California tackles remediation challenge

California’s second-tier state universities and community colleges are taking on a huge remedial challenge, reports the Sacramento Bee.

In the California State University system, which accepts the top third of high school graduates, 57 percent required remediation in English, usually writing, or mathematics, usually algebra.  At community colleges, 85 percent are unprepared for college-level math and 70 percent are unprepared for college-level English.

High school juniors can answer extra questions on the state exam to test their college readiness under CSU’s Early Assessment Program. In 2011, 23 percent of test-takers were ready for college English and 15 percent for college math at the end of 11th grade. Some students take 12th-grade courses to improve their college readiness. Those with high EAP scores don’t have to take a placement test in college.

This summer, CSU will require for the first time that incoming students begin remedial work before their freshman year under a new Early Start program. Students can fulfill the requirement by taking a basic skills course at their local community college or CSU campus if available, or by taking an online session.

In addition, Sacramento State, Los Rios Community College District and the Sacramento City Unified School District have created a Pathways coalition modeled after a Long Beach partnership that links  K-12 schools, community colleges and Long Beach State.

Colleges want students to take a fourth year of math and to stress writing in English courses.

Sheree Meyer, an English professor and now associate dean for undergraduate studies at Sacramento State, said students read literature in high school, but “get the experience of writing the kinds of assignments we would expect them to do in freshman composition.”

Fearing more funding cuts, most Cal State campuses will not admit transfers for spring quarter 2013, increasing crowding problems at community colleges. No campus will take freshmen. CSU also may deny admission to up to 25,000 qualified applicants in fall 2013 if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure fails at the ballot box.