More Mississippi students unready to start college

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi colleges and universities are spending about $35.5 million a year to teach subjects that students should have learned in high school.

The number of students in remedial classes is growing at about the same rate as enrollment, higher education officals told The Clarion-Ledger.

The classes cost junior and community colleges in Mississippi about $25.5 million a year, with another $10 million spent by four-year colleges and universities.

Of 30,630 students enrolled in community colleges statewide in 2010, 13,734 — about 44 percent — took at least one remedial class in reading, English or math, said Eric Clark, executive director of the state Community College Board.

“Obviously, it’s taking a lot of energy and a lot of resources to get these folks prepared to do college work,” Clark said.

The state College Board said that in Mississippi’s eight four-year public colleges and universities, 4,044 students were in remedial classes last fall. That was up from 3,561 in fall 2009, but the percentage of students in such classes remained about the same.

Students in remedial courses typically include those with low scores on college placement tests, those who attained GEDs instead of traditional diplomas, and adults who did not immediately continue their education after leaving high school.

“Naturally, when students have to take remedial courses, it typically takes them a little longer to complete their degree. When that happens, there’s a higher chance that they may stop or drop out because it’s taking them longer,” said Al Rankins, the state College Board’s associate commissioner for academic and student affairs.