California is in economic decline; its taxation has become punitive, its small business owners are leaving, and the State Legislature seems determined to remove the possibility of creating a driven, educated workforce. The state has a poor record on numeracy and literacy already, with eight out of ten community college students needing to take remedial classes to get them to a college entry level. Now it seems as though they will be lowering the bar to encourage more potential student to enroll.
California State Chancellor Timothy P. White, who oversees 23 campus presidents, issued an Executive Order that allegedly “facilitates equitable opportunity for first-year students to succeed through existing and redesigned education models.” The new protocol will begin officially in the 2018 Fall term, and it means that students will no longer have to take the traditional college entry math and English placement exams (remedial courses for Freshman year). Instead the colleges are to “assess new freshmen for college readiness and course placement by using high school grades, ACT and SAT scores, previous classroom performance and other measures that administrators say provide a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of students’ knowledge.”
The stated aim is to double the amount of four-year graduation rate from 19% to 40% by 2025. But is this realistic? The thinking behind this is more self-esteem related than educational. Many students begin college without the same level of skills as their peers. They enroll first in college entry level numeracy and literacy courses to bring them up to a comparable level. This costs money which does not “go towards the degree”. Therefore, students are left feeling demoralized even before they begin studying their major courses.
However, this “logic” doesn’t work. The remedial classes ARE of benefit. They ensure that the student will be able to keep up with the rest of the class, and provide the student with the confidence that they may have been lacking. By using high school information (that is less academically rigorous), it means that the students who struggle with literacy and numeracy will not “be discovered” until after they have already begun their chosen major. When they are found to have “issues” in these areas, they will have already been “demoralized” and fallen behind because they will not be able to manage the assigned work.
“At Cal State, about 40% of freshmen each year are considered not ready for college-level work and required to take remedial classes that do not count toward their degrees.”
Changing how their skills are measured does not change their actual skills. Once again, the victims will be the youth of California, sacrificed on the altar of “progressive ideals.” Lowering standards does not, and cannot, increase ability.
Rather than students discovering as freshmen that college may not be for them, they may struggle through a sophomore year as well. Not increasing their knowledge or graduation rates, but costing them another year of tuition. Perhaps that is the ultimate goal here, more money for the colleges.