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Cal State will no longer require placement exams and remedial classes for freshmen

norm9

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Nov 21, 2014
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From the LA Times http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-cal-state-remedial-requirements-20170803-story.html

Cal State plans to drop placement exams in math and English as well as the noncredit remedial courses that more than 25,000 freshmen have been required to take each fall — a radical move away from the way public universities traditionally support students who come to college less prepared than their peers.

Cal State will no longer make those students who may need extra help take the standardized entry-level mathematics (ELM) exam and the English placement test (EPT).

The new protocol, which will go into effect in fall 2018, “facilitates equitable opportunity for first-year students to succeed through existing and redesigned education models,” White wrote in a memorandum to the system’s 23 campus presidents, who will be responsible for working with faculty to implement the changes. The hope is that these efforts will also help students obtain their degrees sooner — one of the public university system's priorities. Cal State has committed to doubling its four-year graduation rate, from 19% to 40%, by 2025.

At Cal State, about 40% of freshman each year are considered not ready for college-level work and required to take remedial classes that do not count toward their degrees.

Currently, students who enter Cal State without demonstrating college readiness in math and/or English are required to take up to three traditional remedial classes before they are allowed to enroll in courses that count toward their degrees. (If students do not pass these remedial courses during the first year, they are removed from university rolls.)

The problem is that these noncredit remedial courses cost the students more money and time, keep many in limbo and often frustrate them to the point that some eventually drop out, administrators said. In a recent study of similar college-prep work at community colleges, the Public Policy Institute of California found that remedial programs — also called developmental education — largely fail to help most students complete their academic or vocational programs.

Having so many students start their freshman year being told that they are already behind and giving them just one year to dig themselves out also doesn't help foster a sense of social or academic belonging, officials said.

Under the new system, all Cal State students will be allowed to take courses that count toward their degrees beginning on Day 1.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, in an interview with The Times, also endorsed the multiple-measures approach, which he said the community college system is also adopting.

“This is the right approach for all of public higher education, particularly for broad-access public institutions like the community colleges and the CSU,” he said. “I personally strongly believe that standardized placement exams have handicapped hundreds of thousands of our students, and they particularly target low-income students and students of color. We have, in my opinion, been placing many students in remedial courses that really didn't belong in those remedial courses — and in doing so have made it harder for them to complete their college educations

I'm split on this but am leaning on this being a good thing. However, I'm not sure if this is just a tactic to pump out more people through the college system for profit. Another concern is the taking classes toward your major as a freshman. A student doesn't necessarily know what they plan on majoring in so early in university. I know I didn't. I switched about four times that early on. I always considered the a student's first year as an experimental phase in learning.

Anecdotally, I know when I was a freshman, they made me waste my time with a writing tutor. They also said I had to take a remedial English class. I ended up taking the required basic english class in my senior year and packed it in an already full schedule because I had forgotten it was a graduation requirement.

Edumacate me if old.
 

GoldenEye 007

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Jul 28, 2006
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So how will this affect regular level college classes? If a student isn't prepared for the material, I feel like that could be a big problem. Unless they are relying on their tutoring services more to help catch those students up. But in my opinion, that is something that K-12 should be addressing. A student failing a class that is a core requirement is going to not only hold them back, but also destroy their GPA early on.

If the reasoning is that the remedial classes aren't actually doing anything or are defective in their screening process, then I guess I can see giving it a shot.
 

Lakershead22

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Oct 4, 2014
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I remember a guy in my math class was offering me 100 bucks to copy off of my homework. Some of the students in the courses don't take the time to study the material.
 

AnathemicOne

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Nov 15, 2011
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California
Sounds good to me, having recently graduated a CSU 2 months ago, the remedial courses are redundant as fuck and I still had to take them due to not having AP credit from high school.

Granted I'm an advocate for HS graduates to take community college first before jumping into a 4 year university.
 

Maxinas

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Mar 2, 2016
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Not surprised really. I've been in several classes where the class average was in a range of 40-60 most of the semester, and the classes had to be heavily curved or else more than half the class ended up failing. I blame shitty high school education for this.
 

RyanW

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Jun 11, 2015
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The fuck.
Not really surprising to me. And typically a lot in that percentage are just on the edge of not having the scores like being one point off in the ACT.

I was one point off in math but had the composite needed for scholarships so I just decided to take the extra Math(they don't even consider it remedial, more like supplement). It was really just an internet class I took with College Algebra that involved extra homework.
 

Plumbob

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Jul 19, 2009
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Not surprised really. I've been in several classes where the class average was in a range of 40-60 most of the semester, and the classes had to be heavily curved or else more than half the class ended up failing. I blame shitty high school education for this.

40-60 is just an arbitrary range. It could mean anything.
 

SRG01

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Jan 29, 2007
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So how will this affect regular level college classes? If a student isn't prepared for the material, I feel like that could be a big problem. Unless they are relying on their tutoring services more to help catch those students up. But in my opinion, that is something that K-12 should be addressing. A student failing a class that is a core requirement is going to not only hold them back, but also destroy their GPA early on.

If the reasoning is that the remedial classes aren't actually doing anything or are defective in their screening process, then I guess I can see giving it a shot.

The alternative -- placing students in classes they aren't ready for -- is no better either. I have severe reservations about this as an educator.
 

GoldenEye 007

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Not really surprising to me. And typically a lot in that percentage are just on the edge of not having the scores like being one point off in the ACT.

I was one point off in math but had the composite unneeded for scholarships so I just decided to take the extra Math(they don't even consider it remedial, more like supplement). It was really just an internet class I took with College Algebra that involved extra homework.

Generally, there is a separate test from the ACT/SAT. It's a pre-test asking pretty straightforward questions that is usually not timed and on basic material offered by the school directly.

I have seen SAT/ACT minimums come into play, but on the state level for admission - rather than an individual university or university system.
 

Woo-Fu

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Jan 2, 2007
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I feel like this is just going to hurt the reputation of Cal State graduates.

I don't see why, seems like this puts even more responsibility on the students themselves to work harder in the areas they are weak or risk failing out all together?
 

GoldenEye 007

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The alternative -- placing students in classes they aren't ready for -- is no better either. I have severe reservations about this as an educator.

Yeah I'm certainly erring on this not being a good idea. I could see addressing issues like a poster saying they were put in a class only because they didn't take an AP course. Sure. That makes sense.

But a school provided pre-test on straightforward problems? I think that's at least a basic consideration to help ensure a student isn't placed into a class they're not ready for. Like I said, the only way I could see this working is if they're also either mandating or heavily beefing up out of class sessions/tutoring.
 

Ceej

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Feb 20, 2012
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Doesnt matter anyway lol



Failure is a better teacher in the long run

You've definitely never taught at the college level where everyone is premed and deserves an A regardless of study time *eyeroll* they won't take the time to study but they'll take the time to argue :/ this is going to be a huge headache for professors, especially in the sciences at the freshman level.
 

Oblivion

Fetishing muscular manly men in skintight hosery
Jul 17, 2005
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The fuck.

Yeah. Back in high school, when me and my friends were applying to universities, we'd make fun of places like the Cal States (Northridge, in particular) for being ridiculously easy to get into. I don't know what their current acceptance rate is, but back then it was a whopping 85% for Freshman applicants. Personally, I think it's a bad idea for them to lower their standards further.

Ironically enough, I ended up at CSUN myself, and graduated in May.
 

Grizzlyjin

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Jun 23, 2004
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I'm betting this backfires pretty quickly, especially in regards to math. I've assisted with the placement testing, college freshmen math skills vary from school district to school district. What's going to happen is that the students that have the poorest math skills are going to get put into classes they're not ready for, their year 1 grades will tailspin, and they'll endanger their financial aid. It's gonna push students out the door faster. Those year 2 retention numbers are going to be brutal.
 

godhandiscen

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I feel this just delays the inevitable with some students.
 

LaNaranja

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I went to a UC and had to take a remedial english class because apparently my writing was bad. I am totally grateful for it though because I did struggle with writing and that class did make me better and taught me fundamentals I didn't learn in K-12.
 

AstroNut325

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I'm guilty of this. Came out of high school unprepared. Took remedial classes in Cal Poly Pomona for a year. Then took my calculus in the following summer. Took me five years.

This will suck for other people like me. :/
 

Zackat

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Nov 18, 2015
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After I dropped out of high school and got my GED I had to take remedial courses to get back up to speed. I did this at my local community college before I went to University (for significantly cheaper as well). I would have been completely lost without these courses.

I ended up acing all my calculus courses in University so that was nice I guess.
 
Dec 14, 2008
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I guess this actually makes perverse sense for the state, this way students will be able to get further and spend more money before they eventually fail out.
 

Almighty

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As someone who had to work their way up from remedial classes I don't know if this is a good idea. If someone was placed in these classes than there was a reason for it. Taking away some of the training wheels is not going to improve that. Those noncredit remedial classes allowed me to get up to snuff without have to worry about them impacting my GPA and potentially putting future grants and scholarships at risk.

Personally the problem sounds like they only gave the students a year to do it. Maybe it is setup different at Cal State, but at my university if you placed where I did that means you had no leeway for failure.
 

SRG01

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Failure is a better teacher in the long run

This isn't even about failure, but a question of whether a student is ready for a class in the first place.

The better option is to make these classes count for credit, so that they actually count towards something when it comes to degrees and applications into different programs. Maybe even a common year where the curriculum is a retread of high-school senor-level courses, but at a slightly higher level?

The even better option is to provide the public school system with adequate funding such that students will graduate with a decent skill set and knowledge that prepares them for academia.

Yeah I'm certainly erring on this not being a good idea. I could see addressing issues like a poster saying they were put in a class only because they didn't take an AP course. Sure. That makes sense.

But a school provided pre-test on straightforward problems? I think that's at least a basic consideration to help ensure a student isn't placed into a class they're not ready for. Like I said, the only way I could see this working is if they're also either mandating or heavily beefing up out of class sessions/tutoring.

I'll be really disappointed (but not surprised) if they charge for this.
 

jwk94

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Not surprised really. I've been in several classes where the class average was in a range of 40-60 most of the semester, and the classes had to be heavily curved or else more than half the class ended up failing. I blame shitty high school education for this.

When I was in STEM courses, that was pretty normal. I never understood why you'd make the tests that hard.
 

Toa TAK

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Jan 5, 2013
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YES

Never got around to doing the English Placement Exam (since I'm at work each date they offer it), so this is good news for me.

Plus English is fucking cake. I don't need an exam for that shit.
 

volterra

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Sep 18, 2016
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This kind of crap frustrates me a lot, as a math prof at a school with a decent engineering program. I just went through a fight to get a strong math placement policy in place because it made me sick to watch underprepared students flunk Calc 1 two or three times in a row at tens of thousands of dollars a pop. At the same time, the only alternative is to dramatically lower course standards, which is not acceptable.

If a school is going to admit underprepared students, then it has an obligation to get these students up to speed so it can uphold academic standards for everyone who ends up earning a degree. Waving everyone through doesn't work, especially for writing and math.
 
May 5, 2014
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I'm also split. I took remdial classes, but they were more like refresher courses for me than actually learning new materials. I hope that they keep the classes as an option for students who wish to take them.

On the other hand, my boyfriend stuggled very hard and very long just to reach math 100 series (freshman level), and still didn't have an easy time of it. His college career was put on hold for years because of it. If he didn't get injured at work and was forced back to school, I don't think he would've finished. He even had 120+ credits earned with a good gpa and would've given it all up because of math.
 

Bakercat

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When I started college I had to take two high school math classes to be able to go to college. This was because my act math score was really low, (but I had an extremely high reading and writing score so it evens out). I think it was actually helpful in the short term so I could get caught up for college algebra since it's required for most students. Without those two classes I would have never been able to do the required algebra class. However, I never really have to use algebra for my major at all, just statistics, but even that is rendered useless by technology.

I think they may see a lot of students failing college level classes since they're going into them not prepared.
 

Zoe

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Jan 3, 2007
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I can understand moving away from requiring the remedial classes (though I don't necessarily agree), but does the school not use the placement exams to get out of regular level as well? I'm pretty sure I was required to take tests (or show I had passed AP/IB exams) in math, reading, and foreign languages so I wouldn't have to take those in college unless absolutely necessary.
 

LinkAndEpona

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Dec 14, 2016
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I realize that the very basic core classes might not count towards a specific major, but if students come ill prepared already, skipping the remedial courses won't help them at all.

This reminds of people who taught at for-profit schools. Students woukd manage to acquire the student loans but ultimately fail and be hardly motivated to finish the classes and in the end be stuck with the bill to show for it.

College should not be pushed as a path for everyone.
 

SRG01

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When I was in STEM courses, that was pretty normal. I never understood why you'd make the tests that hard.

It's mainly a product of asking the wrong level of questions during an exam and the 'need' to filter out students in the first and second years.
 

paplikaplik

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This sounds like a consequence of a college degree becoming the de facto minimum requirement for a decent job.

This might also be an attempt to cut into the trend of people knocking out their Gen Ed requirements at Community College, and then transferring over to minimize their debt load upon graduation.
 

Zoe

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This sounds like a consequence of a college degree becoming the de facto minimum requirement for a decent job.

This might also be an attempt to cut into the trend of people knocking out their Gen Ed requirements at Community College, and then transferring over to minimize their debt load upon graduation.
Why would they want to cut that out? Colleges are always chasing higher and shorter graduation rates.
 

paplikaplik

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Mar 17, 2016
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Why would they want to cut that out? Colleges are always chasing higher and shorter graduation rates.

The money's increasingly going to the Community Colleges instead of the Cal State system, so they might want to stem that tide and try to entice those students to do all four years at CS instead of two. Unless something's changed recently, you still need to take placement tests and possibly take remedial courses in Math and English to complete an Associate's at a Community College. If Cal State drops that policy, it would be a differentiator they could market to potential students.

But I'm just speculating here; if they want to cut into the current trend, they'd could just as easily limit transfers from CC to a CS, but that would have its own negative effects they may want to avoid.
 
Oct 11, 2016
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I thought this is what community colleges and junior colleges were for? Why are they at a University in the first place? How did they qualify for entrance?
 

Sakura

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Sounds like a good thing to me. Starting university but being unable to take any classes that actually count for anything because you first need to take remedial courses seems ridiculous.
However, if so many 1st year students don't have a strong enough foundation for university level work, then I think it might make more sense to make some required classes for 1st year students that teach skills to succeed in university, and also make them worth credit.
 

hey_monkey

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Mar 14, 2007
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So I teach at a university with a very strong STEM program (which has those 40-60 averages in many classes, due to a LOT of factors, including very inconsistent teaching, students not prepared, etc.) and I have some things to offer here:

First, while my institution is public, it attracts a relatively high caliber of student. I have seen very few freshmen completely unprepared and the ones who are usually take some classes at a local CC to help save money on repeating. I have seen, in six years, one student who must have been very good at something because he wrote at approximately a third-fourth grade level. This is not hyperbole. It was tragic. He should not have been there. But most are pretty well prepared.

I have friends, however, who teach at state schools around the country and they have horror stories about students who just do not have basic skills and who don't understand why they don't just pass, because that's what happened to them in high school. That is one of the biggest problems. Remedial courses can help... but for some it's just not going to work out regardless until they learn how to be a student, and that's hard to teach.

Now, regarding this directly. It's not surprising to see them cutting writing classes, with the humanities under fire for years, despite numerous studies that point to (certain) humanities courses/degrees being very helpful in the workforce. But the cuts on the horizon, the next rumored target? Math departments. So part of me wonders if this isn't in line with those rumblings coming down the pipeline. The idea is that these days students don't need math classes, since a) university is being treated increasingly like job training and little else and b) students don't "need" that for their jobs, despite - again - numerous studies that identify benefits from studying math.

The tl:dr is that the whole system is broken.
 

AmayaPapaya

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Jul 20, 2013
692
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California
Don't know how I feel about this. The Cal State's are already easy to get into. I just hope its a student motive rather than profit. More people having access to quality universities, is a good thing, most of the time...
 

tbro777

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Dec 4, 2012
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This would have saved me paying for an extra class I really didn't need. I waited about 10 years after graduating high school to start taking some community college classes, so naturally I forgot a lot of the math I had learned in high school . I took the math placement test and had to start off with intermediate algebra,but once I started the class it all came back to me. I think If I had just started off at college algebra I would have been ok.