Over the past several decades, there has been a considerable increase in enrollments in non-credit-bearing remedial (NCBR) mathematics courses in both two- and four-year colleges and universities. These courses represent an important experience for many students entering college – proponents view these courses as critical for helping students who are unprepared for college mathematics courses make a successful transition from high school to higher education. These courses also serve two central higher-education policy objectives: mission differentiation and institutional access for students from underrepresented racial groups. However, recent scholarship indicates that Black- and Latina/o-identified students are continually overrepresented in NCBR mathematics courses. Moreover, such research reveals that these courses have negative effects on students’ mathematics learning experiences and threatening psychosocial impacts on students. NCBR courses, particularly in four-year universities, accordingly should be improved in two primary ways: (1) The curriculum of NCBR mathematics courses should be aligned with contemporary practices in mathematics education at large, and (2) Higher education institutions should take the shift to “developmental” courses seriously and coordinate institutional support services (compensatory education) with NCBR mathematics courses.
Download the policy brief: Toward Reforming Non-Credit-Bearing Remedial Mathematics Courses in Four-Year Universities