Ninety percent of degree-seeking students at Chicago’s community colleges need remedial classes, Chancellor Cheryl Hyman tells the Chicago Sun-Times. Few Chicago Public School graduates are ready for City Colleges of Chicago classes: 94 percent test into remedial math, 81 percent into remedial English and 71 percent into remedial reading.
Cheyanna Wilson graduated from Chicago’s Curie High School with a 3.0 grade-point average that included a B in a “College Algebra” class.
At Malcolm X College, where she enrolled to earn an associate’s degree in accounting, she did not meet basic math requirements. Before she could take accounting classes, she needed to take — and pay for — a non-credit remedial math course.
In 2008, 44 percent of students under 25 at a public two-year college and 27 percent of students under 25 at public four-year schools were taking at least one remedial course, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. Yet four out of five remedial students graduated from high school with a GPA above 3.0.
Increasingly, remedial classes aren’t just for adults who’ve been out of school for years and need a refresher, the Sun Times reports. Many recent high school graduates with B or C averages end up in remedial classes to learn high school skills.
Victoria Onifade, 20, a 2009 graduate of Uplift Community High School in Uptown, said she didn’t know about placement testing at City Colleges until she enrolled.
“I didn’t take it seriously,” she said. “I’m mean, you’re getting good grades in high school.”
She didn’t pass the English portion and used part of her Pell Grant to pay for the remedial class.
“It’s a waste of time,” she said.
City Colleges of Chicago officials have talked about ending the school’s open admission policy. For now, the colleges are experimenting with a summer skills class for 200 Chicago Public Schools graduates. The goal is to prepare students to start in the fall in college-level classes.
Remediation costs City Colleges $29.4 million, or $1,668 per student, each year. Forty percent of remedial students take two non-credit classes, an additional 21 percent took three remedial courses and 10 percent took four courses.
Only 17 percent of students who test into low-level math and 26 percent of low-level English students ever pass a college class in the subject. Even fewer complete a credential.