For the last two years, a group of community colleges in California have been revamping their approach to remedial math and English courses, and students like Paulo Romero are starting to feel something his friends at other schools are not: hope.
Last week more than 100 City University of New York faculty members, staffers and administrators gathered for a conference in Manhattan to discuss how to improve results for students considered academically unprepared for college. There has been substantial research suggesting that "remedial" classes act as more of a barrier than a passageway to earning a college degree.
There is a crisis in our traditional remedial mathematics education. Many, likely most, math faculty members have already heard much about this crisis. But many faculty members outside math departments are unaware of it and how it negatively affects them, which it probably does. Once you are aware of it, you may want to contribute to solving it, which you possibly can.
A report out this week and a proposed state law take aim at the way California community colleges place most incoming students into classes to improve their skills. In a typical year, California community colleges rely mostly on placement tests to enroll about 170,000 students in one or more remedial classes to raise their skills, allowing them to do college-level work.