Remedial Courses: Pointless or Practical?
Remedial classes are often viewed as shameful or embarrassing, but in fact can be very useful to students who have not had the proper guidance needed to prepare for full-credit courses. Developmental classes tackle problems with advanced concepts in subjects such as math or English. The classes give students the ability to understand the basics of the subject and build off those concepts.
Recent students indicate that a steady increase of students enrolling in college need these remedial courses. The number of students in need of remediation rose from 48.7 percent in the fall of 2002 to a staggering 61.3 percent this past fall. Nancy Zimpher, the chancellor of the State University of New York, stated in her State of the University speech that her goal was to eliminate the need for remediation.
Many students and faculty find the remedial courses a necessity; they feel these courses help prepare them to do much better in college level courses than if they had not taken them.
“The remedial classes taught me more than what I learned from my English teachers in high school,” said Mike Monte, a junior in the journalism program. “My teachers (in the remedial course) were more into the course material and made it more interesting than in high school. They just communicated the material more effectively, and I think I did a lot better because of the remedial courses.”
Zimpher may not be far off with wanting to reduce the numbers, however. Developmental courses are courses that students pay for, but receive no actual credits. A research report conducted on City University of New York and State University of New York schools titled “Remedial Education: An Inventory of SUNY Community College Programs and Procedures,” concluded that about 20 percent of the students enrolled in remedial courses would get a B or higher in college level classes. Those students may not have been properly prepared for the placement tests for any number of reasons, including simply, a lack of drive. Take that 20 percent and apply to the fall of 2011 remedial enrollment and you’re back down to the enrollment rates in remedial courses during the fall of 2002. Based off those numbers, Zimpher may be right in trying to eliminate the need for so many remedial courses.
But the college has backup plans to ensure students are not being inappropriately placed into remedial courses if they don’t need to take them, according to Nancy Gerli, the chair of the reading department.
“We tell every student that we don’t want anyone here that doesn’t need to be,” Gerli said. “The purpose of this class is to gain the skills you need in college. We don’t want to waste your time or ours.”
In fact, students are retested before classes begin to ensure there is no need for them to be attending a remedial class if they don’t need it. According to Gerli, there are usually only one or two students each year who test out of the class, but most students find it useful.
“They come back and tell us that it really helped a lot,” Gerli said. “They get personalized help. We teach them studying techniques to help them become better critical thinkers. So many students realize they needed the class when they’re in it and find that they can use what we teach them in almost all their classes and they’re like, “Wow that really helped!””
So, what is the college doing to help realize Zimpher’s plans? The college participates in the Smart Scholars Early College High School (ECHS) Program, in which institutions of higher education, like SCCC, partner with public school districts to create ‘early college high schools’ that provide students with the chance and groundwork to speed up the completion of their high school studies while earning transferable college credits at the same time.
“The way the economy is, you need a degree to succeed,” Gerli said. “There’s a lot more competition out there and the better educated you are, the better your chances of success are.”Explore posts in the same categories: Features, News