‘We can’t do everything’

We can’t do everything, writes the chancellor of Pima Community College. In the future, low-level remedial students will be referred to adult education.

Also on Community College Spotlight: To help low-income students succeed in college, listen to students.

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  1. According to our President, they can do everything.

  2. This actually makes sense, a student who needs remedial education (and I’m not talking about someone who graduated high school 10+ years ago who needs a brushing up on skills) has no business attending a college…let them go to Adult Education so that they get up to speed before trying to tackle college coursework.

    Also, the lowest level of math instruction which should be offered at any college should be finite math or pre-calculus (rationale: – all courses below that (algebra, geometry, Algebra II/Trig, etc) are high school courses, and should be mastered before the student is admitted to college (even a community college) in the first place.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    The linked article is giving a 404 not found.

  4. I see very little point in separating “adult education” and “community colleges”…
    I draw the line at 4 year colleges… there should be no remediation at any 4 year school… but I can see advantages of blending adult education and community colleges… you may have situations where a student is grossly deficient in one area, but not so bad in another.

  5. Adult education programs are where high school dropouts (19 or older) go to attend school to receive either a regular diploma or a GED, and this would be the place for these individuals to start out if they need that much remediation.

    Here is an excerpt:

    Overwhelmed by unprepared students who fail remedial classes, Pima Community College in Arizona is limiting admissions, writes Chancellor Roy Flores in Inside Higher Ed.

    In 2009, 89 percent of new students were placed in remedial math, 35 percent in remedial reading and 51 percent in remedial writing. Pima spends more than $20 million a year on “developmental education” at its six Tucson campuses.

    Outcomes are terrible: Only 4.1 percent of low-level remedial math students in 2004 completed an associate degree by 2009. Only 2.2 percent of students in the lowest remedial reading level in 2004 had taken a single college-level reading class by 2006; only 6.1 percent had taken any college-level class.

    In summary, students testing into the lowest levels of developmental education have virtually no chance of ever moving beyond remedial work and achieving their educational goals. For those students and their families, developmental education is expensive and demoralizing.

    Arizona law mandates that admission be granted to any person who “demonstrates evidence of potential success in the community college.” But, as our outcomes data show, some people who come here simply have not received the education needed to succeed in college. To admit those men and women – some of whom have the equivalent of no better than a middle-school education — and accept their tuition payment, knowing that they have virtually no chance of becoming college-ready, is callous at best.

    That’s what Arizona is trying to put a stop to, and at least they’re honest about it, why charge students admission fees, tuition, the cost of books when it is shown that most of them will never succeed given their poor educational level to start with?

    I’m in favor of this idea…

  6. “I draw the line at 4 year colleges… there should be no remediation at any 4 year school…”

    Are you really serious? The average four-year college is full of students who are being remediated in all subjects. “Remediation” and pretending that remediation has actually happened has become the mission of many four-year colleges.

    If colleges accept these students, and they do, then it is their job to do”everything,” especially for the exorbitant amount of money that they charge. If they cannot do “everything,” then say up front what they can and cannot do and don’t accept students for whom they cannot do those things. It’s wrong, plain and simple.

  7. Anon, and the fault lies with the college (the remediation rate at Harvard is approximately 13-18%) for admitting these students. If they want to continue, the school should put them on academic probation initially, giving them a year to complete all remedial coursework needed.

    Otherwise, and I know this will be a blow to their self-esteem, don’t admit the students who aren’t prepared, lest this takes a spot away from a better prepared student.

  8. Mark Roulo says:

    “Otherwise, and I know this will be a blow to their self-esteem, don’t admit the students who aren’t prepared, lest this takes a spot away from a better prepared student.”

    I suspect that many colleges with these kids would be happy to get better students. But they can’t (certainly as a group they can’t …). So the choice is either (a) to accept a group of students who, on average, aren’t really ready for college … *OR* (b) to have a much smaller student body.

    (b) would result in layoffs because you don’t need as many professors and administration staff with only ½ as many kids.

    I’m disappointed that colleges select (a), but expecting the average college to select (b) is a bit much. Forcing (b) is going to have to come from outside the college itself.

  9. Bill…

    Harvard “remediation” is a bit of a misnomer… the average SAT scores are around 1500… it certainly shouldn’t be discussed in the same category as the remediation we are talking about here…

    I went to Harvard undergrad…. remediation consisted of pre-calculus (some students were quite brilliant literary types who managed to get only through algebra II/geometry in high school)… the only other remediation was an extra semester of expository writing… everyone was required to take one semester… but something of order 15% needed two semesters… by and large, their grammar was excellent, they just needed some additional work with organizing essays for advanced work so that they could be competitive with their classmates.

  10. Well, the issue of remediation is a huge problem, as some colleges have actually tried billing states for the lack of preparation of some students (i’ve seen a few articles like this), but by in large, if a student needs 3+ remedial courses, there is a very good chance they’ll drop out by the end of the first year…

    Unfortunate, but true…

  11. tim-10-ber says:

    Remember…this fall in Tennessee four year colleges do not accept kids needing remedial classes —hooray…

    If these kids are sent to adult education, which I support, then we do not need all of the community colleges…let’s make sure they close those that do not have sufficient enrollment and combine them with a nearby school…another option is to make more of them voc-tech schools vs community colleges…

    I like this idea…should stop this non-sense of all high school kids must go to college…I like better, if community colleges still have to take all students, they charge the cost of remedial education and ultimate failure to the school distruct from which the student was given (vs earned) a diploma…taking money out of the pockets of K-12 education should change things faster than anything else…

  12. If students were properly prepare in high school, many of them could succeed in vocational career options offered at a community college (automotive tech, HVAC, paramedical programs, sonography/radiography, cullinary arts, dental hygiene, medical technology, etc).

    Many of these programs are entry limited due to space concerns, and usually have a limit on how many times required courses can be taken before you’ll be dismissed from the program.

    A student who has a working knowledge of basic math, writing, and reading (and is proficient) will be able to enter these programs after a few pre-req courses, but a student who does not have these skills is destined to fail (many students at a community college usually don’t last a year, due to poor preparation in high school).