Cal State to no longer mandate remedial classes and placement exams
- In an executive order, State Chancellor Timothy P. White, directed Cal State to get rid of the requirement that students complete noncredit remedial classes to help prepare them for college courses — a decision which could affect about 25,000 students. The schools will also discontinue Math and English placement exams.
- The policy change, which will go into effect in the fall of 2018, comes after Cal State had pledged to more than double its four-year graduation rate to 40% by 2025. According to the Los Angeles Times, it also arrives after many have begun questioning how helpful remedial classes really are, with concern that the noncredit courses which must be completed in a student's first year may spur many students to drop out.
- Students enrolled in the Cal State system would take credit-bearing classes beginning on their first day. Further, the college is pledging to enroll struggling students in "stretch" courses to help them fill in skills gaps while also offering credit towards their degree, and professors are being urged to consider other means to help offer remedial learning in the classroom.
The potentially negative impact of remedial courses on students enrolled in California's public school system has been a concern for many educators; in a recent article, experts noted that 75% of students enrolled in community colleges in California could not pass the intermediate algebra placement exam, requiring them to complete remedial courses before going towards their degree. This increase in time and money could be especially harmful for two-year students, who may have made a decision for a quicker degree due to costs. Administrators who continue to utilize remedial courses need to be cognizant of the different stressors and challenges students enrolled in remedial classes are facing, and how it could impact their willingness to stay involved in a program where they are investing time and money simply to reach the starting line.
But there are also positive models administrators can consider when trying to retain necessary remedial instruction without adversely affecting student graduation rates. CUNY Start, a new remedial program at the City University of New York, is boasting better success rates than most remedial programs in postsecondary institutions. The program takes into account that many of the students enrolled are working full-time or have other challenges, and the programs offers counseling and mentorship. Success rates for remedial programs can be improved by supporting the students' educational and emotional concerns, where a point person for the institution can help if a particular student seems in danger of dropping out of the program.