Despite High High School Graduation Rates, 28% Of ND College Students Need Remedial Classes

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Today North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction issued a press release touting high graduation rates among North Dakota students. According to the latest data, North Dakota ranks in a six-way tie for 4th place with an 86% graduation rate which is only two points off the national leader Iowa with an 88% rate.

“The federal Department of Education released data on Tuesday that says 86 percent of North Dakota’s high school students graduated in four years,” reported Great Plains News. “That ranks among the top 20 percent of the high school graduation rates of states nationwide.”

That’s good, but simply moving students through the grades isn’t necessarily indicative of sound education policy, and we have some disturbing numbers from North Dakota’s university system which would seem to indicate that a lot of our state’s high school graduates aren’t ready for college-level work.

According to data obtained from the North Dakota University System, in fall of 2012 the freshman remediation rate (the number of incoming freshmen who had to take remedial classes to catch up to college-level courses) for the entire system was 27.7%, an increase from 23.1% in the fall of 2011.

The highest remediation rate in 2012 was Dakota College at Bottineau at 71%, the lowest was 12.75% at UND, but system-wide the rates are alarming.

To be fair, not all incoming students are from ND public schools, but in 2012 about 57% of students were from North Dakota.

There’s a domino effect to this. The fact that so many freshmen students need remedial classes contributes, no doubt, to the university system’s abysmal graduation rates. The four-year graduation rates at our four-year institutions:

UND: 23%
NDSU: 23%
MSU: 21%
DSU: 26%
Mayville: 20%
VCSU: 23%

The six year graduation rates at the same:

UND: 54%
NDSU: 54%
MSU: 34%
DSU: 26%
Mayville: 25%
VCSU: 42%

When so many freshmen are starting college already behind the curve, it’s not surprising that so few of them can complete their four-year degrees on time. It’s not surprising that so many of them drop out before they complete any degree at all. These remediation rates mean lower college graduation rates. They mean more years required to complete four-year degrees which, in turn, contributes to student loan debt problems.

So yeah, North Dakota high schools are doing a good job of graduating students, but there are some questions about how ready those students are for their careers or college.

North Dakota University System Remediation Rates by

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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