“Accelerated Learning” is all the rage on community college campuses, writes David Clemens, an English professor at Monterey Peninsula College, on the National Association of Scholars blog. But is it a bullet train to success? Or an oxymoron?
Though advocates have trouble defining acceleration, it’s usually applied to remediation, Clemens writes. But why should colleges do remediation at all?
Why do colleges and universities maintain extensive and expensive machinery and personnel for remediation of students who have already and persistently failed at high school, junior high school, even elementary school skills?
Katie Hern of the California Acceleration Project argues that “placement is fate,” he writes. Few students who start three levels below college ever pass a college-level course, so she proposes eliminating low-level remedial courses and placement tests.
Twenty years ago, he watched “the construction of the remediation labyrinth.”
One dubious colleague called it “The Great Mitosis” as remediation crusaders split bonehead English into bonehead reading and bonehead writing, and the downhill race was on. Each course became two courses, then new courses, new and lower levels, more teaching load credit, an English Skills Center, a Math Skills Center, a Reading Center, a Lindamood-Bell Center, a Tutorial Center. . . . Today, students’ financial aid now can run out before they ever reach college level (such as it is).
“Accelerating” remediation collapses all those levels, “integrating reading and writing, just like the old days but with speedy, pervasive computing,” Clemens writes. “So acceleration just might be the ticket…but to where?”