Education Watch: 1 in 5 UW students retakes high school math in college, 1 in 4 does outside of UW-Madison

Jun 30, 2022 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

From the University of Wisconsin System: “Among fall 2020 new freshmen, 5,240 or 20% were required to enroll in developmental [high school] math education. Of fall 2019 new freshmen requiring developmental math education, 63% (3,885 students) completed the requirement in a year.”

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Photo: University of Wisconsin System

Additional context from IRG Senior Research Director Quinton Klabon:

  • We can discern whether too many students go to 4-year universities by how many unprepared students enroll. A full 20% of freshmen pay college tuition to retake high school math. Excluding UW-Madison, the number rises to about 25% statewide.


  • In fact, needing remediation indicates a higher likelihood of dropping out. 43% of students who pass the class eventually drop out compared to 26% of those not needing high school review. That’s pointless debt for so many young men and women.


  • What could we fix? Copy Mississippi’s, Tennessee’s, and Arizona’s K-12 math improvements. Require all remedial students to finish a low-cost, virtual course the summer before enrolling or to enroll in a lower-cost branch campus. Slightly lower the entrance exam standard but make it mandatory to enroll. Primarily, send more talent to technical colleges or apprenticeships!