For the first time, the University of Wisconsin (UW) System has issued what it calls a Legislated Remedial Course Report on incoming freshman students at UW campuses who graduated from Wisconsin high schools and who, although admitted, must take remedial classes in English or math to make up for deficiencies.
This report on required remediation is in response to legislation passed during the last session (2015 Wisconsin Act 28) directing the UW System to annually identify the high schools in the state with more than 6 students who, based on their performance on placement tests in the preceding 12 months, are required to take remedial courses in English or mathematics.
The System is then required to submit an annual report to the legislature and to the state superintendent of public instruction that lists each high school so identified, and, for each such high school, the specific number of students who are required to take the remedial courses. The reports will not identify the specific students.
Upon receipt of each such annual report, the state superintendent of public instruction is required to provide a copy of the report to each school board.
The report provides aggregate information on the number of freshman entering the UW System from Wisconsin high schools. It further breaks this information into high schools with six (6) or more students who needed remedial courses and those with fewer than six (6) students who needed remedial courses. More detailed information is provided for the former category.
The report lists 135 school districts as having more than 6 students who needed remedial classes, as well as many private high schools. Making any inferences or comparisons is difficult, however, as cut scores for determining who needs remedial courses differ from one UW campus to another. To address this issue, the UW Board of Regents has moved to establish standard cut scores at all system institutions in the future.
In its cover letter accompanying the report, UW System President Ray Cross stated:
“For two decades, the UW System has provided feedback to Wisconsin high schools on graduates who entered UW System intuitions. In collaboration with ACT, Inc, the UW System and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction provide the ACT High-School-to-College Success Reports to high schools every three years. Among a variety of measures, the ACT High-School-to-College Success Reports contain preparation information including the need for remedial math and English and outcome information including persistence to the second year of college.
“Information provided to Wisconsin high schools on the readiness and progress of their graduates at the post-secondary level is intended to help administrators evaluate and strengthen their efforts in preparing students for success. This type of feedback to the Wisconsin education partners helps to foster communications, align the curriculum, and reduce the need for remedial education. We are pleased to be engaged with our secondary education partners in these efforts.”