This month, more than half of community college freshmen and at least a third of university students started college already behind. They’re in at least one remedial course that does not count toward a degree, thus beginning at least four months—and sometimes years—delayed in getting the degree they enrolled to earn.
This colossal disappointment is largely avoidable. Students need not toil in remedial courses that cost precious time and money.
How do I know? The proof initially emerged with many students transferring from San Diego’s West Hills High School to their local community college. Like many of their fellow freshmen nationally, a whopping 95 percent of high school graduates from West Hills who received As and Bs in their senior English courses did not “pass” the placement test. Yet when allowed to enroll in college-level courses instead of remedial classes, 86 percent successfully completed college-level English, lost no time in their progress, and stayed on course toward earning a degree.
How could this be? San Diego’s Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District took the courageous step of trusting the work of local high school teachers and higher education faculty over the placement test.
The English Curriculum Alignment Project is an intensive and groundbreaking effort. High school teachers and college faculty teamed up to pore over years of transcript information for what is now, statewide, a 30-million student database made available through the California Partnership for Achieving Student Success. Looking at student performance over time, San Diego educators learned that students who stopped taking English courses after 10th grade needed the same level of remediation in community college as students who took advanced English courses through 12th grade. Read more.