The readiness is all

More community colleges take — and fail — remedial math than any other course. Now colleges are rethinking math instruction to boost success rates.

A Mississippi community college now requires low-skilled students to take an intensive schedule of basic skills and study skills classes to prepare — quickly — for college-level classes. The state is studying a shift from funding based on enrollment to funding based on “productivity,” such as graduation rates.

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  1. Research by the Community College Research Center at Teachers, College, Columbia University has found that most students in remedial classes give up on college before they even get through the basic-skills courses. The Center does in-depth research on community colleges.

  2. If we were truly compassionate instead of holding “self-esteem” as the inalienable right of every child to pass through the schoolhouse door, the students would all be taught and tested on basic skills in K-8 and the ones on the failing end of the spectrum would be routed to some area of study which would serve them better.  This could be called “voc-ed” or something euphemistic, but anything would be better than “graduating” them from high school with nothing to help them make a living and nothing before them but a community college treadmill off of which they are bound to fall.

    • Former HS Science Teacher says:

      Great idea and this would improve classroom behavior in a huge way! Most (not all) of the chronic misbehavior is from kids who don’t want to learn and don’t want others to learn either.

    • My late FIL was the principal of the tech division of a large urban HS for many years, until his retirement in the early 70s. Other tracks were college-prep and general. Kids applied – and some were not accepted – as freshmen and it was NOT a dumping ground for the lazy, unprepared or stupid. For the next three years, they spent half their time in vocational study and half in academics (including specific legal/practical requirements in their voc fields). At graduation, they were LPNs (licensed practical nurses), secretaries, bookkeepers, cosmetologists, auto mechanics, tool&diemakers, sheet metal workers etc. and employers were waiting for them. The one-size-fits-all model doesnt’ work. The problem is, kids/parents often make choices that do not reflect the preferences of various educrats and bureaucrats.

    • @ Engineer-Poet: Why must it euphemistically be called voc-ed? It’s not a dirty word or even hyphenate. I’d much rather have a plumber available when I need it than a puppeteer or a Shakespeare scholar.

      @Former HS Science Teacher: I feel your pain. But probably more of the behavior is from kids who’ve FINALLY been held accountable or been exposed to real content, they just don’t know how to study and the foundation of the house was never built so to speak.

      Sometimes I think part of the solution would be to give EOC exams and report the scores and percentiles on the transcrips and maybe even assign grades based on that. I’ve seen too many kids cruise to 4.0’s and then wind up with ACT’s and SAT’s in the 30th percentile and be assigned to remedial everything once they hit “college”.

  3. Momof4,

    I was probably in the last section of students who had a real choice between vocational ed/general ed/college prep in high school (This was the late 70’s mind you). We had autoshop, graphic arts, horticulture, cullinary arts, etc. However, students who entered the vocational track still had to have a SOLID mastery of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and percentages, along with weights and measurements (this was at a time where the electronic calculator was just becoming available, scientific type ones, that is).

    The fact that many students can’t deal with remedial math at a community college is a damning indictment of parenting and our elementary school systems (the six items listed above are stuff you learned by the 5th grade (or sooner), at least it was the standard when I attended public schools in the US of A).


    • Amen. Kids applying to the tech program had to have the math skills you mentioned (this was way before calculators) and have the ability to read technical materials. When they graduated, they could write decent English, too. My DH had a secretary from the program and she was very good. Ask for a letter to X, saying B,C and D and it was on the desk within 30″, correct in content, grammar, spelling and format – before computers had spell-check and ready-made formats.