Overwhelmed with remedial students, California’s second-tier state university system will require a 15-hour “Early Start” summer class for new students who aren’t prepared for college-level classes. California State University professors think it’s too little, too late, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
“I’m not at all optimistic that it’s going to help,” said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay, where 73 percent of this year’s freshmen were not ready for college math. Nearly 60 percent were not prepared for college English.
“A 15-hour intervention is just not enough intervention when it comes to skills that should have been developed over 12 years,” Murphy said.
The CSU system admits freshmen whose grades and test scores place them in the top third of high school graduates. Yet, statewide, 64 percent in the 2010 entering class needed remedial work in math, English or both. Early Start is supposed to help more students complete remedial work in the first year. If they don’t, they won’t get a second year. The course may be taken online, at a CSU campus or at some community colleges.
The need for remediation is “a terrible indictment of the K-12 system,” said Jim Postma, a Chico State chemistry professor and chairman of the systemwide Academic Senate. “If a factory was building cars and the lug nuts kept falling off the tires, you would do something pretty dramatic about it. We keep adding the lug nuts back to the tires rather than trying to figure out what the problem is.”
More CSU students are taking basic skills classes at community colleges, competing for space with community college students who hope to transfer to four-year universities. “We’re all trying to figure out how to handle these students who are woefully unprepared,” said Mark Wade Lieu, an Ohlone College instructor who directs remedial education for the state’s community colleges.