End the Curse of Remedial Math

In Education On

At the start of the term last fall, Ms. Fells told me, many of the students couldn’t handle negative numbers and decimal points. Ten weeks later, they have powered through arithmetic to algebra and are ready for college math.

CUNY Start holds some clues on how to solve an education crisis. Nationwide, only 35 percent of those who start community college receive any form of credential within six years. At urban community colleges, the six-year graduation rate is only 16 percent.

The biggest academic stumbling blocks are remedial math and English courses. More than two-thirds of community college students must take at least one such class, and there they languish. Only a third of those referred to remedial math, and less than half those who take remedial reading, pass. Just 15 percent of students who take remedial classes at two-year colleges earn a certificate or degree on time.

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