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This article talks about whether remedial college courses are really necessary.  

 

To me, it also questions whether standardized tests are testing what we think they're testing.  And whether holding kids back until they've mastered the "basics" is really the best approach.

 

http://www.apmreports.org/story/2016/08/18/remedial-education-trap

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I read most of the article you linked to and it was quite interesting.  I believe that Remedial Courses should be given in High Schools. The High Schools are just "kicking the ball" (in this case the student) down the road,  to get rid of them, and pass the problem onto the Community Colleges.   This is a huge problem in U.S. Education. Automatic promotion and graduating many people who really have not mastered essential skills. That helps the graduation rate of the High School but the student has a diploma that doesn't mean much.  Sad. 

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If you look at the fine print for our CC, there is a way for students to circumvent the remedial classes thing.  They will allow a student to take one class in a sequence that is above their placement level and if the student succeeds, they are allowed to continue in the sequence.

 

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find where it says this on their website, so I am sure that the vast majority of students have no idea that it is a possibility.

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They are necessary, but not always applied correctly. There are ways around having to take remedial classes though. 

-Preparing for and getting a good score on SAT/ACT can help you avoid having to take the placement test. 

-Free placement test prep 

-CLEP 

-Check the community college for accelerated refresher courses that can be taken over the summer

 
 
Some colleges (I know mine does) have developmental courses for those on the border of remedial and non-remedial. Our local cc has an English 100 course that is an additional 2 credit hours  and fulfills the credit requirement while still working on core writing skills. I think it is helpful and they are making progress toward a degree. It requires more time from them, but the students are more likely to stay in a longer class than go elsewhere for tutoring. 
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The author comes from a humanities background. Things that may work in an English class will absolutely not work in math or physics.

Placing a student who needs English remediation into a higher level English or history class means the student can still get a lot out of it,

but may have trouble with assigned compositions. Placing a student who needs math remediation into a math or physics class that has this math as a prerequisite means that the student is set up for failure because nothing that is taught will make sense to him.

 

I see students with inadequate math skills all the time in my physics classes. There is no way that placing them into this class does anything to remediate their math. All it does is frustrate them because they don't understand what I am talking about,

and ensure that they do NOT learn physics because they are too worried about math. And if I am expected to teach remedial algebra and prealgebra, that ensures the rest of the lass won't learn any physics.

Remedial classes are absolutely necessary.

 

The question is whether it would make more sense to give the placement tests before accepting the students into college. College should not be the place to remediate shortcomings of Junior high school.

Edited by regentrude
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The author comes from a humanities background. Things that may work in an English class will absolutely not work in math or physics.

Placing a student who needs English remediation into a higher level English or history class means the student can still get a lot out of it,

but may have trouble with assigned compositions. Placing a student who needs math remediation into a math or physics class that has this math as a prerequisite means that the student is set up for failure because nothing that is taught will make sense to him.

 

I see students with inadequate math skills all the time in my physics classes. There is no way that placing them into this class does anything to remediate their math. All it does is frustrate them because they don't understand what I am talking about,

and ensure that they do NOT learn physics because they are too worried about math. And if I am expected to teach remedial algebra and prealgebra, that ensures the rest of the lass won't learn any physics.

Remedial classes are absolutely necessary.

 

The question is whether it would make more sense to give the placement tests before accepting the students into college. College should not be the place to remediate shortcomings of Junior high school.

I agree 4 year Colleges should not offer remedial classes - I student should go to a CC (or some other system such as a HS summer course that does not currently exist) for remedial math classes such as Beginning and Intermediate Algebra.

 

In the article, Ms Gandy was under-served by her HS, plain and simple. Quit lowering the bar - it's a high jump not a bunny hop!

 

P.S.

Try the Accuplacer test: Reading

Quiz Completed

...

You scored 100%.

 

Edited by MarkT
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I know of a couple schools that offer transitional year or bridge programs.  Brandeis has a transitional year. (https://www.brandeis.edu/acserv/typ/index.html)

CSU San Bernadino has a bridge program. (https://www.csusb.edu/early-start)

 

I like the way these schools handle it and I wish there were more like them. I think students who were not well educated by their high schools should be not punished, but nurtured.  A colleague who teaches at Brandeis tells me that the students who go through the transitional program are some of his brightest.   

 

 

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I know of a couple schools that offer transitional year or bridge programs.  Brandeis has a transitional year. (https://www.brandeis.edu/acserv/typ/index.html)

CSU San Bernadino has a bridge program. (https://www.csusb.edu/early-start)

 

I like the way these schools handle it and I wish there were more like them. I think students who were not well educated by their high schools should be not punished, but nurtured.  A colleague who teaches at Brandeis tells me that the students who go through the transitional program are some of his brightest.   

As a parent I would hate to pay an extra year of Brandeis tuition!

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As a parent I would hate to pay an extra year of Brandeis tuition!

As would I! Tuition there is crazy high! But the program I linked is, I believe, fully funded. I think it is intended for underprivileged students who might be otherwise unable to access a similarly rigorous four year education. And it is my understanding that if they can't handle the transition year academics they are not accepted into the school, so no "lowering of the bar" takes place.

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As a parent who has had dc take these remedial college classes, for my kid, they were pointless. Dd had to take remedial math and reading classes. She got A's. She learned...nothing. She took the classes because her ACT scores were low. THe Accuplacer test had her with low scores also. The problem? She has ld's and does not test well. That is especially true on standardized tests to the Nth degree. She would have been just fine starting in the regular college level classes. Her high school grades reflected her ability. The remedial math classes were not bad. I am not sure they would help a kid who had not been able to pick up basic math in middle/high school. A better solution would probably be to allow dc to graduate with basic math classes from high school instead of forcing them through higher level maths. The remedial class was simply an accelerated version of basic math through pre-algebra. The remedial reading class was just a joke. A computerized class to help teach an adult reading is not very practical. I strongly suspect that most of the kids who are required to take the class have an ld. The class is not going to do anything for them. I do believe that these kids who have lower scores that currently require remedial classes should be given the option of trying the regular class first if they desire. The remedial classes should be available, but not required. And, honestly, a class with a good teacher or tutors being made available who know how to do the basic math would probably be beneficial too. (Believe it or not, most of the tutors in the labs do not know how to do basic math. It has been forgotten. The reading questions are so...ridiculous... that there really isn't a cut and dry answer to many of the questions. They frequently are a guessing game.)

Edited by Lolly
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Basing whether students are placed in remedial classes or even whether they are allowed in to begin with on standardized test scores is not a good idea. It reduces all of a student's knowledge and uniqueness to their performance on one test, which, to me, is completely counter to the idea of education. 

 

I do not believe that standardized tests are effective reflections on how well a student can succeed in college.

 

My dd had an abysmal ACT score. But she graduated from a high school well known for producing hard-working students, so a college looked past her standardized test score and treated her as a whole person, with strengths as well as weaknesses. This week she starts her senior year as a biology major with a chemistry minor and an English minor. She has a 3.3 GPA. In the areas she struggled with and was behind, she worked harder, and she succeeded.

 

Thank goodness she wasn't dismissed as "not good enough" based on a stupid, worthless test score.

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