Remedial Placements

When you start at a community college, you take an English test and a math test and these results place you into the right place in the curriculum. And it’s not just community college, I had to take these tests when I started at Miami University. But typically, students who are transferring and can show course completions in lower-level math and English classes are placed into the next course in the sequence at the new school. So I didn’t have to take these tests when I started at the University of Maryland.

These tests have and placements have become a real problem because go into these classes and get stuck. Unable to complete the course, students are unable to progress into the higher level math and English classes necessary to complete a degree program. And the worse part is, there’s no credit for these classes, even though students are charged full-freight for them.

The Atlantic has a new story on the treadmill of remedial courses for students entering community college:

Trapped in the Community College Remedial Maze

Today, these institutions welcome scores of underprepared students who often have no idea how they ended up behind. A majority of students with A and B grade point averages in high school still require developmental education at the community-college level, raising new questions about the skill level of incoming college students and the ways institutions measure their abilities.

The short version is, placing students into remedial classes is more harmful than not. It has been a huge hope of mine that MOOCs could deliver quality free courses in elementary mathematics. Based on these, students could place higher. Costs are cut and student outcomes would vastly improve. But students are not being steered that way.

Image by Sweetness46 / Wikimedia Commons.