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UW System And Lawmakers Look To Reduce Need For Remedial Math

Bill Would Reveal Which High Schools Produce Least-Prepared Students

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A full 21 percent of University of Wisconsin System students have to take remedial math classes before diving into college courses. University officials are trying to drive down that number and are exploring whether a new bill in the state Legislature could help that goal.

Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require the UW Board of Regents to annually disclose where the students who are taking remedial classes went to high school. Authors say the information could help parents compare school districts.

Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, said he’s troubled by the fact that 1 in 5 UW System freshmen need to take remedial math classes which, he said, add to costly tuition and slow down graduation.

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“If you all the sudden have a school that has tremendous amount of kids that need remedial math or English, somebody needs to ask questions—whether that’s parents, whether that’s the school board, whether that’s the superintendent—or perhaps you need to refocus on how exactly you’re teaching these classes,” he said.

Jagler said he hopes the bill can help parents compare neighboring school districts.

The proposed requirement would apply to all public, private, and charter schools.

UW officials haven’t officially supported or opposed the bill.

Spokesman Alex Hummel said there’s more to learn about the bill, but in the meantime, the System will continue focusing on their own efforts of driving down the number of students needing remedial courses.

“Really, it’s important for us to work closely with K-12 and make sure that math courses are best preparing people and that students have that support,” said Hummel.

UW System President Ray Cross has also said he wants more students who are taking remedial classes to finish them in their freshmen year.

The state Senate and Assembly bills are sitting in their respective committees and authors hope to get a floor vote within a month.