Report: Remedial education costs almost $90M per year in state
Direct-to-college students in need of developmental' courses up 9 percent since 2000
Remedial education is costing nearly $90 million annually at Maryland's two- and four-year colleges and universities, a recent report from the state's Higher Education Commission indicates.
The state's 16 community colleges are responsible for $75.3 million of those "developmental education" costs, according to the commission's report, which analyzed fiscal 2009 figures. It represented 8 percent of the combined budgets of $943 million for all the community colleges that year.
Montgomery College reported the highest annual cost $16.6 million for remedial education in 2009. It also had the largest number of full-time equivalent students in developmental, or remedial, education with the equivalent of 1,852 full-time students just more than 11 percent of all its students and the highest per-student cost, $8,962 in 2009.
The January report represents the first time the commission prepared a comprehensive report on remedial higher education costs that includes two- and four-year college students who have not gone directly from high school to college, said Danette Howard, research director for the Maryland Higher Education Commission. These "adult" students account for about 25 percent of all students considered, she said.
However, the commission has tracked those students who go immediately from high school to college and require developmental courses. In 2000, 46.7 percent of those students, numbering 23,628, needed remediation of some kind, and 39.1 percent needed remediation in math. In 2010, 55.8 percent of the 33,865 students surveyed needed remediation of some kind, and 52.5 percent needed remediation in math.
She cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the remedial rates, noting they tend to rise as more students who previously wouldn't have considered higher education begin attending two- and four-year institutions.
The commission defines developmental education as necessary for students not prepared to enter credit-bearing or credit-level courses.
Statewide, some 11,768 full-time equivalent students were in remedial education in 2009, about 6.5 percent of the 180,400 students enrolled at two- and four-year colleges.
"The Cost of Developmental Education" report was written for the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
Del. John L. Bohanan Jr. (D-Dist. 29B) of California, chairman of the Education and Economic Development Subcommittee of Appropriations, said legislators want to understand how much developmental education costs, ways to contain and minimize those expenses, and to share best practices among the colleges.
"You don't need full, tenured professors teaching these. In fact, that's not the ideal at all," he said.
The MHEC plans to issue an updated report next year, said Geoffrey Newman, director of finance policy for the commission.
The MHEC report also highlighted four community colleges Frederick, Harford and Hagerstown community colleges, as well as the Community College of Baltimore County that it said were particularly successful. The four schools spent less than $7,000 per equivalent of a full-time student in developmental education the average for all community colleges was about $7,360 per student and saw at least 80 percent of them attempt 18 credits in two years and either graduate, transfer or still be enrolled within four years.
Among four-year colleges and universities, remedial education costs were significantly lower than at community colleges the 2009 cost of just more than $14 million was about 0.5 percent of all their academic expenditures.