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What is a Remedial Teacher?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A remedial teacher can be a K-12 or college teacher who teaches courses to those students who, for varying reasons, are below their grade level in one or more subjects. In K-12 settings these teachers might be called special education teachers. In college they may be referred to as remedial teachers, basic teachers or adult education teachers. English as a second language (ESL) teachers could be referred to as basic or remedial teachers, too.

The job of remedial teachers varies depending on the population and subjects. Special education teachers in K-12 settings work with a variety of students possessing different learning needs. Some students have strong intellects but have disabilities that make it difficult for them to learn subjects in the usual manner. The goal of the remedial teacher could be to identify best learning strategies and with help of other people like occupational therapists, psychologists, and others, determine how the student will be most supported in the learning environment.

The remedial teacher might then meet with the student privately or in a group setting several times a week or every day to help support the process of learning. Sometimes students seem to do better in classes like special day classes, where they pursue learning at their own pace. Some remedial teachers in K-12 are the main teachers for these classes, working hard to help each child reach full potential. Similarly, some ESL teachers work all day with a population of students, helping them to acquire a new language, but at the same time they teach the subjects that are appropriate to each child’s age group or grade.

At the college level, a remedial teacher could be any teacher that conducts classes normally below college level standards. Many community colleges have strong remedial programs to help students make up courses they didn’t understand at the high school level, or to gradually bring up the knowledge of adults who didn’t receive much formal education. Basic courses could begin with simple language and math courses and progress all the way to classes that would have been taken in the last years of high school like composition and algebra classes.

Again, students with special needs like language learners or those with learning disabilities might be assisted by a variety of specialists in these subjects. Alternately, there are plenty of college teachers without remedial training who might be assigned to teach basic English and math classes. It really depends on the college and how their programs to assist students needing extra help are structured. People sometimes earn degrees, like master’s degrees, that are specific to working in remedial education at these levels.

Another type of remedial teacher might work for private learning schools that have yearly educational support or summer programs to help those students that are failing. These programs can work very well for some students. Unfortunately they tend to be expensive, and might require additional homework on top of school assignments. This strategy is not useful for all learners. Level of training for these teachers is variable.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By cafe41 — On Oct 02, 2010

Oasis11-English grammar and expository writing our other subjects that are offered in the medial classes.

These are critical subjects that have to be mastered before any other courses can be taken.

Much of college requires expository writing so if the student does not understand proper grammar rules or has poor writing skills that will cause them to flounder and not succeed in most of their courses.

It is really in college that you begin to understand the quality of your high school education.

By oasis11 — On Oct 02, 2010

A remedial teacher gets students up to speed. Many colleges offer testing for new students that if they fall below a certain range they automatically get enrolled in remedial courses.

These remedial courses are usually in the subjects of English or math.

More and more colleges are seeing an increase in remedial courses because students are graduating from high school do not have the full capacity to succeed in these subjects.

Since math is a progressive subject in which prior concepts are built upon each other that there is not a strong foundation student cannot succeed in subsequent math courses. This is the reason remedial math courses are offered.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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