Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Remedial College Classes

The public education critics in Colorado gained more ammunition after the Denver Post reported that one-third of the state's high school grads need remedial classes when they start college. This may seem shocking to many, though it's important to keep in mind that only one-third of the country even has a college degree. Thus, it may be only one third of the country that is shocked and outraged by these statistics. Sadly, the issue is much more complex than a simple statistic on remedial classes in college. Instead, it should generate genuine discussion of the high school curriculum, college prep classes, and the necessity of a college-educated workforce.

Pew Researcher David Connelly has noted there is a fundamental difference between "college eligible" and "college ready," and that distinction is at the heart of this debate - a debate which reveals a lack of understanding of the goals and curriculum of public education in this country. We are sending twice as many students to college as we did in 1950, yet the number of people achieving bachelor degrees has remained virtually unchanged in that time. Clearly, we are sending a large number of students unprepared for college. The questions that need to be asked concern issues of standard versus college-prep curriculum, as well as the performance of the students on standard assessments.

In the United States, students can go to college after graduating high school with a D average, or not even graduating at all. That is true nowhere else in the world, and it reveals much about the need for remedial courses in college. By contrast, students who graduate from AP and IB programs rarely require such courses and are far more likely to achieve a degree. Thus, we should not be shocked by the remedial course issue until we understand who the students are and whether they should have been admitted, or even advised to go, to college.


Anonymous said...

Check out the book titled "The Supreme Court and Whistleblowers: Teachers and Other Public Employees" available on Amazon.com and at Barnes and Nobles.

Anonymous said...

The colleges are concerned with "3 R's" deficiencies, not "21st Century Digital Natives" stuff. Inexplicably, they continue to expect new arrivals to have done a lot of reading and writing and to be at least conversant with secondary math and science. Strange!

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