Community colleges rethink remediation

Overwhelmed with students who need years of remediation, some Texas community colleges are steering low-skilled students to adult education or to vocational programs, reports Melissa Ludwig in the San Antonio Express-News.

“No one is talking about abandoning the students who fall below the threshold of college readiness,” said Raymund Paredes, Texas commissioner of higher education. “But dumping them into (remedial) education is not the solution.”

As open-admissions institutions, community colleges take all applicants from recent high school graduates to adults who haven’t sat in a classroom for decades. Texas uses the Accuplacer test to determine reading, writing and math skills.

Half of students who need remedial math test into the lowest levels, says Jo-Carol Fabianke, associate vice chancellor at the Alamo Colleges.  Only 12 percent to 15 percent of low-level remedial math students take a single college-level math class; even fewer complete a degree.

“Quite frankly, we have always thought if someone comes in here, we ought to try to get them to a four-year degree,” Fabianke said. “That is not realistic for everybody.”

Students who lack the academic skills to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree have a much better chance if they tackle a vocational certificate in fields such as welding or medical assisting.  Others need to work on very low reading and math skills.

“We are talking about students reading at the fifth-grade level,” Paredes said. “They need basic reading instruction. Those are areas of expertise you do not find on a college or university campus.”

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is funding pilot projects to build partnerships between adult education and community colleges.

In San Antonio, Preparing Adults for College Excellence, or PACE, is a joint project of Northwest Vista College and Northside Independent School District’s adult education program.

PACE combines adult basic education and college readiness skills into a 10-to 14-week program that gets students ready for college while earning a GED or strengthening English language skills.

Ten students completed the first course this fall. All but one showed significant improvement on placement tests, said Jennifer Swoyer, program coordinator.

However, the program’s small classes are expensive and there may be no funding to continue it.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON January 27, 2011

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Rethinking remediation — Joanne Jacobs

[…] Overwhelmed with students who need years of remediation, some Texas community colleges are sending very low-skilled students to adult education or vocational programs. […]


Sounds like they’re pawning them off. I’m going to college 12 years after HS. I need remedial classes in english and math. I would be a little hot if they tried pawning me off into a votec course. I’m going to college to better myself, not to continue being a labor!

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