Methods: Data and Sample: Data were from the Maryland Longitudinal Data System, and five years of administrative records were used for 18,945 students attending 228 high schools across 24 jurisdiction in Maryland. Student were included if they (1) earned a regular diploma from a public Maryland high school in the 2013-2014 academic year and (2) enrolled in a two-year Maryland College in the 2014-2015 academic year.
Measures: The dependent variable indicated whether a student was assessed to need remedial coursework in math at a two-year Maryland College. Student- and school-level factors, included sociodemographic and academic indicators from high school.
Analysis: First, we obtained the prevalence of need for remedial education in Reading, English and Math. Next, data visualization techniques were used to illustrate the prevalence and subject-level overlap in the need for remediation. Finally, a series of multilevel logit models were run to assess the combined impact of individual and environmental factors on the need for Math remediation among first year community college students.
Results: Three out of five Maryland students were assessed to need remedial course work in at least one subject in their first semester of community college. Among the students assessed to need remediation, more than 9 out of 10 students needed remediation in Math. More than half of students who needed remediation qualified in more than one subject, and nearly a third qualified in all three subjects. The results of the multilevel model identified significant between-school and between-district variance in the odds of needing remediation. The analyses identified several student and school-level factors related to the need for remediation in community college.
Conclusions and Implications: Nearly all of the students who needed remediation needed Math remediation, which supports the conceptualization of math coursework as a “gatekeeper” in secondary and postsecondary settings. English Language learners and fifth-year graduates were less likely to need remediation in Math, suggesting that additional supports in high school could curb the need for remediation in community colleges. There were important disparities with non-white, Hispanic, and low-income students more likely to need remediation. In addition, the results of the multilevel models suggest that system-level interventions may be a robust approach for reducing the needs for remediation in math. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.