Friday, July 10, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: This Post Doesn't Add Up

Then try a calculator:

"For many, remedial math not a solution; Mass. colleges try new ways to help students" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  July 04, 2015

HAVERHILL — Nearly two-thirds of all community college students and nearly a quarter of those at state universities in Massachusetts test into remedial math classes, according to a 2013 study by the state Department of Higher Education. Of those who take remedial courses, according to the data, only 1 in 5 goes on to complete a college-level math class and many never earn degrees.

State officials call this the Bermuda Triangle of remedial mathone of the most pressing issues facing public higher education today.

Meaning the primary and secondary schools have utterly failed. 

I mean, this is Massachusetts, land of superior education -- at least, that's what I've read.


But there is no one secret formula to solve the remedial math problem.

Many say part of the problem is Accuplacer, the standardized test that colleges use to assess incoming students’ math skills.

National research shows that the test, and others like it, do a poor job of evaluating students’ skills, sending too many to remedial math. The students’ skills may actually be more advanced.

Other critics say the problem is even more basic: High schools should better prepare students for college-level math.

Many professors and administrators are focused on revamping remedial courses themselves, and creating multiple pathways within college, recognizing that not all students need to work toward mastering calculus.

Lillian Santana, 23, of Lawrence, wants a career in criminal justice, and her classmate in math class, Shelby Larcome, 20, of Newburyport, wants to be a social worker. The two are taking a revamped remedial class at Northern Essex Community College for students who don’t want to be engineers or scientists, taught by longtime professor Jim Sullivan.

The sticking point in remedial classes is as much about students’ self-esteem as it is their math skills, professors say. Sullivan says he spends a lot of time encouraging students.

“They definitely have low self-esteem when it comes to math,” he said.

As they search for a better approach, Northern Essex and other state schools are now placing students in college-level math classes based on a GPA of 2.7 or higher, instead of relying on the Accuplacer assessment.

Results from the first semester of data show that the students placed using the GPA method on some campuses succeed at levels comparable to others in the class.

Remedial classes are frustrating for students because they do not count for credit while they are costly and block them from taking college courses.


This problem is not unique to Massachusetts. Nationwide, 54 percent of community college students test into developmental courses, according to Complete College America, a group that studies trends in remedial education.

States have taken different approaches. Florida took perhaps the most radical route and has had disastrous results. Last year, Florida officials made remedial courses optional and found that many students bypassed them, enrolled directly in college math, and failed.

In Indiana, community colleges have started requiring students to take remedial classes alongside college-level classes, an approach some Massachusetts campuses have embraced. It is more effective to put students in college classes with their peers and provide extra support, educators say, than place them in classes that undermine their confidence....

Johnny can't read, write, or add, but he feels good about himself. 

How much more politically correct can this nation get? 

They have raised a generation of whining pussies who act like a bunch of entitled Israelis.

It’s not only state officials who want students to earn degrees. Employers want to be able to hire students with degrees from state and community colleges, said Linda Noonan, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.

Noonan, pointing to the failure by some high schools to prepare students for college-level math, said the state shouldn’t have to pay for students’ high school education and then pay for that same education in college.

“We want kids to graduate from high school without the need for remediation,” she said.

It is also financially beneficial for public colleges to help more students earn degrees, because part of their state funding is tied to students’ success.

“Solving this problem is good for the students, but it’s also good for the college’s budget,” said Bill Heineman, vice president of academic and students affairs at Northern Essex Community College.

The shift is not without some criticism....

If you have made it this far at least you know how to read.