Ed Department: Half of community college students need remedial classes

“We need a system that diagnoses student weaknesses and determines which areas require quick redress [that] gives students less opportunity to get disheartened and a chance to drop out,” she said.

Early intervention was stressed by several speakers who addressed remedial classes in community colleges. College officials and policy analysts said summer bridge programs would help high school students prepare for college without having to enroll in non-credit-bearing remedial courses.

Duncan and Biden, as they have since President Obama entered the White House in 2009, said continued help – including federal funds – for two-year colleges would help unemployed Americans find jobs and prove to be a centerpiece in the country’s economic recovery.

“We flat lined and stagnated [while] other countries have passed us by and I think we are paying a price for that,” Duncan said. “So [as we] try to educate our way to a better economy, community colleges are absolutely going to help lead us where we need to go. … Community colleges have been the unrecognized, unpolished gem on the education continuum. I believe we have come a long way to ending that.”

Biden, a longtime educator and adjunct English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, lauded the Obama administration’s $2 billion community college funding add-on to the health care reform bill passed last year.

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