Why should there be remedial classes in college?
When it comes to college, being accepted is hardly the first step. Many of our students get a rude awakening when they arrive there, when they find that their grades from high school don't match their skills that they are expected to use to succeed in college. I found this article from the San Francisco area East Bay Daily News just fascinating:
What students learn in high school and what they need to know for college doesn't always match up, according to a national survey of high school and college instructors.
Teachers at all levels value organized, coherent writing from their students. But college professors more often rated punctuation as paramount, the study says, while high school teachers placed more importance on developing a topic and writing a great introductory paragraph.
In math, high school teachers labeled higher level subjects like calculus as a priority.
"What college teachers say is they want students with a firm grasp of the basics," said Cynthia Schmeiser, president and chief operating officer of the education division at ACT, a college entrance exam company.
The survey results released today might help explain why community colleges and universities send so many freshman to remedial classes.
Nationwide, 28 percent of incoming freshman enrolled in remedial college classes, according to a 2004 report by the National Center for Education Statistics.
In the California State University system, nearly half of the incoming freshman this year scored below proficient in English on placement tests that determine what level of courses students should take. More than a third fell short of being college-ready in math.
"Yes indeed, we do a large amount of remedial and developmental amount of work - more than we would like," said James Murphy, chairman of the English department at California State University, East Bay.
This year, less than half showed up at Cal State East Bay ready for college math while less than 60 percent of incoming freshman tested at remedial levels in English. Out of necessity, the school runs what are known as developmental writing classes to help get students up to speed.
"Not that we don't think it's important, but it would be nice if could be done somewhere else," Murphy said.
In the state community college system, the largest in the United States, more than 300,000 students ended up in remedial classes last school year, according to a March accountability report.
Read the whole thing. And by the way, who can spot the grammatical error (it appears twice) in the article?
I remember back when I was a brand new English teacher. I was told that the LATEST THING in English language arts instruction was a system whereby one simply tried to encourage students to write, and one didn't try to "discourage" them with learning and utilizing nasty things like correct spelling, punctutation and the like. Now our students were supposed to use the "writing process," which included proofreading and editing either one's own work or someone else's work, but how can a student do that when that student doesn't know what to look for? The papers ended up being far more e. e. cummings than anything else, but without any poetry. Of course, you know I nodded my head sweetly at my principal, went into my room, closed the door, and started drilling comma splice correction and gerunds into my students' heads.
I felt so subversive!
I was A Rebel With a Clause.
My students often grumble about the fact that, as a social studies teacher, I correct (and dock the grade accordingly) for spelling, punctuation, and the like. I will tell you this curmudeonly insistence upon proper writing skills does make grading essays a much more laborious process than I would like, as well.
Well, what do you see in your classrooms? I'd like to do a completely unscientific survey.
Labels: preparedness for college