The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Demand for remedial courses on the rise

>>>CORRECTION: There are 7, 740 students enrolled in remedial courses, not between 3,800 and 3,900 like the story stated. Also, it read the number of students enrolled in English remedial courses has increased this year. In fact, as of Fall 2011, the university no longer offers remedial composition courses. In the new “Stretch” composition program, several first-year writing classes are taught in multiple CSUN departments, not just English and the classes are credit-bearing university level courses.

The number of enrolled students in both English and mathematics pre-university, or remedial, courses has slightly increased, according to reports from CSUN’s Office of Institutional Research.

The 2012 remedial courses, or basic education courses that are required for students who are not yet at college-level performance, are determined by students’ scores on the entry level mathematics exam (ELM) and the english placement test (EPT).

The Office of Institutional Research reports that there are 7,740 students enrolled in remedial courses.

Institutional Research reports show that out of the 36,164 enrolled CSUN students, about 21 percent compared to 18 percent in 2008.

In the past, many more students were enrolled in the developmental math courses than English.

David Klein, a math professor at CSUN, said that one possible reason students are unprepared for college level math is because high school educators encourage too much calculator use.

“Students develop a dependency on calculators, and most of us (college educators) who teach don’t allow calculators on final exams,” Klein said.

CSUN remedial math enrollment numbers could be lowered if high school teachers taught the principles of algebra rather than teaching that calculators are the solution, Klein said.

“CSUN has some culpability, too,” Klein said. “In math 105, pre-calculus, there is a heavy reliance on graphic calculators. But when they come to calculus, we don’t allow calculators and students don’t know what to do.”

Even the remedial courses are not always the fix for college preparedness, according to Klein.

High school educators are making active attempts to absolve remedial coursework with the Early Assessment Program (EAP), said Kathleen Rowlands, a professor of secondary education at CSUN.

Rowlands said the California State University EAP is an optional preparation course for secondary education seniors seeking to earn a degree after high school.

This program gives students a signal for how prepared they are to enter a college setting, according to the EAP website.

Even with these preparation tools for incoming college students, English remedial enrollment for the 2012 school year was about 11 percent of CSUN’s student population, the institutional report states.

“It is a very different mindset,” Rowlands said.

With all remedial classes, students have one year to complete them or they will not be allowed to enroll in CSUN coursework until they complete the requirements.

University policy states, “If the developmental courses (math/writing) are not completed within the first year of enrollment the student will be ‘stopped-out.’ Being ‘stopped-out’ means that the student must complete these requirements at a community college before they can return to the University.”

Many students that enter the CSU system are the first from their families to attend college, and when they are placed in developmental courses, it discourages them, Rowlands said.

Both Rowlands and Klein said the percentage of students in remedial coursework is much smaller.

“A lot of kids (who are enrolled in basic classes) end up dropping out in the six years that we consider the average graduation time,” Rowlands said.

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