Graduation rates are very low in less-selective urban universities, especially for low-income minority students, writes Kevin Carey on Education Sector. Many students start in remedial classes and never get to college-level work. He looks at math courses offered by the crumbling University of the District of Columbia:
- 16 sections of “Basic Mathematics”
- 13 sections of “Introductory Algebra”
- 9 sections of “General College Math I”
- 7 sections of “General College Math II”
- 4 sections of “Intermediate Algebra”
- 2 sections each of “Pre Calc with Trig I,” “Pre Calc with Trig II,” “Calculus I,” “Calculus II,” and “Calculus III”
- 1 section each of “Differential Equations,” “Number Theory,” “Linear Algebra,” “Advanced Calculus,” etc.
Seventy percent of UDC students require remedial classes. It’s not surprising that most won’t earn a degree.
Carey writes about “the strange and dangerous idea that educational institutions bear little responsibility for how much their students learn or whether those students earn degrees.”
What can a university do if so many students enter without basic math (and reading) skills? UDC could take a hit on enrollment by sending applicants to community college for remediation. Are there other options?