Is remedial ed necessary?

Connecticut colleges would stop requiring unprepared students to take remedial courses by 2014, under proposed legislation. All students could take college-level classes with “embedded” remedial support.

Remedial courses are holding students back instead of helping, said participants in a Georgia conference.

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  1. Ah, but of course – teaching a class full of students who are supposedly up to snuff and “ready” for college-level math isn’t enough, so they’re proposing that teachers be charged with “embedding” remedial support to boot? Sad to say, but even the non-remedial students, at least at the community college level, are all over the map in terms of their ability to do college-level math.

    And now these geniuses want to throw remedial students into the mix. What problem is that supposed to solve? Reducing the number of times the students would have to repeat their remedial courses? All it would do is increase the number of times these students will end up repeating non-remedial courses. The cure is worse than the disease, methinks.

  2. It would be insane to eliminate remedial classes! As a community college professor, I routinely have to award failing grades to students who are not literate and/or do not possess even the most rudimentary academic skills, comprehension, or analytical abilities. This means they have spent money–which is usually borrowed via student loans–just to fail. Colleges need to equip students with the tools to succeed in their courses (because high schools clearly aren’t doing so). If colleges don’t do this, they become little more than financial scams, taking advantage of students who do not stand a chance at succeeding.

  3. I wonder how they’re going to embed that support into the regular classes. College classes aren’t known for having lots of extra time when the teacher isn’t lecturing on the regular stuff. Either this isn’t going to work so good as students passing the non-remedial courses, or the college level courses are going to no longer be college level, I think.

  4. Ummmm, embedded remedial coursework in college? Does anyone see the idiocy of such ideas, since a college degree (knowledge wise) today is worth about as much as a high school diploma was in the 1950’s or 1960’s.

    Perhaps it would be kinder to inform the students that statistically, 6 of every 10 persons who start college never actually graduate with a degree (bachelor’s), and that for students who need at least two or more remedial courses, they’ll probably drop out after the end of the first year (and 80% will never complete a field of study, even given 8 years to do so).

    I think it’s high time that parents of high school students started looking at the fallacy of college as a ticket to a good lifestyle, and in fact, for many students and their parents, it amounts to lifetime debt slavery.

    • embedded remedial coursework in college? Does anyone see the idiocy of such ideas

      It’s no less idiotic than when it’s called “differentiation” in K-12.

  5. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Just stop calling them unprepared.

    Then it makes sense to not have them in remedial classes.

  6. If a student isn’t prepared, they just aren’t prepared. Most college classes have a HUGE amount of content to cram into a small amount of time as it is; the student – who is assumed to be an adult at that point – has to take some (much) responsibility for their own learning. Embedding remedial Math at the same time you try to teach college level Math, for examlpe, is insane. How do these ideas even make it out of the brainstorming sessions?

    • Because the failure rate of those admitted on class rank, affirmative action and diversity preference is shamefully high, and the real cause of the problem is literally unthinkable and unspeakable.

  7. tim-10-ber says:

    Well…so the lack of accountability continues and K-12 education, the root of the problem, gets off scott free while truly qualified students again get the shot end of the public education stick…dang.

    On the plus side this cuts costs out of the higher ed system…just think of all the community colleges that can be closed as they will no longer be needed…right?

    Now to my college student in public education graduated before this stupid program gets adopted in more states…

  8. This will be a disaster in math.

    • oh, pshaw. the kids who are in remedial math in college now don’t make it out of remedial math to calculus. it’s too late for them to do anything but a mathless liberal arts major anyway.

  9. Guys, this is just step #3523 in the process of devaluing the college degree. College is the new high school.

  10. If colleges would quit admitting unprepared students, perhaps remedial education would go by the wayside. When I was in high school, here was the suggested coursework for a high school student planning to attend college:

    3 units of math (through algebra II/trig)
    3 units of science (biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, physiology)
    4 units of english (Eng I/II, composition, literature)
    3 units of history/government (world, US/State History, US Government)
    1 unit of foreign language

    Now, these were suggestions 30+ years ago, and I know the ability of graduates today doesn’t come anywhere near what standards were in the 70’s, 60’s, or 50’s.

    Why can’t colleges simply be honest with students and inform them they simply cannot do college level coursework (since it’s been watered down to high school content these days).


    • Sean Mays says:

      Bill: The requirements typically haven’t changed. I did some research for a charter school application that wanted to be academic in focus. We did a benchmark of hundreds of college admission requirements. Your outline is pretty close. BUT, the content and level of reward (grades) has SERIOUSLY changed over the last 30+ years. To take high school math for example; you’ve got 50% minimum grade policies out there – no matter how little you do, you get a 50 kids, you’ve got test retake strategies, you’ve got homework must count for at least 30% AND be graded on effort. It adds up to being a pretty low bar.

      Funny story through the grapevine: Ph.D students in a top tier science program petitioned their department for a comprehensive list of questions that could be asked on their qualifying exams. So, I don’t take it amiss when that happened to me while teaching high school math.

      Why can’t colleges simply be honest …

      Well, I’m speculating here; but I suspect that lower division students are relatively more profitable than upper division students. Heck, for remedial students, I just need to issue a few tuition waivers to grad students; that’s better than buy one get one!

    • because then the school wouldn’t get paid as much.

  11. “To take high school math for example; you’ve got 50% minimum grade policies out there – no matter how little you do, you get a 50 kids, you’ve got test retake strategies, you’ve got homework must count for at least 30% AND be graded on effort. It adds up to being a pretty low bar. ”

    True. And don’t forget all those IEPs – for many students, it’s legalized cheating! And for others, it’s a Get Out of Jail Free Card (i.e., students with behavioral problems who aren’t allowed to be sent to the Principal’s Office). Why again would anyone in the United States want to teach K-12?

  12. It’s possible that skipping the remedial ed treadmill will let underprepared students know sooner rather than later that they are unlikely to be able to complete a degree. Maybe they will then switch to certificate programs that they are able to complete, with some financial aid eligibility left..

  13. Ponderosa says:

    This is dumb legislation; however, my impression is that remedial ed doesn’t work in most cases, so at least would kill off this particular piece of education fraud. Literacy (and probably numeracy as well) is a slow-growing plant; a couple semesters of remedial work can’t undo years of non-education.