Maine’s remedial rate high at community colleges, low at UMS

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A report released Thursday by the University of Maine System shows fewer Maine high school graduates who are university students need remedial work in reading and math compared to the rest of New England.

But another report shows that the percentage of Maine Community College System students needing remedial work is high, according to a statement released Thursday by Maine School Management Association and the Maine Education Association.

The report shows 12 percent of high school students who entered the University of Maine System as freshman in September 2012 needed remedial work in core areas, compared to New England rates, which was 24 to 39 percent.

However, the remediation rate reported by the Maine Community College System was 50 percent, an area that needs focus, Sen. Brian Langley, R-Hancock, said. The report didn’t show New England numbers for how many community college students need remediation.

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According to the news release, Maine School Boards Association President Kristin Malin said the remediation rate for the University of Maine System shows how well schools are preparing students.

“As a state, we need to recognize our accomplishments and focus on the areas that need improvement, instead of tearing down our public school system,” Malin said.

There was no reaction from the two groups in the news release on the community college’s 50 percent remediation rate.

Langley, who serves on the Education Committee, is a proponent of the so-called “bridge-year” approach which is getting high school students interested in and ready for college work.

Currently being piloted in Hermon, the program brings together the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, public high schools and career and technical education schools as partners to allow juniors and seniors to take college-level work for credit, introducing students to the type of rigor they’ll encounter in higher education.

“It works because they have support groups and there is less angst about asking their high school teacher, who they know well, for help,” Langley said. It also allows students to earn credits at a much lower costs — $35 per credit hour — and avoid the cost of taking remedial classes at the university or college level.

MEA President Lois Kilby-Chesley said the bridge-year concept has promise. MEA is encouraged by the university results and view suggestions like those from Langley as opportunities to improve community college results, she said in the news release.

Both the University of Maine System and Maine Community College System were required by a law passed in 2011 to submit their reports on remedial education to the Legislature. Those reports will be updated annually.

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