To reduce the high demand for remediation, community colleges need to work with high schools to prepare students for college-level courses, writes Bill Maxwell in the Tampa Bay Trib. However, it’s rare for college instructors to talk to public school teachers about “the reasoning and analytical skills, the content knowledge and the study habits students need to succeed in college.”
Florida teachers are under pressure to raise standardized test scores, says Becky Sims, a high school English teacher in Fort Pierce. “We have neither the time, nor the resources nor the mandate to focus on how students will perform once they go to college.”
Seminole State College (formerly Seminole Community College) and the Seminole County School District are collaborating to reduce the need for remediation.
Ten years ago, the college’s math chairman, frustrated that more than 70 percent of public school students who enrolled at the college needed math remediation, met with district principals. He offered the principals a course the college would bring to their campuses. The college would provide the course content and mentoring, and the school teachers would teach the course. One school accepted.
. . . Within a few years, the experimental school reduced its remediation rate from 70 percent to 10 percent. The team decided to replicate this model in all district high schools. Statistics from 2007-08 for the schools teaching the course showed a drop in the need for math remediation from 71 to 59 percent.
“The Seminole model works because teachers, professors, guidance counselors and administrators stopped pointing fingers,” Maxwell writes. “They built trust and worked as equal partners.” Often that doesn’t happen. Teachers think college instructors blame them for their students’ failings. And, often, they’re right.
Early awareness is a key, says Joe Pickens, president of St. Johns River Community College in Putnam County. He’s organized a College and Career Rally for eighth-graders to make sure students know whether they’re on track for success when they’re young enough to do something about it. Nearly two thirds of local graduates have to take remedial classes at SJRCC. “There’s just not the communication there ought to be between the community colleges and the school systems they serve. . . . I want teachers and guidance counselors to understand and communicate to their students that there’s a difference between getting out of high school and being ready for college.”