This slide came up for discussion today at Governor Inslee’s Results Washington meeting for the education group. We were talking about STEM enrollment in community college programs and talked about one the factors that causes students to not complete a program – lack of math preparation. A huge fraction of community college students need to do remediation in math before they can take classes for credit. Students that do remediation are about half as likely to graduate as students who don’t need it. As part of the 24-Credit graduation requirements adopted a few years ago by the Legislature students are now required to have three high-school level math classes. This chart shows the decline in students needing remediation in community college overlaid with the percentage of high school students meeting the math credit accumulation requirement.
The chart is dramatic (as charts like this go) but you should be careful with it. Typically in economic recoveries we see fewer students applying to community colleges because they are employed. This is more likely to be students who aren’t intending to transfer, so we may be seeing the effect of a slightly different student pool.
One wants to be really careful assuming causality from a correlation. I’m not really a statistician though, so I’m going to believe that the policy we fought so hard for in the hope of exactly this is actually working.