Remedial courses at CSUF have some of the highest rates of failure

In News
(Hannah Miller / Daily Titan)

Remedial courses at Cal State Fullerton are among those with the highest percentage of students having to retake the class after receiving grades that qualify as “repeatable.”

A repeatable grade is one of C- or lower, according to data from CSUF’s Institutional Research and Analytical Studies.

Mathematics and English remedial courses have some of the highest rates of repeatable grades.

Cal State University Chancellor Timothy P. White signed an executive order on Aug. 2, 2017 that restructures remedial courses in an attempt to improve four-year graduation rates.

“The courses are going to be designed both in terms of content to bring somebody up to speed, but also get them into college-level stuff within the same period of time with additional assistance,” said Stephen Stambough, CSUF Academic Senate chair.

As of spring 2017, nearly one third of the students enrolled in the earliest remedial math course is earning a grade lower than a C- and the final remedial course, Intermediate Algebra, has a 40.8 percent repeatable grade average.

College-level algebra, the next level up in mathematics requirements in the CSU system, also shows a high rate of repeatable grades. Math 250B, Introduction to Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, currently has a repeatable grade percentage of 30.4.

Remedial English courses also show high rates of repeatable grades. Of the 89 students enrolled in the spring 2017 final remedial English course, Developmental Writing, 28.9 percent were receiving a repeatable grade.

Students are still expected to be prepared for college-level math and English courses, which are being reworked and organized to fit the needs of incoming remedial students as well as students who already qualify to enroll in the courses.

Currently, remedial courses function on a no-credit base and they only exist as a stepping stone to get students up to par with their required math and English courses.

The new remedial classes will count toward a student’s required general education credits, a strategy the Chancellor’s Office hopes will reduce the amount of time students spend working toward their bachelor’s degrees.

“Remedial courses no longer need to be remedial, but they will be courses designed to help students succeed,” Stambough said.

Current credit-bearing courses are also being adjusted to better fit the needs of incoming remedial students.

Testing procedures for math and English placement will also undergo complete remodeling in order to properly place students in the classes they are most qualified to take.

The English Placement Test and the Entry-Level Mathematics Test will not be offered, and their respective committees will be discontinued, according to section IV, D of the executive order.  

With the amount of repeatable grades in remedial courses, Stambough said a new strategy could mean easier and faster graduation rates for students who struggle with math and English.

“Hopefully by using multiple measures to determine whether students are at risk and need that extra assistance, we’ll be able to provide that extra assistance early and help out with that repeatable grade rate. That’s the theory. That’s the goal,” Stambough said.

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