Essay on Postsecondary Remediation: the “How” and the “Why”

A brief look at statistics immediately tells that there is a major issue with postsecondary remediation. Naturally, this problem can be traced and analyzed in various different directions, inspecting a number of potential causes and factors. Nevertheless, there are two general guidelines that seem to be the most reasonable general solutions to the problem. The first one comprises improving the “how” of education, meaning working towards more effective communication and synergy between secondary and postsecondary institutions. Simultaneously, legislation should address the “why” of educational institutions; altering their financial incentives will inevitably alter their performance.

The most obvious step towards reducing postsecondary remediation is working towards effective communication between secondary and postsecondary institutions. Of course, the natural competition between high-schools, colleges, and individual students is an essential building block of education, so naturally total coordination between institutions would be harmful and logically impossible. Nevertheless, colleges and high-schools obviously need to work towards a much greater collaboration than the current one. Statistics like 49.3% of freshmen students enrolling in remedial courses are a blatant proof that there is too large of a discrepancy between level required and level provided. On the other hand, if colleges communicate explicitly and effectively their start-up requirements and secondary institutions communicate in return their ability and potential to provide, that alone would lay the basis for a much smoother running educational system.

Additionally, in order to affect any entity’s behavior and performance, one should always revise the entity’s incentives to act. A set of financial incentives can be worked out on both state and federal level in order to focus the attention of educational management on the specific issue and to instigate effective action on their side. Moreover, financial incentives for all other solutions can be implemented, including financial incentives for the more effective communication mentioned above. Michelau mentions that some states have already instituted different financial incentives. These can aim at any particular behavior; for example, they can motivate colleges for greater dissemination of information, thus giving high-school students a much clearer concept of what colleges will expect from them; they can motivate high-schools to prepare students better specifically focusing on avoiding the future necessity of remediation; they can motivate colleges to be innovative and solve the problem in a more innovative and efficient way. However, on the whole, the system of financial incentives should be a coordinated effort towards driving the educational system into a behavior, significantly reducing the postsecondary remediation rates.

Economically, education is one of the key components of national prosperity and growth. Thus, the continuous strife towards a more efficient education is essentially a struggle for improving the standard of life of the entire country. The educational system, just like any other system or organization, functions right when given the right motivation – the “why”, and efficient mean – the “how”. If those two factors turn into a sound financial-incentive system and an efficient synergy and communication plan, postsecondary remedial rates will be driven back to norm.