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Skipping remedial cc classes

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So when I saw the headline of this article about how colleges are addressing so many students being put into remedial classes, I was optimistic.  Maybe the high schools will do a better job of preparing students for cc, so they won't need to languish in remedial classes, semester after semester, without making progress on their degree.  

 

"So how are so many students once considered ill-prepared suddenly ready for college-level work? New research suggests they likely were ready all along."

 

"Although placement tests send the vast majority of new community college students into remedial English and math classrooms, the study predicted that 61 percent could go straight into college English, passing with a C or better, and that half could pass college math with no additional preparation."

 

"California’s community colleges are soon switching to a statewide placement test and a new system to make it easier for schools to factor in high school grades."

 

This was the problem all along of course.  High grades in high school that are meaningless when it comes to competency.  

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With a high enough ACT score, a student can by pass remedial classes at our cc. Part of the problem is that the placement test takes so long to get to college ready questions. My dd had to take the placement test in spring of her sophomore year (she had not taken the ACT yet) and the computerized math test started with 2+5. It took her 2 hours to get to basic algebra and she was fried by that point. In the fall, she turned in her ACT score and was magically excused from remedial math. I am thinking there might be a problem with the placement test itself.

 

Though I don't think relying on high school grades will solve the placement problem.

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My DE child is taking the STATWAY sequence described in the article. It takes college-level statistics, integrates it with algebra 2 and study skills, and spreads it out over 2 semesters. The first semester doesn't give college credit but passing the 2nd semester does. It satisfies the general ed math requirement for both an associate's degree and for non-STEM majors at Cal State & UC. I was getting all sort of pushback from her about "when am I ever going to use this?" and the answer was truthfully, "never, unless you go into engineering, science, or finance". Statistics, on the other hand, I can give her all sorts of "real-world" examples of its usefulness. She is much, much happier taking STATWAY than she would be in a traditional Intermediate Algebra/College Algebra sequence.

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From the other side of the debate: Our community college system is phasing out those remedial classes and just saying, "The kids will retake English 101 until they pass."

 

My friend the adjunct English teacher hates it: It means she has kids who are not ready (mostly internationals with poor English skills) that she has to somehow teach alongside kids who are ready. While not failing too many. While getting good teaching reviews.

 

My daughter saw this first hand, in an English 101 class. She had to "peer review" a paper that was, quite frankly, word salad. She struggled to even understand the essay until she brought it up in Word and added sentence and paragraph breaks. Then she felt obligated to write something encouraging to the writer...

 

 

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From the other side of the debate: Our community college system is phasing out those remedial classes and just saying, "The kids will retake English 101 until they pass."

 

My friend the adjunct English teacher hates it: It means she has kids who are not ready (mostly internationals with poor English skills) that she has to somehow teach alongside kids who are ready. While not failing too many. While getting good teaching reviews.

 

Seeing the same thing happen in math. And what's really happening is that the benchmark is getting lower in the first college-level math class so that the fail rate doesn't go too far over 50%, which really, really screws over the students who need this class for their future career. Furthermore, the students just get disheartened and give up because it is so, so far over their heads. 

 

If you can't add fractions with numbers in them, how are we going to get you to adding fractions with polynomials in them in one semester? We're not. Not even in two. 

 

Now, I do 100% agree that the placement testing has issues. I'm in favor of multiple ways to exempt remedial classes for students who are ready, and I don't have an issue with "try college math your first semester even though your placement test doesn't quite qualify you, but if you get an F you have to take developmental math". I'm also very much in favor of tailoring developmental math to the eventual goal (someone who needs to take statistics is far different than someone who really needs college algebra and precalculus). But just saying "well, students who start in college math do better, so therefore we should put them all in college math" is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 

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, and I don't have an issue with "try college math your first semester even though your placement test doesn't quite qualify you, but if you get an F you have to take developmental math". 

 

in which case, however, the administration should not hold it against the instructor if she exceeds the "acceptable" quota of DFW's. Or if the evaluations come out low, because failing students tend not to give good reviews to their teachers - even if their underperforming is not the teacher's fault.

Edited by regentrude
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From the other side of the debate: Our community college system is phasing out those remedial classes and just saying, "The kids will retake English 101 until they pass."

 

My friend the adjunct English teacher hates it: It means she has kids who are not ready (mostly internationals with poor English skills) that she has to somehow teach alongside kids who are ready. While not failing too many. While getting good teaching reviews.

 

My daughter saw this first hand, in an English 101 class. She had to "peer review" a paper that was, quite frankly, word salad. She struggled to even understand the essay until she brought it up in Word and added sentence and paragraph breaks. Then she felt obligated to write something encouraging to the writer...

I feel that some kind of support system needs to be in place for English and Math even if it is just recruiting retired folks to volunteer. The community college could at least give out the name of public library groups etc.

 

The CC placement tests need to show basic capability ( English and Math) and the student given extreme caution if they fall below the bar or take the placement test until they pass.

 

The "retake English 101 until they pass" is just plain unrealistic.

 

Of course an acceptable ACT or SAT score should waive taking the CC placement test(s).

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in which case, however, the administration should not hold it against the instructor if she exceeds the "acceptable" quota of DFW's. Or if the evaluations come out low, because failing students tend not to give good reviews to their teachers - even if their underperforming is not the teacher's fault.

 

I agree. But I also think that stopping the repeat attempts will do a lot to lower the DFW rate. You'll have more people working harder in their first attempt because they don't want to get kicked back to remedial (instead of just giving up when they realize they're going to have to work hard for a C) and you won't have people trying it eight (I wish I were jesting) semesters in a row. 

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I agree. But I also think that stopping the repeat attempts will do a lot to lower the DFW rate. You'll have more people working harder in their first attempt because they don't want to get kicked back to remedial (instead of just giving up when they realize they're going to have to work hard for a C) and you won't have people trying it eight (I wish I were jesting) semesters in a row. 

 

I believe you about the eight - at my college, we had one student attempt calculus 1 eleven times.

 

Our math department has recently started a measure where they identify students who are underperforming at mid term and have little chance of passing the class, and channeling them into an alternative class that is focused on remediation. The students retain their full time student status, the class is offered during the same time as their original class was, it is pass/fail. Students are allowed in if they have given the class an honest try, i.e. did the assignments and attended. Then they will retake the original class the following semester.

 

I think it is a brilliant idea. Just dropping or failing does not teach them anything; this gives the students a chance to remediate the short comings and be in a better position for a second try.

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My dd tested poorly on the math placement test at the local cc. She would have been required to take at least 2 remedial classes as prerequisites for the college algebra class she needed. I knew that she has test anxiety, especially in math, and that her problem seems to be more one of retention rather than comprehension. So we requested a special exemption from the Dean of the cc. He gave it, with the caveat that she sign up for a tutor (provided at no cost) at the beginning of class, not waiting until she got in trouble.

 

His requirement was excellent, as it took several class periods for the tutor to be arranged and schedules to be coordinated. She worked very hard in the class, attended tutoring faithfully, and got an A in the class. Had she waited until she reached that point where she was in over her head, and then had to wait 3 or 4 more class periods to finalize tutoring arrangements, she could have easily been nearly a month behind before she got help, and in a 16 week course, it would have been very hard to come back up to speed while also staying current with new material.

 

It worked well for us, since we had the benefit of a homeschooling mindset (stick with it until you "get" it, bring in all the help you need, and no feeling sorry for yourself and giving up!), and good support from the cc.

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My dd tested poorly on the math placement test at the local cc. She would have been required to take at least 2 remedial classes as prerequisites for the college algebra class she needed. I knew that she has test anxiety, especially in math, and that her problem seems to be more one of retention rather than comprehension. So we requested a special exemption from the Dean of the cc. He gave it, with the caveat that she sign up for a tutor (provided at no cost) at the beginning of class, not waiting until she got in trouble.

 

His requirement was excellent, as it took several class periods for the tutor to be arranged and schedules to be coordinated. She worked very hard in the class, attended tutoring faithfully, and got an A in the class. Had she waited until she reached that point where she was in over her head, and then had to wait 3 or 4 more class periods to finalize tutoring arrangements, she could have easily been nearly a month behind before she got help, and in a 16 week course, it would have been very hard to come back up to speed while also staying current with new material.

 

It worked well for us, since we had the benefit of a homeschooling mindset (stick with it until you "get" it, bring in all the help you need, and no feeling sorry for yourself and giving up!), and good support from the cc.

 

What a great story.  Congratulations to your daughter...and you!  

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I believe you about the eight - at my college, we had one student attempt calculus 1 eleven times.

 

Our math department has recently started a measure where they identify students who are underperforming at mid term and have little chance of passing the class, and channeling them into an alternative class that is focused on remediation. The students retain their full time student status, the class is offered during the same time as their original class was, it is pass/fail. Students are allowed in if they have given the class an honest try, i.e. did the assignments and attended. Then they will retake the original class the following semester.

 

I think it is a brilliant idea. Just dropping or failing does not teach them anything; this gives the students a chance to remediate the short comings and be in a better position for a second try.

 

Frankly, to me, someone who has not passed calculus twice (unless it was due to immaturity) should not be in a major that requires calculus. *sigh*

 

I do agree with the transfer to a remediation class if the college is big enough to support it. I really love the idea as a matter of fact. 

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Frankly, to me, someone who has not passed calculus twice (unless it was due to immaturity) should not be in a major that requires calculus. *sigh*

 

I completely agree, and it greatly baffles me that a number of students do not recognize that they are clearly lacking aptitude when they have tried, say, three times, to pass a foundational course required for their major. 

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My dd's ACT Reading/English scores were high enough in 7th/8th grade to pass her out of Freshman level Comp at the local college (not community college, but a state college). I am baffled how colleges can use an ACT score to pass someone out of remedial or Freshman-level required courses because even though she knows grammar, vocabulary, & has high reading comprehension, her essay writing ability stunk. 

 

It doesn't compute.

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My dd's ACT Reading/English scores were high enough in 7th/8th grade to pass her out of Freshman level Comp at the local college (not community college, but a state college). I am baffled how colleges can use an ACT score to pass someone out of remedial or Freshman-level required courses because even though she knows grammar, vocabulary, & has high reading comprehension, her essay writing ability stunk. 

 

It doesn't compute.

 

The problem for students who need remediation is not that they can't write essays. It is that they cannot write sentences that are grammatically correct. The remediation is teaching them things like subject-verb agreement, tense agreement, how to write a paragraph. The stuff that comes before composition.

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My dd's ACT Reading/English scores were high enough in 7th/8th grade to pass her out of Freshman level Comp at the local college (not community college, but a state college). I am baffled how colleges can use an ACT score to pass someone out of remedial or Freshman-level required courses because even though she knows grammar, vocabulary, & has high reading comprehension, her essay writing ability stunk. 

 

It doesn't compute.

 

A lot of times it's based on statistical probabilities - Just like they have a chart that says, if you got X on the ACT, you'd probably get around Y on the SAT. If you got X on the ACT for reading and English, you are statistically likely to have the necessary skills to skip remedial writing.

 

--Janet

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What a great story.  Congratulations to your daughter...and you!  

 

I agree, wonderful!

 

 

Our math department has recently started a measure where they identify students who are underperforming at mid term and have little chance of passing the class, and channeling them into an alternative class that is focused on remediation. The students retain their full time student status, the class is offered during the same time as their original class was, it is pass/fail. Students are allowed in if they have given the class an honest try, i.e. did the assignments and attended. Then they will retake the original class the following semester.

 

I think it is a brilliant idea. Just dropping or failing does not teach them anything; this gives the students a chance to remediate the short comings and be in a better position for a second try.

 

This sounds like a fantastic idea! Hopefully it will catch on. I could see applying something like this to English classes as well. 

 

 

Our CC uses either ACT scores or their test (which sounds like the one described above--starts out basic, and if at some point a student doesn't pass a section, they never get to try the upper level math questions--so sometimes it does miss-place a student who can do higher level math but gets a poor score on a lower section because they're rusty there or were tired when they got to it etc...) 

 

However, it also allows a student to sign a waiver and not do a remedial class if they think they just don't test well & can do the regular class. 

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Frankly, to me, someone who has not passed calculus twice (unless it was due to immaturity) should not be in a major that requires calculus. *sigh*

 

I do agree with the transfer to a remediation class if the college is big enough to support it. I really love the idea as a matter of fact. 

Gosh I hope this guy or gal isn't designing the buildings I am in at any point.  

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Gosh I hope this guy or gal isn't designing the buildings I am in at any point.  

 

What frequently (and sadly) happens is that they pass calc 1 after a couple attempts, calc 2 after a couple attempts, flounder unsuccessfully in calc 3 while working on gen ed requirements the entire time, run into time-to-degree problems and are no longer eligible for financial aid, and maybe leave with a bachelor of general studies or nothing at all plus a bunch of student loans. 

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