Skip to comments.Colleges Misassign Many to Remedial Classes, Studies Find
Posted on 02/29/2012 5:45:59 AM PST by reaganaut1
Two new studies from the Community College Research Center at Columbia Universitys Teachers College have found that community colleges unnecessarily place tens of thousands of entering students in remedial classes and that their placement decisions would be just as good if they relied on high school grade-point averages instead of standardized placement tests.
The studies address one of the most intractable problems of higher education: the dead end of remedial education. At most community colleges, a majority of entering students who recently graduated from high school are placed in remedial classes, where they pay tuition but earn no college credit. Over all, less than a quarter of those who start in remedial classes go on to earn two-year degrees or transfer to four-year colleges.
The studies, one of a large urban community college system and the other of a statewide system, found that more than a quarter of the students assigned to remedial classes based on their test scores could have passed college-level courses with a grade of B or higher.
We hear a lot about the high rates of failure in college-level classes at community colleges, said Judith Scott-Clayton, the author of the urban study and a Teachers College professor of economics and education and senior research associate. Those are very visible. Whats harder to see are the students who could have done well at college level but never got the chance because of these placement tests.
The colleges use of the leading placement tests the College Boards Accuplacer and ACTs Compass lead to mistakes in both directions, the studies find, but students going into college-level classes they cannot handle is not as serious as unnecessary remedial placement, which often derails college careers.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
College is the new high school -- if that.
Colleges misaccept those that should be repeating high school.
Speaking from experience, when my youngest first went to college, she got placed in the remedial level for her math. She had good grades in highschool, but I guess she didn’t take enough math then. Anyways, it was the best thing for her. She said that it finally clicked for her and after taking that class, she had no problems with the rest of her college math classes.
Columbia Teachers Collage!! They couldn’t be protecting their own kind, could they?
If college, he goes to a combination senior high/community college for three years (grades 11, 12, and college freshman) where he studies his advanced math, science, etc. At the end of "junior college", if he has good grades he can apply for a regular college to get his bachelors.
My wife started back to college last fall after 28 years out of school. They placed her in the lowest level of algebra, two steps from college algebra. This semester, she has intermediate algebra.
My oldest daughter started this semester, after taking one semester off after high school. They started her out in intermediate algebra.
My youngest daughter, a freshman in high school and in algebra 1, was helping them BOTH with their homework last week because her class had already covered the material.
The students today are terrible in math, with a few exceptions. Nobody fails in the end, they get make up work or tutoring or whatever that allows them to PASS the class. These kids get to college and have no idea what they are doing.
“... more than a quarter of the students assigned to remedial classes based on their test scores could have passed college-level courses with a grade of B or higher. “
Stated another way, “...only about 25 percent of the students assigned to remedial classes based on their test scores could have passed college-level courses with a grade of B or higher.” I am well aware that college teachers who teach those courses in which students get a “B or higher” are evaluated and retained based on student satisfaction surveys administered to those students at the end of the semester. Getting a “B or higher” is quite easy for the student to do, considering that a lower grade would result in the teacher getting lower evaluations. The teachers are not going to give out lower grades than a “B or higher”. Surprisingly, a number of students will get lower grades but that is due to failing to attend class and often failing to complete essential assignments. In those cases, the students don’t complete the satisfaction surveys or don’t blame the teacher directly.
In many cases, the GPA is meaningless. My daughter gets Bs and As in math (including ‘intermediate’ algebra), but still can’t do simple math problems.
Which means if a kid mistakenly passes on the college route around age 15, it’s incredibly difficult for him or her to catch up later. What you describe is much more the European system, which IMO reduces social mobility.
I agree there are real problems with our current, bloated and largely ineffective system, but in the modern world there’s no reason not to enforce some standard academic rigor through high school.
Here in Southwestern PA, we actually have what you are describing. Starting in 11th grade the kids can go to technical schools. However, not all kids know at that age what they want to do. Also, there is such a stigma about the trades that many kids who should be going to one of those technical schools don’t because they are “supposed” to go to college. Even though they may not have the aptitude for it. They may have the aptitude for the trade school but don’t take advantage of it.
I'm 53 years old and have a Liberal Arts B.S. Degree 1981. My intended course of study back in the day was science intense but I had a weak math background. So I bailed out and settled for a liberal arts degree.
I decided last fall to finally do what ever necessary to get that science degree and this meant first getting my math skills up to college level. I checked with my local community college and state university and discovered that I would have to acquire the math skills at the “college algebra” level to proceed with the needed college science classes.
My choices were in ascending order: Basic Math (remedial), Pre-Algebra, Elementary Algebra (algebra 1), Intermediate Algebra (algebra 2), finally College Algebra (advanced Algebra). My Community College uses the ACT COMPASS placement test.
Five (5) weeks before I took the COMPASS test, I started at page 1 in the Dummies Guide to Basic Math and Pre-Algebra and the optional Dummies Workbook.
Chapter 1 was easy but starting at chapter 2 I (hard to admit) began to be a challenge for me. It has been 30+ years since I had any math classes and on my best day I really stunk at it. Anyway, times and attitudes change and I worked through the book and work book with a high degree of discipline.
How did I do on the COMPASS Test? Good question! I scored 68 on the MATH portion. This is not 68% out of 100% BTW. On the ALGEBRA portion, I scored 28. To get into PRE-Algebra, a COMPASS score of MATH 20 is required, Elementary Algebra, a score of MATH 36 is needed, Intermediate Algebra a score of ALGEBRA 31 is required.
As you can see, I almost made it into Intermediate Algebra (just shy by 3 points). If I had another week to prepare I probably would have scored high enough for Intermediate Algebra. No matter, Elementary Algebra was my goal as I want to master the concepts not gather college credits. My MATH score was well within the acceptable range for Elementary Algebra. One would assume that I posses the skills to do well in that class.
My Elementary Algebra class is a mish mash of college age students and older working adults although I'm one of if not the oldest in this class. I will know better after Thursday (we get our last test grades then) but I have one of the higher grades in the class, C+/B- Mathematically speaking, a few of the students will, after this week have no possible chance of passing the class. I will say that I'm working very hard at it, doing hours on hours of homework and practice problems.
Given my COMPASS placement test scores one would think one such as myself would find the class easy but this is not the case. I would have been unhappy spending a semester in pre-algebra but for this student, elementary algebra is quite a handful. Personally I'm having difficulties understanding how remedial classes would be a negative to college freshman and I not sure why it would as the article claims it would derail a students career path. I wish I had taken the COMPASS test back in 1976 and forced to take elementary algebra back then.
My instructor is old school and does not allow calculators in class. My attitude towards algebra has changed 180 degrees, a year ago I would have laughed at the thought of becoming proficient in math, today I'm beginning to enjoy it and will in any event do what ever it takes to get a good grade in college algebra which I'm planning to take in the fall (elementary algebra this term, intermediate in the summer, college in the fall).
Yep, simply sounds like grade inflation is migrating higher and higher. Never mind objective measures like standardized tests, let’s get subjective!
Not necessarily. We could have it so that a kid who changes his mind could switch to community college and there do his prerequisites to go on to senior college for his BS.
As it stands, a student who today drops out at 16 continues to have the option of getting his GED, going to community college to demonstrate his ability to operate in a college environment, and then applying to a 4-year school.
Anyone who can pass the GED or similar private exam should be given an official high school diploma from their local socialist K-12 school district. It shouldn't matter if the child is aged 20 or 5. They should then be able to move directly into college or trade school. ( By the way, they shouldn't get a diploma unless they do pass the GED.)
Having this diploma opens up many opportunities for scholarships and the military that would be denied otherwise. Unfortunately, many states forbid students younger than a set age ( 16 or 18) from taking this exam.
Next,....Charles Murray is right. We need qualifying exams and we should dump most B.A. degrees. The qualifying exams should start in kindergarten and continue through graduate school. If a child masters the basic phonic sounds, or his addition facts, he should be immediately moved to the next level. It is insanity that he should be held behind while the rest of the class catches up.
The Khan Academy is blazing the way in on-line education. If the producers of high quality education content, coupled with certifiable testing, and accepted advertising they could become as rich as Mark Zucherman!
Finally....Every course offered by a state owned and run K-12 school or college should be ON-LINE and FREE to any citizen in the state. Hey! Their taxes paid for it why should it be hidden from them. ( Uh? ...Maybe they hide it because it is grounded in Marxist dialectics and they don't want the taxpayers to know they are paying for the overthrow of our nation? )
By the way, my homeschooled kids were in college by the ages of 13, 12, and 13. Two finished B.S. degrees in math by age 18. One earned a masters in math at 20. All finished all general college courses and Calculus III by age 15. The oldest finished a masters in accounting at the normal age for his generation but also was an internationally and national ranked athlete, traveled the world representing the U.S., worked for a few years for our church in Eastern Europe, and is completely fluent in Russian. ( Surprisingly his firm has a Russian companies and many Russian clients in its practice and he is often called upon to translate.)
One more thing: In June every government K-12 teacher should be required to take the GED. If they fail ( and most would fail the math section) they should be fired. Also, all government teachers should be required to take and pass Calculus I for science and math majors with no separate classes for them! They should sit in the **same** classes ( shoulder to shoulder) with the math and science majors. It might help guarantee that government teachers have a high enough IQ to be in a classroom and it might eliminate a lot of the math phobia they bring into the classroom.
This would be struck down due to having "disparate impact". Which is why the EEOC and its enabling legislation need to be abolished.
Am I really old or is my memory just faulty? Back in the day, any college-level algebra before calculus was considered remedial. (But good numbers of liberal arts majors took it as part of their math and science requirements.)
There was a time when both ‘College Algebra’ and Analytical Geometry (trig with vectors in 3-space) were precursors to Calculus I (Differential) and Calculus II (Integral).
Some kids with good High School math preparation could proficiency out of College Algebra, but in the 50’s and 60’s most would have to take Analyt Geom before Calc I.
Nowadays, I understand, they have realigned the curriculum to integrate Analyt Geom with Calc.
How many black government teachers would there be?
Over here are 1992 SAT scores broken down by race and sex. Number of white males scoring 700 or above on math SAT: 22,388; number of black females scoring 700 or above: 131.
I was in high school in the late 70’s, when basic geometry and algebra 1 and 2 were commonly followed by pre-calculus and then, if you were in an upper-middle-class school with AP-type courses, calculus. Thus, if you were even on a regular college-prep course in an average high school you should have been ready for calculus 1 to start your freshman year of college. No math or science major credit would be awarded for anything less than that.
Since then AP has become much more common, but on the lower end, endless terms of “college algebra” (which are no such thing and should make one think of linear algebra) seem to have become the norm.
A math major (associate degree program) at my local community college would start at calculus and take a total of 4 semesters of calculus & Analytic Geometry . Anything less, college algebra, trig and or basic statistics will not count towards the major. The prerequsites for calc. are college algebra and trig, if you don’t have them in HS or score high enough on the SAT you start there and turn a 2 year program into a three year program.
The problem in the US is not the colleges, it’s the public school systems, they don’t teach math, they don’t impress onthe students the need to know math, they pass kids that don’t have any math skills. But then there are those kids who for some reason love math. This group would include my two kids and they have shamed me into learning math, which by the way I’m going to be a student of for the rest of my life. Talk about an overreaction!
...and what harm does this do to the community college business model? None whatsoever. In fact, they make pretty good money running those remedial classes, and if a student in them goes on to graduate, that student will have spent more money toward his Associate's degree than he otherwise would have.
This is the bottom line. There's no cash incentive for a school to do it any other way.
Congrats—the kids may have motivated you, but you’re being a great model for them!