Three-quarters of first-year students at New York City’s community colleges need remediation in reading, writing or math, reports the New York Times. In the past five years, the number of “triple low remedial” students who are far behind in all three subjects has doubled. Spending on remediation has doubled in 10 years.
“It takes a lot of our time and energy and money to figure out what to do with all of these students who need remediation,” said Alexandra W. Logue, the university’s executive vice chancellor and provost. That means less attention is paid to providing a college education to prepared students.
At LaGuardia Community College in Queens, where 40 percent of the math classes are remedial, faculty members like Jerry G. Ianni have been increasingly dividing their time between teaching those classes and teaching courses for academic credit, prompting worries that professors are becoming de facto high school teachers.
“Most students have serious challenges remembering the basic rules of arithmetic,” Dr. Ianni said of his remedial math class. “The course is really a refresher, but they aren’t ready for a refresher. They need to learn how to learn.”
About 65 percent of community college students nationwide need remediation, according to Thomas R. Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College at Columbia University. Math is the biggest roadblock.
Many students are surprised to be placed in remedial classes.
As a freshman at LaGuardia, Angel Payero, 18, took the necessary assessment tests in August and discovered that he was deficient in reading, writing and math.
“Throughout high school, I was a good math student, and to find out that it was my lowest grade of all three was really surprising,” said Mr. Payero, who graduated from the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry.
LaGuardia is seeing success with an “immersion” program. Students take only remedial classes for one semester, spending up to 25 hours a week in the classroom, for a flat fee of $75. More than 70 percent of immersion students qualify for college-level classes, compared to 50 percent of traditional remedial students.
Only 23 percent of New York City high school graduates are prepared for college classes in reading and math, according to the state Regents tests.
New York City’s public schools are trying to reduce the need for remediation by aligning curricula with CUNY. The city will track how each high school’s graduates do in college; starting in 2012, college readiness measures will be included in high school progress reports.