On average, 39% of students in New Mexico are required to take Developmental Education (or remedial) coursework in college, according to recent data compiled by the New Mexico Department of Higher Education. As a result, students take longer to finish college, spend more money on tuition, and are more likely to drop out.
The remediation rate is highest in New Mexico’s community colleges. At Santa Fe Community College, 67% of entering students need to take Developmental English, while 76% need to take Developmental Math. The rate is higher at community colleges in less affluent areas of the state. For instance, at Luna Community College in Las Vegas, NM, 71% of entering students need to take Developmental English courses, and 98% need to take Developmental Math.
A recent article in the Santa Fe New Mexican described stakeholders’ explanations for the high remediation rate. The New Mexico Department of Education, which has overseen the controversial roll-out of the Common Core exams, blamed the K-12 public school system for not adequately preparing students, as evidenced by low standardized test scores throughout the state. Administrators at several community colleges pointed to the disconnect between high schools’ and colleges’ expectations, as well as deficiencies in the administration of placement exams.
No doubt another reason for this high rate of remediation in New Mexico, especially in less affluent areas of the state, is education funding, which is one of the lowest in the nation. According to USAToday, 30% of New Mexico’s children live in poverty, and New Mexico has one of the nation’s highest disparities in educational achievements between whites and minorities. A pending law suit in state court brought by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, if successful, would require New Mexico to increase spending on education by millions of dollars.