Remedial math is ‘burial ground’

Remedial math is a “burial ground for the aspirations” of college students, says a speaker at a Carnegie webinar on redesigning developmental math at community colleges. Only 6 to 8 percent of  remedial algebra students go on to  college-level math.

Also on Community College SpotlightFree speech is under fire at community colleges, charges FIRE (Foundation on Individual Rights in Education).  An Ohio college told a student she can’t hand out anti-abortion pamphlets after class. A Georgia college removed an anti-Confederacy painting from a faculty art show.

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  1. Why not instead say that they aren’t capable of doing higher level math? Instead, the speaker makes it sound as if it’s that meeeeeeean math that’s stopping students from progressing.

  2. Why are they even admitted to the college if they need remedial math?

  3. “Remedial math is a “burial ground for the aspirations” of college students. Only 6 to 8 percent of remedial algebra students go on to college-level math.”

    Maybe that’s because the students don’t know enough math to take college-level courses. Call this the honest assessment and placement that it is instead of painting it as a conspiracy.

    Frankly, what’s the big deal anyway? A whole lot of people are successful in life while being unable to balance a checkbook or compute division of fractions.

  4. Sean Mays says:


    They’re admitted to college because they passed their “college for all” prep program in high school. In order to make NCLB progress, we demand that everybody succeed equally well, at least in terms of passing the class. Requiring that all groups succeed equally well is pretty much a statistical impossibility, unless the bar is set appropriately low to mean there’s no predictive power to the test. Then they don’t pass the placement test, and there’s precious little “adult ed” left, so they wind up in community college.

    Sad; because they typically don’t graduate and the student debt can’t be discharged through bankruptcy. Few even earn enough credits to qualify for “some college” and the attendant bump in salary. The opportunity cost is enormous all around, but folks like to point to the rare success and claim victory.

  5. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    Some aspirations are unrealistic and deserve to be buried.

    Honestly, if you’re doing remedial algebra in college you’ve clearly f*cked up the most potent period for learning in your brain’s development, and you’re going to be playing catch up to all the people who didn’t f*ck it up. What’s worse, they’re all still running the learning race, using their superior ability development to move ahead at a faster pace than you’re catching up.

    Don’t dream of catching up. The time for that is passed. Dream of doing something realistic with what you have at your disposal.

    That’s not to say it’s your fault that you missed the biological learning boat, but it is to say that it’s a fact, and to some extent, your responsibility.

  6. I have to agree with Crimson Wife on this one. Students needing that much remediation have absolutely NO business being admitted to ANY college (community or otherwise), due to the fact that they simply do NOT have the required knowledge to succeed.

    If a student really wants to get prepped for college math coursework (applied stats, pre-calc, calculus, finite math, symbolic logic), I would suggest they spend time at their local library or getting the Dummies series in math and take it one step at a time (a LOT less expensive than college credits), and it might give them a fair shot at completing a years worth of coursework in community college which actually applies towards a degree or certification.