Friday, July 21, 2017

A Poster Child For Getting Rid of Remedial Courses at Universities

Remediation belongs at our community colleges.  Allowing unprepared students into universities overburdens the system, places more debt on those most likely to be unable to repay that debt, and helps hide the importance of K-12 education (or the lack thereof):
After graduating from high school in Brooklyn with a 2.6 grade point average, Reynold Essor enrolled at SUNY Adirondack, a public two-year community college in upstate New York with “a comfortable residence hall, leafy grounds, a restaurant run by students, and even a zipline,” writes Pratt.

Failing the placement exam landed Essor in the remedial track. “He spent two semesters taking, and then retaking, three required remedial courses,” writes Pratt. “He used financial aid, including a federal Pell Grant, to cover the costs.” He’s earned no college credit.

Essor blames his high school education. “I passed without learning,” he said.

“Students spend an estimated $7 billion annually on remedial college classes,” writes Pratt. “Yet only half of enrolled students complete remedial courses, and about one in seven completes a credential within six years.”
He blames his high school education?  Nice way to shuffle the blame. Come on, you had a 2.6 GPA, and you thought that made you ready for college?  When you were told you needed three remedial courses, you still didn't realize that you're not ready?

Young Reynold needs to accept the lion's share of the responsibility here.  He didn't work hard, was allowed to cruise (that is the fault of his school, but he didn't have to cruise), and he didn't heed the warning signs.  Reynold is having difficulty passing remediation courses at a community college which, as I've stated, is the correct place for remediation.  He's got two choices: 
  1. buckle down and get to work, or
  2. do something else for awhile and come back to college when he's ready.
Now, having said all this, can anyone explain to me why we should have remedial courses at universities?


lgm said...

We need remedial courses at Universities for our bright students who have been zip coded into K12 schools that don't offer college prep. CC for them is as easy as high school, they need to be at the U in classes where they can gap fill and learn to study simultaneously.

Darren said...

The rigor of a particular course should be independent of where it's taught, no? I insist remedial courses be taught at CC's and not at universities because such courses are not, by definition, university-level courses.

lgm said...

I agree, unfortunately rigor is based on zip code. Bright students in a poverty district travel more slowly and more shallowly than their counterparts in a middle class district. All they need is the gap fill, not the complete remedial course. CC is targeted for those who need complete course. If they can get to U, the discussion with the tutor clears up the mysteries left from the fully included classroom, fills the gap, and allows them to move on in just one semester, thanks to my state admitting that Regents math courses that omitted units are insufficient for U Calculus, and providing an excellent precalc gapfill course. Why throw these kids out of business and engineering? Or waste their time with CC courses that are mainly review? I would rather see the math remediation course at the U, since they read well enough to succeed in their other courses.

Linda Fox said...

Is there a reason that these students couldn't go back to high school, and get what their parents assumed, by the grades, they were ready for?

Several solutions for this:
(1) Make school districts financially responsible for students being given grades they don't deserve.
(2) Eliminate the 'D' grade - make ALL Math and English coursework: Passed with Competency, Not Passed, and Passed with Distinction. Passage conditional on a certain cut in the high stakes tests.
And, so-called test anxiety failures are B$. The tests are very accurate - if you failed, it's because you don't know the content. You may have a basic level of knowledge, but couldn't apply that knowledge when it counted.
(3) No readiness to perform at the standard freshman level? You will be asked to take preparatory work at a 2-year college. Most of them do an excellent job helping the ill-prepared bring their skill levels up.
Once you've demonstrated that you are ready for college, you can re-apply.