophomore (underclassmen) financial aid
recipients for the fall 1995 term. Specifically, we agreed to provide you
with information on the share of financial aid dollars (1) awarded to
underclassmen who enrolled in remedial courses and (2) used by
underclassmen to pay for remedial courses. We also examined why and
how colleges provide remedial education and the demographic profiles of
students who take such courses.

To develop our information, we used questionnaire surveys and case
studies. We mailed questionnaires to a stratified random sample of 758
degree-granting 2- and 4-year postsecondary institutions to obtain data on
financial aid and remedial coursework for students who enrolled in at
least one remedial course in the fall 1995 term. We conducted our case
studies at nine postsecondary institutions to examine how and why
schools provide remedial education and to profile students taking these
courses. We visited three public 2-year schools and six 4-year schools
(three of which were public and three of which were private).5 Because of
the subject matter’s sensitive nature, we agreed to maintain the
confidentiality of our case study schools.6

Our survey results have two limitations. First, we attained a relatively low
response rate: about 57 percent, or 430, of the schools responded.
Consequently, the survey results are not necessarily representative of the
universe of students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions
or generalizable to that population. Second, the assumption underlying our
assessment of how much financial aid paid for remedial education biased
our results toward overestimation. For example, our estimate implicitly
assumed students exclusively used financial aid to pay for tuition costs.
The share of financial aid that paid for remedial courses, however, is lower
than our estimate if some aid financed other education-related expenses
such as housing, transportation, or textbooks. The influences of such an




4
 We defined remedial instruction as reading, writing, or mathematics courses designed for college
students lacking those skills necessary to perform at the level required by their institution. For more
details on our definition of remedial courses, see app. III.
5
 In choosing these schools, we took several variables into account, including (1) the percentage of
freshmen who took at least one remedial course in the fall 1995 term, (2) Pell grant dollars per student,
and (3) geographic location.
6
 We identify these schools as Schools A through I.



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                   assumption make our estimate an upper limit on the portion of financial
                   aid that could have paid for remedial coursework.7

                   Appendix I details our questionnaire scope and methodology; appendix II
                   discusses in detail each of the case study schools.


                   In the 430 schools that responded to our survey, underclassmen who
Results in Brief   enrolled in remedial education courses received a relatively small portion
                   of financial aid dollars. Of all financial aid awarded to underclassmen at
                   these schools, approximately 13 percent went to freshmen and
                   sophomores who enrolled in at least one remedial course. In addition, only
                   6 percent of freshmen and sophomores at these schools both received
                   financial aid and enrolled in remedial courses. Moreover, for our
                   respondents, we estimated that no more than 4 percent of the financial aid
                   granted to freshmen and sophomores paid for remedial courses.

                   Our nine case study schools provided remedial courses to raise their
                   students’ proficiency in reading, writing, and math skills to levels typically
                   attained in high school. Representatives from each 2-year school viewed
                   remedial education as an integral part of their institution’s purpose, with
                   two of three citing such coursework in their mission statements.
                   Spokesmen for the 4-year schools saw these programs as consistent with
                   their institutions’ commitment to meeting students’ educational needs.

                   Most schools guided students who needed remedial education through
                   formal programs. With one exception, the case study schools used
                   mandatory placement tests to assign students to courses commensurate
                   with their skill level before enrollment. All the 4-year public schools
                   required students to enroll in remedial courses if placement test scores
                   indicated the need. The schools varied according to limits placed on and
                   the type of credit offered for remedial courses. For example, some schools
                   required students to complete remedial coursework by the end of their
                   first term; others allowed students to take such courses through
                   graduation. In addition, four schools allowed students to use these courses
                   as electives; others did not.

                   Generally, freshmen and racial minorities constituted a higher share of
                   remedial course enrollments compared with their campuswide
                   enrollments. For example, at three 4-year schools, freshmen were


                   7
                    For a detailed discussion on our estimation of the portion of financial aid paying for remedial
                   coursework, see app. I.



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             overrepresented in remedial courses. In addition, at five schools, racial
             minorities typically enrolled in remedial courses at twice the proportion of
             their campuswide enrollments.


             The Congress enacted the Higher Education Act of 1965 to promote equal
Background   access to higher education. To further this goal, title IV of the act
             establishes financial aid programs to help make college more affordable.
             Title IV financial aid programs may be used to help pay for remedial
             education courses. Postsecondary education students may use financial
             aid to pay for up to 30 semester hours of remedial courses.

             To reduce the resources devoted to teaching basic skills, several states are
             revising remedial education policies for their 4-year schools. For example,
             the regents for California’s state university system plan to reduce the
             portion of entering freshmen who take remedial education courses from
             about 44 percent in 1994 to no more than 10 percent within the next 10
             years. Along with adopting more selective admission standards, the
             Georgia State Board of Regents decided to reduce the portion of students
             taking remedial courses by 5 percent each year, beginning in 1997, and
             eliminate any remedial courses by 2001. Last year, the Massachusetts
             Board of Higher Education raised its admission standards and limited the
             enrollment of new freshmen in remedial courses on 4-year campuses to no
             more than 10 percent in 1997 and 5 percent in 1998, down from 21 percent
             in the fall of 1995.

             At the federal level, some members of the Congress seek to improve the
             targeting of title IV funds by restricting the use of financial aid to
             postsecondary education courses. In speculating that a large percentage of
             students receiving financial aid use it to pay for remedial courses, these
             members want to eliminate the financial aid awarded to students needing
             such courses and reallocate it to more qualified students. According to
             these members, the Congress could materially augment or enhance the
             financial aid packages of students remaining eligible for title IV funding
             without providing additional appropriations.

             Proponents of allowing financial aid recipients to take remedial courses
             have defended the current policy. They say the policy is critical to
             promoting access to higher education, especially for economically and
             socially disadvantaged students. Because many students who require
             college remediation graduated from schools in resource-poor school
             districts, these proponents contend that such students have deficiencies in



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                                           B-271705




                                           basic skills through no fault of their own. In addition, these proponent
                                           point out that nontraditional students often need such courses because
                                           their skills have deteriorated from being out of school for long periods.


                                           At the 430 schools that responded to our survey, underclassmen enrolled
Percentage of Aid                          in remedial courses received relatively few financial aid dollars in the fall
Awarded to Students                        1995 term. At these schools, about 13 percent of the financial aid awarded
Taking Remedial                            to freshmen and sophomores went to those who took a remedial
                                           education course. Students who took remedial courses at the 2-year
Courses                                    schools, however, received more than twice the proportion of financial aid
                                           that underclassmen who attended 4-year schools received (see fig. 1).



Figure 1: Percentage of Aid Awarded to Students Taking Remedial Courses



            2-Year Schools                                         4-Year Schools



                                  24%



                                                                                             10%




                                                 90%


   76%




                             Aid to Remedial Education Enrollees
                             Aid to Other Enrollees




                                           At the 430 schools responding to our survey, relatively few freshmen and
                                           sophomores both received aid and enrolled in remedial courses in the fall
                                           1995 term. Only 6 percent of the freshmen and sophomores at these
                                           schools both received financial aid and took at least one remedial course.



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                                             The proportion of freshman and sophomore aid recipients enrolled in
                                             remedial courses was two times higher at 2-year schools than 4-year
                                             schools—about 25 and 12 percent, respectively.


                                             At the 430 schools responding to our survey, only a small portion of
Percentage of                                financial aid dollars could have paid for remedial courses in the fall 1995
Financial Aid That                           term. Overall, we estimated that no more than about 4 percent of aid
Could Have Paid for                          dollars awarded to freshmen and sophomores paid for remedial courses. A
                                             higher proportion of financial aid dollars could have paid for remedial
Remedial Education                           courses at the 2-year schools than at 4-year schools. For financial aid
Courses                                      recipients at the 2-year schools, about 8 percent of aid dollars could have
                                             paid for remedial courses compared with about 3 percent at 4-year schools
                                             for underclassman aid recipients (see fig. 2). On average, students enrolled
                                             in remedial courses at 2-year schools registered for about 4.9 credit hours
                                             or units in remedial courses; similar students attending 4-year schools
                                             registered for about 4.1 remedial credit hours or units.



Figure 2: Percentage of Financial Aid Paid for Remedial Courses




             2-Year Schools                                4-Year Schools




                                        8%
                                                                                      3%
                                               97%
 92%




                                Aid for Remedial Courses
                                Aid for Other Courses




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                     Our nine case study schools provided remedial courses to raise their
Remedial Education   students’ proficiency in reading, writing, and math to levels typically
Programs             attained in high school. Consistent with their open enrollment policy, two
                     of the three 2-year schools’ mission statements specifically cited remedial
                     education as an integral part of their mission, which emphasized access. In
                     contrast, the 4-year schools’ mission statements did not specifically
                     address remedial education, but for retention purposes, provided remedial
                     education to otherwise capable students who need extra help to meet the
                     challenges of college-level work.

                     Most of our case study schools guided students who needed remedial
                     education through formal programs, which all six 4-year schools provided.
                     The schools’ programs combined remedial instruction with student
                     support interventions reserved for students enrolled in these courses such
                     as academic counseling and mentoring. Two schools administered their
                     programs only during the regular academic year; two others had both a
                     summer pre-enrollment and an academic year program. The other two
                     schools exclusively used summer pre-enrollment programs and, while
                     offering remedial instruction during the academic year, did not provide
                     any coordinated services. Although the three 2-year schools provided
                     remedial instruction and student support interventions, they did not
                     combine them into a formal program.

                     Most of the case study schools used mandatory placement tests to assign
                     students to courses commensurate with their skill level before enrollment.
                     Seven schools (four 4-year and three 2-year) used pre-enrollment
                     placement tests to assign students to either remedial, regular, or advanced
                     college-level curricula. These schools administered placement tests, which
                     focused on reading, writing, and math skills, to all entering freshmen and
                     in some cases to transfer students. Four of these schools (three 4-year and
                     one 2-year) required students to enroll in remedial courses if test scores
                     indicated the need; remedial education courses were optional for students
                     at the remaining three schools (one 4-year and two 2-year). On average,
                     students attending 2-year schools who enrolled in remedial courses
                     registered for about 5.0 credit hours or units in remedial courses; similar
                     students attending 4-year schools registered for about 5.6 credit hours or
                     units in the fall 1995 term.

                     Restrictions placed on remedial education programs varied among the
                     case study schools. For example, two 4-year schools required students to
                     complete remedial coursework by the end of their first term; another
                     4-year school allowed up to 2 years. The other six schools allowed



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                      students to take remedial courses through graduation. Furthermore, two
                      schools (both 4-year) did not allow students to repeat remedial courses;
                      four schools (two 2-year and two 4-year) limited the number of times
                      students could repeat remedial courses. All nine schools, however,
                      required their students—whether enrolled in remedial or college-level
                      courses—to progress satisfactorily toward graduation to qualify for
                      financial aid.

                      In addition, the type of credit offered for remedial courses varied among
                      the case study schools. Schools awarded either institutional8 or elective
                      credits. Five schools (three 4-year and two 2-year) offered institutional
                      credit for these courses; four schools (three 4-year and one 2-year)
                      allowed students to use these courses as electives that would count
                      toward graduation.


                      For most of the case study schools that provided demographic data,
Freshman and Racial   freshmen and racial minorities constituted a larger share of students
Minority Enrollment   enrolled in remedial courses compared with their campuswide
in Remedial Courses   enrollments. At four of the six 4-year schools that provided demographic
                      data, freshmen accounted for at least 50 percent of remedial course
                      enrollments; they accounted for between 18 and 35 percent of overall
                      student body enrollments (see fig. 3).9 At four of the six 4-year schools that
                      provided demographic data, racial minorities’ share of remedial course
                      enrollments ranged from 32 to 92 percent, typically almost twice the
                      proportion of their campuswide enrollments (see fig. 4).10 At one 2-year
                      school, freshmen accounted for about 94 percent of the remedial course
                      enrollments but only about 68 percent of its student body. Similarly, at this
                      school, racial minorities accounted for 35 percent of the remedial
                      education course enrollments but only 20 percent of the student body.11




                      8
                       Courses receiving institutional credit allow students to attain full-time status and be eligible for
                      financial aid. These courses do not count toward graduation requirements, however.
                      9
                       The other 4-year schools limited remedial course enrollments to freshmen.
                      10
                        One 4-year school was not included because it is a historically black public university. At the
                      remaining 4-year school, which limited remedial course enrollments to freshmen, racial minorities
                      accounted for 48 percent of all remedial enrollments but only 23 percent of all freshmen.
                      11
                          The remaining two 2-year schools did not provide demographic data.



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                                               B-271705




Figure 3: Freshmen as a Percentage of Remedial Course and Campuswide Enrollments


Percentage
120


100                                                                                           94
                                                   92
                                    82
 80
             70                                                                                       68

 60
                                                                        51

 40                                                                             35
                                                           32
                    22
 20                                       18



  0
             School A               School C        School D             School F              School I

          4-Year                                                                           2-Year

      Remedial Course Enrollments
      Campuswide Enrollments



                                               Note: Schools B and E limited remedial enrollments to freshmen. Schools G and H (2-year
                                               schools) did not provide demographic data.




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                                          B-271705




Figure 4: Racial Minorities as a Percentage of Remedial Course and Campuswide Enrollments


Percentage
100
         92
                                                               87
                   81
 80



 60


                            42                                         42
 40                                                                                 35
                                          32

                                     19                                                     20
 20                                               17



  0
             School A        School C      School D             School F             School I

       4-Year                                                                     2-Year


       Remedial Course Enrollments
       Campuswide Enrollments



                                          Note: Schools B and E were not included. School B is a historically black public university. School
                                          E limited remedial course enrollments to freshmen. Among freshmen at School E, racial minorities
                                          accounted for 48 percent of all remedial course enrollments but only 23 percent of all freshmen.
                                          Schools G and H (2-year schools) did not provide demographic data.



                                          The results from the 430 schools responding to our survey raise questions
Conclusions                               about some preconceived notions about the relationship between college
                                          remediation and financial aid. Though not definitive of the national
                                          picture, relatively few financial aid dollars were associated with college
                                          remediation at the schools responding to our survey. For these schools,
                                          about 13 percent of the financial aid awarded to underclassmen went to
                                          those enrolled in remedial courses. In addition, for these schools, our
                                          calculations show that no more than 4 percent of the financial aid granted
                                          to underclassmen could have paid for remedial courses. Consequently, for
                                          the schools responding to our survey, it is unclear whether eliminating




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                  B-271705




                  financial aid associated with remedial education would have presented
                  meaningful opportunities to reprogram title IV funds.


                  Officials at the Department of Education reviewed this report and
Agency Comments   provided no comments.


                  We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate House and Senate
                  committees, the Secretary of Education, and other interested parties. We
                  will also make copies available to others on request.

                  This report was prepared under the direction of Wayne B. Upshaw,
                  Assistant Director. If you or your staff have any questions concerning this
                  report, please call me at (202) 512-7014 or Tamara A. Lumpkin,
                  Evaluator-in-Charge, at (202) 512-5699. Other contributors to this report
                  are listed in appendix III.

                  Sincerely yours,




                  Cornelia M. Blanchette
                  Associate Director, Education
                    and Employment Issues




                  Page 11                      GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
Contents



Letter                                                                                              1


Appendix I                                                                                         14
                      Sampling Procedures and Response Rate                                        14
Questionnaire Scope   Scope of Information                                                         15
and Methodology       Data Validation                                                              16
                      Sampling Errors and Sample Weights                                           16
                      Estimation of Financial Aid Paying for Remedial Courses                      16

Appendix II                                                                                        18
                      Site Selection                                                               18
Case Studies of the   Profile of School A                                                          19
Use of Remedial       Profile of School B                                                          22
                      Profile of School C                                                          24
Programs at Nine      Profile of School D                                                          27
Schools               Profile of School E                                                          30
                      Profile of School F                                                          32
                      Profile of School G                                                          34
                      Profile of School H                                                          35
                      Profile of School I                                                          36

Appendix III                                                                                       39
                      GAO Contacts                                                                 39
GAO Contacts and      Acknowledgments                                                              39
Staff
Acknowledgments
Tables                Table I.1: Adjusted Populations, Adjusted Sample Sizes, Number               15
                        of Respondents, and Response Rate for Our Surveys
                      Table II.1: Schools Selected for Case Studies                                18
                      Table II.2: Relationship Between Student Aid and Remedial                    19
                        Education at Case Study Schools
                      Table II.3: Comparison of Average SAT Scores and Average GPAs                30
                        Among Freshmen Enrolled in Remedial Courses and Total
                        Freshman Class at School D, Fall 1995

Figures               Figure 1: Percentage of Aid Awarded to Students Taking                        5
                        Remedial Courses
                      Figure 2: Percentage of Financial Aid Paid for Remedial Courses               6




                      Page 12                     GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
Contents




Figure 3: Freshmen as a Percentage of Remedial Course and                     9
  Campuswide Enrollments
Figure 4: Racial Minorities as a Percentage of Remedial Course               10
  and Campuswide Enrollments
Figure II.1: School A—Mostly Freshmen Enrolled in Remedial                   22
  Courses
Figure II.2: School C—Decrease in Need for Remedial                          25
  Coursework
Figure II.3: School C—Mostly Freshmen Enrolled in Remedial                   27
  Courses
Figure II.4: School D—Remedial and Compuswide Enrollments                    29
  Among Students by Race




Abbreviations

ACT        American College Test
CRP        College Restoration Program
GED        general equivalency diploma
GPA        grade-point average
NCES       National Center for Education Statistics
PEQIS      Postsecondary Education Quick Information Survey
REEP       Retention Enhanced Education Program
SAT        Scholastic Achievement Test
SBP        Summer Bridge Program
SSP        Student Support Program
SSS        Student Support Services


Page 13                     GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
Appendix I

Questionnaire Scope and Methodology


                      This appendix describes the sampling procedures used in conducting our
                      survey and its response rate. It also details the information in the survey,
                      our efforts to validate the data, and the assumptions underlying our
                      estimate of the portion of financial aid that paid for remedial coursework.


                      For our survey, we developed two questionnaires, one each for 2- and
Sampling Procedures   4-year postsecondary degree-granting institutions. We mailed the
and Response Rate     questionnaires to the financial aid directors at a stratified random sample
                      of 295 2-year and 495 4-year schools.

                      We surveyed schools that constituted the Department of Education’s
                      Postsecondary Education Quick Information Survey (PEQIS) sample. We
                      chose this sample because Education, through its National Center for
                      Education Statistics (NCES), had already surveyed these schools regarding
                      remedial education. The PEQIS sample is a stratified random sample, with
                      several strata, including public and private (nonprofit and for-profit) 2- and
                      4-year institutions, categorized by size. Because we sought information
                      only for undergraduate students at degree-granting institutions, we deleted
                      proprietary schools, schools not considered institutions of higher
                      education,12 and graduate or professional schools13 from this sample. The
                      adjusted sample of 758 schools represented an adjusted population of
                      3,243 schools. We received responses from 430 of 758 schools in our
                      adjusted sample—a response rate of 57 percent. Table I.1 shows the
                      adjusted populations, adjusted sample sizes, number of respondents, and
                      response rate from our surveys.




                      12
                       An institution of higher education is an institution accredited at the college level by an association or
                      agency recognized by the Secretary of Education.
                      13
                       We could not identify which schools were graduate or professional schools in the PEQIS database.
                      Therefore, these schools were initially included in our sample and surveyed. In response to our survey,
                      however, officials at 32 of these schools identified them as graduate or professional schools so we
                      deleted them from our survey. An unknown number of nonrespondents may also have been only
                      graduate or professional schools.



                      Page 14                                  GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                                     Appendix I
                                     Questionnaire Scope and Methodology




Table I.1: Adjusted Populations,
Adjusted Sample Sizes, Number of                                                                              Response
Respondents, and Response Rate for                                Adjusted         Adjusted                         rate
Our Surveys                          Type of school              population      sample size   Respondents     (percent)
                                     All schools                       3,243            758            430          56.7
                                     2-year schools
                                       Public                              974          263            134          51.0
                                       Private                             167           31             19          61.3
                                     Total                             1,141            294            153          52.0
                                     4-year schools
                                       Public                              615          244            154          63.1
                                       Private                         1,487            220            123          55.9
                                     Total                             2,102            464            277          59.7

                                     To increase the response rate, we mailed the survey three times and made
                                     several follow-up telephone calls to schools. In making these telephone
                                     calls, we learned that technical, staffing, and time constraints prevented
                                     schools from responding. Regarding technical constraints, many schools
                                     lacked integrated registration and financial aid databases. Without
                                     integrated databases, completing the survey would have required an
                                     extremely labor-intensive effort to either manually calculate or develop
                                     computer programs to reconcile the two databases. In addition, many of
                                     the schools that had integrated databases faced staffing and time
                                     constraints that precluded them from developing the computer programs
                                     needed to generate the requested data.


                                     The questionnaires asked for information on freshmen and sophomores in
Scope of Information                 the fall 1995 term regarding the number of (1) financial aid recipients and
                                     the types and amounts of aid awarded, (2) financial aid recipients enrolled
                                     in remedial courses, (3) students not awarded financial aid and the
                                     number of these students who took remedial courses, and (4) financial aid
                                     recipients’ and other students’ hours or units registered in both
                                     college-level and remedial courses.

                                     We also obtained information on juniors and seniors from 4-year schools
                                     on (1) the total number of upperclassmen, (2) upperclassmen who
                                     received aid and the amount they received, (3) these students’ hours or
                                     units registered in both college-level and remedial courses, and
                                     (4) upperclassmen who took at least one remedial course. To encourage
                                     schools to respond to our survey, we aggregated the data to preclude
                                     identifying specific schools.



                                     Page 15                         GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                       Appendix I
                       Questionnaire Scope and Methodology




                       Our questionnaire used the term “developmental/remedial courses” and
                       defined these as reading, writing, or mathematics courses offered by
                       institutions that are (1) designed for college students lacking those skills
                       necessary to perform at the level required by the institution; (2) designed
                       to bring such students up to college-level work; (3) defined by the
                       institution as developmental/remedial; and (4) counted for federal aid
                       purposes, regardless of whether or not they granted degree credit. We
                       excluded English as a Second Language courses taught primarily to
                       foreign students who have F-1 visas and courses offered by other
                       institutions.

                       In addition, we gathered information on all title IV federal student
                       financial aid that these students received. This included Supplemental
                       Educational Opportunity Grants and Pell grants, Federal Family Education
                       Loans and Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, and Federal Work Study. For
                       campus-based aid programs, we asked schools to include their portion as
                       well as the federal portion. We asked schools to exclude all other types of
                       federal aid such as the federal portion of State Student Incentive Grants.


                       To test the survey’s internal validity, we included questions to which the
Data Validation        responses should have been internally consistent. For example, we asked
                       for the total number of students receiving aid and then asked for
                       disaggregated data on students by types of aid awarded. In some cases, the
                       disaggregated data did not correspond with the total number of students
                       receiving aid. When we identified discrepancies, we contacted the school
                       for clarification.


                       Because our response rate was inadequate, we did not estimate population
Sampling Errors and    totals or averages or calculate sampling errors. As such, our results are
Sample Weights         sample specific, pertaining only to the 430 survey respondents.

                       We used the PEQIS base sample weights to reflect the PEQIS sample design.
                       We adjusted our results using base weights assigned as part of PEQIS.


                       Because we lacked data on education-related costs, our estimate of how
Estimation of          much financial aid paid for remedial education has certain limitations.
Financial Aid Paying   Specifically, the assumptions about students’ total education-related costs
for Remedial Courses   underlying our estimate biased our results toward overestimation. In
                       assuming that students used their financial aid only to pay tuition, we



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Appendix I
Questionnaire Scope and Methodology




treated tuition as students’ only educational expense, excluding other
education-related expenses such as housing, transportation, and books.

To the extent that financial aid pays for more than simply tuition, our
estimate constitutes an upper limit on the percentage of aid supporting
remedial education. For illustrative purposes, consider the following
example: If a student received $1,000 in financial aid and enrolled for 12
credit hours—3 remedial and 9 regular credit hours—our estimate
assumed that a fourth of the financial aid award, or $250, paid for the
remedial course hours.14 However, if the same student’s tuition equaled
$4,000 and other education-related expenses equaled $4,000, for a total
cost of $8,000, it would be reasonable to assume that half the financial aid
award ($500) was used to help pay for tuition and the remaining half
helped pay other education-related expenses. Because remedial courses
equaled a fourth of the student’s courseload, the proportion of financial
aid used to pay for remedial courses would be a fourth of $500, or $125—
half the amount derived from our estimate.




14
  We assumed that the percentage of financial aid paying for remedial work equaled the proportion of a
student’s courseload of remedial courses.



Page 17                                GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
Appendix II

Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
Programs at Nine Schools

                                        This appendix describes in detail our case study schools’ remedial
                                        education programs. Besides summarizing school officials’ statements and
                                        opinions, it presents data on the retention and graduation rates of students
                                        who enrolled in remedial courses, as well as their demographic profiles,
                                        whenever possible.


                                        We selected schools on the basis of two factors: (1) percentage of entering
Site Selection                          freshmen who completed at least one remedial course in fall 1995 and
                                        (2) Pell grant dollars per student. We used data from the NCES Remedial
                                        Education in Higher Education Institutions Survey to determine freshmen
                                        enrollments in remedial courses. For Pell grants, we collected data from
                                        the National Student Loan Database System on sample schools’ aggregated
                                        dollars in the Pell grant program and divided those dollars by their total
                                        student body enrollments to construct a dollars-per-student measure. We
                                        then assigned schools to one of the following three categories: (1) high
                                        remedial course enrollments and high Pell grant awards per student,
                                        (2) high remedial course enrollments and low Pell grant awards per
                                        student, or (3) low remedial course enrollments and high Pell grant
                                        awards per student.15 From each category, we chose two 4-year schools—
                                        one public and one private—and one 2-year public school. We also
                                        considered geographic diversity and school size when selecting the
                                        schools.

                                        Table II.1 shows each school’s category on the basis of these preliminary
                                        data.

Table II.1: Schools Selected for Case
Studies                                                                                          Remedial enrollments
                                        Federal aid                          High                              Low
                                        High                                 School A                          School B
                                                                             School F                          School E
                                                                             School G                          School I

                                        Low                                  School C                          No schools selected
                                                                             School D
                                                                             School H

                                        For the nine case study schools we visited, table II.2 shows the percent of
                                        (1) financial aid received by students enrolled in remedial education
                                        courses, (2) students awarded financial aid and enrolled in remedial
                                        courses, and (3) financial aid that could have paid for remedial courses.

                                        15
                                          These categories were defined relative to each sector of public and private 2- and 4-year schools.



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                                     Appendix II
                                     Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                                     Programs at Nine Schools




Table II.2: Relationship Between
Student Aid and Remedial Education                                         Percent of               Percent of
at Case Study Schools                                                    financial aid      students receiving        Maximum percent
                                                                          received by         financial aid and         of financial aid
                                                                    students enrolled               enrolled in               paying for
                                     School                      in remedial courses         remedial courses         remedial courses
                                     4-year
                                     A                                                15                         8                     5
                                     B                                                 8                         8                     4
                                     C                                                12                         5                     2
                                     D                                                 9                         5                     2
                                     E                                               0.3                       0.2                    0.2
                                     F                                                20                         9                    13
                                     2-year
                                     G                                                39                        16                    21
                                     H                                                32                         4                    17
                                     I                                                17                         5                     9



                                     We classified School A, a large, west coast public 4-year university, as a
Profile of School A                  high remedial enrollment (53 percent of freshmen) and a high per capita
                                     Pell grant award ($510 average per student) institution. Overall, about
                                     11 percent of its 13,000 undergraduates took remedial courses.

                                     School A has a moderately selective admissions policy. To gain admission,
                                     students must rank in the upper third of their high school graduating class.
                                     The school uses a special-admissions category, however, to facilitate
                                     access for some students from underrepresented groups such as
                                     low-income and first-generation students. In total, the school allots about
                                     388 slots each year for special-admissions students. According to school
                                     officials, these students account for approximately 25 percent of the
                                     school’s first-time freshmen.

                                     School A has offered remedial courses since 1967. Its mission states that it
                                     will help students in acquiring and mastering college-level skills to make
                                     them competitive in the marketplace. School A’s officials said remedial
                                     education facilitates this goal. In addition, its title III school status
                                     emphasizes the need for this school to offer remedial courses.16



                                     16
                                      Title III is a federal program for postsecondary institutions that serve a high percentage of
                                     disadvantaged students. Federal funds are provided, through grants, to help students succeed
                                     academically through special services.



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                    Appendix II
                    Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                    Programs at Nine Schools




                    School A’s officials said its remedial education curriculum has affected
                    student retention rates, although they could only provide anecdotal
                    evidence. For example, remedial courses serve as a refresher for some
                    historically high-achieving students, such as those graduating from high
                    school honors programs, who sometimes encounter transition problems
                    once they enter college, these officials said. For these students, remedial
                    courses help bolster their confidence. Without these courses, the officials
                    said, these promising students may take college-level classes too soon and
                    become discouraged. A large number of students speak a language other
                    than English at home and are English as a Second Language students.
                    Many of these students must take remedial courses as well.


Implementation of   School A requires that entering freshmen and transfers who have not
Remedial Programs   satisfied college-level English and math requirements at their previous
                    institutions take pre-enrollment proficiency exams in English and math. If
                    indicated by the tests’ results, these students must take remedial courses.
                    School A offers remedial courses mainly in English and math and grants
                    four institutional credits for each of these courses; however, these credits
                    do not count toward graduation requirements.17

                    School A offers two remedial courses in English to help students develop
                    writing skills. Students needing remedial math attend courses ranging
                    from pre-algebra to intermediate algebra to prepare them for college math
                    courses. School A does not limit the number of remedial courses a student
                    may take; however, it does not permit students who receive two noncredit
                    grades in a course to re-enroll a third time.

                    School A helps students who need remedial education under two
                    programs. The first program, the Student Support Program (SSP),18 targets
                    low-income first-generation college students. Most students enrolled in SSP
                    need remedial coursework.

                    School A also conducts a summer program, known as the Summer Bridge
                    Program (SBP), primarily for Educational Opportunity Program19 special-
                    admission students. Students in SBP come from disadvantaged

                    17
                      School A also offers remedial courses in chemistry and speech.
                    18
                      SSP is part of the Department of Education’s TRIO programs. This program helps postsecondary
                    students from disadvantaged backgrounds who need academic support to successfully complete their
                    education.
                    19
                     The Educational Opportunity Program serves low-income and underrepresented ethnic students
                    disadvantaged due to their economic and educational background.



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                         Appendix II
                         Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                         Programs at Nine Schools




                         backgrounds and also are the first generation of their family to attend
                         college. The 6-week program is intended to provide students with a
                         developmental transition from high school to university life. SBP, which has
                         about 300 students from diverse cultures, has two core components: an
                         academic and a student development core. The academic core comprises a
                         general education course, supported by reading, writing, and study skills
                         components. The student development core focuses on personal
                         development, housing, and physical education. Both components work
                         together to improve students in various ways. For example, students
                         receive help with time management from both the study group leaders and
                         housing resident assistants. Students receive four academic credits for the
                         general education course, which is not remedial, and three units of
                         physical education credits.


Demographic Profile of   In fall 1995, School A’s remedial course enrollees were mainly freshmen,
Remedial Students        younger and poorer than the school’s other students. Freshmen accounted
                         for 70 percent of the school’s students taking remedial courses but only
                         22 percent of all students on campus. (See fig. II.1.) In addition, about
                         68 percent of School A’s students who registered for remedial courses
                         were under 20 years old. Moreover, School A students enrolled in remedial
                         courses had family incomes 10 percent lower than other students ($21,000
                         compared with $19,000).




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                                Appendix II
                                Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                                Programs at Nine Schools




Figure II.1: School A—Mostly
Freshmen Enrolled in Remedial
Courses

                                 Freshmen
                                 70%




                                                                                       Seniors
                                                                                       15%


                                                                            Juniors
                                                          Sophomores        7%
                                                          9%



                                Note: Percentages do not add to 100 due to rounding.




                                Hispanic students constituted about 42 percent of School A’s campus
                                population but accounted for about 59 percent of its remedial course
                                enrollees in fall 1995. In addition, African Americans made up about
                                9 percent of the school’s students, yet accounted for about 11 percent of
                                students enrolled in remedial courses.20


                                School B, a large, southern, historically black public 4-year university, has
Profile of School B             a student body of approximately 7,000 undergraduates. We classified
                                School B as a low remedial enrollment (28 percent of freshmen) and high
                                per capita Pell grant award ($788 average per student) institution. About
                                26 percent of its freshmen—10 percent of the student body—in fall 1995
                                participated in a special program called Retention Enhanced Education
                                Program (REEP) that School B uses to enhance retention.




                                20
                                 Conversely, Asians, accounting for 25 percent of the student body, represented only about 18 percent
                                of all students who took remedial courses. White students accounted for 12 percent of the student
                                body and 5 percent of students in such courses.



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                         Appendix II
                         Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                         Programs at Nine Schools




                         As a historically black institution, School B aims to provide access to
                         students regardless of whether they took college preparatory courses in
                         high school. Its admission standards are relatively modest, requiring a
                         minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 2.0 and submission of Scholastic
                         Achievement Test (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT) scores. School
                         B’s mission states that it will prepare its students to compete and succeed
                         in various arenas, including the social, political, commercial, and
                         professional. To achieve this, the university offers a broad-based core
                         curriculum consistent with the needs of its students. To facilitate its
                         mission and address the needs of students with academic deficiencies,
                         School B began REEP in 1994.21 Before REEP, School B offered remedial
                         courses informally through the school’s departments.


REEP’s Role              Campus officials described REEP as a comprehensive program that
                         includes academic advising, mentoring, and other support services. REEP is
                         designed for first-time, first-year students; transfer students may not
                         participate. REEP is intended to help intellectually capable students who
                         lacked exposure to typical academic preparatory courses address any
                         academic deficiencies, ensuring their retention. According to campus
                         officials, fall-to-fall retention of REEP students rose from 58 percent for fall
                         1994-95 freshmen to 64 percent the following year.


Implementation of REEP   School B requires all students to take pre-enrollment placement tests to
                         determine their skill level. School B assigns students to REEP on the basis
                         of a combination of placement test results, SAT scores, and high school GPA
                         and curriculum. School B tests students twice—before and after
                         enrollment—to ensure proper placement. School B requires students to
                         enter REEP if they fail to meet standards for these criteria.

                         REEP offers three courses: Math 100, Fundamentals of General
                         Mathematics; English 100A-B, Introduction to College Communication;
                         and English 100C-D, Introduction to College Composition. Students
                         receive four elective credits for each REEP course, but these courses do not
                         count toward math or English graduation requirements. Students who
                         excel in their REEP courses, however, may take 101-level coursework while
                         enrolled in REEP. They may receive 101-level credit by taking an exam that
                         allows them to register for a 102-level course the following semester.



                         21
                          Although School B officials did not refer to REEP as a remedial program, its courses met our
                         definition of remedial education courses.



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                      Appendix II
                      Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                      Programs at Nine Schools




                      Credit for the 101-level course does not count toward graduation
                      requirements.

                      Generally, students have only one opportunity to pass a REEP course. To
                      leave the program, REEP students must receive a passing grade in each
                      course, attain an overall 2.0 GPA, and pass an exit test to show their
                      competency upon completion of the program.

                      In 1996, School B began offering a summer program called REEP Plus.
                      Students accepted to School B and identified as likely REEP candidates are
                      advised to participate in REEP Plus. REEP Plus offers math and English
                      courses, as well as seminars that cover topics such as career planning and
                      time management. Campus officials said that REEP Plus helps students
                      acclimate to a university setting. Although School B does not require
                      prospective students to enroll in REEP Plus, those who participate must
                      pass all REEP Plus courses to matriculate in the fall. Private and university
                      funds finance REEP Plus.


REEP’s Demographic    REEP students were similar to other first-time freshmen in fall 1995 in age,
Profile               race, gender, and family income. REEP students had lower SAT scores,
                      however. They averaged an SAT score of 627; freshmen overall averaged a
                      score of 679.


                      School C is a large, east coast 4-year public institution with a total
Profile of School C   undergraduate enrollment of approximately 8,000 in fall 1995. We
                      classified School C as a high remedial education enrollment (49 percent of
                      freshmen) and a low per capita Pell grant award ($279 average per
                      student) school. In the fall 1995 term, 10 percent of its students enrolled in
                      remedial courses.

                      Representatives of School C classified their school as moderately
                      selective. Generally, students must have completed college preparatory
                      courses and submitted SAT or ACT results to be considered for admission.
                      To improve access for underrepresented groups, however, School C has a
                      special admissions program to facilitate access for nontraditional,
                      minority, and economically disadvantaged students who do not meet usual
                      academic standards.

                      In 1975, School C offered its first remedial course, a writing course. By
                      1977, it had added math and reading and formalized the program. School



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                                                Appendix II
                                                Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                                                Programs at Nine Schools




                                                officials said the number of students taking remedial coursework has
                                                declined in the past few years because of more stringent admissions
                                                criteria, a trend they anticipate continuing. For example, the portion of the
                                                school’s incoming students who enrolled in remedial courses fell from 59
                                                to 46 percent between fall 1991 and 1996. Figure II.2 shows how School C’s
                                                remedial education enrollment in reading, writing, computation, and
                                                algebra decreased from 1991 to 1996.



Figure II.2: School C—Decrease in Need for Remedial Coursework


Percentage
50



40                                                                              39

            33              34
                                           32
30

                                                          24                              23

20
                   16


10
                                                                   7


0
             Reading             Writing                  Computation            Algebra

     1991
     1996


                                                Along with other services, School C provides remedial education to
                                                improve and strengthen the transition between high school and college. In
                                                addition, it seeks to increase student retention and persistence to
                                                graduation by creating an integrated academic and student support
                                                service.


Implementation of                               School C requires freshmen and students transferring with fewer than 25
Remedial Programs                               college credits to take a statewide pre-enrollment placement test. School C



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                         Appendix II
                         Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                         Programs at Nine Schools




                         requires students to take remedial courses if indicated by test scores.
                         Students may challenge reading and math test results by re-testing,
                         however. In addition, students enrolled in remedial writing may forgo the
                         course by writing an essay on the first day of class, which may place them
                         in a college-level composition course.

                         School C limits the length of time students may enroll in remedial courses.
                         In general, students must complete their remedial courses in 1 year.
                         Special-admission students and those needing remedial courses in both
                         computation and algebra, however, have an extra year to complete
                         coursework. School C suspends students who fail to complete their
                         coursework in the allotted time. Once a student is suspended, he or she
                         has three options to regain good academic standing: (1) appeal to the
                         school of major; (2) take courses at another school; or (3) remain at
                         School C, taking only the needed remedial courses. These students must
                         complete these remedial courses within a year or be dismissed without
                         recourse.

                         School C offers support services for all students regardless of their
                         enrollment in remedial or college-level courses. It also offers a summer
                         pre-enrollment program for students in two programs: the Educational
                         Opportunity Fund and the Minority Achievement Program.22 The summer
                         program serves to acclimate students to the college environment.
                         According to officials, most of these students need remedial courses and
                         must attend the summer program to enroll in the fall. They only need to
                         show progress in the program, however; they do not have to pass all
                         courses. During the program, students typically take one or two remedial
                         courses as well as a health and wellness course.


Demographic Profile of   For the fall 1995 term, remedial enrollments consisted mostly of freshmen.
Students                 (See fig. II.3.) In addition, racial minorities were overrepresented in
                         remedial courses compared with their campuswide enrollments. Freshmen
                         represented about 82 percent of all remedial course enrollments, yet only
                         18 percent of all students on campus.




                         22
                          The Minority Achievement Program enrolls qualified minority applicants on the basis of an
                         evaluation of their secondary school achievements, recommendations, and assessments of their
                         motivation to succeed. The Educational Opportunity Fund provides a college education to
                         disadvantaged students. These students are admitted on criteria, such as financial need and academic
                         promise, rather than academic achievement alone.



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                                Appendix II
                                Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                                Programs at Nine Schools




Figure II.3: School C—Mostly
Freshmen Enrolled in Remedial
Courses




                                Freshmen
                                   82%
                                                                                                 Seniors
                                                                                                 1%
                                                                                                  Juniors
                                                                                                  3%

                                                                                            Sophomores
                                                                                            14%




                                Racial minorities constituted a larger share of students enrolled in
                                remedial courses compared with their campuswide enrollments. Although
                                accounting for only about 19 percent of the total student body, racial
                                minorities constituted about 42 percent of all remedial students.
                                Specifically, African Americans constituted 24 percent of remedial course
                                enrollees, making up 11 percent of the total student body. Likewise,
                                Hispanics and Asians constituted 11 and 7 percent of the students enrolled
                                in these courses, accounting for only 5 and 3 percent of the total student
                                body, respectively.23


                                School D, a small, private 4-year institution located in the Mid-Atlantic
Profile of School D             region, enrolled approximately 4,000 students in fall 1995. We classified
                                School D as a high remedial enrollment (44 percent of freshmen) and low
                                per capita Pell grant award ($110 average per student) institution on the
                                basis of preliminary data. In the fall 1995 term, 7 percent of all students
                                enrolled in remedial courses.

                                School D is a selective institution, granting admission to each of its six
                                colleges on the basis of academic preparation, achievement,
                                recommendations, and SAT/ACT scores required for the particular college.
                                School D refers some students who do not qualify for admission, but show

                                23
                                 Students enrolled in remedial courses differed little from the total student body in average age and
                                GPA. Officials could not provide income data for remedial course enrollees.



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                    Appendix II
                    Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                    Programs at Nine Schools




                    potential, to its summer enrichment program. This program, designed to
                    help economically disadvantaged students, also helps the university meet
                    its diversity goals. School D automatically admits students who
                    successfully complete this program.

                    School D has offered remedial courses since 1970. Its officials said School
                    D’s mission is to “serve the educational needs of its students.” This
                    includes identifying students’ educational needs, developing programs to
                    meet those needs, and implementing these programs with credit and
                    noncredit offerings. School officials view remedial programs as an integral
                    part of School D’s mission.


Implementation of   Once accepted, first-time freshmen take mandatory pre-enrollment
Remedial Programs   placement tests. In general, School D does not require transfer students to
                    take placement tests. It does require, however, those who lack courses
                    required by School D to take placement tests. Although students do not
                    have to take remedial courses if indicated by test results, school officials
                    strongly encourage them to. Students may appeal for a re-examination if
                    they feel the placement test results do not reflect their true abilities. Also,
                    faculty may recommend students’ placement in remedial courses if they
                    have difficulty with college-level courses.

                    School D does not limit the number of remedial courses a student may
                    take. Depending on the college, however, students may only apply up to
                    three remedial credits toward their graduation requirements. A total of
                    eight remedial courses are offered, three of which are intended for
                    international students.

                    School D offers a summer enrichment program for applicants who show
                    academic potential but lack the qualifications for admission. School D
                    uses federal and state grants to help finance the program. The program’s
                    curriculum, which lasts 6-1/2 weeks, consists entirely of remedial courses.
                    Though the program is almost 30 years old, school officials said they
                    began requiring students to enroll in this program 6 years ago if indicated
                    by their GPA or SAT scores. Approximately 90 percent of these students
                    successfully complete the summer program and are offered admission to
                    School D, officials said, and about 80 percent eventually matriculate.
                    According to officials, an average of 8 percent of their students gained
                    admission through this program.




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                                                  Appendix II
                                                  Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                                                  Programs at Nine Schools




Demographic Profile of                            School D enrolled mostly freshmen and males in its remedial courses in
Students                                          the fall 1995 term. In addition, racial minorities constituted a larger share
                                                  of remedial enrollments compared with their campuswide enrollments.
                                                  (See fig. II.4.) Freshmen accounted for approximately 92 percent of School
                                                  D’s remedial course enrollees at that time but only 32 percent of all
                                                  students on campus. In addition, males and minorities constituted a larger
                                                  share of students enrolled in these courses compared with their
                                                  campuswide enrollments. Although males made up about 45 percent of the
                                                  total student body, they accounted for about 61 percent of the remedial
                                                  course enrollees. Similarly, minorities constituted about 17 percent of the
                                                  campus population but 32 percent of remedial course enrollees. Among
                                                  racial minorities, African Americans, while accounting for 11 percent of
                                                  the total student body, made up about 22 percent of all remedial course
                                                  enrollees. Likewise, Asians made up 4 percent of the undergraduate
                                                  enrollees, yet 7 percent of remedial course enrollees.



Figure II.4: School D—Remedial and Compuswide Enrollments Among Students by Race


Percentage
100


                                                                                             81
80

                                                                                66

60



40


                                 22
20
                                          11
                                                            7
             2                                                          4
                    1
 0
             Hispanic          African American                 Asian                White

      Remedial Enrollments
      Campuswide Enrollments




                                                  Page 29                             GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                                        Appendix II
                                        Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                                        Programs at Nine Schools




                                        Freshmen who enrolled in remedial courses in the fall 1995 term had
                                        lower SAT scores and GPAs than the total freshman class at the time. Table
                                        II.3 compares SAT scores and GPAs for freshmen who enrolled in remedial
                                        courses with those of the total freshman class.

Table II.3: Comparison of Average SAT
Scores and Average GPAs Among           Classification                 Average SAT score           Average cumulative GPA
Freshmen Enrolled in Remedial           All freshmen                   873                         2.59
Courses and Total Freshman Class at
                                        Freshmen enrolled in           764                         2.36
School D, Fall 1995
                                        remedial courses



                                        School E is a large, private 4-year university located in the Northeast with
Profile of School E                     a student body of approximately 9,000. We categorized School E as a low
                                        remedial enrollment (about 1 percent of freshmen) and a high per capita
                                        Pell grant award ($347 average per student) institution. In the fall 1995
                                        term, less than 1 percent of its students enrolled in remedial courses.

                                        School E uses highly selective admissions criteria, officials said, because it
                                        chiefly prepares students for technical careers such as engineering,
                                        computer science, and information technology. Admissions policies vary
                                        by colleges within School E. In general, the school considers high school
                                        curriculum, rank, and GPA as well as SAT/ACT scores for admitting students.
                                        As a rule, School E does not accept students who do not meet these
                                        criteria; however, it occasionally makes exceptions on a case-by-case
                                        basis. For example, School E admits some nontraditional students without
                                        normally required college entrance examinations at the discretion of the
                                        director of admissions. These cases constitute less than 2 percent of total
                                        freshman applicants, officials said.

                                        According to campus officials, because School E’s mission is to prepare
                                        students for careers in technical professions, it does not consider remedial
                                        education a formal part of its mission. It does offer remedial courses,
                                        however, for students who encounter academic difficulty through a
                                        program known as the College Restoration Program (CRP), which began in
                                        1972. Before that, School E only offered its less formal, noncredit
                                        supplemental courses for students on a walk-in basis.


Implementation of CRP                   CRP is intended to address problems that inhibit academic success.
                                        Enrollment in CRP is optional for students on academic probation, but
                                        suspended students cannot continue at the school without enrolling in CRP.




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                         Appendix II
                         Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                         Programs at Nine Schools




                         School E reclassifies students as freshmen once enrolled in CRP, regardless
                         of their previous classification. Students must complete CRP courses in one
                         quarter.

                         The typical courseload for CRP students includes about five remedial
                         courses and one to two college-level courses. CRP courses do not count
                         toward graduation requirements. Five CRP courses cover topics such as
                         learning theory, study skills, time management, personal development, and
                         career exploration. The remaining two classes cover remedial English and
                         math. The English course covers topics such as grammar, reading, writing,
                         and critical thinking. The math course, specific to each student’s major
                         and proficiency, includes precalculus, Calculus I to IV, and differential
                         equations.

                         School E provides special mentors for CRP students, a key component of
                         CRP, according to officials. Faculty members mentor students at weekly
                         meetings, where students can discuss their progress. Mentors make
                         recommendations on the students’ placement once CRP ends.
                         Approximately 65 to 70 percent of CRP students either return to their
                         original program or transfer to a new one.


Demographic Profile of   In the fall 1995 term, racial minorities constituted a larger share of
Students                 students enrolled in CRP compared with their campuswide enrollments.
                         Racial minorities accounted for only 23 percent of the freshman class but
                         constituted 48 percent of CRP students. Asians accounted for 17 percent of
                         CRP students, making up about 5 percent of the freshman class. In addition,
                         African Americans and Hispanics made up 13 and 9 percent of CRP
                         students, respectively, while accounting for 5 and 3 percent of the total
                         freshman class, respectively.


Graduation Rate and      An analysis by School E showed that CRP students had lower graduation
Attainment Statistics    rates and took longer to graduate than other students.24 The study
                         reported that CRP students had a 29-percent graduation rate compared with
                         61 percent for others. The study also found that students who enrolled in
                         remedial courses took a year longer than other students to graduate.
                         Officials attributed this difference to the remedial courses taken in
                         addition to courses required by their curriculum.



                         24
                           Data provided on the basis of a study of freshmen who entered School E from 1987 through 1989.



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                        Appendix II
                        Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                        Programs at Nine Schools




                        School F is a small, private 4-year institution located in a large,
Profile of School F     midwestern urban area. We classified School F as a high remedial
                        enrollment (90 percent of freshmen) and high per capita Pell grant award
                        ($350 average per student) institution. Of School F’s approximately 1,000
                        students, about 12 percent enrolled in remedial courses in fall 1995.

                        School F accepts three types of students—high school graduates,
                        nontransfer students, and transfer students—and the admissions criteria
                        vary for each. High school graduates, those entering directly after
                        completing high school, must have a GPA of at least 2.5 and score at least
                        850 on the SAT or 18 on the ACT. Those not meeting these criteria must take
                        a placement test, which is used for both admissions and course-level
                        placements. Nontransfer students, those entering after being out of high
                        school at least a year, but who have never attended college, must take the
                        placement test to matriculate, regardless of their high school GPA and
                        SAT/ACT scores. Finally, transfer students—those entering who attended
                        another college and transferred into School F with the equivalent of 24
                        semester hours and a minimum college GPA of 2.0—may transfer without
                        taking the placement test; those not meeting both of these requirements
                        must take the test to matriculate. Finally, all students must pass the state
                        proficiency test to attend.

                        Its officials said School F’s mission is to educate eligible students with
                        diverse backgrounds, talents, and experiences to enter into, and advance
                        in, professional business careers and to fulfill personal potential. School
                        F’s mission statement does not specifically refer to the provision of
                        remedial coursework. Because School F administers remedial courses
                        through the federal Student Support Services (SSS)25 program, however,
                        the program supports the school’s mission to serve students from diverse
                        backgrounds.

                        School F began offering remedial courses in the mid-1950s, first offering
                        remedial composition and math. School F began offering credit for these
                        courses in 1974, adding remedial reading by 1976. In fall term 1977, School
                        F began receiving federal funding for these courses through SSS.


Implementation of SSS   After testing students in math, English, and writing, School F accepts
                        students and places them into either college-level or remedial courses.
                        Although School F does not require enrollment in remedial courses if

                        25
                         SSS is the same federal program as the aforementioned SSP program at School A; however, Schools
                        A and E use different names for the program.



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                         Appendix II
                         Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                         Programs at Nine Schools




                         indicated through testing, the school strongly encourages students to do
                         so.

                         SSS uses a two-tier approach. Generally, students placed in the first tier
                         require two semesters of remedial coursework; those in the second tier
                         require only one. First-tier students take only remedial courses in their
                         first semester. In contrast, second-tier students enroll in college-level and
                         remedial courses in their first semester. Though students can earn 3
                         credits for each remedial course, School F only accepts 12 credits in
                         remedial courses toward elective requirements for graduation. The
                         school’s credit policy for remedial courses has vacillated, switching
                         between allowing degree credit and not doing so for several years.
                         Officials said they decided to offer degree credit because students took
                         exception to paying for classes without receiving credits.

                         School F limits the number of times a student may repeat a remedial
                         course. Students who anticipate difficulty with a course may choose a
                         pass/fail option rather than receive a conventional letter grade. This allows
                         them to repeat the course without having their first attempt adversely
                         affect their GPA. In addition, students may earn a “P” or “progress” grade in
                         SSS courses. This indicates that the student, while progressing
                         satisfactorily in study skills, has not yet mastered the subject area. The P
                         grade does not count in computing the GPA but does count in determining
                         financial aid eligibility. Generally, a student may receive a P only twice,
                         with exceptions granted by the SSS director.

                         The school’s affiliation with the TRIO program requires it to provide some
                         specific services to SSS students until they graduate to receive federal
                         funding, officials said. For example, School F’s part-time faculty members
                         or tutors provide tutoring on a regular basis in English, math, and
                         accounting. Other services include counseling, academic advising, and
                         peer helpers. Although the Department of Education and School F fund
                         these services for SSS students, the school subsidizes the entire cost of
                         tutoring and counseling for nonparticipants in SSS.


Demographic Profile of   SSSstudents predominately consisted of freshmen and racial minorities.
Students                 Freshmen made up approximately 51 percent of SSS students in the fall
                         1995 term, yet only 35 percent of all students on campus. Racial minorities
                         constituted a larger share of students enrolled in these courses compared
                         with their campuswide enrollments, making up 42 percent of the total
                         student body but 87 percent of SSS students. African Americans had the



                         Page 33                           GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                      Appendix II
                      Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                      Programs at Nine Schools




                      largest representation, accounting for up 81 percent of SSS students but
                      constituting only about 39 percent of the total student body.

                      Although the school officials could not provide data on graduation rates
                      for students enrolled in remedial courses, they said these students usually
                      take 5 to 6 years to graduate. They explained that the school has many
                      part-time students, however, who have no intention of finishing in 4 years.


                      School G is a large community college located in a midwestern urban area.
Profile of School G   We classified School G as a high remedial enrollment (60 percent of
                      freshmen) and a high per capita Pell grant award ($1,134 average per
                      student) institution. Our survey found that approximately 25 percent of the
                      school’s 6,700 students enrolled in remedial courses in fall 1995.

                      As a community college, School G has an open-admissions policy. Certain
                      programs, such as allied health sciences, have selective admissions,
                      however. In these cases, the state requires a high school or general
                      equivalency diploma (GED) for admission. Students may apply to these
                      vocational and technical programs after enrolling in School G and meeting
                      certain curricular requirements.

                      School G’s officials told us that remedial education is central to the
                      school’s mission, especially in providing access to its vocational and
                      technical programs. As such, the school’s mission statement specifically
                      refers to providing remedial education to meet the educational needs of its
                      students.


Implementation of     School G administers a pre-enrollment placement test to all entering
Remedial Programs     students seeking a degree or certificate; continuing education,
                      international, and transfer students are not tested. Transfer students are
                      placed in college-level courses according to test scores from previous
                      institutions or by achieving a C or better in math, English, and writing
                      courses. School G does not require students to take remedial courses even
                      if test scores indicate the need. The school encourages students to do so,
                      and most students follow this advice, officials said. Counselors also work
                      with students to make sure they take the needed courses.

                      School G’s remedial education curriculum consists of five English, one
                      basic science, and four math courses. Students enrolled in the English
                      courses have reading proficiencies that range from the fourth to the



                      Page 34                           GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                      Appendix II
                      Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                      Programs at Nine Schools




                      twelfth grade level. Math courses address basic math through intermediate
                      algebra. The typical courseload for students consists of one ninth grade
                      level reading course, one writing course, and elementary algebra. Students
                      receive three credits each for these courses, which, in some programs,
                      may count toward graduation requirements.

                      School G’s services are open to all students; none are set aside for
                      students enrolled in remedial courses.


                      School H is a large, northwestern public 2-year institution, which enrolled
Profile of School H   approximately 9,000 students in fall 1995. We classified School H as a high
                      remedial enrollment (63 percent of freshmen) and a low per capita Pell
                      grant award ($220 average per student) institution. About 10 percent of its
                      students enrolled in at least one remedial course in the fall 1995 term.

                      School H has an open-admissions policy, with no requirements for high
                      school curriculum or GPA or SAT/ACT scores.26 As such, School H provides
                      remedial courses to help students achieve success in postsecondary
                      education, officials told us. In fact, School H’s mission statement
                      specifically mentions providing remedial coursework to ensure success
                      and address students’ varying needs. Furthermore, School H’s mission
                      statement specifically states that it will provide remedial education to help
                      students begin college-level coursework. School H has offered remedial
                      instruction since 1962. Enrollments in these courses have always been
                      high, officials said, and they expect that to continue.


Implementation of     School H uses a variety of ways to determine the appropriate placement
Remedial Programs     for its students. First, it requires students entering degree or certificate
                      programs to complete an assessment of their reading, writing, and math
                      skills. In addition, all entering students who have not completed college-
                      level English at another accredited college or university and all students
                      completing English as a Second Language take placement tests.
                      Furthermore, enrollment in all but one math course requires one or more
                      placement tests. School H requires students to take remedial courses if
                      test scores indicate the need. Also, School H students enrolled in remedial
                      writing courses must pass a post-test before enrolling in college-level
                      courses.



                      26
                       To receive financial aid, students at School H must have a high school diploma or GED or pass an
                      approved Department of Education Ability to Benefit test.



                      Page 35                               GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                      Appendix II
                      Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                      Programs at Nine Schools




                      Depending on how many remedial courses students need, students may
                      require one or more quarters of remedial coursework to improve their
                      proficiency, according to school officials. Because students must take
                      remedial courses sequentially, students needing a lot of such courses take
                      longer to complete them. According to officials, however, most students
                      take college-level coursework while enrolled in remedial courses. For
                      example, students needing remedial math may be enrolled in humanities
                      courses. Therefore, students earn credits toward graduation for college-
                      level courses while taking remedial courses. All remedial courses are
                      worth five institutional credits, and School H does not limit the remedial
                      courses its students may take.

                      School H’s remedial education curriculum focuses on English and math. It
                      offers seven remedial math courses, including basic math skills,
                      preparatory math, elementary algebra, and algebra review/intermediate
                      algebra. According to officials, about 85 percent of all students who took
                      the math placement test needed remedial math in fall 1995. In addition,
                      School H offers eight remedial courses in English, which start at the tenth
                      grade level. Courses include various levels of reading, study skills, and
                      writing. In addition, students enrolled in remedial English courses must
                      concurrently enroll in a language lab to get additional help with their
                      coursework. In the language lab, students receive help both individually
                      and in small groups, along with computer-assisted instruction. Students
                      receive two institutional credits for the language lab. About 50 percent of
                      all students who took the English placement test needed remedial English
                      in fall 1995.


                      School I is a large, midwestern public 2-year institution. We classified
Profile of School I   School I as a low remedial enrollment (26 percent of freshmen) and a high
                      per capita Pell grant award ($487 average per student) institution. Of
                      approximately 10,000 students attending in fall 1995, about 12 percent
                      took remedial coursework.

                      As a community college, School I has an open-admissions policy,
                      automatically admitting applicants with high school diplomas and
                      non-high school graduates 19 years of age and older. Applicants under 19
                      years old who are not high school graduates must have a GED.27




                      27
                       School I also has admission criteria for high school students seeking dual enrollment in high school
                      and college.



                      Page 36                                GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                    Appendix II
                    Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                    Programs at Nine Schools




                    School I’s remedial education program helps promote access to higher
                    education, according to school officials. The school began offering
                    remedial courses in 1956, first offering refresher courses for math and
                    English. By the 1958-59 academic year, School I expanded course offerings
                    to include basic writing and reading and beginning algebra. Through
                    remedial coursework, students gain the skills needed to enter 4-year
                    institutions or the workplace, officials said. Remedial courses not only
                    provide basic skills, but also increase students’ self-confidence, according
                    to officials.


Implementation of   School I administers mandatory placement tests to all entering students
Remedial Programs   before they register for classes, including transfer students with fewer
                    than 30 credits. Once test scores are tabulated, advisers or counselors
                    meet with students to make recommendations regarding placement.
                    School I does not require students to enroll in remedial courses if test
                    scores indicate the need; however, most students follow the advisers’
                    recommendations.

                    In fall 1995, School I offered six remedial courses in English and three in
                    math. Each English course is worth 3 credits, and students may elect to
                    use up to 12 remedial credits as electives. Among the English courses,
                    areas covered include spelling, reading, basic English, basic sentence
                    skills, and basic writing. The proficiency level for the reading courses
                    begins at the fifth grade. Of the math courses, one primarily serves liberal
                    arts students, for which students may receive a satisfactory or
                    unsatisfactory grade. This course, worth five credits and meeting weekly
                    for 5 contact hours, covers whole number operations, fractions, and
                    equations. The remaining courses—applied mathematics and introductory
                    technical algebra—serve students in technical-vocational programs.

                    The applied mathematics course helps students with the typical
                    mathematical problem-solving needs of the technical/trade area. Course
                    topics include fractions, decimals, measurement, signed numbers,
                    geometry, and trigonometric functions. Students earn three credits and
                    meet weekly for 4 contact hours for this course. Introductory technical
                    algebra covers the fundamental concepts in algebra, linear equations,
                    quadratic equations, and geometric equations. Students earn four credits
                    and meet weekly for 4 contact hours for this course. Students receive a
                    grade for these courses, although grades are generally not transferable.




                    Page 37                           GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
                         Appendix II
                         Case Studies of the Use of Remedial
                         Programs at Nine Schools




                         School I has no limits on the number of remedial courses a student may
                         take. It does limit students, however, to three opportunities to repeat a
                         course if they do not initially succeed. After that, to enroll in the course,
                         students must have a counselor’s written approval. Nonetheless, students
                         only earn credit for taking the course once. The grade earned during their
                         final attempt, which supplants all earlier attempts, is the only grade that
                         affects their GPA if students earn grades in the course. School I also has a
                         policy requiring students to complete remedial coursework before earning
                         no more than 22 hours of credit at the school. The school does not
                         rigorously enforce this policy at this time, however, officials said.

                         School I offers several services for all of its students. None specifically
                         serves those who enroll in remedial courses.


Demographic Profile of   Both freshmen and racial minorities constituted a larger share of School
Students                 I’s remedial course enrollments compared with their campuswide
                         enrollments in fall 1995. Freshmen accounted for approximately
                         94 percent of all remedial course enrollees but only 68 percent of all
                         students on campus. In addition, racial minorities constituted 20 percent
                         of the student body, yet 35 percent of students enrolled in remedial
                         courses.




                         Page 38                           GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
Appendix III

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments


                  Joseph J. Eglin, Jr., Assistant Director, (202) 512-7009
GAO Contacts      Tamara A. Lumpkin, Evaluator-in-Charge, (202) 512-5699
                  James W. Spaulding, Senior Evaluator, (202) 512-7035


                  The following team members contributed significantly to this report:
Acknowledgments   Wayne B. Upshaw, Assistant Director; Charles J. Appel, Benjamin F.
                  Jordan, Jr., Nancy Kintner-Meyer, Gene Kuehneman, Arthur Merriam,
                  Carol Patey, and Timothy Silva, senior evaluators; Catherine Baltzell and
                  Wayne Dow, methodologists; Daniel Schwimer, attorney; and Brady
                  Goldsmith, summer intern.




(104840)          Page 39                      GAO/HEHS-97-142 Remedial Education and Financial Aid
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