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UW-RF freshman need less remedial work than other UW counterparts

Fewer freshmen at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls need remedial math and English work than at most other UW System schools, but the trend is not positive.

A report released this week by the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance suggests that because of the increasing need for remedial math and English by freshman at UW schools, the state may be running out of college-ready students.

WISTAX cites a recent report from the UW System on remedial course work in 2004 which shows 16.9 percent of incoming freshmen needed remedial math instruction and 8.1 percent were similarly deficient in English.

Those figures show that in 2002 at UW-River Falls 8.5 percent of freshman needed remedial work in math and that number jumped to 12.5 percent in 2004.

In English 3 percent of all UW-River Falls freshman needed remedial work in 2004. No figures were available for 2002.

UW-River Falls does better than other UW schools in the region.

At UW-Stout in 2002, 50.9 percent of freshman needed math remedial work and in 2004 that number was up to 54.6. Students needing English remedial work went from 17.2 percent in 2002 down to 14.3 percent in 2004.

At UW-Eau Claire in 2002, 6.4 percent of freshman needed remedial math in 2002 and that went up to 7.4 percent in 2004. In English the numbers went from 1.3 percent in 2002 and then dropped to .7 percent in 2004.

UW-Madison had the lowest percentages of any UW school with just 1 percent of freshman in 2002 needing remedial math and that dropped to .8 percent in 2004. In English it went from .1 percent in 2002 to 0 percent in 2004.

The WISTAX report says that female freshman require more remedial math work while males need more remedial work in English. The report also noted males continue to be a shrinking share of college enrollees.

To help curb the need for remedial help the group suggests that Wisconsin should revamp its high school math and science curricula and make it more rigorous.

It also suggests that students who are lacking in math and science skills should be referred to technical colleges for remedial work. It also suggests that these students be counseled that skilled trades and technical training are good alternatives to a four-year degree.

More information is available at the group's Web site: