The California State University system is fed up with unprepared high school graduates attempting to enter the state campuses.
The system sees this situation as a terrible comment on the state’s K-through-12 educational system.
If half of all California high school graduates are unable to handle entry-level college work, then the state is in pretty bad shape, an assessment shared by Jim Postma, a Cal State Chico chemistry professor and chairman of the system wide Academic Senate.
Trying A Different Approach
In an effort to remedy students’ lack of skills, California State University has a plan for students with remedial needs. Beginning next summer the system will require all incoming freshmen who need to brush up on their math and English skills, to be sure they do so before arriving on campus. Considering that the majority of incoming freshmen cannot handle college level math or English, this may be the only viable option now. Look at the numbers: Of the 42,700 freshmen entering the system in 2010, an astounding 27,300 needed remedial work in either math or English.
By requiring Early Start courses, the university is trying to remedy what they see as a necessary way to cut down on the number of students who get kicked out of school for failure to complete remedial classes during their first year in college. Given that college-level math and English are required for many other Cal State courses throughout the system, students who do not cut the grade, and are ineligible for entry-level classes in either one or both subjects, start college with a considerable disadvantage.
The Early Start route is a 15-hour intervention program that many instructors have little faith in. It is seen basically as a “too little too late” bandage solution to a larger flawed K-through-12 educational system problem. Assessment tools colleges use for evaluation cannot adequately address each student’s needs. Extreme budget cuts to education have negatively impacted Cal State’s ability to administer these basic math and English skills to students who should have acquired the knowledge earlier in childhood.
This void has for the past years allowed students to take basic classes at community colleges, which in turn made it more problematic for full-time community college students to get into classes they need to prepare for transferring to four-year schools.
With thousands of college classes cut across the state during the past few years due to budget woes, getting a decent education is more difficult for all students, needing remedial classes or not.
This remedial needs problem is not one confined to California alone. Across the nation colleges try to tackle the problem of how to best deal with the influx of unprepared students entering state college systems.
A big worry for college educators is that if they cannot find a way to successfully deal with these unprepared students, a generation of students may be lost educationally.
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