Friday, January 31, 2014

Not ready for college

"Forty percent of Ohio high school graduates weren’t ready for college-level math or English when entering the state’s public colleges or universities in 2012."

On January 14, this was reported: "As the California State University system announced a record number of applications Wednesday, a new study found that the system should study its placement exams, eligibility standards and other factors to determine why so many entering students are not college-ready."
Sadly, remediation has become instead higher education’s “Bridge to Nowhere.” This broken remedial bridge is travelled by some 1.7 million beginning students each year, most of whom will not reach their destination — graduation. It is estimated that states and students spent more than $3 billion on remedial courses last year with very little student success to show for it (Remediation: Higher Education's Bridge to Nowhere.)
This is what college readiness is all about. Making sure that kids are ready for college and if they're ready for college, they should be reasonably well prepared for the work place. Sure, there are caveats about that, but if kids can avoid college remedial courses, they probably have sufficient English and math skills to succeed in entry level positions.

Having taught remedial courses and mentored kids in freshman experience courses, I understand students' frustrations. Remedial courses can often feel like a waste of time and money, and it can be humiliating to know how much longer it will take to graduate because of the remedial courses.

At most universities, students are limited to 12 hours for the semester, which is a full course load, but if one or two of those courses are non-credit remedial courses, their progress is slow. Tuition, by the way, is no less for remedial courses than it is for any other course.

In addition to having to take remedial courses, they often have to sign up to work with a tutor to be successful in those remedial courses. Depending on the credit courses they're taking, they may need one or more additional tutors to make sure they can be successful in the courses that actually count towards graduation.

Universities don't love remedial courses: they take classroom space and faculty time away from other courses. And it doesn't help a university's reputation to be the home of a large population of students who need remediation.

There are options. None are easy and most will cost some money and time. But those costs may be small ones to pay in the long run if, in the end, our kids are ready for college and ready for the work place.

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