An executive order to eliminate some remedial courses from the Cal State University system was signed by Chancellor Timothy P. White Aug. 2. The order will take effect in summer 2019; however, implementation of this new policy is slated to begin sooner.
“They’re removing (remedial courses) in an effort to facilitate graduation in a more timely manner while still supporting the students,” said CSUF Advisor Training Specialist Randy Montes.
The executive order articulates a plan to substitute non credit-bearing remedial courses with supportive course models that may include, among others, requiring some courses to be taken at the same time, supplemental instruction, or ‘stretch’ formats that extend a course beyond one academic term.
The co-requisite approaches and “stretch” formats will also earn students credit toward their degrees.
“They’re still getting that college-level credit for it but all the while, they’re still getting that support and development that current remediation courses get them,” Montes said.
There’s a possibility these sweeping changes to the system’s remediation policy could be disadvantageous for some students.
“Every student’s different,” Montes said. “One thing that I think will be interesting to watch, is how it will affect international students.”
Montes said that it’s common for international students to take supplemental English-learning courses.
“I don’t know if there will be sort of a separate system from that. I don’t know if part of that stretch of classes will have that kind of unique support for the international students,” Montes said.
While the new policies won’t fully take effect until summer 2019, they will begin being implemented as soon as Fall 2018.
While these new policies will aid the timeliness of graduation, Montes is unsure whether or not they will directly result in more four-year graduations.
“At least in the advising center and with a lot of advisors on campus, we try to view things as more of ‘your time,’ instead of ‘on time,’ whatever that student’s time is,” Montes said. “So if (graduation time) happens to be four years, great. If that happens to be five years, great.”
In her recent convocation address for the fall 2017 semester, CSUF President Mildred Garcia promised to propel the rate of four-year graduations, adamantly emphasizing the university will do so “not by sacrificing our rigorous academic standards, but by elevating them and helping students to reach them.”
CSUF Chief Communications Officer Jeff Cook said in an email that, overall, Garcia stressed that the ongoing improvement in graduation rates would not be at the expense of academic quality. However, he said “implementation of the new executive order would be among those considerations.”
It will take time to see whether or not the new policy proves more effective than its predecessor, which took a non credit-bearing, remedial course model approach.
“This is a system-wide implementation,” Montes said. “With anything new, it’s all about how you communicate it early on.”
Amy Wells contributed to this report