Back in the last century, California State University system set a goal: Only 10 percent of freshmen would require remedial English or math classes. The reality: 60 percent of first-year students take remedial classes, despite earning a B average or better in high school. Staring in 2012, unprepared freshmen will have to take Early Start remedial classes before enrolling, reports Educated Guess.
That could take the form of an online course, an intensive summer bridge session at a CSU campus or a CSU-designed English writing course during students’ senior year in high school.
However, CSU would offer remediation to students who take Early Start classes but still need help.
Eleventh graders can take a voluntary CSU test as part of the state exam to see if they’re prepared for college classes: 83 percent fail the English portion and 43 percent fail the math. In theory, they can raise their skills in 12th grade.
CSU . . . has designed an expository reading and writing course, concentrating on persuasive writing, and has trained 4,500 high school teachers to teach it. It can be integrated into a senior or junior year English course or taught as a semester- or year-long course. The problem is that only about one-quarter of the state’s 1,000 comprehensive high schools use it, and only 15 percent intensively.
Why not require the college-prep English course for all college-bound students who aren’t in AP English? And require them to meet CSU standards or start at a community college that’s better equipped to help students catch up.
Tired of teach basic math to high school graduates, Foothill Community College math instructors have persuaded local teachers to adapt the college’s remedial math program for middle-school students who’ve fallen behind, reports the Mountain View Voice.
Students work individually through 10 “modules,” starting at the beginning with whole number concepts. The math students must write out each problem, box their answers and correct every mistake on their work.
There are no grades in the typical sense: To pass an exam at the end of each module, and move on through the program, students must score 87 percent or better.
. . . After the students take their assessment tests, the teachers meet and re-shuffle the classes. Students are grouped by their progress, so they will always be amongst peers who are around the same level.
I’ve seen this work in elementary school: Group students by performance level in math or reading, teach what the group needs to learn and let them move on quickly to a higher level. But principals told me it’s tricky to do because tracking raises accusations of bias. But dumping unprepared students in classes they can’t handle — and asking teachers to teach a huge range of skills in the same class — is OK.
In The Old College Lie, Quick and the Ed’s Chad Aldeman links to a Dallas Morning News story on high school graduates who passed all their classes and tests but find themselves in college learning how to use commas and distinguish between “your” and “you’re.”